Head coach Jim Harbaugh (left) and general manager Trent Baalke will have some leeway when they ponder their first-round selection in the NFL Draft on April 26.
There’s still a hole at right guard, where Adam Snyder and Chilo Rachal toiled last season.
And, of course, the San Francisco 49ers would probably like to add more depth to their corps of wide receivers, even with the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham.
But, as Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee wrote this week, the Niners are in a great position as they prepare for the NFL Draft that begins April 26.
With their work this offseason to retain their own key free agents while signing free agents from other teams, the 49ers’ roster is solid.
As the 49ers ponder their 30th overall choice in the draft, they’ll have a lot of leeway to choose the player they want. This is essentially the same team that won 14 of its 17 games last season and came within one win of getting to the Super Bowl.
“For the first time in many seasons, the team truly is in a position to take the mythical Best Player Available,” wrote Barrows.
When San Francisco makes its first pick, the 30th overall, in the first round April 26, they could choose to address the guard or wide receiver spots, but now they’re in position also to take a player who just happens to be the best on the board, even if he happens to be a tight end, a corner or safety, a pass-rush specialist from the outside or an offensive tackle.
It’s possible, too, that the 49ers may address the gap at right guard by signing a free agent if they don’t believe Daniel Kilgore, a fifth-round pick last year, isn’t ready to win the job. Recently, the 49ers looked at Deuce Lutui, a former Arizona Cardinals second-round choice out of USC in 2006 who’s been a five-year starter.
If General Manager Trent Baalke decides to pursue a wide receiver in the first round, several wide receivers who graded well at the Combine may be available at No. 30, such as Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill, Rutgers’ Mohamed Sanu, Baylor’s Kendall Wright and South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery.
But as Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle noted in a story in February, often teams can acquire very effective NFL-caliber receivers in later rounds – which would allow the Niners to take the best player available in the first round.
Branch reported that Jordy Nelson of the Packers, Marques Colston of the Saints, Wes Welker of the Patriots, Victor Cruz of the Giants, Vincent Jackson of the Bucs and Mike Wallace of the Steelers, for instance, all were taken after the first round or not drafted at all.
Barrow also brought up an interesting point: with a stocked roster – meaning there will be stiff competition for players to make this team during training camp this summer – Baalke may choose to move up in the draft by trading some picks, to go for quality instead of quantity.
Wrote Barrow: “There will be more competition to make the 49ers’ roster than there’s been in at least a decade. That’s how good teams operate.”