Thursday, March 28, 2013

San Francisco 49ers Draft Preview

By Kalen Patrick

The 2013 NFL Draft takes place on April 25th, the 3 days of drafting will shape franchises for years to come. Some players will become stars, some will become busts, some will surprise and some will disappoint. The NFL Draft is one of the biggest events on the NFL Calendar and there is certainly a lot of intrigue as we lead up to the main event. Of course this is the San Francisco Sports Cave so I am gonna take a look at some of the 49ers draft needs and which players the 49ers might be looking at. Overall the 49ers have 15 picks in this years draft, and with multiple big contracts looming in the coming years, being able to draft effectively is going to be key for the 49ers to remain towards the top of the NFL.

49ers Position Needs and Potential Targets
What is very interesting is that the 49ers have been known for their stout defense, but this time around the 49ers have multiple needs on the defensive side.

Safety: The departure of Dashon Goldson in Free Agency and the decline in performance from Donte Whitner makes Safety arguably priority number 1 for the 49ers heading in to the draft. The 49ers hold the 31st, 34th and and 61st picks within the first 2 rounds. I am making an absolute guarantee that with one of those picks (or via a trade) the 49ers will draft a Safety in either round 1 or 2. In my opinion, some of the main Safety prospects the 49ers will focus on will be Jonathan Cyprien (Florida International) and Matt Elam (Florida). Addressing this position early is vital, I don't think any of us 49er fans will forget Joe Flacco torching Whitner and Goldson on all of those deep passes in the Superbowl.

Note: The 49ers did sign Free Agent Craig Dahl, but he in my opinion is definitely a backup talent but may see time in Nickel or Dime packages.

Defensive Line: There are 2 reasons why defensive line is a huge need for the 49ers. 1- The 49ers lost valuable depth in Free Agency with Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean Francois gone. 2- We all saw how much the absence of Justin Smith effected the 49ers defense. While Justin will be ready to go for Training Camp, he will be turning 34 around the start of the Regular Season. This means he won't be at his high caliber for many years and also he is more likely to get injured and "dinged up" and miss time. With the now lack of depth the 49ers will need to address the defensive line. The 49ers could target Sylvester Williams (North Carolina) if he is available at the end of round 1, the one issue with him is the recent bust Kentwan Balmer played the same position and came from the same school. This may affect the 49ers thought process with Williams. Other potential prospects around the 49ers early picks which could be targeted are Kawann Short (Purdue) and Bennie Logan (LSU).

Note: The 49ers signed Glenn Dorsey who I think could blossom in San Francisco, however the need is still there and I expect the 49ers will add another D-Lineman early.

The 49ers starting offense is all but set in stone, the key for the 49ers will be acquiring key depth at certain positions.

Tight End: We all know how much the 49ers love using the pistol offense and 2 Tight End formations and the departure of Delanie Walker means there is a notable void. I don't believe Garrett Celek is ready to be that guy, with other teams Celek could be a number 2 TE but with the amount the 49ers utilize that position, expect an upgrade somewhat early in the draft. The ideal selection would be Zach Ertz (Stanford) with the 61st pick but it's very likely he will be gone by then. Another possibility could be Jordan Reed (Florida).

Backup QB: After Colin Kaepernick, the only other QB on the roster is Scott Tolzien, who looks solid in the pre-season but should be nothing more than the #3 QB option. Kaepernick is the Franchise QB but with the abundance of picks the 49ers have, it never hurts to have a very solid backup QB. Also with Jim Harbaugh's ability to develop and get the best out of QB's, it's possible the 49ers could develop the back up QB and the trade him to stock up on picks in a similar trade to Matt Schaub to Houston or Alex Smith to Kansas City. Some options the 49ers could look at in the 3rd round are Matt Scott (Arizona), Tyler Bray (Tennessee) or Tyler Wilson (Arkansas).

Lets not forget the 49ers also have two 3rd rounders, (74th and 93rd overall picks). The 49ers will have a lot of flexibility in being able to move and trade to get the players they want. This draft could really set the 49ers up for the next 5+ years and the 3 draft days in April and its success could cement Trent Baalke's reputation as being the top GM in the NFL.

That's it for now. Check back soon for more updates. Over and Out.

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