Many 49ers fans would love to see the team select a wide receiver in the first round of the April 30 NFL draft.
But judging from the way 49ers general manager Trent Baalke is speaking, he might go in a different direction on draft day.
Of course, at this time of year, NFL GMs are great at throwing out smoke screens and trying to hide their intentions. So, when the team’s No. 15 pick in the first round comes up, he could reach out for a difference-making pass catcher.
But when Baalke met with Bay Area reporters recently to talk about the draft, he sounded happy about the changes that have been made in the receiving corps since the end of the 2014 season.
San Francisco goes into the draft with Anquan Boldin an Torrey Smith as startinig wideouts, with Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington and Jerome Simpson behind them. Patton and Ellington have flashed potential, but haven’t really gotten a chance to play over the past two seasons.
Baalke said if a receiver they like is still available at No. 15, they certainly could take him – but it’s not a necessity.
“Once again, how many guys can play? How many are there?” Baalke said, according to Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. “Torrey is going to be on the field. Anquan is going to be on the field. Simpson looks extremely good in the process and had been a very solid receiver his last year (2013) in Minnesota, with 40-plus catches and 700-plus yards.
“Ellington is a young guy with a lot of talent. Quinton is a young player who hasn’t really gotten an opportunity. Now is his opportunity, and let’s see what he can do.”
The top two receivers in the draft, Alabama’s Amari Cooper and West Virginia’s Kevin White, should be gone by the team the Niners pick. But one or more from a group of Breshad Perriman of Central Florida, DeVante Parker of Louisville, Dorial Green-Beckham of Missouri and Jaelen Strong of Arizona State are likely to be available.
The 49ers have for several seasons needed a deep-threat pass catcher to stretch defenses and give the offense more big-play capability. But in signing Smith, a free agent from the Baltimore Ravens, the 49ers signed one of the league’s best deep-ball catchers.