2012 NFL Draft: 5 Areas San Francisco Needs to Address
The San Francisco 49ers have a few areas they need to address in the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft. In his first year as an NFL head coach, Jim Harbaugh built a strong foundation for the 49ers in their 2011 season.
Building through the draft is imperative because it builds young depth on the roster without the pain of spending big money on free agents. Franchises that draft well stay prominent for years, while the franchises that don't have strong drafts year after year either stay as bottom feeders or become old fast.
After a strong draft last year that included Aldon Smith, Kendall Hunter and Chris Culliver, the 49ers have a strong young core to build upon.
Here is what the 49ers need to address in the 2012 NFL Draft.
1. Wide Receivers
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One of the 49ers' biggest weaknesses is its receiving core. The 49ers signed Braylon Edwards in the offseason hoping he would be a spark to their group that has lacked playmakers for years. With the Edwards signing turning out to be a failure and the injury to Joshua Morgan early in the season, the 49ers once again did not have a 1,000-yard receiver.
Drafting wide receivers high is always such a risk in the pros because they do not always transition well into the NFL. But sometimes teams get lucky when they draft a receiver later in the draft, the New Orleans Saints did with Marques Colston.
The 49ers should look later in the draft for player like Ryan Broyles, someone who would have been a higher draft pick, if not for his ACL injury.
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While the 49ers have arguably the best defense in the league, it is not hard to find where their weak spot is: the cornerbacks. Carlos Rogers, who is a free agent, had a Pro Bowl year but was a liability in the two playoff games this year. Tarell Brown is getting older.
The 49ers need more depth in the backfield, especially if Shawntae Spencer doesn't return next season. Luckily, the 2012 Draft is filled with strong cornerback prospects.
3. Defensive Line
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The 49ers front seven is the strongest in the NFL. Why not make it stronger? The New York Giants always have a strong defensive line because they draft to keep it strong and avoid becoming old. The 49ers should as well.
Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Isaac Sopoaga aren't young players. Drafting new defensive lineman now and grooming them for the years to come would make sure the 49ers always have a strong front under Coach Harbaugh.
4. Offensive Line
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The 49ers offensive line is not terrible, it could just be better. The Thanksgiving game against the Baltimore Ravens, the 49ers could not protect Alex Smith and he could not make the throws necessary to give the team a chance to win.
In the playoffs, both the Saints and the Giants got pressure on Smith. Smith was able to overcome the blitz against the Saints, but he did not have enough time in the pocket against the Giants, which led him to throw a lot of balls away.
The 49ers should look into drafting a new offensive tackle, especially if Anthony Davis does not make any offseason progression.
5. Tight End
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The New England Patriots give every team the face huge match up problems because of their two tight ends. How dangerous would the 49ers be if they paired another play making tight end with Vernon Davis?
Delaine Walker has been a strong player for the 49ers, but he missed some games last season with a broken jaw.
Another strong tight end would also take make life easier for Smith because it would open up the field for the wide receivers. With two strong tight ends, it would also allow Coach Harbaugh to get a little creative with his playcalling, like Coach Belichick does when he runs the ball with Aaron Hernandez from time to time.