When it comes to the state of the franchise, the San Francisco 49ers are on another plain of existence. As we approach the floodgates of the 2013 NFL offseason, the belief is that the rich are about to get a whole lot richer.
In 2013, the 49ers will be paying Colin Kaepernick, who is essentially an All-Pro caliber quarterback, a cap figure of $1.39 million (per Spotrac).
They are returning five starters on the offensive line, all of which were named to the Pro Bowl to one degree or another. Joe Staley and Mike Iupati were starters, while Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone and Anthony Davis were voted as alternates.
San Francisco also has a defense that will return five Pro Bowlers, including the pair of All-Pro inside linebackers, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Last season, these two led a defense that ranked top-5 against the run and the pass.
They also have one of the most prestigious front offices, a league-high 14 draft picks and enough capital to make upgrades in free agency.
On Monday, March 11, the day before free agency, the 49ers acquired wide receiver Anquan Boldin from the Baltimore Ravens via trade, per Doug Farrar of Yahoo! Sports. It cost them only a sixth-round draft choice and it solidified a primary draft need.
There has been a careful systematic approach by Trent Baalke and the Niners, as they are off to a hot start.
In the upcoming NFL draft, the 49ers will have great flexibility. However, they also have needs to satisfy that include: WR, DT, TE, OLB, CB, S and K. As always, San Francisco will take the best player available according to their unique draft criteria.
In the following slides, we’ll feature the 49ers’ 2013 big board, complete with player rankings according to needs. The rankings are entirely team-specific, bearing in mind San Francisco's draft philosophy.
1. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
After posting a sub-4.5 forty at the combine, the 6’2” cornerback prospect from Florida State tops San Francisco’s big board in 2013.
He is the No. 2 CB in this year’s class behind standout, Dee Milliner.
Although slightly out of the 49ers’ range in Round 1, Trent Baalke will have a close eye on Rhodes. He could be a pivotal building block for the future of San Francisco’s secondary and the Niners have draft ammunition.
2. Star Lotulelei, Utah
Once projected as the No. 1 overall pick, Lotulelei has since been flagged after an irregular cardiology report prevented him from competing at the combine. The questions surrounding his health – combined with this talented defensive line class – may cause him to fall in Round 1.
If he slips into the late teens, San Francisco may see value in trading up to secure him. Lotulelei is undoubtedly on the 49ers’ radar at this point.
3. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri (Stock Rising)
The combination of size and athleticism has locked Richardson down as a top-3 defensive line prospect. The former SEC star defender can replace Isaac Sopoaga in year one and potentially move to the end position when Justin Smith moves on.
With all things considered, Richardson projects as a franchise player on the defensive front.
4. Keenan Allen, California (Stock Down)
Aside from being a highly productive in-state product, the 49ers have a need for a height-weight-speed receiver opposite Michael Crabtree. In terms of character, ability and a taking care of a prerequisite, Allen ranks high on San Francisco’s board.
And considering the trade for Anquan Boldin, acquiring Keenan Allen on Day 1 could launch this new-look 49ers offense into the stratosphere.
5. Kawann Short, Purdue (Stock Rising)
The former Boilermaker is a powerful player at the line of scrimmage, and can be chaotic up front for San Francisco as a rookie. Short was a four-year starter with Purdue who became more consistent each season.
As a fundamentally sound player in this large shell of a body, Short’s floor is still higher than most other defensive line prospects. The Niners could insert him at 3-4 nose guard by Week 1.
6. Tavon Austin, West Virginia (Stock Down)
Between his awe-inspiring combine performance and four years of game film, Austin has gained a great deal of attention leading up to April’s draft. His game-changing ability will trigger teams to position him ahead of more pertinent needs.
As a first-round prospect, Austin has loads of star power and should be highly coveted on Day 1.
7. Jesse Williams, Alabama
From a physical standpoint, Williams has a high ceiling, but is very raw still. Williams only had two years with the Crimson Tide, finishing with just 1.5 sacks in his career. Though talented, he is a run-stuffer first and can’t be relied on to pressure the quarterback.
Nevertheless, San Francisco may select him early with the hopes of molding him into a versatile 3-4 lineman.
8. Desmond Trufant, Washington
During his time with the Huskies, Trufant was a consistent four-year starter, racking up 151 tackles and six interceptions. He is a very fluid cover corner that plays the ball well and does not shy away from physical contact.
The Niners may fancy him as the long-term replacement for Carlos Rogers.
9. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
After a very productive and stable college career with the Fighting Irish, Eifert has solidified himself as the No. 1 TE in the draft. With the evolution of the tight end position, he should be highly coveted.
