With the Draft just over the horizon, it’s time to take a detailed look at each team’s acquisitions and losses and gauge a plan of attack for how they should approach the first three rounds of this year’s draft. We’ll start with the lowly Houston Texans and work our way all the way up to the Super Bowl Champs in Seattle. The 49ers kick off the final three plan of attacks of 2014.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Team Needs: DE, CB, WR, OLB, C
Free Agent Losses: S Donte Whitner, QB Colt McCoy, CB Tarrell Brown, CB Carlos Rogers, RB Anthony Dixon, WR Mario Manningha
Free Agent Acquisitions: S Antoine Bethea, CB Chris Cook, WR Anquan Boldin (resigned), WR Kasim Osgood (resigned), CB Eric Wright (resigned), CB Perrish Cox, K Phil Dawson (resigned), QB Blaine Gabbert (trade), TE Demarcus Dobbs
Potential Round 1 Targets: DE Ra’Shede Hageman, DT Louis Nix III, WR Kelvin Benjamin, WR Cody Latimer, WR Marqise Lee, WR Brandin Cooks, OLB Dee Ford, OLB Demarcus Lawrence, OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, CB Jason Verrett, CB Bradley Roby, DE Kony Ealy
Potential Round 2 Targets: C Marcus Martin, C Weston Richburg, OLB Marcus Smith, OLB Kyle Van Noy, CB Bashaud Breeland, CB Keith McGill, CB Stanley Jean Baptise, CB/S Lamarcus Joyner, DE Stephon Tuitt, WR Cody Latimer, WR Davante Adams, WR Jordan Matthews, WR Jarvis Landry, WR Allen Robinson
Potential Round 3 Targets: C Russell Bodine, OLB Carl Bradford, OLB Jordie Tripp, OLB Jackson Jeffcoat, DE Brent Urban, CB Pierre Desir, CB Philip Gaines, CB Aaron Colvin, CB Antone Exum, CB Vic Hampton, WR Paul Richardson, WR Bruce Ellington, WR Martavis Bryant, WR Donte Moncrief, WR Jared Abbrederris, WR Robert Herron
Plan of Attack: The 49ers are definitely a team that could move up in this year’s Draft. They have 6 picks in the top 100 selections, so they definitely have the ammo to move for a guy they love. The question is how far are they willing to go? They may have to throw in a future first rounder to get into the top ten, but if they really want Sammy Watkins or a pass rusher like Clowney or Mack, they may be willing to do it. A more realistic trade may be into the top 15 for maybe just their first and one of their second and third round choices. If they do that, they could target pass rusher Anthony Barr, or a corner like Gilbert or Dennard. If the 49ers stay put, they’ll still see some solid talent on the board. They could use a talented young corner and could go with Bradley Roby or Jason Verrett. Wide receiver is also a need for the team, and they could go with a big target like Kelvin Benjamin or Cody Latimer. Aldon Smith has had some recent trouble off the field so they could bring in another pass rusher for insurance. Auburn’s Dee Ford would be a great choice but he could be off the board, so they could reach a hair for a player like Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu or Boise St.’s Demarcus Lawrence. One player the team would love to get would be Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman. The 49ers need to find an heir apparent to Justin Smith and Hageman could be just the man they are looking for. He runs hot and cold, but if Harbaugh can motivate him to be consistent every snap, he could be a seriously disruptive presence on their defensive line.
Assuming the 49ers still have both of their second round picks, they should look at adding a center and a receiver. They have untested Daniel Kilgore slated as their center but should bring in some competition for him. USC’s Marcus Martin is widely regarded as the top center and is a nasty blocker. Colorado St.’s Weston Richburg is another center who is likely to come off the board in round 2. He’s more athletic and can play a little guard too. The wide receiver class is very deep this year so the 49ers should see plenty of talent available at either one of their second round selections. LSU’s Jarvis Landry is a possibility. Landry didn’t run very well at the Combine or his Pro Day, but plays much faster on tape. He’s a reliable receiver who can work the slot. The 49ers could also look at a big wide receiver like Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, or go with Davante Adams who has decent size, and is a smooth route runner. If they go with a defensive end here, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt would be the man they would consider. If they still need a pass rusher then they’d be deciding between Louisville’s Marcus Smith or BYU’s Kyle Van Noy.
If the 49ers head into round 3 with already landing an outside linebacker, a center, and a wide receiver, then they should target a corner with their first pick of the third round. They’d love a guy like Pierre Desir with his size and ball skills but he could be gone, so maybe they go with Aaron Colvin from Oklahoma. Colvin was a player who was seen as a second round talent, but then got hurt at the Senior Bowl and will miss his rookie season. The 49ers can take him late in round 3, red shirt him for a season and then hope to see some return on their investment in year two. They could also take a player with some character issues in South Carolina’s Vic Hampton. Hampton is a talented corner who is a solid run defender with above average ball skills. The problem is, he’s got a lengthy off the field history with the law and teams will be very wary of investing too high a draft pick in him. If they don’t like what they see at corner and choose to fill another need they’d love to see Virginia defensive end Brent Urban on the board. He can be groomed to take over for Justin Smith in a few years and is a perfect fit as a five technique in the 49ers 3 man defensive front. With their second third round choice, the 49ers will likely just take the highest rated player on their board. They could take an inside linebacker as they need someone to take NaVorro Bowman’s place while he’s recovering from injury. Stanford’s Shayne Skov is a possible target given his history with Jim Harbaugh. They could also take another pass rusher with another familiar face in Trent Murphy.