The 49ers' most glaring weakness is obvious even to the most naked of eyes, they need recievers. They've needed receivers, and most experts and fans alike expect a first round draft pick to be spent on one without hesitation. But Bill Walsh once said, "You don't solve the receiver problem until everything else is fixed."
Coach of the Year Jim Harbaugh has been compared to Walsh again and again due to his quick success with San Francisco and Stanford ties. But it is the management of Trent Baalke that most compares to the legendary coach. Many people fail to realize that Walsh was not only a coach, but a general manager in his time with the Niners. In the 13 seasons he spent as the Niners head coach and general manager, Walsh used one first- or second-round pick on a wide receiver.
That one pick? After just dominating the Dolphins in the Super Bowl by 22 points(i.e. everything else fixed), San Francisco traded up in the draft to select Jerry Rice… so that worked pretty well.
In his 18 draft picks, Baalke has taken two wide receivers, both sixth-round picks in Kyle Williams and Ronald Johnson (2010 and 2011 respectively). So it would seem he has adopted Walsh's mantra.
Going all-in on a first or second round reciever has not worked for the 49ers. Since 1995, the Niners have used three first-round picks on wide receivers, netting two busts and one question mark: J.J. Stokes (1995), Rashaun Woods (2004) and Michael Crabtree (2009).
The 49ers main focus in the 2012 offseason will be in free agency. And they won't be looking far.
Should the Niners fail to re-sign CB Carlos Rogers, then cornerback will be a major area that needs addressing. There are not many free agent cornerbacks out there so a first round choice may very well be used here should Rogers leave.
OLB Ahmad Brooks has had a decent career in San Francisco, but he will most likely be left out of the re-signing priorities. Should Brooks be let go, the Niners will be looking to find the next Aldon Smith. Look for Smith to become a full-time starter, while a new rookie or free agent takes over for OLB Pary Haralson on situational passing plays, filling in for what Smith did last season.
DT Isaac Sopoaga had a good season with San Francisco in 2011, but he is quickly becoming the weakest link in what has become a steel chain of a defensive line with perennial pro-bowler Justin Smith and a rising stalwart in Ray McDonald. Baalke and Harbaugh may be looking to draft a DT to replace or split time with Sopoaga to make the line even stronger.
The 49ers are not known for being big players in the free agency and are even less known for spending big money on it. Many of the names being thrown around are Chiefs' WR Dwayne Bowe, Chargers' WR Vincent Jackson, and Giants' WR Mario Manningham. But in order to land one of these big fish, the 49ers will have to spend, leaving less money to re-sign current players and potential draft picks.