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Monday, March 31, 2014
Carradine, Lattimore and the 2014 draft

By Bill Williamson

No team in the NFL is more poised to add an influx of young talent in 2014 than the San Francisco 49ers.

Already boasting one of the NFL’s deepest rosters, the 49ers have six picks in the first 100 picks of the May 8-10 draft. No team has that many picks in the top 100.

However, the 49ers’ infusion of young talent won’t stop at the top of the draft. They are getting two potential impact players on the field in 2014. Last year, the 49ers took advantage of a lack of few immediate needs and a surplus of draft picks to take defensive lineman Tank Carradine and running back Marcus Lattimore. Neither Carradine, taken in the second round, nor Lattimore, taken in the fourth round, played in 2013 because of injuries. Now, both are healthy and ready to contribute.

I asked ESPN draft analyst Steve Muench his thoughts on where each player would be taken if he were available in this draft. The answer -- higher than where they were taken last year.

Muench thinks Carradine would go between No. 17-32 overall. The 49ers’ first pick is No. 30, so there’s a chance they wouldn’t even get a crack at Carradine.

“He’s a productive pass-rusher with good quickness for size, plus the length and strength to hold up against run,” Muench said of Carradine.

Muench said he thinks Lattimore would likely go in the late-second or early in the third round. Lattimore suffered two season-ending knee injuries at South Carolina, but he was considered the best running back in college football before his 2012 injury.

“If you throw out his injury history, I think he’s the first [running] back taken and he might go late-first [round],” Muench said. “His instincts, competitiveness and quickness for size were impressive on tape.”

So, it seems the 49ers have already scored young talent weeks before they control the top of the draft.