Turnovers, penalties and late-game play-calling notwithstanding, the Baltimore Ravens exposed significant weaknesses on the 49ers: cornerback, safety and, to a lesser degree, wide receiver immediately come to mind.
Nickel corner Chris Culliver gave up three catches for 116 yards and one touchdowns to receivers Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones, while committing a costly penalty on a crucial third-and-nine. Film review, aided by Pro Football Focus’ statistical analysis available to members, reveals that Donte Whitner was a liability as well.
The strong safety’s blown assignments enabled Baltimore’s first two TDs by Boldin and tight end Dennis Pitta. Those defensive gaffes encapsulated Whitner’s season-long coverage deficiencies.
Wide receiver is another notable area of need for San Francisco.
No. 2 wideout Mario Manningham, and the versatile Kyle Williams were injury casualties well before the Super Bowl and. They won’t return until midseason in 2013.
Despite coming up with many valuable catches throughout the team’s playoff run, Randy Moss is a free agent and will likely sport another uniform if he returns in 2013. The soon-to-be 36-year-old desires an increase role that the 49ers won’t be able to accommodate.
First-rounder A.J. Jenkins needs considerably more development after contributing next-to-nothing in the three games he played, dropping the one pass thrown his way. Though he wasn’t slated for active playing time in 2012, the 49ers need another complement to Michael Crabtree one way or another.
So, will the No. 31 overall selection in 2013 bring San Francisco a reliable option for said positions, and others—notably defensive tackle?
What about a higher-round prospect potentially available to the 49ers through trading one of their abundant 14 draft picks?
Let’s highlight five different position-specific prospects that will suit the 49ers’ future needs. We’ll consult some top draft experts for assistance in compiling this list.
Note: San Francisco has starters locked in at most positions on both sides of the ball. Also keep in mind the organization’s propensity historically for drafting depth-filling prospects rather than ones who’ll fill starting roles. Yet, things may be different this season.
All 40-times are unofficial, with the NFL Combine set to take place February 20.