Moreover, San Francisco’s tight-end-friendly offense could break new ground with the pairing of Tyler Eifert and Vernon Davis.
10. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
At 6’2”, 186 pounds, Banks could provide the 49ers a lengthy defensive back with incredible ball skills. He was a four-year starter in the SEC, during which time he accrued 15 interceptions – three returned for touchdowns.
Banks is a first-round prospect and top-5 CB in this year’s draft class.
On Day 2 of the 2013 free agency, the 49ers came to an agreement with defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey, via Adam Schefter. While the acquisition of Dorsey will mean a new featured player at DT, it hardly affects the team’s draft needs.
Their board remains firm, with defensive line near the top of their priorities. San Francisco will be on the lookout for a top-5 lineman early on.
Moreover, the losses of Delanie Walker and Dashon Goldson were anticipated when this board was drawn up. According to Mindi Bach of CSN Bay Area, the 49ers did not even make offers to some of their unrestricted free agents, including Goldson.
On Day 3 of free agency, the Niners remained low-key yet proactive. A move that will turn out to be huge, but isn't getting a ton of recognition right now is the restructured contract of Mario Manningham.
According to Jay Hurley of Niner Cap Hell, Manningham took a pay cut, lowering his 2013 base salary from $3.6 million to $1.8 million.
With the addition of Anquan Boldin via trade, there was the belief that Manningham may be released, and the Niners may look to the draft for a low-cost replacement. Though, with this recent news, it appears the 49ers will feature a dynamic trio of WRs this season.
Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Mario Manningham will bolster this receiving corps, which could develop into one of the more feared units in the league. The Niners will also have Kyle Williams and first-rounder A.J. Jenkins returning.
Moreover, this makes the wide receiver position less of a need on draft day. At this point, it would be a huge surprise to see the 49ers select a pass-catcher in Round 1.
1. Keenan Allen, Round 1
During his time in the NCAA, Allen was one of the most prolific pass-catchers, despite inconsistent quarterback play.
With his ability to stretch out for the ball, he provides great range as a receiver. He would be an incredible addition to this receiving corps for the long haul.
Keenan Allen will see Dr. Andrews Monday about his knee. Still slated to work out for @nfl clubs on 4/9 at Proehlific Park in Greensboro, NC— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) March 9, 2013
2. Tavon Austin, Round 1-2
To put it simply, Austin is a flyer and a true game-breaker. His scorching straight-line speed and quick-cut ability will make him a dynamic weapon at the next level.
In San Francisco’s innovative offense, Austin could be an unstoppable all-purpose threat.
Tavon Austin's 40 looked effortless. Just a calm, chill 4.25 in the park. Kinda like he plays.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 24, 2013
3. DeAndre Hopkins, Round 1-2
In his junior season with Clemson, Hopkins had one of the all-time great statistical runs for a receiver. He finished with 82 receptions for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Aside from being a sure-handed receiver, he runs all the routes and is effective after the catch.
4. Justin Hunter, Round 2
At 6’4”, Hunter is the lengthy, jump-ball receiver the 49ers have been searching for. He would provide size on San Francisco’s otherwise small-statured receiving corps, while filling in at the Z.
His particular skill set could be very complementary, allowing him to get in the starting lineup as a rookie.
Tennessee WR Justin Hunter quietly killing it at combine. At 6-foot-4, ran the 40 in 4.44. Also had 39.5 vertical jump and 11'6" broad.— Todd McShay (@McShay13) February 24, 2013
5. Aaron Dobson, Round 2-3
Hailing from Marshall University, Dobson is another height-weight-speed guy the 49ers can look at. At 6’3”, 210 pounds, Dobson ran a 4.53 forty at the combine – but once clocked a 4.33 in in 2009 (h/t CBS Sports).
Watched Marshall WR Aaron Dobson on tape last night. Exciting player. Sudden, attacks the ball, elusive after the catch. 2nd rd at worst— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 21, 2013
1. Star Lotulelei, Round 1
If Lotulelei falls, San Francisco could facilitate a trade in the first to move up for him.
This could be a dream scenario for the 49ers who are in search of a new long-term anchor for the defensive line. Though, again, this would necessitate an upward trade in the first round.
Utah DT Star Lotulelei, projected top five 5 draft pick, will not work out after echocardiogram detected heart condition. Filed to ESPN.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) February 24, 2013
2. Sheldon Richardson, Round 1
Richardson is a big, athletic warrior capable of pushing the pocket with his unbelievable power. And given his bulky frame, he has surprising versatility and quickness. Richardson can be a super freak under Jim Tomsula’s tutelage.
