March 3, 2013
The 49ers are set to have 15 picks in this year’s NFL college draft. 5 of those are in the first 93 selections. This puts them in a very enviable position.
They could trade a bundle of them for a proven playmaker to upgrade areas of weakness, such as CB Darrell Revis or WR Percy Harvin. But considering the Niners are built through the draft and have a team-first mentality, me-first players such as Revis and Harvin could be dangerous for a locker room. Not to mention that the salaries they would demand in a trade deal would hinder the 49ers ability to re-up their own young talent.
It is very well possible that San Francisco will not use their plethora of picks to go after a marquee name. But, there is no doubt that they will be active trading around the board come draft day. The 49ers front office has moved up with great recent success landing such key players as QB Colin Kaepernick and RT Anthony Davis.
Assuming the Niners let their free agents walk, their biggest needs are as follows: DT, DE, CB, S, TE & WR.
Listed below are seven potential opening round choices that may be wearing the red & gold this fall. Don’t be surprised if SF trades up right outside the top ten and then trades back into the end of round one for yet another selection.
DT Star Lotulelei (Utah): Depending upon further medical reports, Lotulelei may be gone in the top ten. If not, he would be an immediate force in the Niners front three at either end or tackle.
DE Margus Hunt (SMU): At 6-8 and 277, the Estonian prospect has the speed (4.6/40) and strength (38 reps at 225 lbs.) to be an ideal replacement for the aging Justin Smith.
DE Ezekiel Ansah (BYU): Although raw, Ansah is one of the best athletes at the top of this class. Everyone thought the 49ers were stretching when they took the “raw” Aldon Smith 7th overall and look how that turned out.
CB Xavier Rhodes (Florida State): The Seminoles star plays very physical coverage and would be a perfect fit to match up against the NFC’s best big receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and Megatron.
S Kenny Vacaro (Texas): Losing Goldson and needed better coverage than Donte Whitner can provide, safety is a major need to address for the 49ers. Vacaro is the consensus best at his position and would be a day-one starter on an already elite defense.
TE Zach Ertz (Stanford): If Delanie Walker exits, look for Jim Harbaugh to target a player he recruited to Stanford. Ertz is a well-rounded tight end and would make a good compliment to Vernon Davis.
WR Tavon Austin (West Virginia): With a franchise quarterback locked in, the 49ers need to continue surrounding him with playmakers. Sure handed and with great speed (4.34/40), Austin would excel in various alignments within SF’s option offense.