ESPN's Mel Kiper posted his fourth NFL mock draft of the 2015 draft season, and nothing has changed for the San Francisco 49ers since version 3.0. For the second straight mock, Kiper has the team selecting defensive lineman Arik Armstead. The 49ers are bringing him in for an official visit (Armstead, not Kiper!), so the Sacramento produce is indeed on their radar. In 2.0, Kiper had the 49ers selecting wide receiver Breshad Perriman, and in 1.0 he had them selecting wide receiver Kevin White.
Here is what Kiper had to say about the 49ers and this pick:
Justin Smith isn't coming back, and Darnell Dockett is 33 and coming off a season in which he landed on IR with an ACL injury. Ray McDonald is also gone. Even if you like the current starters in San Fran, the depth chart isn't what it has been. While Armstead needs a lot of seasoning, he would be a good balance of hitting an immediate need and offering a lot of potential for the future. I'm not as high on him as Mr. McShay, who sees him as a top-10 talent, but this is a sensible landing spot. He's physically ready to help and should be able to provide a spark as a rotation player on the line. The thing with Armstead is there's no telling exactly what he'll become, so you really need to have a plan for him.
We still don't know for certain that Justin Smith is retiring, although at this point I'm not counting on anything. Even if he does not retire, defensive line makes sense as a pick. I've said this over and over again, but it is possible the 49ers look at their current collection of defensive linemen, and they do not see long-term answers. I could be entirely wrong, because I don't know exactly how they view guys like Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial. However, it is possible they are sufficiently unsure that they decide to add serious depth to the line.
The oddest pick of Mel Kiper's mock draft might be his decision to bump Breshad Perriman to the top 10. He has the St. Louis Rams selecting Perriman at No. 10, which puts him ahead of DeVante Parker. Kiper acknowledges Perriman has climbed considerably on his draft board. Kiper said he always thought he was explosive on tape, but then points to his 40-times at his Pro Day. A month ago, Kiper had Perriman going 31st. Did Kiper only recently start watching his film, or did he decide the Pro Day 40 was enough to confirm what he already knew? It is a really odd decision at this juncture.