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Thursday, January 21, 2010
Kiper mock 1.0: Thoughts on 49ers

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Mel Kiper's first mock draft Insider for 2010 serves as a good conversation starter for NFC West fans looking forward to April.

After assessing the Rams' and Seahawks' projections, I'll continue with a look at Kiper's take on the 49ers, who hold the 13th and 16th or 17th choices (pending a coin toss at the combine).

13. San Francisco 49ers: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

Kiper's give: I consider the right tackle position a big need for the 49ers, and getting Williams here should strengthen them immediately both in the run game and as they look to further develop a potentially dangerous passing game with Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis.

Sando's take: Offensive line has to be a priority for the 49ers even if the team doesn't take one in this spot. The 49ers found starting left tackle Joe Staley with the 28th choice of the 2007 draft. The 13th spot is earlier than the team would ideally select a right tackle and far earlier than the team would consider most guards. That makes it a little tougher to project a tackle in this spot, even if it makes sense from a need standpoint.

16 or 17. San Francisco 49ers: Earl Thomas, S, Texas

Kiper's give: The 49ers need help in pass coverage, and Thomas fits because he's a great value here, whereas reaching for a CB at No. 16 wouldn't represent good value at all. Thomas isn't a huge guy but can cover a tremendous amount of real estate.

Sando's take: The 49ers have a rangy young free safety in Dashon Goldson. Thomas, a strong safety in college, might put this group over the top. Strong safety Michael Lewis turns 30 in April and suffered three concussions last season. The 49ers also have some age at linebacker (Takeo Spikes) and cornerback (Dre Bly, Walt Harris). But as general manager Scot McCloughan proved in selecting Crabtree last year, the 49ers aren't afraid to bypass need positions if they see greater value in another player.