On Monday, Mike Mayock of the NFL Network held his pre-combine conference call with the national media, and I had the privilege of listening in. Everybody has the guys they like when it comes to player evaluation and there's certainly no shortage of top-tier information to be had out there, but Mayock will always be the guy I got to personally. He's not always right on whether or not a guy will be successful in the league, but he certainly does his homework.
I was in on the call for my duties at the SB Nation mothership, but I did come across some interesting talk regarding this year's wide receiver class that obviously pertains to the San Francisco 49ers, given they're almost certainly in the market for a wide receiver in the opening rounds of the draft.
First off, Mayock said that this year's wide receiver class is strong, but maybe not as explosive as last year's class, which was phenomenal. But he did also say that drafting a receiver in the early rounds shouldn't be that difficult, given the current rules in the NFL. Specifically, Mayock cited the 4-yard rule that allows smaller receivers to get off the press coverage and "run routes with impunity after 5 yards."
On top of that, he said that the bigger receivers "don't have to be route runners" in today's NFL. Later on in the call, Mayock was asked about Trent Baalke's strategy at this point, and while Mayock spent more time talking about the 49ers' wide receivers, he said that he "would imagine Trent feels pretty strongly about who they are philosophically as an organization -- big, strong, physical team."
"I would be really surprised if they deviated from the way they've approached things in the past," Mayock said. It's probably safe to say that a lot of us here on Niners Nation hope they deviate just a little bit, given that the 49ers haven't had success drafting wide receivers in a long, long time. Mayock finished by saying that the 49ers, whether they go for a receiver to replace Michael Crabtree, a cornerback or a left guard to replace Mike Iupati, that they will "want to replenish with big, physical players."