San Francisco 49ers Mock Draft: Fresh Predictions After the Super Bowl
But after an excruciating 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Red and Gold must focus their attention on getting better this offseason.
It's possible that the answer to San Francisco's playoff riddle is in this year's draft class.
Let's take a look at potential picks for the 49ers in the 2013 NFL draft.
Note: Projected compensatory picks are not included in this slideshow.
Round 1: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)
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Previous Pick: Matt Elam, S
Some might want the 49ers to target a defensive lineman with this pick, but if Xavier Rhodes is available at the end of the first round, he'd likely be the best player available.
General manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh might want to cut Rogers—save some cash—and take Rhodes, who has great size at 6'1" and 217 pounds.
Round 2: Sylvester Williams (North Carolina)
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Previous Pick: Sylvester Williams, DT
I wrote here that the 49ers are unlikely to re-sign Isaac Sopoaga. They have several other starters who will need extensions soon.
At 31 years old, Sopoaga just seems like a potential cap casualty.
San Francisco could target Sylvester Williams, a 313-pound force who could fill the void at nose tackle.
Round 3 (via Carolina): Tank Carradine, DE (Florida State)
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Previous Pick: Margus Hunt, DE
Justin Smith has one year left on his contract. The 49ers would be wise to look for his long-term replacement during the first two days of the draft.
Tank Carradine seemed destined to be a first-round draft pick before he tore his ACL in Florida State's last regular-season game.
It would be a gamble to select Carradine, but if it paid off, the 49ers would have a starter on the defensive line for years to come.
Round 3: Jonathan Cyprien, S (Florida International)
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Previous Pick: Cobi Hamilton, WR
Even if Dashon Goldson gets a contract extension, the 49ers need to start thinking about a long-term replacement for Donte Whitner.
The 27-year-old is a solid run-stuffer, but he leaves much to be desired when defending the pass.
In my first mock, I had the 49ers selecting Matt Elam, the draft's top strong safety. If they go a different direction in the first round, expect them to target a safety on Day 2 of the draft.
Jonathan Cyprien is already adept at stuffing the run. He racked up 365 tackles in his four-year career at Florida International.
With some NFL coaching, he could develop into a longtime starter.
Round 4: Matt Scott, QB (Arizona)
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Previous Pick: Matt Scott, QB
Of all the quarterbacks that aren't projected to go in the first three rounds, Matt Scott fits the current 49ers offense the best.
He ran a shotgun spread offense with a lot of read-option looks at Arizona.
He's not nearly as talented as Colin Kaepernick, but he could serve as the team's backup quarterback in the coming years.
And the 49ers discovered this year how important having depth at quarterback can be.
Round 5 (via Indianapolis): Ace Sanders, WR (South Carolina)
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Previous Pick: Ryan Otten, TE
Tedd Ginn Jr. was not nearly as good returning kicks and punts this year as he was last year.
And he was absolutely useless in the passing attack.
Enter Ace Sanders, one of the most explosive returners in this year's class.
Sanders would immediately be San Francisco's primary returner, and in time he could develop into a dangerous slot receiver.
Round 5: Michael Williams, TE (Alabama)
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Previous Pick: Sanders Commings, CB
If the 49ers don't re-sign Delanie Walker, they will target a tight end in the draft.
Even if they do re-sign the 28-year-old tight end, they could still look to for an upgrade over third-string tight end Garrett Celek.
Michael Williams spent much of his college career blocking for Alabama's power offense. He'd fit in nicely in San Francisco's run-heavy packages.
Round 6 (via Miami): Caleb Sturgis, K (Florida)
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Previous Pick: Dustin Hopkins, K
There are two kickers—Florida's Caleb Sturgis and Florida State's Dustin Hopkins—who have a good shot at being drafted, and I would not be surprised if the 49ers took one of them.
David Akers was one of the worst kicker in the NFL this season, and San Francisco must find an upgrade.
Sturgis made 46 of his 54 attempts in his final two seasons for the Gators.
Round 6: Michael Clay, OLB (Oregon)
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Previous Pick: Cameron Lawrence, OLB
The 49ers could be looking to add outside linebacker depth in the late rounds, as well as a guy who can contribute on special teams.
Michael Clay, the defensive MVP of the Fiesta Bowl, fits the bill on both accounts.
Round 7 (via Cincinnati): Graham Pocic, C (Illinois)
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Previous Pick, Sam Schwartzstein, C
Jonathan Goodwin will be in the last year of his contract in 2013. Replacing the 34-year-old could be on San Francisco's wish list in the near future.
The 49ers could look to strike lighting in a bottle by drafting a center in the late rounds.
Graham Pocic, a 6'5" 310-pound prospect, fits the range in the seventh round.
Round 7: Onterio McCalebb, RB (Auburn)
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Previous Pick: D.J. Harper, RB
With their last pick, the 49ers will look to draft depth.
Considering the poor shelf life of running backs, San Francisco could always take one.
The speedy Onterio McCalebb is a project who would only see the field if the 49ers had a string of injuries at the running back position.
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