In the 2013 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers find themselves in an enviable position. With 13 picks, they’ve got a few options, and GM Trent Baalke is sure to have his hands full over the three-day event. So, for a team that has been relatively active this offseason, what route does it take?
Potential: Eric Reid, LSU; Jonathan Cyprien, FIU
Since choosing to let Dashon Goldson walk away, the Niners have since signed Craig Dahl. Dahl is certainly not the same caliber as Goldson, so San Francisco could choose to pick someone up late in the first round to be a long-term anchor on defense. Though there are better prospects, these two potentials are more likely to be around when the Niners have their first selection. If the team did decide to trade up, it’s unlikely they would for a higher-rated safety. Eric Reid has a lot of raw athleticism, so he could thrive in the right system. Of course, this could also be Taylor Mays all over again. Cyprien is a solid prospect who played at a small school but has the body to compete; he performed very well at the Senior Bowl and showed a knack for the position.
Potential: Sheldon Richardson, Missouri; Datone Jones, UCLA
Though the organization has signed Glenn Dorsey to help shore up the front defensive unit, this group, on any team, is one which can never have too many options. Tasked with the most physical job, there is always a need for another body who can sub in and be versatile. If the organization wants to go inside, they could potentially trade up for Richardson. Though Missouri didn’t fare too well in its first season in the SEC, Richardson was up to the task, filling the middle while logging 75 tackles and 3.5 sacks. On the outside, Jones is a great option, who recorded just 5.5 sacks but still proved to occupy the tackles he faced with an ongoing challenge.
Potential: Zach Ertz, Stanford
After losing Delanie Walker to the Tennessee Titans, the team needs someone to play on the other side of Vernon Davis. If your NFL offense isn’t trending towards a spread-option, then there’s a good chance it goes with a lot of two-TE sets. As demonstrated by the Walker-Davis combo, and on a larger scale Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez of the Patriots, this is a look that works for a lot of offenses. Moving forward, tight ends are becoming more athletic, and their duties are increasing. If your team so happens to have one that can both fill the slot and block off tackle, you will be effective. If you have two, you will be nearly unstoppable. Tyler Eifert out of Notre Dame is the highest-ranked TE in the draft, but where the Niners stand, Ertz is the more likely possibility. He is a great receiver, amassing over 1,400 receiving yards in his three years, but needs to improve his blocking skills. Bonus points for the Harbaugh/Stanford connection.