The 2018 NFL Draft is a little over 72 hours away, which means we will finally get some answers to the San Francisco 49ers burning questions. We’ll find out who the team values in the draft, but we’ll also find out who they may value more than we expected on the existing roster. A draft pick says something, but not picking at a given position tells us something as well.
The 49ers head into the draft with a few areas needing starting help, and a lot of areas needing some depth help. We know that edge rusher is absolutely critical. The team has options at guard, but odds are good they invest in another one in the first three or four rounds. And while they have starters across their secondary, they know they will more starting depth sooner rather than later.
The draft is about looking both to the immediate and long-term future. With that in mind, what are positions that will require some investment for the long-term, even if they don’t jump out as immediate first round needs?
Peter King mentioned the 49ers had interest in Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey. Joe Staley and Trent Brown are in place at the two tackle positions for the time being. Staley just got a raise for the next two seasons, but turns 34 in August. Brown is a free agent after this season and coming off a torn labrum with consistency issues. It is the more obvious of the longer-term areas to address.
Strong side linebacker
Linebacker is a need in general, but the focus this offseason has been more about Reuben Foster’s domestic violence case. Eli Harold is due to hit free agency after this season, and the 49ers will likely be looking for a replacement if they do not get him inked to a contract extension.
The 49ers’ wide receiver depth chart does not feature big names after Pierre Garçon, but it turned out to be very solid this past year. For 2018, Jimmy Garoppolo has plenty of weapons as the 49ers continue their building process. But for the long-term, the team will need to find some options to develop. I don’t see a first round pick investment, and a day two pick would be a bit of a surprise, but day three strikes me as wide open for the wide receiver position.
Trent Taylor did solid work as the team’s punt returner, but the 49ers have also been doing work on returner prospects. Taylor is going to be getting plenty of work as the team’s slot receiver, but maybe the 49ers want him to be able to focus there while finding another option in the return game.
The 49ers have inked Jimmy Garoppolo to a long-term contract, and C.J. Beathard has three seasons remaining on his rookie deal. The 49ers are in good shape at the quarterback position. But maybe they invest a sixth or seventh round pick in the position? It might be too much of a throwaway pick given the current depth chart, but I keep coming back to it in my head.
Is there anything else that jumps out as a little more long-term thinking heading into the draft this week?