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The thing that Trent Baalke did so well, and it is a compliment that carries down to the coaching staff, is that his 2011 draft got so many contributors throughout entire draft. Aldon Smith had as big an impact as any rookie in the NFL outside of Denver, so that gives Baalke top grades.
Collin Kaepernick remains a question but few question his capability as a quarterback. From there, the additions of CB Chris Culliver, RB Kendall Hunter and FB Bruce Miller in the latter rounds were something on which GMs hang their resumes.
For the 2012 draft Baalke reiterated in a pre-combine press conference that the NIners will do their work. It's one thing to see players run and jump in their underwear - John Madden's term - and quite another to see them move in pads on the field.
Film study is the difference, so it's hard to say who and why Baalke will be looking at come rounds 2-6. But he did say that there's depth at both OL and WR, so with that in mind, consider the following names as possible contenders:
Aside from either a fairly big free agent and/or a first-round pick, the Niners will most likely bring in several players here. As Harbaugh said prior to 2011, he'll roll out the balls and see who can compete. In that perspective it's OK to assume that more than one WR is going to be drafted, so look for these names to be considered:
Nick Toon, Wisconsin. He's got the size and his Combine time in the 40 was 4.54. Good but not great.
Tommie Streeter, Miami (one breakout year; great size at '6'6", but he has questions regarding his ability to catch. But then he did run a 4.4.
Marvin Jones, California, has the size and really helped himself with a 4.46.
Later on in the draft, do the Niners look hard at Devon Wylie, an under-heralded receiver out of Fresno State who posted a 4.39 40 time.
As Baalke said earlier, the Combine can present a team with more questions about a prospect than it answers. In the case of the above players, it might mean that they get more interest from the 49ers. But the 49ers will determine their value/attractiveness later on during face-to-face interviews as well as deeper film review.
Getting stronger up front is always an issue in the NFL. The one weak spot in the OL is at right guard. Left guard Mike Iupati is very good at pullling and leading, but a bigger road-grader type might be needed. At the same time, Harbaugh and staff love versatility, which is why someone like Brandon Brookes out of Miami-Ohio might be appealing in Round 4. He has great size and has experience playing multiple positions. Also, he has started for more than one year.
Johnnie Troutman of Penn State has been at for a full five years, and his experience in playing in the run-oriented Big 10 as well as the academics of Penn State could spark interest by the 49ers in the latter rounds.
The 49ers had the best group in the NFL in 2011, but that could change with the departure of Ahmad Brooks. Also, it seems one team can never have enough guys who are taller than 6'2" and weigh more than 240 and can run like the wind.
George Illoka, Safety, Boise State. At 6'4" and 245, he played safety in college but look for him moving up in the NFL. The thing that DC Vic Fangio likes to do is give offenses something new to think about every now and then, and bringing up a strong safety and drop him into a three-point stance off the edge can provide plenty of headaches in pass protection.
Josh Kaddu, Oregon (5). He's another large (6'3". 240) fast inside backer seemingly perfect for outside play in the NFL. Illoka and Kaddu could also be seen as "projects" as they learn new positions and adapt. But the success of NaVorro Bowman seems to be an indicator that learning new positions might be a requirement when drafted by the 49ers.
Bowman played outside in his college days at Penn State. Aldon Smith was a down DE in college, and now, in his development as a full-time player he'll have to work out of two-point stance.