Tuesday, May 6, 2014
49ers' draft primer
By Bill Williamson
With the NFL draft two days away, let's look at some questions surrounding the San Francisco 49ers:
Will it be easy to trade up? Reports indicate the 49ers are expected to be one of the most aggressive teams attempting to move up. The 49ers have the No. 30 overall pick and six in the first 100. They will likely start considering a trade once the draft gets into the No. 12-14 range and then they work on it until it works.
Is this the year Harbaugh drafts a Stanford player? This is the fourth draft for coach Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco since he was hired away from Stanford. The 49ers have yet to draft a player from Stanford with Harbaugh. Eleven Stanford players have been drafted in the past three years. Perhaps this year -- the last Cardinal class Harbaugh coached -- will be the year. Stanford has several draft prospects, and perhaps players' like Shayne Skov, Trent Murphy, Ed Reynolds or Ben Gardner will end the drought.
Will the drafting injured player trend continue? Last year, the 49ers took advantage of a surplus of picks and few needs by taking injured players Tank Carradine and Marcus Lattimore. The two were essentially redshirted and are now expected to play. Again, the 49ers have a lot of picks and few needs. Perhaps injured players such as Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley, Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin and Clemson guard Brandon Thomas could attract the 49ers.
Will the quarterback whisperer get a new charge? Harbaugh has made it clear in his three NFL seasons that he loves working with young quarterbacks. The 49ers are candidates to draft a quarterback in the mid-round as they try to develop a backup for Colin Kaepernick. Harbaugh has studied several quarterbacks this spring. Among the candidates are Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas, San Jose State's David Fales and Clemson's Tajh Boyd.
How many picks are enough? I wouldn't be shocked if the 49ers trade up a few times. This is a loaded roster. There aren't that many -- maybe five to seven -- rookies who will make this 53-man roster. So, expect the 49ers to lean toward quality over quantity.
Will they pick a new return man? Incumbent returner LaMichael James is working out on his own and is open to a trade. Even if James isn't dealt this week, the 49ers may look to replace him. I wouldn't be shocked if one of the receivers and/or cornerbacks the 49ers look at early doubles as a returner.
Where does a pass-rusher fit?Aldon Smith's future is clouded by legal issues. The 49ers might decide to try to find a pass-rusher. If so, they may have to do it fairly early. ESPN draft expert Todd McShay thinks the run on impact pass-rushers may be over in the first 50 picks.