I love Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson's athleticism and hustle, but he's just out there playing.Will be sooo much better when coached up— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) February 18, 2013
3. Kawann Short, Round 1
Short is a wide-bodied multitalented defensive lineman, who can both plug gaps and rush the passer. He has great body control, effectively getting off his blocks and causing disruption. His motor has been challenged, but he has immense talent.
The Senior Bowl game featured a few dominant performances. DE Ziggy Ansah, CB Robert Alford and DT Kawann Short made a ton of plays.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 27, 2013
4. Jesse Williams, Round 1-2
Again, Williams is very raw, but he’s received high remarks coming up through the ranks. The Alabama product is one of the strongest players in the draft and could emerge as the best run-stuffing tackle in this class.
5. Brandon Williams, Round 2
A product of Missouri Southern, Williams shattered the school record with 27.0 career sacks. During his reign, he was one of the most productive interior linemen in the NCAA. The 49ers should be after him because Williams doubles as a pass-rusher and run-stuffer.
Brandon Williams, Shariff Floyd, Sheldon Richardson, Sylvester Williams= most effective penetrating DTs in this class. #DraftProduction— Ryan Riddle (@Ryan_Riddle) March 8, 2013
1. Tyler Eifert, Round 1
Eifert is entering the 2013 draft as the nation’s top tight end, perceived as a unanimous first-rounder.
He has elite level talent and would fit extremely well in Jim Harbaugh’s tight-end-friendly offense.
Moreover, he could add an entirely new dimension being paired with Vernon Davis. All things considered, Eifert's addition could re-define this offense.
Curious: Is there anyone who is not big on Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert?— Alen Dumonjic (@Dumonjic_Alen) March 11, 2013
2. Zach Ertz, Round 2
After an illustrious career at Stanford, Ertz is teetering on first round status. With all of the incoming hybrids at the position, Ertz and his 6’5” frame could intrigue NFL teams on Day 1.
Given that Harbaugh recruited and coached Ertz at Stanford, it would not surprise analysts to see the 49ers select him in April.
Calling my shot Stanford TE Zach Ertz will walk into NFL and crush.Best TE out of college in two or three years. Hands, routes excellent— Colin Cowherd (@ESPN_Colin) February 24, 2013
3. Gavin Escobar, Round 2-3
If the 49ers miss on Eifert and Ertz, bet they bypass Vance McDonald for the 6’6” tight end from San Diego State. Escobar is a massive pass-catching target that could be a nightmare in the pros.
For those looking for the next Rob Gronkowski-Jimmy Graham prototype, Escobar is their man.
Ertz and Eifert have very good hands, but best ball skills grade I gave to TEs went to SDSU TE Gavin Escobar— Todd McShay (@McShay13) February 23, 2013
4. Travis Kelce, Round 3
At 6’5” and change, Kelce is a mammoth specimen at tight end. Originally recruited as a quarterback, he lacks experience at TE, which speaks to his ceiling at the next level. As a rookie, he could be a force as a blocker and chain-moving receiver.
Two things became more clear to me, Tyler Eifert is clearly my No. 1 TE prospect this yr and Travis Kelce is still extremely underrated IMO— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 12, 2013
5. Jordan Reed, Round 3-4
To no surprise, the former Gator is a super-athletic pass-catcher like his predecessor, Aaron Hernandez. Reed has great body control and can move like a wide receiver.
If the 49ers are looking for more dynamism from the No. 2 TE spot, they can wait to the early-to-mid rounds for Reed.
Florida TE Jordan Reed 6'2 1/2 236 lbs. 33 inch arms. #NFLCombine— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) February 21, 2013
1. Xavier Rhodes, Round 1
With Rhodes being the No. 2 corner, the 49ers would need to trade up in order to acquire him.
But with other needs secured in free agency, the window of opportunity to move up in Round 1 may be afforded to them.
If he is truly high enough on their board, Baalke may facilitate a deal with a top-20 team.
FSU CB Xavier Rhodes just ran two straight 4.41 40-times. Welcome to the first round young man. Good size, just needs technique work.— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) February 26, 2013
2. Desmond Trufant, Round 1
Trufant is one of three cornerbacks to really solidify himself as a first-round prospect. He possesses a well-rounded skill set and can be the future No. 1 for San Francisco once Carlos Rogers has moved on.
The 49ers should be expected to keep a close eye on him near the end of the Round 1.
