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Ranking 49ers' NFL Draft needs is no easy assignment

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Ranking 49ers' NFL Draft needs is no easy assignment

Here's the latest edition of 49ers Mailbag with questions submitted to our Facebook page. . . 

What are the 49ers' biggest needs in the draft? (Steven Downs)
This is not an easy excercise. And if you ask me tomorrow, the list might be in a different order. The 49ers have nine draft picks, so here is my subjective list of the 49ers' top draft needs

1. Edge rusher
2. Cornerback
3. Offensive guard
4. Inside linebacker
5. Offensive tackle
6. Wide receiver
7. Tight end
8. Safety
9. Running back

The 49ers have capable players starting – or competing to start -- at every position. Now, they must create more competition and build the back end of their roster.

--There are not many edge rushers who can step in and make an impact, so it's possible this need goes untouched in the draft. The 49ers hope to develop the guys already on the roster – players such as Jeremiah Attaochu, Cassius Marsh, Eli Harold, Pita Taumoepenu – and get more from DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and Arik Armstead, too.

--Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon are slated to start at cornerback. The 49ers need a lot more help at this spot because it is rare that both starting cornerbacks remain on the field together for any length of time. The 49ers are still looking to sign a veteran cornerback so that all the competition at the back end of the roster in training camp does not include undrafted rookies.

--Last year through most of training camp, coach Kyle Shanahan did not believe the 49ers had one, let alone two, starting-caliber offensive guards. Laken Tomlinson was acquired just before the start of the regular season. Now, Tomlinson, Jonathan Cooper, Joshua Garnett and, possibly, Erik Magnuson will be competing for the two spots. Plus, the 49ers could add another guard in the draft.

--The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office has not announced whether it will pursue criminal charges against Reuben Foster. With his status unresolved, the 49ers should add to the depth at inside linebacker.

--The 49ers must start looking for a succession plan at the tackle positions. Trent Brown enters the final year of his contract. The 49ers seem unconvinced about making a long-term financial commitment to him. Joe Staley will be 34 when the regular season opens, and it’s uncertain how much longer he can play at a high level.

Do you think the 49ers will trade for OBJ? Possibly for the #9 pick plus more? (James Dizon Masajo)
I do not.

The New York Giants are reportedly asking for two first-round draft picks for wide receiver Odell Beckham. That is a high of a price to pay for a team, such as the 49ers, looking to build something sustainable.

Plus, Beckham will seek a contract worth $20 million a year.

I’m sure the 49ers would do their homework to determine whether Beckham would fit into the team structure, too. If the 49ers pay that kind of money to a player, the rest of the locker room will be sent a message.

At the NFL scouting combine, Shanahan touched on his philosophy:

“Players watch who you pay. And I want to pay guys who do things the right way. And I also want to pay the best guys — not all overachievers who aren't that great. They've got to be good and they've got to do stuff the right way. When you do that, it adds to your team. But if you start paying guys who don't do that stuff, your team starts saying, ‘OK, we don't have to listen.’”

Are Tartt and Colbert the starting safeties going into camp? (Kelly Fielder)
Don’t forget about Jimmie Ward.

The 49ers plan to play Ward at cornerback throughout the nine-week offseason program while Richard Sherman is rehabbing. But when training camp begins, it seems like a reasonable expectation that Ward will be back at free safety to compete for a starting job.

Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert will get the first crack during the offseason program to line up at the safety positions.

Also, the 49ers could add someone, such as Derwin James, in the first round. On the surface, the 49ers appear set at safety this season with three starter-caliber players. But Ward and Tartt have contracts that expire at the end of the season, so there is some uncertainty beyond the upcoming season.

Thoughts on Eric Reid? (Jonathan Austin)
Eric Reid is good enough to be a starter in the NFL. But the 49ers do not consider Reid a starter on their team right now with Ward, Tartt and Colbert on the roster. Reid said the 49ers have not offered him a contract. That should not be considered a surprise.

It would be an insult to Reid if the 49ers were to offer him a one-year contract at “backup money.” And there is no reason at this stage of the offseason for Reid to accept a one-year, prove-it contract from any team.

Perhaps a team will step up – before or after the draft – with a contract offer. Perhaps, there will be an injury in training camp that will prompt a team to get in touch with Reid.

To begin with, the safety market has been soft. And there are enough questions about Reid’s overall game that likely have prevented teams from prioritizing him for a multi-year contract. Of course, it would be naïve to think Reid’s protest against racial inequality has not produced a negative impact, too.

NFL Draft 2019: 49ers pick Nick Bosa at No. 2 to bolster pass rush

NFL Draft 2019: 49ers pick Nick Bosa at No. 2 to bolster pass rush

The 49ers got their guy.

With the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, San Francisco selected Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa.

"It's a new journey," Bosa told ESPN's Suzy Kolber shortly after the 49ers selected him. "I'm so excited to finally be back on a team. Can't wait to get to work. But this is all the work I've put in since I was seven years old and it's finally here."

