Because the 49ers have such a strong need at wide receiver, they of course will use their first-round choice in April to take a big, strong, fast, play-making wide-out from LSU (or Rutgers or Georgia Tech or Arizona).
No, wait. They’ll take a defensive tackle. Or a cornerback. Or an outside linebacker.
At this time of year, with NFL writers fresh off a trip to the Indianapolis Combine and Draftniks in a fever of anticipation for the three-day talent-selection fest that begins this year on April 26, mock drafts are more plentiful than presidential primaries.
Though Niners GM Trent Baalke and his brain trust may not yet know the player they want almost two months from now, almost everyone who follows the NFL has an opinion. Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu is a popular pick, but it's hardly a consensus.
A top 15 sample of some of the highest-profile mock drafts and the players projected to be taken by the 49ers in the first round:
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU. “Randle could be a steal … the Niners need a big target in the passing game outside of Vernon Davis, and Randle could be that guy.”
Peter Schrager, Fox Sports: Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia: “He’s got great hands, can pull double-duty in the return game and has a wonderful knack for the ball.”
Steve Wyche, NFL.com: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers: “A downfield threat would seem preferable, but QB Alex Smith isn’t a downfield passer so a big, possession receiver who makes plays in traffic and gets yards after contact is ideal.”
Albert Breer, NFL Network: Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson: “There’s depth at the receiver position, but not a player worthy of this spot, so Trent Baalke makes his talent-rich defense even richer.”
National Football Post: Sanu. “He offers the ability to run after the catch and can contribute from day one.”
Don Banks, Sports Illustrated: Another vote for Sanu, “a reliable, big-bodied target.”
Our Lads: Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina. Has a “quick burst,” is “athletic” and has “excellent closing speed.”
NFL Trade Rumors: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford. (No comments)
Bucky Brooks, NFL.com: Another vote for Sanu.
Chad Reuter, NFL Network: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech: “His explosiveness at 6-4, 215 pounds may also remind scouts of 2011 first-round pick Jonathan Baldwin.”
Rob Rang, CBS Sports: Another vote for Hill. Called “undeniably raw” but with a strong upside.
NFL News and Rumors: Fleener. “You don’t have to look any farther than the Patriots to see how well two talented play-makers at the position work together (with Vernon Davis).”
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports: Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech: “The 49ers will be looking to add some depth to the defensive backfield.”
Pro Draft Guide: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor. “Wright would make a great deep threat and slot WR.”
Ryan Van Bibber, SB Nation: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama: “Is a big risk given his checkered past. If they feel like he is ready to move past those issues, the 49ers could get a real steal.”
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma: “Would be a great fit in San Francisco as the 49ers look to upgrade over Tarell Brown opposite free agent Carlos Rogers.”