Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports



After trading for Jimmy Garoppolo, the San Francisco 49ers appear to have their quarterback of the future. The deal will significantly impact the team's thinking heading into the 2018 draft. The 49ers will (hopefully) no longer head into the offseason with the quarterback position as the most glaring area of need. Now, San Francisco can focus on building around the position or address a completely different area of need with their top pick.

Todd McShay of ESPN released his latest Top 32 ranking. USC quarterback Sam Darnold sits at the top of the list. The placement differs greatly from the Big Board of his colleague, Mel Kiper, who has the Trojan prospect ranked fifth. Kiper's top quarterback prospect is Josh Rosen of UCLA.

Kiper's top-ranked player is McShay's second-ranked prospect – running back Saquon Barkley of Penn State. The idea of pairing Barkley with Garoppolo is already generating social media buzz. If the season ended today, the 49ers would own the second overall selection in the upcoming draft with the Cleveland Browns holding on to the top spot due to a weaker strength of schedule. Should the Browns address the quarterback position (again), that would leave the 49ers with a plethora of options.

McShay wrote the following about Barkley:

"Barkley is the best running back in the nation this season. With good balance and terrific lateral agility, he can run away from the defense when he gets to the second level. He was bottled up a bit (21 carries for 44 yards and a TD) against Ohio State, but also returned a kickoff for a TD. He's a special talent."

Barkley is following up two seasons rushing for over 1,000 yards in each with 801 yards on 138 carries and nine touchdowns this season and still has four games to play. He also has 36 receptions for 471 yards.

Kiper had the following to say about his top-ranked player:

"Barkley is a lights-out athlete with a great lower body and quick feet who shows tremendous balance. He rushed for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and had 1,076 yards as a freshman."

Carlos Hyde leads the 49ers in rushing this season with 453 yards and four touchdowns on 112 carries. He is in the final year of his contract, and there have been mixed reports concerning the running back's future in San Francisco.