Bosa will join his new teammates on the field for the 49ers' rookie minicamp May 3 through May 5, and he can't wait to get started.

"I want to get with my team, and I want to kick some butt on the field," Bosa told Kolber. "I'm so excited to go to work."

Here's the full breakdown on Bosa.

Nick Bosa

Position: Defensive end
College: Ohio State
Height: 6-4
Weight: 266
Selection: First round (No. 2 overall)

Scouting report

Bosa has a unique blend of lower-body strength, agility, balance and tenacity. He is a technician who has been studying the game, and, specifically, the art of pass-rushing, from an early age. His dad, John Bosa, and uncle, Eric Kumerow, were first-round draft picks of the Miami Dolphins in back-to-back years. His older brother, Joey, was the No. 3 overall pick of the Chargers in 2016. His measurables compare favorably to his brother. Nick Bosa ran a 4.79 in the 40 and had 29 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press.

“Nick will succeed in any defense he is placed into. He can win on the edge, he can likely win inside when set up to maximize one on one matchups,” said draft expert Josh Norris of Rotoworld and NBC Sports in his evaluation.

Bosa recorded 8.5 sacks as a sophomore and was primed for a big junior year. But he sustained a bilateral core muscle injury in the third game of the season – after recording four sacks up to that point -- and underwent season-ending surgery. He is completely recovered and took part in the full workout at the combine in February.

Projected role

The 49ers entered the offseason with a major need at edge rusher after a season in which Cassius Marsh and Ronald Blair managed just 5.5 sacks apiece. The club acquired Dee Ford in a trade with Kansas City, and Marsh was released.

Now, Bosa is added to provide an upgrade on the other side. Bosa will certainly be deployed as a nickel pass rusher from Day 1. He has the strength and leverage to be very good against the run. Bosa could help the 49ers accomplish GM John Lynch’s goal of putting together a “dominant” defensive line.

Bosa becomes the fourth defensive lineman the 49ers have chosen with a first-round pick since 2015, joining Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas.

What they’re saying

“I’m somebody that loves the game more than anybody. I’m going to come in and I’m going to work every day, every practice trying to find new things to better myself. If you do draft me, then you’ll have somebody who’s going to improve throughout my entire career” – Nick Bosa on what NFL teams should know about him.

“He has a very strong lower body. He’s got great balance, like a wrestler. He can stay on his feet. I think what makes him different” – Larry Johnson, Ohio State defensive line coach.

[RELATED: The Choice -- Football is in Nick Bosa's blood]

“He’s a great teammate. He’s always pushing the younger guys. He’s a very high competitor. Sometimes our coaches had to pull him back because of how hard he goes” – Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin, a two-time team captain.

“I just love them, the culture. It seems like the kind of culture I’d like to be in. It was just a really good visit. It just seems like a family. Every coach that I talked to when they were away from coach (Kyle) Shanahan just talked up how player-friendly he is and how he’s just a regular guy, but when it’s time to go to work, he goes to work. Playing for somebody like that would be really cool” -- Bosa on the time he has spent with the 49ers during the draft process.

NFL draft tracker 2019: First-round pick, trade updates as they happen

NFL draft tracker 2019: First-round pick, trade updates as they happen

The 2019 NFL Draft is underway in Nashville, Tenn., and the Bay Area's two teams should be in the center of the action.

The 49ers selected Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa with the No. 2 pick. The Raiders took Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 pick.

Oakland also owns the Nos. 24 and 27 picks -- meaning they have many options that could decide where the top prospects fall.

[RELATED: Follow latest draft news, trade talk during Round 1]

It promises to be an interesting slate of 32 picks made in the Music City, and you can follow live as each selection is made in the 2019 NFL Draft tracker below:

1. Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

2. San Francisco 49ers
Nick Bosa, edge rusher, Ohio State

3. New York Jets
Quinnen Williams, defensive tackle, Alabama

4. Oakland Raiders
Clelin Ferrell, defensive end, Clemson

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6. New York Giants
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
8. Detroit Lions
9. Buffalo Bills
10. Denver Broncos
11. Cincinnati Bengals
12. Green Bay Packers
13. Miami Dolphins
14. Atlanta Falcons
15. Washington Redskins
16. Carolina Panthers
17. New York Giants (from Cleveland Browns in Odell Beckham Jr. trade)
18. Minnesota Vikings
19. Tennessee Titans
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
21. Seattle Seahawks
22. Baltimore Ravens
23. Houston Texans
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago Bears in Khalil Mack trade)
25. Philadelphia Eagles
26. Indianapolis Colts
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas Cowboys in Amari Cooper trade)
28. Los Angeles Chargers
29. Seattle Seahawks (from Kansas City Chiefs in Frank Clark trade)
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans Saints in 2018 draft-day trade)
31. Los Angeles Rams
32. New England Patriots