By Brian Cox @bacox87 on May 5, 2014
With the 2014 NFL Draft starting this Thursday, the San Francisco 49ers are in a much better position than most teams. They have few needs, a plethora of draft picks, lost very few players in free agency, and acquired the type of “football guys” head coach Jim Harbaugh loves.
Their key losses are mostly on defense. They lost starting safety Donte Whitner, cornerbacks Terrell Brown and Carlos Rogers, and running back Anthony Dixon. Whitner had a career year last year and was the signal caller in their secondary. Rogers was a shell of his former self and won’t be missed, and Brown was injured for part of last season and ended up losing his starting job to Tramaine Brock.
The three biggest acquisitions the 49ers made this offseason were offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, quarterback Blaine Gabbert, and safety Antoine Bethea. The most important signing was that of Bethea. He provides the 49ers with a veteran presence in the secondary and someone who can teach the rookie they inevitably draft the ins and outs of the position. Martin was picked up in a trade and will provide much-needed depth to the offensive line.
The most important needs for the 49ers going into this draft are a speedy wide receiver to take the tops off of defenses and a solid red zone target, followed by a shutdown cornerback. Right now, their starting cornerbacks are Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver. After that, it’s a lot of question marks. Another need for them is at strong safety. They would like a young strong safety to pair with Eric Reid.
A few luxury picks the 49ers might end up taking might be someone like cornerback Aaron Colvin in the late rounds. Colvin was a top-100 talent at the end of his senior season but tore his ACL in a Senior Bowl practice. He would sit all of his rookie season, but would be a solid talent in the 2015 season (similar to Tank Carradine and Marcus Lattimore). Another luxury pick we might see them make is an outside linebacker fairly early in the draft.
If the 49ers are going to be super aggressive like most people think, I expect them to trade into the top-10 and take Sammy Watkins. They certainly have the ammunition to do so, and would add so much to their offense. Another possibility is them trading to the middle of the first and taking one of the top cornerbacks, or a wide receiver they really like. If they stay with their 30th pick, they would probably trade up into the top of the second.
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