The San Francisco 49ers have a whopping 14 draft picks in which to utilize in this year’s draft. Unlike last year, the 49ers will actually need to rely on some of the players they take to be contributors if they hope to make it to another Super Bowl appearance.
The 49ers didn’t get one start from any of their seven draft picks from last year and only a combined 12 games played among the group. First round pick, receiver A.J. Jenkins, appeared in just three games and didn’t make one catch last season. LaMichael James had the only tangible impact last year with 27 carries for 125 yards and three catches for 29 yards in four games played in the regular season. This year, they have some holes to fill and plenty of chances to do so.
Safety: The 49ers elected to let Dashon Goldson walk in free agency rather than pursuing him for the big money contract he received from Tampa Bay. San Francisco signed former St. Louis Rams safety Craig Dahl but need to add talent to the position alongside starter Donte Whitner. Florida’s Matt Elam or LSU’s Eric Reid could be targets with the 49ers late first or early second round selections.
Nose Tackle: With the departure of Isaac Sopoaga to the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason, the 49ers are in need of a replacement to anchor the middle of their defensive line. Will Tukuafu and Ian Williams have been options on a rotational basis but may not be up to the task of playing more frequently. Georgia’s John Jenkins or Missouri Southern State’s Brandon Williams could be options for the 49ers in the second or third round.
Tackle: While the starting tackle spots are secured with Joe Staley and Anthony Davis, the depth behind them is suspect. While Alex Boone can also play some tackle if needed, the 49ers need to add at least one backup to solidify the depth on the line.
Tight End: The 49ers frequently used two tight end packages last year with Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. With Walker’s departure to Tennessee, the 49ers need to find another option to play off of Davis. Garrett Celek may not be able to provide the contribution San Francisco is looking for. The 49ers could look to find an option in the middle rounds.
Running Back: Frank Gore is 29 years old and running backs have a track record of losing a step (or several) when they reach 30. Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Anthony Dixon have been strong role players for the 49ers but San Francisco could use one of their picks to look to the post-Gore future. South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore could be an interesting option in the middle rounds as the 49ers could give him time to get healthy before needing him to be a productive player.
Cornerback: Even with the addition of Nnamdi Asomugha, the 49ers cornerback position needs an upgrade. Asomugha and Carlos Rogers are getting older and the 49ers secondary struggled late in the year and into the postseason. Tarell Brown started all 16 games for San Francisco last year and can play outside when Rogers slides inside in nickel packages. However, Asomugha is only on a one-year deal and the 49ers could groom a replacement.