If you ask someone what the 49ers specifically need to address in the 2012 NFL Draft, the answer is universally "right guard." There are some who believe the 49ers would be better off drafting, say, a wider receiver at No. 30 in the first round, but that doesn't mean that it's more of a need position than right guard. It just means that said folks believe that there's better value for a wide receiver there at that spot.
All starters on defense are returning, and outside of the formality of who between Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree is the No. 1 receiver and the right guard position, no starting jobs on offense are up for grabs. The 49ers made it to the NFC Championship in the 2011-12 season, and are returning 25 of 26 starters (11 on defense with 2 CB, 10 of 11 on offense with 2 WR, P, K, LS and KR) - meaning that only 3.8 percent of their starters last season are not intact.
So there's obviously a consensus on what's needed - right guard. They need one at some point in the draft and there's no way getting around that. Let's take a look at last year and their first round pick. The debate raged on pretty heavily as to what the 49ers should do with the pick. It wasn't a Fleener + Stephen Hill kind of thing where it was debating two players at different positions because one might be better than the other.
Last year, it was Prince Amukamara vs. Robert Quinn, or something very similar. And it wasn't between those two players based solely on their merits in comparison to one another, it was between cornerback and outside linebacker, nothing more. The 49ers had a bunch of holes to fill, and there was no consensus on a team need. Sure, bad teams occasionally reach a consensus, but that's due to extremely glaring needs.
The 49ers have none. And it feels great. This will be a fun draft, that should be a lot more laid back, without the edgy "how will they screw this one up!?" aspect to it. We always sit and freak out when the pick is going to be made, and when it happens, we're constantly flipping out about how that player will help or hurt the 49ers that season. Final record predictions are made after the first round. It's really blown way out of proportion.
Personally, I'm looking to sitting around and having a good time when the 49ers pick - knowing that the player who is selected doesn't have to contribute right away, even if it's a right guard. We'll all be a little more calm on draft day, don't you think? What a difference a year makes.