2012 NFL Draft: Ways the San Francisco 49ers Could Surprise Fans

Dylan DeSimoneCorrespondent IApril 23, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissoner Roger Goodell greets Aldon Smith, #7 overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers, during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

With the 2012 NFL Draft only days away, fans are anxious everywhere, in constant anticipation of who their team will select. For 49ers fans, they're looking forward to a draft that is primarily meant for depth, since San Francisco doesn't have a lot of availability at starting positions.

In Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke's first draft together, they surprised a lot of people when they used their seventh overall pick on Missouri's Aldon Smith. The top-ten selections are usually pretty predictable and don't stray too far from consensus mocks, but every now and then, there's a surprise.

Besides Aldon Smith, a few recent shockers were when Christian Ponder went as early as he did to the Minnesota Vikings and the same goes for Tyson Alualu to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The 49ers didn't pick as high as either Minnesota or Jacksonville those years, but they could still surprise us. 

Picking at No. 30, most have come to the conclusion that San Francisco will use their first pick on either an offensive lineman or pass catcher.

A few routes the 49ers could take to throw fans for a loop would be the following:


1. Drafting a defensive lineman

A lot of folks believe this may be the year to bring in the heir apparent to Justin Smith.

But even if that is true, which I don't believe it is, I still think the first round is too high to bring in a player that likely won't start for another three years.

The way San Francisco has brought in free agents, they are gearing up for a Super Bowl right now.

They know how close they are to a sixth title and will spend their first rounder wisely on someone that could be an immediate impact player—likely on offense.


2. Drafting a running back

Similar to Justin Smith, there's been talk that the 49ers should be looking for the eventual replacement to the franchise's all-time leading rusher in Frank Gore.

There are a number of prospects with first-round status like David Wilson and Lamar Miller, but the 49ers already have five running backs, if you count Rock Cartwright.

It would be a shocker if they spent their first rounder on a player they don't really have a need for. Even if Wilson and Miller are available at No. 30, I think it's a pass because of team need.


3. Drafting a safety

This pick would rub me the wrong way because I want to see Dashon Goldson locked up for the long haul.

The 49ers do lack safety depth, but I don't believe the first round is the appropriate time to address it.

Alabama's Mark Barron is the top-ranked safety prospect in the draft, but even if he were to fall, I think it would be a mistake if the 49ers took him.

However, their philosophy is to take the best player available, and if Barron fell, he would likely be that guy.


4. Trading up

It's been reported by Adam Schefter, that teams picking 3-16 in the first round of the draft are all looking to trade back, which is a clear sign that the first half of the draft isn't necessarily the place to be this year.

I think the 49ers are in a great spot where a talented player they didn't expect to be available will fall right into their lap.

If they were to trade up, it would cost them dearly and probably not be worth it. The 49ers front office is wiser than that, so it'd be a surprise if they moved up.


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