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2012 NFL Draft: 49ers Employing Smokescreen Strategy Again?

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There's been endless talk about Stephen Hill and Coby Fleener being drafted at No. 30 by the San Francisco 49ers. More recently, more pass catchers like Michael Floyd, Rueben Randle and Kendall Wright have been linked to the 49ers with scheduled visits. From a broad perspective, we could assume the 49ers are definitely taking a pass-catcher in round one.

But the best way to predict the future is to look at history, and 49ers draft history as it relates to Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke would suggest they might go a completely different direction all together.

In 2011, the 49ers drafted defenseman Aldon Smith with the 7th overall pick in the NFL Draft. It was definitely a surprise to most at the time, especially since it was a Missouri player but not the available quarterback, Blaine Gabbert (good thing that didn't happen). The three main players the 49ers were connected to or rumored to select in the first were Von Miller, Patrick Peterson and Blaine Gabbert.

Miller and Peterson were off the board, but Harbaugh and Baalke looked into their crystal ball and made the right decision.

Aldon Smith was drafted as a third-year sophomore who hadn't even had visited with the 49ers. San Francisco had gone to the Missouri Pro Day but most of us thought they were taking a look at Gabbert -- sleight of hand again.

So what do we make of all these wide receiver visits? I suppose the 49ers could be doing their due diligence and surprise us all by taking an offensive lineman or best player available that could be a cornerback or pass rusher. A lot of people outside of 49ers headquarters aren't certain about what Daniel Kilgore brings to the table, seeing as how he was a 5th rounder.

Kilgore could be good, yes, but it's the competition the 49ers attempted to bring in for him that never happened. San Francisco looked at several veterans but signed none. They even looked at a capable starter in Geoff Schwartz, but he wound up signing with the Minnesota Vikings. It sort of seemed like the situation went unsettled and it wouldn't be the most shocking thing if the 49ers took an offensive lineman in the first round.

The 49ers could easily snag an offensive lineman in the first and then add someone like Brian Quick, Tommy Streeter and/or Marvin Jones in a later round. There are a couple ways San Francisco can approach the draft, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were being crafty like this.

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