2012 Free Agency: How it Affects 49ers' Draft Needs

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 13: Carlos Rogers #22 of the San Francisco 49ers intercepts a pass intended for Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants at Candlestick Park on November 13, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Free agency is in full-swing and signings are happening fast and furious (except without the bad acting and kick-ass-though-unrealistic car-scenes). The 49ers have had some guys in for visits and have some more players scheduled to come to town.

A few players have gone on to greener pastures (we'd hope) with new teams in: Adam Snyder, Blake Costanzo and Shawntae Spencer, the latter of which was released today though he's reportedly already garnering interest. These moves open up some holes on the team and depending on how the rest of free agency plays-out, could affect the draft strategy the 49ers employ.

There seems to be a glaring hole at guard, with only Mike Iupati, Daniel Kilgore and Mike Person signed at the position. The team is expected to let Chilo Rachal walk, something he does a lot of after letting his man get to the quarterback. Snyder signed with the division-rival Arizona Cardinals on Wednesday.

I'd expect for the team to go after a guard in the first four rounds of the draft. Some names to watch are: Amini Silatolu, Kelechi Osemele, Brandon Brooks, Brandon Washington, Kevin Zeitler. All of these players would be available from rounds two through four.

After the jump, we'll take a look at a few other draft needs that could be changing.

In addition to letting some players get away, the 49ers also re-signed Carlos Rogers at the CB position, adding to the depth of previously-signed Perrish Cox to go with the guys already under contract. This likely means that the team won't need to be as aggressive in the draft going after a CB, though I anticipate they'll still take one at some point.

Chris Culliver looks poised to challenge Tarell Brown for the starting role opposite Rogers at CB. Tramaine Brock provides some depth along with the aforementioned Cox and second-year players Curtis Holcomb and Cory Nelms. Holcomb ruptured his achilles in training camp last year and spent the season on injured reserve while Nelms finished out the year on the practice squad.

With CB less of a dire need at this point, I'd say the position of DE (5-technique) and safety will climb the list of draft needs. WR still seems like a top need, so I'd put DE and S as mid-tier needs, probably after guard.

The reason I say 5-tech is a need at this point is Justin Smith isn't getting any younger and the guys currently signed as backups haven't proven anything. You can't choose to ignore a position in the draft because you "hope" your younger players will ascend. The position is not one where rookies are usually able to step-in and play at any sort of high level, either.

At safety the 49ers franchised Dashon Goldson, but there's no guarantee he'll be back in 2013 and beyond. Goldson represents the only starting-caliber free-safety on the team as Reggie Smith is expected to move-on and CJ Spillman hasn't proven himself beyond special-teams. Second-year safety Mark LeGree has a lot of upside but is again, unproven.

At any rate things can change quickly, especially as the team brings in WR's Mario Manningham and Brandon Lloyd (though some remain skeptical that Lloyd is actually scheduled to visit the bay but rather is a PR stunt to drive up his price). We'll keep an eye on team needs as the signings continue.

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