NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will announce first-round selections Thursday night, but neither Goodell -- or anyone else -- knows what name the 49ers will give him.
You have to feel a bit sorry for those folks who put together mock drafts when it comes to the San Francisco 49ers this week.
First, San Francisco doesn’t pick until the 30th slot of the first round. A lot can happen before General Manager Trent Baalke makes his move Thursday night in Round 1 of the NFL selection process.
And second, how does an outsider accurately peg what the Niners will do when they have no glaring weaknesses and just one hole in the starting lineup?
Though Baalke said last week he’s excited because he’s targeted a player whom he believes will be available with choice No. 30, chances are he has a Plan B, a Plan C and a Plan D – or maybe he was just blowing smoke with a bogus Plan A.
The 49ers do have some needs, but none absolutely, positively must be addressed with an impact player in the bottom half of Round 1 Thursday night. The starting right guard spot is vacant; another wide receiver would be good; a team can never have too many good players in its secondary; and depth along the offensive and defensive lines would be helpful.
But, as Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat noted in a story over the weekend, who do you draft for a team that has everything?
San Francisco has seven picks in the draft – one in every round – so it obviously will draft seven new prospects (unless there is a trade). But the roster is loaded. Of the team’s 18 drafted players since 2010, 15 are still on the roster, reports Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, so the roster needs “only mild massaging” he writes, not a full-scale makeover.
“We like our roster,” Baalke told the Press Democrat. “But we also believe that there’s a lot of work to be done.”
So what does it all mean?
It means expect the unexpected come Thursday night. Expect a bold trade up (or down). Expect the selection of an outstanding player at a position at which the 49ers already are stocked – tight end, running back, linebacker, quarterback, the secondary.
Don’t expect that just because the 49ers have a spot at right guard that Baalke will use his primary draft card to fill it, when that need might be well addressed in a later round.
If the Niners do happen to pick a player for a perceived need – right guard or wide receiver – it will probably be just happenstance: that the best player available on the draft board, in Baalke’s opinion, just happens to play one of those positions.
Otherwise, Thursday is wild-card night.
It’s almost impossible to know which card he’s going to pluck from the deck.