It’s time. The 2006 NFL Draft is only a few days away and the 49ers have positioned themselves to have a good, if not great draft class.

They currently have three picks in the first three rounds. Two in round one (6th and 22nd) and one pick in round 3 (84th). Head coach Mike Nolan stated the obvious when he said that the 49ers need starters - players that would start for any team, not just for the talent-challenged 49ers.

So then comes the (seemingly) age-old debate. Do they take Vernon Davis at the 6th spot? Perhaps A.J. Hawk? Do they trade out? Do they trade up? Quite simply, because of the depth of the draft and there being about seven “sure things” at the top of the board it would be really hard for the 49ers to screw this up. If they take Davis, they get a playmaker that can stretch the field. If they get Hawk, they have a linebacker who is already being put in canton by some scouts. If Mario Williams manages to fall to #6 then you have the pass-rushing defensive end the team has needed since 1999.

Frankly, I don’t care who they pick with the sixth selection. As long as it’s not a quarterback (and Nolan has hinted with the subtlety of a 50 foot neon sign that he will not consider one) then I am happy. The 49ers need help at tight end, linebacker, defensive back and defensive end (although not necessarily in that order). As long as they pick one of the top prospects the team will benefit in some fashion.

There is one thing the 49ers could do to mess this up though. They could buy into “Bush-Mania” and trade up in order to get the former darling of the draft, USC’s Reggie Bush. The only way this happens is if Houston does not select the Heisman trophy winner in the number one spot. Then everything gets a little frantic and Bush could slip to #4 or even #5. In this scenario Nolan may be tempted to trade up and grab Bush.

Now, I’m not saying that Bush is a bust or anything. I am sure he will have a great career for whatever team selects him. The draft is all about value for the player you select. Sure, you could sacrifice a whole draft Mike Ditka style for one player. But if that player does not pan out, then what does that leave you?

The 49ers would have to give up their #6 pick and probably their #22 pick in order to move up since plenty of people will be offering a first and second round pick to move up. The next pick for the 49ers is round three and at that point your sure fire starters are off the board. They would have drafted a player that plays one of the few positions on the team where they have established veterans and they wouldn’t be bale to draft another sure-fire starter. You can only draft for depth for so long before your team looks like a perpetual second-string roster.

The 49ers would have to basically be convinced that a player that averaged 15 snaps a game would be more valuable to the team than two starters at positions of need. This is not good value, and this is not a good way of thinking. Ask Detroit how often having Barry Sanders got them to the Super Bowl and you can see how this move makes no sense.

Trading up is really the only way the 49ers can screw this up. If they trade down because someone wants to jump up and grab one of the top three quarterbacks, the 49ers win. If they deal with their cross-town rival so no one leap frogs the Raiders at #7, the 49ers win. If the 49ers draft Vernon Davis or A.J. Hawk, they win.

The 2006 49ers will be improved at two positions and they still have millions under the salary cap. It would take a lot to mess up the draft and while unlikely, it is possible. Hopefully Nolan and McCloughan stay true to their word. If they do this year’s draft will set the team on the right track towards improving upon their cellar-dwelling status.