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What is the likelihood the 49ers go heavy defense early in the 2018 NFL Draft?

The 49ers defense took a step forward in 2017, and a big haul could push it that much further forward.

The San Francisco 49ers have a lot of ways they can go in the coming free agency and draft process. They have holes on both sides of the roster, so it is hard to predict exactly which way they might go. More than likely they mix and match both sides of the ball in free agency and the draft, but should one side get a little more focus in the draft in terms of replenishing the youth?

A year ago, the 49ers invested their first three picks in defense, adding defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, linebacker Reuben Foster, and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. A year later, would it make sense to boost the defense even further? Draft Wire put together a three-round mock draft, and they went that route, selecting three defensive players with the 49ers first four picks.

1 (9). Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
2 (59). Dorance Armstrong, Edge, Kansas
3 (70). Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
3 (74). Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF

They fill a lot of needs with this class, even as it leans heavy on defense. The cornerback pick makes sense for the time being, but if the 49ers make a big splash in free agency, that will change. It makes a lot of sense to add a veteran opposite Ahkello Witherspoon, but maybe they are trusting of a younger duo.

Meanwhile, an edge rusher on day two makes a lot of sense. They are unlikely to land Bradley Chubb, and we don’t really know how they feel about the likes of Marcus Davenport, Arden Key, and others. It would not be at all surprising to see them make a move in the second or third round.

And of course, linebacker has become a need in light of Reuben Foster’s off-field issues. It might seem odd to see so many defensive picks early, but the needs are clearly there.