To me, it seems like the best strategy for the Niners in the upcoming draft will be to trade up. First of all, the trend seems to be that most teams are trying to trade down, believing that the record number of underclassmen declaring is creating additional value in the middle rounds. While this may be true, it also creates an opportunity for a cagey team looking to move up - with a lot of teams potentially selling higher picks and not a lot buying, the price to move up should (logically) decrease. We're in a unique position where we can have our cake and eat it too - with two 2nd and possibly three 3rd rounders to spend, we can afford to move up AND still add multiple contributors in the middle rounds.
The second reason is because of the position we are in. Our goal is to contend for the Super Bowl every year, which means we can't really afford to give tons of snaps to rookies for "development" purposes. The best players wil play. By moving up, we may sacrifice a bit of depth in our draft class, but it also makes it more likely that we will get guys (like Eric Reid) who are ready to contribute at a high level more or less immediately. In my mind, one guy who can come in and make an impact from Week 1 is much more valuable than two or even three middle round picks who will need time and coaching effort to develop into players.
With that said, I think our best strategy will be to trade up to somewhere in the late teens or early 20's. It shouldn't cost us more than one of our 3rds and a late round pick to make that leap. Here are some guys I would target at what I think are our three areas of biggest need: cornerback, safety (only if Whitner leaves) and wide receiver.
Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
Has a versatile array of skills for a cover corner. Can excell in zone, man coverage or press man. Was left on a island a lot at MSU and was a key part of their D. Very physical. Biggest knock is that he lacks elite size or athleticism. Most have him as the top corner in our draft so he is likely a top-15 pick and thus probably out of our reach unless we really pony up for him.
Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
Kind of the anti-Dennard. Extremely athletic, which he flashed both as a corner and a return man. Technique needs a bit of refinement. Less consistent but more of a "big play" guy than Dennard (6 INTs in 2013).
Jason Verrett, TCU
Sticky in coverage, with good athleticism and fluid hips. Good ballhawking abilities and toughness in tackling/run support. Biggest knock on him is his size (5-10, 175). We may be able to get him without trading up, depending on how certain CB needy teams draft, but I wouldn't count on it. (*Side note: Verrett is one of my favorite/most undervalued players in this class*)
Hasean Clinton-Dix, Alabama
The top rated safety in this class. HCD is rangey, instinctive and fast. Good hands and can make plays on the ball. He would likely play the free safety and have Reid slide over to the strong safety. Biggest knock is that he occasionally lacks physicality in the tackle.
Calvin Pryor, Louisville
While HCD is still the concensus top safety, Pryor is challenging that. A more physical player who can come into the box and contest the run, but also has great speed and range to attack the ball in flight.
Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Evans' biggest asset is his size. At 6-5 and 225lbs., Evans uses his size to bully corners. Great ability to beat press-man coverage and win jump balls. Good body control and hands and can drag defenders for YAC. Biggest knock is the lack of elite speed or acceleration off the line/out of his cuts. Often compared to the Bucs' Vincent Jackson as a big downfield target who beats defenses deep with size rather than speed.
Marquise Lee, USC
Lee is a smaller, faster wideout who fills the "speed threat" role many believe we need to address. Was considered a top-5 pick before this season, when injuries and poor QB play (as well as generalized "Lane Kiffin Syndrome") caused his production to drop. Great speed, both straight-line and out of breaks. Good hands and precise route runner. Very shifty with the ball in his hands. Biggest knock is his size - at 6 foot even and 195 lbs. with a lean frame, Lee may struggle against press man and in run blocking.
Personally, the guys I would target are Verrett or Evans.