April is the time for speculation in the NFL.
As the draft approaches, fans want to know what their team will do, what it’s thinking and which new players will be on the roster when Game 1 of the 2012 season kicks off in September.
The 49ers hold the 30th overall choice in the first round of the draft, which begins April 26.
Recently, however, the Niners have been linked to two players who would never be taken at the bottom end of the first round: Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd and Cal State Fullerton basketball player Andre Hardy.
Floyd, projected by many to be the No. 2 receiver in the draft behind Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, told Sirius/XM NFL Raido that he will visit the 49ers this week. That immediately raised speculation that the Niners may be interested in trading up in the draft to get the former Fighting Irish star.
“The 49ers, who have the No. 30 pick, have no chance at grabbing Floyd, unless they trade up or Floyd’s three alcohol-related incidents at Notre Dame cause him to tumble precipitously during the draft’s first day,” Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote.
Falling to the 30th pick, however, isn’t considered likely.
As Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reported, Floyd already has interviewed with or has plans to interview with 11 NFL teams, including several with top-10 picks in the first round.
Floyd, who at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds is a big target, ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, Branch reported, and had 174 catches for 2,131 yards and 20 TDs his final two seasons in South Bend, Ind. With more emphasis on the passing game in the NFL these days, Floyd is a prize who won’t fall into the Niners’ hands at No. 30 unless they plan to move up.
More likely to be available is former LSU receiver Rueben Randle, who visited with the 49ers earlier this month, Barrows reported. Randle, at 6-foot-3 and 208 pounds, also is a big receiver. He caught 50 passes last season for 908 yards and eight TDs while averaging 18.2 yards per catch. In addition, two other receivers are projected to be available at No. 30 if San Francisco chooses to add to their receiving corps in the first round: Baylor’s Kendall Wright and Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill. The 49ers also have an interview set up with Illinois’ A.J. Jenkins, Barrows notes. Jenkins is rated the 10th-best wide receiver available in this draft class, according to Barrows.
Then, there is Hardy.
Hardy, who played football in high school but played basketball at Cal State Fullerton – which does not have a football program – is an intriguing project.
Hardy, 6-foot-5 and 244 pounds, is projected as a tight end in the NFL. When he worked out recently for NFL scouts, seven teams showed up to watch – including the 49ers, reported Branch.
Hardy would be following the path of Chargers’ star tight end Antonio Gates, who played basketball at Kent State, but hadn’t played football in college. Many other tight ends in the NFL played college basketball, including Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham and Kevin Boss.
Whatever teams signs Hardy would likely sign him as a free agent following the draft.
In four seasons of college basketball at Oral Roberts and Fullerton, Hardy averaged 7.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. He’s reportedly done 20 bench press reps of 225 pounds and is the son of a former NFL player.
Though the 49ers have tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker on their roster – and have been reported to have interest in Stanford tight end Coby Fleener – an athlete such as Hardy would provide an interesting long-term project.