2013 NFL Draft: Top 5 Priorities for the San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers Top 5 Priorities in the 2013 NFL Draft
The San Francisco 49ers may be one of the most talent rich teams in the NFL, but that does not mean they are without holes on their roster. The 49ers have one glaring need and some depth problems at many key positions, but with an NFL-high 13 picks in the Draft -- five of which are in the top 93 -- the Niners are in great position to fill those holes and become even more talented.
With these 13 picks, 49ers' General Manager Trent Baalke can manipulate the draft board by trading up for a stud player he sees as an immediate impact on a Super Bowl contender, or trade down to accumulate more picks this year - or more likely next year - if he doesn't think there is value at the pick. Baalke has shown he has an aggressive approach to the draft and that he and the 49ers have a game plan for every scenario. As evidenced by the story that he put a player's name, presumably AJ Jenkins, in an envelope and that he would select that person in the draft.
San Francisco is currently in an arms battle with fellow NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks for supremacy of the division and the NFC. A solid draft will not only help them defeat their rival, but to reach their ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl.
With their first five picks, the 49ers should be able to find immediate starters and developmental players that will contribute well into the future.
5. Tight End
San Francisco ran a base offense with two tight ends that can block and catch, which kept opposing defenses on their toes because they didn't know if it was a run or pass play. The Niners lost Delanie Walker to the Tennessee Titans in free agency and could use a second TE to be able to keep their base formations. I believe that the 49ers will utilize Anquan Boldin as a WR/TE combination because of his ability to go over the middle and block, but taking a developmental TE in a deep class seems like a no brainer. My choice: Travis Kelce, University of Cincinnati.
Many believe that corner is the biggest need for the 49ers, especially after the secondary gave up a lot of yards in the playoffs, but I believe that was due to Justin Smith's injury and a lack of pass-rush. Tarell Brown is the 49ers' best corner and Chris Culliver - besides an awful Super Bowl - is an emerging cover corner. The Niners also signed an aging Nnamdi Asomugha, but a young, athletic and tall corner would be a great addition and you can never have too many corners in the NFL these days. My choice: David Amerson, North Carolina State University.
3. Speedy Wide Receiver/Return Specialist
The Niners solidified a hole at their #2 receiver spot when they traded for Anquan Boldin with the Baltimore Ravens, but with Boldin and Michael Crabtree, they are not the speediest of dudes on the outside. San Francisco needs a third receiver that can blow the top off the defense. A speed demon can also double as a return specialist after the 49ers lost Ted Ginn in free agency. My choice: Tavon Austin, West Virginia.
2. Defensive Line
San Francisco's stellar defense really dropped off once Justin Smith tore his triceps in the thrilling win against the New England Patriots. After losing Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean-Francois in free agency and Smith not getting any younger, drafting a stud defensive lineman that can stop the run and add some pass-rush is a huge priority in the pass happy NFL. My choice: Datone Jones, UCLA.
After losing starting safety Dashon Goldson to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 49ers' biggest hole is at free safety opposite of Donte Whitner. Current players on the 49ers' roster vying for the other safety position include: Craig Dahl, Trenton Robinson and CJ Spillman. None of these players are of starting caliber on a top five defense. Whitner, who is in the last year of his contract, is the player that makes all the calls in the backfield, but he is an in-the-box safety. The 49ers should target a center field like safety that can roam the field and allow Whitner to help stop the run. My choice: Jonathan Cyprien, FIU.