UPDATE (4/25) - ESPN's Chris Mortensen stated on SportsCenter Friday that he's "heard more than twice" the 49ers could be "ready to do something big" in May's draft.
49ers GM Trent Baalke is working with 11 picks, including six selections in the top 100, so he has plenty of ammo to execute a trade up. Mort suggested the 49ers targeting Texas A&M WR Mike Evans, perhaps with a move into the top five. Mortensen said Oakland is "open for business" at No. 5 overall, and compared the hypothetical scenario to Atlanta's 2011 trade up for Julio Jones. Anquan Boldin is entering his age-34 season; Michael Crabtree is in a contract year.
UPDATE (4/30) - Armed with a stacked roster and 11 draft picks, including six in the top 100, the 49ers are, again, logical trade-up candidates. And the Niners, in need of a field-stretching wide receiver, have been very interested in LSU's Odell Beckham, a possible mid-first-round pick, a source told The Chronicle.
UPDATE (5/6) - Matt Maiocco CSN: "I've heard a lot over the past few days that the 49ers will be targeting a wide receiver for a trade-up. The top candidates are Beckham with a moderate move and Mike Evans with a dramatic move. The 49ers have the draft capital to accomplish either move."
This will probably be my first and only draft post. I know no more than anyone, so hopefully you'll enjoy my tiny grain of salt in this gigantic 49ers-draft conversation.
I believe the San Francisco 49ers will make two first-round draft picks on Day One of the 2014 NFL Draft.
• I believe the 49ers will first move up into the 12-17 range and draft their wide receiver of choice. If I had to guess, I'd say they trade with the Chicago Bears at pick #14 and take WR Mike Evans of Texas A&M (EDIT - WR Odell Beckham of LSU would be another option). Either way, I see them going receiver, and I would bet money that the 49ers move up into the teens to do it. There's no way they wait until #30.
• I also believe the 49ers will then trade back into round one, into the 20-30 range, and take the best cornerback available. If I had to guess, I'd say they trade with the Green Bay Packers at #21 or Cincinnati Bengals at pick #24. I have no idea which player... I don't know much about the CB's in this draft, so I won't pretend to.
Reasons why? Lots of stuff you probably already know.
• Too many 2014 draft picks (11 total) for the 49ers, and the roster is full as it is.
• At WR, the 49ers are still paying for the bust that was the AJ Jenkins pick. Anquan Boldin has two years minimum left in him with this team, and the 49ers cannot wait another year to try to develop a stud-WR to replace him alongside Michael Crabtree. The 49ers need someone 100% ready for 2015, and Quinton Patton probably isn't the answer beyond being a solid #3, similar to a player like Atlanta's Harry Douglas. Not to mention the 49ers failed to find any depth at the position in free agency after trying out just about every #2 wide receiver they could find on the market. In addition, the Jim Harbaugh-49ers have also been severely unlucky with injuries at the receiver position over the past three years. There's no way this team goes into the 2014 season with Quinton Patton and Jon Baldwin (and Brandon Lloyd?) as their only insurance.
• At CB, the Chris Culliver arrest paired with both Tarrell Brown and Carlos Rogers leaving for the Oakland Raiders will push Trent Baalke to move up and draft a corner that can start Week One in 2014. The 49ers are simply short at the position, even though Culliver could potentially escape without suspension if he's lucky and start Week 1 regardless.
So why will the 49ers take a wide receiver before they take a cornerback this May? Simply because the 49ers as a franchise, historically and more prominently in recent years, do not place as much value on the corner position concerning their overall defensive approach. Defensively, they believe in beating their opponents using pressure from the front-seven rather than relying on lock-down corners on the edges. This is very similar to the defensive mentality employed by teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens.
And in relation to the draft, the 49ers believe in finding value at the corner position in later rounds. Tramaine Brock was an undrafted free agent. Chris Culliver was an almost unknown third round pick. Tarell Brown was a fifth. Carlos Rodgers was a free agency reclamation project during the lockout. Perrish Cox was also a free agency find. The last time the 49ers took a corner in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft? Shawntae Spencer, #58 overall, in 2004.
And if the 49ers don't move up in the first round to grab their new cornerback, I believe they will probably do it in the second. Regardless, prepare yourself for the 49ers to take a wide receiver first, then a cornerback. My 2¢.
(EDIT - I realized I'm arguing two different things here... the 49ers trading up twice and/or the 49ers making two first round picks... I guess it's just easier to say I think they'll make two first round picks... they could trade up for a WR in the teens and still stay put later, taking a CB at #30... regardless two guys, one round )
(EDIT 2 - On page 2 of the thread, it was effectively argued that the 49ers will most likely move up in Round 1 for a player and then move up again in Round 2 for a player... this seems most likely than the 49ers taking two guys in Round 1, but you never know )
(EDIT 3 - It's draft-morning, and it's clear I undervalued Mike Evans, as he is projected to go in the top-10 now. So, barring something dramatic, I am probably wrong on the player (spoiler alert - I don't watch college football, so this isn't a huge surprise), but I will still bet I am right on the trade up for a WR. And two trades into the first round seem unlikely now for the 49ers, but you never know. Regardless, I'll be happy to admit I was wrong if the 49ers stay put at #30 or trade up for a CB instead of a WR. Who knows.... maybe someone grabs Beckham before they can move up and Harbaalke have to change their strategy? We will see!)
[ Edited by NickSh49 on May 8, 2014 at 12:27 PM ]