The 49ers are looking to get a large influx of young talent in this year’s draft, seeing as they have nine total picks including two in the 1st round. Their two biggest holes right now are in their defensive secondary and their offensive line, leading many to believe that’s where they will spend their top picks on.
Their 1st selection (#13 overall) is an interesting one, but the decision in the end will be an easy one. Joe Haden should be available, and if he is, San Fran should waste absolutely no time selecting him. His 40-yard dash times at the combine scared a bunch of people, but he made up for it at his Florida Pro Day where he ran in the low 4.4 range. Many people see him as top-10 value, which is why I think it would be a no-brainer to select him at #13. The only place most people can see him ending up other than with the 9ers is in Cleveland with the Browns at #7. But I don’t think the Browns will take a CB at #7, not because of Haden’s talent, but because of positional value. It is rare to see a CB taken in the top 7 picks, and I don’t think this draft will be an exception. If Haden isn’t available, then the likely candidates become C.J. Spiller out of Clemson, Jason Pierre-Paul from South Florida, Bryan Bulaga of Iowa (if he’s available), and finally Derrick Morgan, hailing from Georgia Tech. Of those candidates, Bulaga would be the best fit because he is an OT and because he is the best of the bunch. However, it is doubtful he will be available, so I would think Derrick Morgan would be the next best fit. He is a great all-around talent in that he can stop the run and get to the quarterback. He was extremely productive in college, and was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
San Francisco’s next pick comes at #17 overall. I think the two prospects getting the most attention here are Mike Iupati of Idaho and Earl Thomas from Texas. Iupati is a mauler at guard, but will likely be moved to RT. Earl Thomas is a ball-hawking game breaker of a Safety. I think Thomas would be the better pick because of his natural playmaking ability. He is great in coverage, and also isn’t afraid to play versus the run. Also, I can’t even imagine a few years from now a secondary featuring both him and Joe Haden. That would truly be frightening for opposing quarterbacks.
In the second round there are several names being tossed around. I think Jahvid Best would be the best pick because of his homerun play ability. The only problem is that he probably won’t be around when the 9ers pick. Navarro Bowman is another possibility, the OLB out of Penn State. Another LB worth taking a look at is Bowman’s teammate Sean Lee. He and Pat Willis would be a dominant force in the middle of that defense. There are also a couple of CBs worth a look in Perrish Cox from Oklahoma State and Chris Cook of Virginia.
Finally, there is some discussion of the 9ers being in the mix for starting Ravens LT Jared Gaither. The Ravens put a 1st round tender on him, and I think the 9ers pick is a bit too high for Gaither’s value. If anything, I think he warrants late 1st round value, potentially with the Colts at #31.
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Written by Adam Manaa