San Francisco 49ers Mock Draft: Building the Perfect 7-Round Draft
With so many selections and so few needs, expect Trent Baalke and Co. to be wheeling and dealing on draft day.
That being said, I've decided to avoid projecting trades in my fourth 2013 49ers mock draft.
Read on for my prediction for every pick.
Round 1: Datone Jones, DE/DT (UCLA)
Previous pick: Tank Carradine
San Francisco's top four needs are safety, defensive line, cornerback and tight end.
Unless the 49ers sign a starting-caliber free safety in the coming weeks, they'll be sure to take the top safety available with one of their first two picks.
The other pick could be spent on a stud interior lineman, and if Datone Jones is available, the Niners should bite.
Jones often lined up inside for UCLA, and he was very productive in that role. He had 19 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in 2012.
The 6'4", 283-pound run-stuffer could play nose tackle or defensive end in San Francisco's 3-4 defense. That means he could help out Glenn Dorsey and Ian Williams at nose this year and take over for Justin Smith in the long term.
Round 2 (via Kansas City): Eric Reid, Safety (LSU)
Previous pick: Matt Elam, SS
Not one of the top-rated safeties overly impresses me. Kenny Vaccaro seems to be the best bet, but he's likely to go in the middle of the first round.
After him, the top three on most sites are Matt Elam, Jonathan Cyprien and Eric Reid.
Between the three, Elam was the most productive in college, but he's built more like a strong safety.
If the 49ers are set on taking their free safety of the future, they may snag Reid.
Reid's measurables—6'1", 213 pounds—only help his draft stock.
Round 2: Travis Kelce, TE (Cincinnati)
Previous pick: Zach Ertz
Both Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz might be gone by the time of this pick.
If so, Travis Kelce would make a lot of sense.
Kelce excels at blocking, which isn't all that surprising considering his 6'5", 255-pound frame.
With some grooming in Jim Harbaugh's offense, Kelce could replace Delanie Walker.
Round 3 (via Carolina): Darius Slay, CB (Mississippi)
Previous pick: Darius Slay
With Tarell Brown in his contract year and Carlos Rogers coming off a mediocre season, the 49ers should look for a long-term starter at the cornerback spot.
One of the fastest players in the draft, Darius Slay had five interceptions and 11 passes defensed in 2012.
He has the potential to be the answer to San Francisco's cornerback conundrum.
Round 3: Barrett Jones, OL (Alabama)
Previous pick: Akeem Spence
Jonathan Goodwin is entering his contract year in 2013. Eventually, San Francisco will need to address the center position.
Barrett Jones played tackle, guard and center for the Crimson Tide. At worst, he'd be a versatile backup who'd play in big goal-line packages.
At best, he'd be the center of the future.
Round 4: Matt Scott, QB (Arizona)
Previous pick: Matt Scott
For the fourth straight time, I have the 49ers taking Matt Scott in the fourth round.
Scott Tolzien may be a capable backup quarterback, but I'm sure the 49ers would prefer a dual-threat signal-caller.
That way, the 49ers wouldn't have to dramatically change their offense if Colin Kaepernick sustained an injury.
Round 4 (compensatory): Chase Thomas, OLB (Stanford)
With Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks and Parys Haralson at outside linebacker, there won't be much playing time available for up-and-coming pass-rushers.
Still, the Niners could use another productive pass-rusher to take some pressure off Smith.
Chase Thomas racked up 27.5 sacks in his four years at Stanford. If he bulks up a bit, he could settle in as a third-down pass-rusher for San Francisco in his rookie season.
Round 5: (via Indianapolis): Ace Sanders, WR/KR (South Carolina)
Previous pick: Ace Sanders
Who will return kicks for the Niners in 2013?
Kyle Williams and LaMichael James have some pro experience as returners, but the Niners could also select Ace Sanders.
The former Gamecock would instantly be one of the most electric returners in the NFL.
He would also give the 49ers more depth at wide receiver.
Round 5: Robert Lester, SS (Alabama)
Previous pick: Dustin Hopkins, K
I wouldn't be shocked if the 49ers used two picks on safeties.
With Donte Whitner entering his contract year, the 49ers should be in the market for a long-term strong safety.
Robert Lester would be a steal late in the fifth. He'd battle Craig Dahl, C.J. Spillman and Darcel McBath for the primary backup safety role (assuming Eric Reid or a free-agent signee takes the starting free safety role).
Round 6 (via Miami): Kerwynn Williams, RB (Utah State)
Previous pick: Travis Johnson, OLB
At this stage in the draft, the 49ers will be looking for depth and maybe even players who can fill the practice squad.
Kerwynn Williams, who rushed for 1,512 yards and 15 touchdowns in his senior year for Utah State, has the talent to play in the NFL.
Considering running backs have such a short shelf life, it's never a bad idea to have lots of depth at the position.
Round 7 Picks
1. Vince Williams, LB (Florida State)
2. Craig Roh, DE (Michigan)
3. Justice Cunningham, TE (South Carolina), compensatory
4. Marquess Wilson, WR (Washington State), compensatory
Expect the 49ers to trade away several of their late-round picks. They simply won't have enough spots on the team for 14 rookies.
All the players on this slide would provide great value. Wilson is particularly intriguing. Once upon a time, he was projected to be an early-round pick.
After quitting the team last year, his stock has plummeted. He may have character concerns, but the wideout has the talent to be a late-round steal.