Sometimes the glaring needs are not so obvious until you look at the players that are expected to leave due to their contract expiring. And that applies to not just the players on contract years now, but players whose contracts expire after the 2014 season too. Right now, these are the areas of need I see for the 49ers (these are not listed in order), and players I like right now who we might want to target:
1. Wide Receiver - It is abundantly clear that we lack a vertical threat on this team to that can get open and take pressure off the short and intermediate routes. This may not be as big of a need if Baldwin proves to be that guy and steps up this season. Right now I see a lot of underclassmen likely to declare; the senior WR class is awful.
2. Offensive Line - Goodwin is not expected to come back, and it's not guarantee that Snyder does either. That leaves us with Staley, Boone, Iupati, Kilgore, and Davis as the starters with Looney as the only reserve from the 2013 active roster.
3. Cornerback - Rogers, Asomugha, and Brock may all be gone. Culliver is coming off a torn ACL. We clearly need some help. Morris may contribute next season, but we'll need some depth still.
4. Strong Safety - Whitner is OK in coverage, great against the run, and a ferocious hitter, but his contract is up and I'm not sure he'll be re-signed. There is no one on the roster worthy of taking his spot.
5. Defensive Line - With Ian Williams coming off a broken ankle, it would be wise to look at NT depth. Dorsey has filled in admirably so far, so we may bypass that, but I think we could use some more athleticism there. We DEFINITELY need DE depth. McDonald is tough but does get hurt. Justin Smith doesn't have much time life. Dial and Carradine are both coming off injuries. I don't recall, but I think Dobbs' contract is up as well after this season.
6. Pass Rush Depth - Since we love to trade all our OLB depth away, we are yet again in a hole here where we need to draft somebody, especially to keep us safe if Aldon messes up again...
Players I like:
Sammy Watkins-Clemson, 6-1 200 4.47*
Devin Street-Pitt, 6-3 192. 4.56
Spencer Long-OG-Nebraska, 6-4 315 5.16
Brandon Thomas-OG-Clemson, 6-3 315 5.24
Darqueeze Dennard-Michigan State, 5-11 197 4.52
Kyle Fuller-Virginia Tech, 6-0 190 4.45
Craig Loston-LSU, 6-1 209 4.45
Ty Zimmerman-Kansas State, 6-1 205 4.57 (in the mid-later rounds)
DaQuan Jones-NT-Penn State, 6-3 333 5.18
Taylor Hart-DE-Oregon, 6-6 287 4.92
Larry Webster-Bloomsburg, 6-6 240 4.67
IK Enemkpali-Louisiana Tech, 6-1 250 4.78