For the second year in a row, San Francisco 49ers’ General Manager Trent Baalke has acquired quite the assortment of picks. The 49ers have 12 picks in the upcoming draft, not including compensatory picks. The 49ers already have one of the deepest rosters in the league, and they have another great chance to add to it.
The 49ers currently have 12 picks in the draft, but they should have more, pending the compensatory picks for players like Dashon Goldson. Here’s what their draft picks currently look like:
Round 1: Pick 30
Round 2: Pick 24 (Chiefs)
Round 2: Pick 29
Round 3: Pick 13 (Titans)
Round 3: Pick 30
Round 4: Pick 29
Round 5: Pick 30
Round 6: Pick 29
Round 7: Pick 26 (Colts)
Round 7: Pick 27 (Saints)
Round 7: Pick 28 (Panthers)
Round 7: Pick 30
What people have to remember is that draft picks aren’t just used for drafting players. They’re used for acquiring players in trades and for moving up in the draft. A lot of people might think that multiple seventh-round draft picks are useless, but to a GM, they’re bargaining chips to move around during the draft. Last year, the 49ers used one seventh-rounder, along with their third, to move up and draft Corey Lemonier. Trades like this happen all the time, that’s why those later picks are valuable.
Now with that said, the 49ers do not have space on their roster for all these draft picks. So obviously, they’re going to use some to trade and move up and get the player they want. The 49ers had the same dilemma as last year. They had more picks than roster spots. So they traded to move up 13 spots in the first round to grab Eric Reid, who made the Pro Bowl this year. Expect more of that this year. But who are they going to draft?
It’s hard to predict who a team will draft before free agency starts. No one knows which holes in the roster will be filled and what new holes will be created. But from my knowledge of the team, the 49ers’ main needs are WR, CB, S, and OL.
The 49ers only have Michael Crabtree, Quinton Patton, and Jon Baldwin on the roster right now. Crabtree is a free agent next year and Baldwin spent most of the year inactive and might be released. The 49ers are going to draft a WR this year. Maybe even two. But the question is: where? Like I said, this all depends on the free agency. If Anquan Boldin returns, then the 49ers will essentially have the same WR corps as they did this year. And if that’s the case, they might wait until their late second round or third round pick to choose a WR. If Boldin doesn’t come back, then they will most likely use their first rounder on a WR and another one in the later rounds.
No matter what, the 49ers need receivers. Boldin is old and there is no guarantee that Crabtree returns when he is a free agent.
Cornerback is a real position of need right now. The team has Carlos Rogers, Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver and Daryl Morris on the roster. Because of his big cap hit, Rogers will most likely be released. And then that will leave the 49ers with a player who has less than a season of starter experience, a player coming back from an ACL injury and a second-year player who has less than 20 defensive snaps of experience. The 49ers need help at the position. Tarell Brown is not likely to come back since Brock essentially took his contract, but Eric Wright and Perrish Cox may be back as some veteran insurance.
Luckily for the 49ers, their corners don’t need to be great since they are able to get pressure with only four rushers and have two elite middle linebackers. Nonetheless, the team still needs corners. The 49ers will most likely use one of their first few picks on a corner. If they don’t go WR first, they will probably go corner and vice versa.
The 49ers may not find a spot on their roster for Donte Whitner and that’s not a good thing. Whitner is a leader both on the field and in the locker room. The 49ers were able to let Dashon Goldson go last year because they didn’t have as many needs and were able to replace him with a very high draft pick. That might not be the case this year. The team has a couple options: Fork over the money to pay Whitner or let Whitner go and bring in a cheaper, veteran safety for insurance to compete with a rookie. They do have Craig Dahl and C.J. Spillman on the roster, but both of those players more special teams players than safeties.
The 49ers are probably going to aim for a safety in the middle rounds regardless of what happens with Whitner.
You can never have too much depth on the line. Jonathan Goodwin is set to be a free agent. The 35-year-old center’s career is on its last leg and the 49ers know that. They have Daniel Kilgore and Joe Looney waiting for a chance to start. They could promote either of those players to the center position and draft another OL for more depth.
Mike Iupati is also set to be a free agent next year and on the list of potential contract extensions, he’s pretty low on the list. The 49ers may have plans to let him walk and drafting an OL this year and next year to try and replace him or just for depth.