By Cody Strahm @CodyJStrahm on May 1, 2014
For the San Francisco 49ers, who have fallen just short of a reaching the Super Bowl or winning it over the past three seasons, drafting at least one true difference-maker next week could be the difference between finally raising the Lombardi Trophy or more heartbreak in 2014. Here are their five worst-case scenarios in the first round.
There has bee some talk that if the 49ers stay put at pick No. 30 overall, Notre Dame defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt will be a legitimate option. Tuitt, while talented, had an underwhelming final season in South Bend, showing up to camp substantially overweight and disappearing during long stretches of games. He's not a prospect who should be trusted with a first-round pick.
The 49ers will be in the market for a wide receiver early in the draft. If they don't trade up for one in the first round, Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin will likely be attainable at pick No. 30. He's big, like San Francisco likes, and has a massive-catch radius. But he'll have a difficult time separating from NFL defensive backs. He might even be better suited to play tight end at the next level.
TCU cornerback Jason Verrett is a legitimate first-round talent at a position of need and could easily come off the board before the 49ers are scheduled to select. That doesn't mean they should trade up for him, though. If the 49ers are going to trade up for a corner, he better be a dependable boundary option. Verrett, at only 5-foot-9, could be relegated to the slot at the next level.
Like Verrett, Oregon State's Brandin Cooks plays a position of need -- wide receiver -- and could be selected before pick No. 30 overall. He's immensely talented with blazing speed and impressive ball skills. But his 5-foot-10 frame makes him no sure thing to excel in the NFL. He's arguably worth the 49ers' first-round choice, but not a first-rounder and more, which would be the price in any trade-up scenario.
With needs at wide receiver and cornerback, the 49ers would love to trade up in the first round to nab an elite talent at either position. They have plenty of ammunition to pull it off too. But there's a chance that no team will be willing to move back that far in the first round. That would be the worst-case scenario for the 49ers, who could be legitimately one player away from a Super Bowl title.
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