5 Potential 1st-Round Scenarios for the San Francisco 49ers in 2014 NFL Draft
5 Potential First-Round Scenarios For The 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers played fantastically for most of the year and were inches away from reaching a second-consecutive Super Bowl. Ultimately, a single flick of Richard Sherman’s left glove lowered the curtain on the season and the attention now turns to the 2014 NFL Draft scheduled to take place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on March 8-10.
Reminiscent of last year, Niners general manager Trent Baalke will have a vast number of picks at his disposal – 13 to be exact – and will hope to add the talent needed to get his team over the finish line in 2014. With an aging roster and several high-profile players entering the free-agent market, the right moves will need to be made in order to keep San Francisco afloat in the shark tank that is the NFC West division.
Alongside their 2014 draft picks, the Niners will welcome two players drafted last year who missed the season through injury. Running back Marcus Lattimore was picked in the fourth round of the 2013 draft having suffered a serious knee injury during his senior year at South Carolina while defensive end Cornellius Carradine spent much of the season on the reserve list following an ACL tear in 2012.
San Francisco have acquired the 30th overall pick of the draft having amassed an impressive 12-4 record this season but should have the option to trade up given the surplus of picks they have to play with. Here are five potential first-round scenarios for the Niners in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Draft a Left Guard
Current left guard Mike Iupati suffered broke his fibula in the Conference Championship game against the Seahawks and is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2014. Even if he makes it back to full health, it would make sense to bring in an understudy from the draft and allow him to get acclimatized to the league. Auburn’s Greg Robinson and Morgan Moses out of Virginia would be solid targets.
Trade Up For a Defensive Lineman
At 34 years old, 49ers defensive end Justin Smith is entering the twilight of his career and the organization will need to think ahead to life without the five-time Pro Bowler sooner or later.
Draft a Safety
Drafting a safety could quickly become a key priority for Baalke if Dontae Whitner is not re-signed. The former first round pick had a stellar season in 2013, but may become a cap casualty as the Niners have sizeable contract renewals on the horizon.
Deone Bucannon and Jimmie Ward are the top strong safety prospects in the draft and San Francisco may select one of them in the first round.
Trade Up For an Elite Cornerback Prospect
The Niners are in desperate need of depth at cornerback and there are plenty of solid prospects to look at in this year’s draft. Justin Gilbert decided to stay at Oklahoma State for his senior year and went on to win the College Football Performance Award for a defensive back in his final season.
If the Niners miss out on Gilbert they may opt for TCU’s Jason Verrett, who is projected to be selected in the latter stages of the first round.
Target a Top Wide Receiver
The passing game was the glaring weakness on the 49ers’ offense in 2013 and despite the return of Michael Crabtree toward the end of the regular season, San Francisco needs to draft a receiver. The need could become even greater if 11-year veteran Anquan Boldin moves on in free agency, which is a real possibility.
Kelvin Benjamin out of Florida State, Marqise Lee out of Southern California and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans will be legitimate targets for the franchise. The Niners may need to trade up in order to secure a quality receiver, particularly in the case of Evans and Lee, but we have seen such bold moves in the past from the 49ers’ front office.
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