Over the coming weeks and months we'll have a million and one discussions about the 49ers various needs heading into the 2011 NFL Draft and free agency. Earlier we took a look at SB Nation's two-round 2011 NFL Mock Draft, which had the 49ers drafting outside linebacker Von Miller in the first round and cornerback Ras-I Dowling in the second round. That's certainly a defensive-heavy start to the draft. The team has plenty of picks after the first two rounds, but those early picks could be key cogs in helping the 49ers take the next step in their development sooner rather than later.
Whether or not that specific result comes to pass, it raised a question in my head. We've written and discussed numerous times about the 49ers need for a quarterback. David Carr is the only guy on the roster at this point. Alex Smith and Troy Smith could very well end up back in San Francisco, but barring an extended lockout, I can't imagine the odds being particularly high for that. And even if one or both of these guys returns to San Francisco, the 49ers seem highly likely to draft a quarterback, or try and make a deal for a guy like Kevin Kolb or Josh Johnson (among others).
However, aside from the quarterback position, I find myself wondering about the team's needs on the offensive side of the ball heading into the "player acquisition season." As I peruse the 49ers quasi-depth chart at 49ers.com, there is some solid talent in the starting lineup with some solid backups mixed in. Fullback is a concern and I would imagine will be addressed in some form or fashion. Beyond that, the starters that get the most grief are Chilo Rachal, Josh Morgan and Michael Crabtree.
Michael Crabtree is not going anywhere at this point and is going to be the team's number one wide receiver in 2011. Crazy things can happen, but I just don't see a change happening. He's too talented and will get plenty of opportunities in the west coast offense.
The other starting wide receiver, Josh Morgan, gets some crap from fans but I think he's shown enough to warrant getting a shot to stay in the starting lineup in the new offense. He's only signed through 2011, so how soon he potentially gets a contract extension could indicate the team's plans for him. He can technically sign an extension until March 3.
Chilo Rachal has been solid in the rushing game, but his overall play gets the blood boiling for many 49ers fans. He's a guy that could find himself facing competition in 2011 training camp, but I think he will retain his job for the coming season.
Given all that, what does this mean for the upcoming draft? Does the team focus on the defense early on (and maybe QB as well) barring some crazy fall by a particularly bright offensive prospect at a skill position or on the offensive line? The team could use some depth at running back and potentially a wide receiver if the team doesn't see Ted Ginn Jr. getting his hands problem figured out. I could see a center being picked in the middle rounds, particularly if free agency hasn't been figured out by the time the draft gets going.
Given the status of the 49ers offense, do you foresee the 49ers focusing on defense for the most part in the early rounds? Or do you think they should just go BPA for the most part throughout whether or not it's on the offensive or defensive side of the ball? I mentioned free agency in the title, but given the uncertain nature of it, it's kind of hard to discuss at this point.