First round: No. 13 - Like a year ago, the first thought is the 49ers will take their highest-rated offensive tackle. But the 49ers don't need to "reach" in this spot because they have another pick just a few slots later. If a cornerback, defensive lineman or linebacker falls to them, they're in the spot to choose one. One player who - based on watching the BCS title game - that seems like a good fit would be Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain. He reportedly has great passion and football smarts. Takeo Spikes is entering his 13th season and the final year of his contract. The 49ers were smitten with USC linebacker Rey Maualuga last year and tempted to move up a few spots in the second round to get him. They also wanted Lance Briggs a couple years ago. So the 49ers would love to get another young impressive player to line up next to Patrick Willis.
First round (from Panthers): No. 16 or 17, pending coin toss - If the 49ers do not select an offensive tackle at No. 13, they would probably do so here. If they get their tackle at No. 13, they truly can go best-player available. They'd like to add an immediate impact player, but I tend to believe anything is possible here. They would not take a wide receiver, but if that wideout has fantastic return skills, they could pull the trigger. I would not expect them to take a quarterback, but if there's somebody who blows them away and he's still around, that would not shock me, either. It could be a cornerback. It's probably still too high for a safety, as Eric Berry will be long gone. It could be a pass-rusher, a nose tackle, an inside or outside linebacker, etc.
Second round: No. 17 (No. 49 overall) - Free agency will have already been open for six weeks when the draft rolls around. Clearly, the 49ers need a return man. And if they want to get a game-changing type of presence, they better get him here. Otherwise, they're taking another big chance of just trying to piecemeal together that part of their game for another season.