CB Desmond Trufant, one of the stars of the Senior Bowl, just clocked a 4.31 in the 40.— Sean Jensen (@seankjensen) February 26, 2013
3. Johnthan Banks, Round 1-2
There is a very good chance the top-3 cornerbacks are off the board by the time No. 31 rolls around. However, Banks would be a solid pick for the Niners at the end of the first.
Dane Brugler, Pete Prisco and Clark Judge all have Banks to the 49ers in their most recent mock drafts for CBS Sports.
4. David Amerson, Round 2
If the San Francisco 49ers acquire Sean Smith in free agency, Amerson will lose a lot of his appeal. He is a big, physical hawking defensive back with the versatility to play both corner and safety.
He may be seriously considered by the 49ers after Day 1.
David Amerson is an intriguing prospect to watch. Measures in a 6'1, 205 pounds and posted 4.38 (unofficial) in 40. Plus, 18 career INTs— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) February 26, 2013
5. Jamar Taylor, Round 2
During his time with Boise State, Taylor was part of one of the nation’s top pass defenses. He is a very well rounded cornerback, but brings great straight-line speed to the game as well.
He is the shortest of the top-5 corners (5’11”) but has the game to compete at the next level.
1. Jonathan Cyprien, Round 2
During his four-year run at Florida International, Cyprien was a hawking safety for the Panthers.
As an inherently aggressive player, Cyprien finished with 365 tackles and six interceptions, including a career-high 3 picks as a senior.
Reading reports that SS Jonathan Cyprien (FIU) ran in the 4.5 range at his pro day. That's a good time when looking at safety position.— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) March 8, 2013
2. Eric Reid, Round 2
Hailing from LSU, Reid was essentially a linebacker playing the safety position. With his big hits and ability to run down the ball carrier, Reid was the definition of a safety.
Eric Reid should be the 49ers first pick. Don't over think this, Baalke.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 20, 2013
3. Phillip Thomas, Round 2-3
With Thomas, the 49ers could acquire a fluid, instinctive defensive back outside of Round 1. With a career-high 8 interceptions in his final year with Fresno State, Thomas could be the hawking presence the Niners need on the back end.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 25, 2012
4. Bacarri Rambo, Round 3
Out of the University of Georgia, Rambo brings great closing speed and ball skills. He is an extremely aggressive tackler, and with 16 career interceptions, he makes plays away from the line of scrimmage.
Georgia's Bacarri Rambo is the Rambo of safeties. QBs should NOT mess with him.
— ESPN (@espn) January 2, 2012
5. D.J. Swearinger, Round 3-4
The three-year starter from South Carolina made his mark as a physical striker. However, his chancy style of play has been both a blessing and a curse. His six career interceptions are revealing of his risk-taking rather than his coverage ability.
D.J. Swearinger known as big hitter. Once drew a suspension S. Car. Says teams have no issue, but tell him "it's going to be big bucks"— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) February 24, 2013
CB Tyrann Mathieu, Round 4: There is a chance that Mathieu doesn’t make it out of the third round. However, if he does, San Francisco should pounce, looking for great value at the nickel as well as special teams.
TE Chris Gragg, Round 5-6: At 6’3”, 244 pounds, there is a lot of potential with this former Razorback. Gragg is frightfully similar to Delanie Walker, modeling his game like that of a big-bodied receiver. He would be a great developmental player at TE, providing great value in the later rounds.
SS Earl Wolff, Round 6: Wolff does not have a great deal of experience, but he is a highly instinctive tackler. As a rookie, the former N.C. State safety would be a formidable special teamer with potential for growth on the roster.
K Dustin Hopkins, Round 6-7: Even if they sign a kicker in free agency, the 49ers will be pursuing Hopkins on Day 3 of the draft. Nicknamed the “Golden Toe,” Hopkins can be San Francisco’s long-term fix at kicker, reestablishing their special teams presence.
WR Reggie Dunn, Round 7: The primary reason behind drafting Dunn would be to upgrade the return game. During his time with Utah, Dunn returned four 100-plus yard kicks for touchdowns. He is an explosive return man that could be the next big thing in the NFL.
OLB Joe Kruger, Round 7: As the younger of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger, this former Utah defender has strong football acumen. He also plays with incredible intensity, showing a natural ability for the position.
TE Levine Toilolo, Round 7: At 6’8”, 260 pounds, Toilolo is one of the most notorious physical specimens in this year’s draft. The former Stanford TE played opposite Zach Ertz, providing a freakish mismatch for the Cardinal.
OLB Quanterus Smith, Round 7: When on the field, Smith was one of the most effective pass rushers in the nation. His injuries have handicapped his draft stock, but a patient team could reap the benefits of Smith’s natural ability.