I don't know how likely it is the San Francisco 49ers get a deal done with impending free agent receiver Torrey Smith, but I find the NFL Draft implications incredibly intriguing if such a thing happens. Smith, 26, has caught 213 passes for 3,591 yards and 30 touchdowns since being made a second-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2011. He'd instantly provide the 49ers with a deep threat for quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
He'd also most definitely be a starter, and factor into the 49ers' plans long term. He'd play alongside Anquan Boldin in 2015-16, and possibly cause the 49ers to release Stevie Johnson. That leaves guys like Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington vying for the No. 3 receiver role, provided the 49ers don't spend a high draft pick on a wide receiver.
But spending a high draft pick on a wide receiver has seemed like a foregone conclusion once it became clear Michael Crabtree would be leaving for another team next season ... and that was clear a long, long time ago. Most mock drafts had the 49ers spending a first-round pick on a wide receiver or a defensive lineman, and with the Darnell Dockett signing, receiver has seemed doubly likely.
It's true that Smith wouldn't necessarily change that if we're considering the future of the position. It's hard to imagine Boldin playing beyond this coming season, and Ellington and Patton could never pan out. Getting a top-flight receiver and not being able to find him enough playing time in his rookie season is what is known as a good problem to have.
Many have suggested that a first-round receiver is out of the question in the event that Smith signs, and I totally disagree. But if Trent Baalke feels different and the 49ers go another direction, I was wondering ... what should that direction be?
I see a lot of people talking about trading back and while that would be nice, it's not always that easy. That said, if trading is an option, I'd say trading out of the first round entirely would be best if a future first is on the table. That said, I am absolutely not a believer in the concept of "this guy is fine to take at 20, but not at 15" so I might be a bit more open to more positions in the first round.
It might be a smart option for the 49ers to go with a defensive lineman despite the Dockett signing. Justin Smith may not return and given the trend of both Tony Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs playing above Tank Carradine last season, the 49ers may not have a future starter currently on the roster. If the 49ers can get a guy who is ready to start sooner rather than later, then I don't think there's a spot too early in the first round to pick him.
What about tight end? Vernon Davis is certainly not on the rise, Vance McDonald has showed virtually nothing and guys like Garrett Celek and Derek Carrier have a questionable ceiling. No, Maxx Williams is not Rob Gronkowski, but if the 49ers feel like they can get a productive starting tight end in the first round, why worry about moving around a couple spots? Get the job done.
Then there's ... hey, what about a running back? Given the success of some of the top rookie backs in recent years and the fact that this is a VERY strong running back class this season, the 49ers may get the change of pace back to compliment Carlos Hyde there rather than in free agency. It's never too early to upgrade, I say.
What say you guys? What do you want done with that first pick if Smith signs with the 49ers?