Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by team draft preview schedule.
No. 1 Team Need: Cornerback
With Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers both gone to Oakland, Tramaine Brock is the 49ers' lone reliable cornerback starter. Off-field woes threaten Chris Culliver's roster spot, while Perrish Cox, Eric Wright, and Chris Cook round out the depth chart on one-year deals. With 11 picks in May's draft, look for GM Trent Baalke to invest at least two selections in press-coverage prospects.
First day option: Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State - The buzz around Dennard has been negative in recent weeks. Despite running a 4.51, some still worry about Dennard’s long speed on tape. other worry about his short arms and grabby tendencies. I am still a fan, however, questions on measurables do tend impact prospects’ draft slots.
Second day possibility: Phillip Gaines, Rice - Gaines does not have size or athleticism questions. He flew under the radar a bit, but looks the best when able to press with size, trail with speed, and impact the catch point with length. He’s a legitimate second-round pick.
Third day flier: Dontae Johnson, NC State - Johnson is another press corner with length. He has experience at safety and corner, but I would not call him versatile because he does not consistently win from each spot. Development is needed, but I do not know if Johnson’s stiffness in open areas of the field can be fixed.
Video: Norris on San Francisco's top need
No. 2 Team Need: Wide Receiver
Michael Crabtree is entering a contract year, while Anquan Boldin goes into his age-34 season. The Niners don't seem sold on Quinton Patton as more than a long-term No. 3 wideout. They signed Brandon Lloyd to a one-year deal, but the contract contains no guaranteed money, and anything Lloyd gives San Francisco should be viewed as a bonus after he sat out all of last season. San Francisco needs a field stretcher capable of taking the top off of defenses, and allowing the 49ers' offense to take full advantage of Colin Kaepernick's howitzer arm.
First day option: Odell Beckham Jr., LSU - I know the team has been linked with Mike Evans over the last few weeks. I doubt they trade up high enough to get him. In fact, there has been an equal amount of buzz around valuing speed at the position, something Evan pointed out. Beckham was used as a vertical threat at LSU and has skills to match it, including winning at the catch point in contested situations. I also think OBJ can be a better runner with the ball in his hands than he showed as a receiver at LSU, extrapolating off of his return skills.
Second day possibility: Bruce Ellington, South Carolina - I am surprised Ellington has not received more attention. Not to say he isn’t considered a second day pick by many, because he is, but Ellington offers plenty of skills from the slot and enough speed to get vertical.
Third day flier: Rob Herron, Wyoming - Herron is another third receiver that can be extremely slippery from the slot. Many team attempt to redirect receivers from the slot, especially if the defender is comfortable in trash, but Herron has a variety of releases form the line of scrimmage and can add on to the separation he creates.
No. 3 Team Need: Outside Linebacker
Inside linebacker and center could also be viewed as needs, but outside-edge rusher is most pressing following Aldon Smith's latest meltdown. Smith is likely facing a multi-game suspension, leaving Ahmad Brooks, special teamer Dan Skuta, and raw sophomore Corey Lemonier to round out the OLB depth chart. Some draftniks had Niners 2013 second-round pick Tank Carradine pegged as a future outside linebacker, but he has bulked up to nearly 300 pounds and will play defensive end in San Francisco. Carradine is Justin Smith's eventual replacement, not Aldon's.
First day option: Scott Crichton, Oregon State - Crichton is a straight-line rusher who converts speed to power and has a high motor. Think of him like Charles Johnson. Now, don’t expect him to drop into coverage. That is not why a team will draft Crichton. In fact, expect him to play more inside in some sub-package situations, like he did against Oregon.
Second day possibility: Carl Bradford, Arizona State - Bradford is another high motor player from the edge, chasing down plays from the backside and displaying some recklessness at the same time. Some have even projected Bradford as an off line of scrimmage linebacker, something the 49ers need with Navorro Bowman’s injury.
Third day flier: Ronald Powell, Florida - Powell was injured while at Florida but is very talented. He played on the line standing up, in a three point stance and in space. he will likely be off many team’s boards, but the 49ers have shown a tendency to overlook medicals for talent thanks to their multitude of picks. This year is no different.
49ers 2014 Draft Picks (11)
First Round (No. 30)
Second Round (No. 56)
Second Round (No. 61)
Third Round (No. 77)
Third Round (No. 94)
Third Round (No. 100)
Fourth Round (No. 129)
Fifth Round (No. 170)
Seventh Round (No. 242)
Seventh Round (No. 243)
Seventh Round (No. 245)
Current 49ers First-Team Offense
QB: Colin Kaepernick
RB: Frank Gore
FB: Bruce Miller
WR: Michael Crabtree
WR: Anquan Boldin
TE: Vernon Davis
LT: Joe Staley
LG: Mike Iupati
RG: Alex Boone
RT: Anthony Davis
Current 49ers First-Team Defense
RE: Justin Smith
LE: Ray McDonald
NT: Glenn Dorsey
ILB: Patrick Willis
ILB: Navorro Bowman
OLB: Aldon Smith
OLB: Ahmad Brooks
LCB: Tramaine Brock
RCB: Chris Culliver
FS: Eric Reid
SS: Antoine Bethea