It’s no secret to 49ers fans what their team’s two biggest needs are in the three-day NFL draft that begins Thursday.
San Francisco needs a fast, field-stretching wide receiver and a cornerback who can make a solid contribution to the defense in his first season.
There are other needs, of course. The team needs depth at outside and inside linebacker, safety, center, tight end and perhaps at quarterback (for the future).
But with 11 picks in their pocket, the 49ers already have a strong roster, and certain positions (along the offensive and defensive lines, for instance) already are very deep.
So it would make sense for the 49ers to go all in at wide receiver and cornerback. The 49ers should not only use their No. 1 pick addressing either of those positions, but use four of their top six choices on wide receivers and cornerbacks.
San Francisco has a No. 1 (30th overall), two No. 2s (56th and 61st) and three No. 3s (77th, 94th and 100th). In order to ensure that they get the best chance of finding what they need at wide receiver and corner, the Niners should target at least two wideouts and two corners high.
Mock drafts have the 49ers taking an assortment of wide receivers (Kelvin Benjamin, Odell Beckham Jr., Marqise Lee, Brandin Cooks, Cody Latimer or Jordan Matthews) or corners (Bradley Roby, Kyle Fuller or Jason Verrett) at No. 30.
That would still allow the 49ers to pick up second- or third-round talent at receiver (Davante Adams, Jarvis Landry, Bruce Ellington, Allen Robinson or Donte Moncrief) and corner (Phillip Gaines, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Pierre Desir, LaMarcus Joyner or Marcus Robertson).
As Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee noted in his mock selection of all the 49ers’ seven-round picks, it would be wise for San Francisco to go for broke in a very deep class of receivers.
Barrows, in fact, predicts the 49ers will select Indiana receiver Latimer with their 30th overall choice, then come right back in the third round to take South Carolina wideout Ellington.
“The 49ers seemingly would have no use for another receiver this year and someone like Ellington might have a hard time seeing the field,” he wrote. “But this is the Year of the Receiver when it comes to the draft, and a wise team – especially one that has zero receivers signed long term – would be wise to stock up during times of abundance.
“Ellington is yet another basketball star turned receiver in this draft, and like Latimer, he has NFC West-caliber toughness.”
Benjamin or Latimer – two players widely linked to the Niners with their first pick if they stay at No. 30 in the first round – and a player such as Ellington would create a very competitive training camp and offseason, when combined with Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Quinton Patton and Brandon Lloyd.
And the same holds true for the cornerback position, where it appears only Tramaine Brock is assured of a starting spot.
So, for the 49ers, the strategy should be to double down. Collect wideouts and cornerbacks in this draft. The past couple of years in San Francisco have shown that this team can never have enough of them.