With 13 draft picks in the NFL draft that begins April 25, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is confident his team is in great position to get better. Possibly much better.
He also indicated the three days of the draft could be very lively from the 49ers’ standpoint. With so many picks, San Francisco will be able to move up, make trades and get players it covets.
“I think you can certainly assume that it would,” he said, when asked if the 49ers will be active. “You comparing to last year? Seven picks last year? To say we’d be more active in the draft this year wouldn’t get going out on a limb by saying we’ll be more active this draft. I think that’s true.”
It means that the 49ers may not only be able to improve themselves for 2013, but could be targeting the 2014 draft as another avenue to keep young talent flowing into the organization.
Some of the 2013 picks could be dealt for more 2014 selections – and the 49ers already are well positioned for 2014.
In a story by Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee this week, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said his team already expects 10 picks in 2014.
San Francisco has each of its picks in the seven rounds, plus an extra seventh-round choice from a 2012 trade and an additional second- or third-round choice from the Chiefs as a result of the trade of quarterback Alex Smith.
If Smith’s performance achieves a certain level, Barrows reported, it will become a second-rounder. The final pick would be a compensatory pick for free agents lost this offseason (Dashon Goldson, Delanie Walker, Isaac Sopoaga, etc.)
In analyzing what the 49ers are doing, Barrows wrote: “The 49ers’ hope and strategy is tht they can replace the good players they lost in free agency with relatively inexpensive alternatives in the draft. Indeed, that appears to be what they’re planning at safety this year. They lost Dashon Goldson in free agency to Tampa Bay last month and could draft his replacement next Thursday or Friday.”
Baalke says he’s open to anything and everything before and during the draft.
“We’re in that stage where we’re trying to stay ahead of the game from a pick standpoint – but we’re not opposed to moving up and minimizing the number of picks and getting the players we want,” he told Barrows.
Barrows calls Baalke’s strategy a mission for “sustainability.” Baalke told him that the 49ers are always eager to set themselves up so that they can be “drafting prior to need.”
“When you need a cornerback, when you need a running back, when you need an offensive lineman, the year you need them is not the year to be picking them,” Baalke said.
So, Baalke believes it’s always important to look ahead and have picks available.
As Barrows noted of the sustainability strategy: “Some selections (this year) likely will be parlayed into more picks for 2014. And during next year’s draft, some will be turned into 2015 picks, and so on.”
With 13 picks in hand this season and 10 already for 2014, Baalke likes his options.