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49ers' tendency to 'latch on' to potential draftee lends credibility to possible trade

Could the San Francisco 49ers trade up in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft? The team's tendency to target a single player seems to suggest they would.


Primarily, the speculation that the San Francisco 49ers could move up in the 2013 NFL Draft has centered around specific players and general scenarios. We've heard Tavon Austin's name mentioned more than once, and the money line seems to be that the 49ers are so close to winning a championship that investing heavily in one potential difference-maker could be huge.

The latter is a viable point, in my opinion. If the right player is still on the board and the 49ers think they can make a move while still preserving a high pick or two, then they should grab that guy. A young, impactful defensive lineman or a play-making wide receiver are just two examples of trade-worthy situations.

But let's not talk about what you or I think is viable. Let's talk about the 49ers and whether or not it's something they'd actually do.

Let's take a look at the way the 49ers have been drafting. We saw linebacker Aldon Smith taken very early in the 2011 draft, much to the surprise of just about everyone here. Many of us knew of Smith, but he wasn't on the first round radar. Of course, after the fact, there were rumors that the St. Louis Rams would have taken Smith a couple picks later and things of that nature, but at the time it was somewhat out of left field.

Then there was Chris Culliver going in the third round. He's had his ups and downs, but most believe Culliver is on track to being a very solid starter as the No. 2 corner here in San Francisco. Thing is, when he was drafted, almost none of us knew who he was. That was a very deep and strong draft class for cornerbacks and there were still some pretty big names on the board when Culliver went.

I recall the draft thread; Several of us were calling for specific corners to go, and then when Culliver's name was announced, every single one of us did a double take. But he was their guy, and they got him where they wanted to get him.

And then we come to last year's draft, when the 49ers selected wide receiver A.J. Jenkins with their first-round pick. It was shocking to essentially everybody involved, because there were a ton of seemingly better players on the board, and Jenkins was relatively unknown. Many considered him a third-round prospect at best.

While Jenkins hasn't necessarily panned out and the jury is very much still out on him, the point remains: These are players the 49ers wanted, regardless of where they were picking, and they didn't hesitate to pull the trigger. It's clear that they were the top choices at that point, and Trent Baalke went out there and got them.

Trying to predict what Baalke is going to do is a futile effort. We have no idea who the player he's interested in actually is, but we do know that he has the means to get that player. San Francisco planned for a big draft this year, and they also planned to not have that many roster spots open.

Given that the 49ers played in the Super Bowl last season, I gotta say that getting the right player now should be the priority. If there's a guy in the early to late teens in the first round, and the 49ers really want him, should they move up? You bet they should, especially if they use primarily second and third round picks; but even if it costs a first-round pick next year, I can't imagine it not being worth it.

Whether or not I support the matter has no bearing on my opinion that Baalke would definitely trade up if given the opportunity. I expect some craziness to happen on draft day, and if that craziness is Baalke moving up to grab a Tavon Austin or someone else, then I'm all for it. On top of that, we've got his draft history, his tendency to draft his guy no matter what, lending credibility to the possibility.