10 Creative Moves the San Francisco 49ers Can Pull on Draft Day
On average, it seems as if 49ers general manager Trent Baalke and the rest of the front office make at least four trades a year on draft day. This year figures to be no different as they have 14 selections, by far the most of any NFL team.
Everyone knows that many rookies won't make the final roster, so it's wise to expect even more wheeling and dealing on April 25. With multiple needs on offense and defense, the 49ers should have the ability to fill every hole with the best available player.
So, let's take a look at 10 creative moves I believe San Francisco will make on draft day.
All trade information was calculated using DraftTek's value chart.
1. Trade Up for Safety Kenny Vaccaro
Letting Dashon Goldson walk in free agency signaled one thing and one thing only for the 49ers. They wanted a younger, cheaper option at free safety. And what better option than Kenny Vaccaro? He is easily the best safety in this year's draft class. Talent evaluator's like Rob Rang believe he could be as good as Eric Weddle.
Vaccaro isn't a ball-hawking safety like Goldson, but he has great straight-line speed, athleticism and balance. He's very good at getting his head around quickly in coverage and is rarely caught out of position, which makes him the most coveted coverage safety in the draft.
His ability to defend the run is equally as strong. At times, he goes for the knockout hit a bit too early, as his fundamentals become sloppy. Yet, he does a good job securing the tackle at the point of attack.
If San Francisco wants to have a realistic shot at drafting Texas' finest, it will need to leapfrog the St. Louis Rams at No. 16. If Vaccaro falls that far, they will be sure to snatch him up. General manager Trent Baalke would have to send the 31st pick and the 34th pick to New Orleans for the 15th pick to complete the trade.
2. Trade Up for Running Back Marcus Lattimore
Drafting running back Marcus Lattimore and having him sit one year behind Frank Gore seems to be a very popular storyline right now. Rightfully so, based on Lattimore and Gore having had similar college careers in terms of production and injury history.
Giving Lattimore an extra year to heal and learn Greg Roman's offense would be ideal. Having him at 110 percent at the start of the 2014 season would help his confidence. There would be no feeling of rushing back too soon. Plus, it's rare when highly touted rookies aren't immediately thrust into action.
The NFL has turned into a league that expects immediate results from everyone. Draft classes are expected to perform in Year 1, much like coaching staffs are expected to win immediately. The 49ers are one of the few teams that don't expect their rookies to contribute if they are not ready.
Yet some team will want Lattimore to excel in 2013, so San Francisco will need to make sure it snags him when it has the chance. Right now it seems as if his stock is settling toward the middle of the third round.
But it wouldn't be smart of the 49ers to try to wait for Lattimore to fall into their lap. With a plethora of picks, they can afford to be aggressive. They could move up six spots in the third round by sending their first third-round pick and their second fifth round-pick to the Cleveland Browns.
3. Trade Up for Cornerback Tyrann Mathieu
Much like Marcus Lattimore, Tyrann Mathieu has his fair share of red flags as a college prospect. However, his red flags are all off-the-field concerns. Since joining the LSU football program in 2010, Mathieu has entered a drug rehab program, been kicked off the football team and withdrawn from the university academically.
His talent has never been an issue. He is a ball-hawking corner who seems to make at least one or two highlight reel plays a week. Yet that doesn't immediately excuse prior drug-related problems. Mathieu will have to prove to teams that he is focused on the future, as he told the Washington Post, and not his past mistakes.
It will take a strong locker room to help him mature and keep his nose clean. But if there is one locker room that can attempt to help the 20-year-old kid, it's San Francisco's. The 49ers have a strong veteran presence and coach Jim Harbaugh is a no nonsense-type of head coach. No one player is bigger than the organization in his eyes.
Right now, Mathieu's draft stock is teetering between the third and fourth round, although I could see a team like Seattle or Green Bay use a third-round pick on him. That same package the 49ers could use to move up for Lattimore could be used here to move up for him.
It's unlikely they land both players by moving up in the third, so San Francisco will need a little bit of luck to land both. Or it will have to settle on drafting one and not the other.
4. Trade Up for Defensive Tackle Sharrif Floyd
One of the best defensive linemen in this year's draft is first-team All-American Sharrif Floyd. Currently, mock drafts have him going as high as No. 3 overall to the Oakland Raiders. But as the draft draws near, there is a possibility that his stock may take an unforeseen hit.
If that ends up being the case and his free fall lasts into the teens, expect Baalke and Co. to be on Line 1. The 49ers are in the market for a 3-4 defensive tackle who can play every spot on the line. He has the ability to be a penetrating 3-technique or a one gap 5-technique.
Even in a pinch, he could line up at nose tackle and play 0-technique. Floyd's skill set is virtually limitless, making him the best option for any team running a 3-4 front. Yet acquiring him in a trade won't be easy—unless, of course, you're the 49ers.
Let's say San Francisco jumped up to No. 10 to select Floyd. By leapfrogging 21 other selections, the organization would have to give up the 31st pick, the 34th pick and the 74th pick. A pretty penny to pay. But if the 49ers have the ability to grab a player of his caliber, they should do it.
5. Trade Down with a Quarterback-Needy Team
Even though this year's draft is considered weak at quarterback, there will be plenty of teams interested in moving up to get their guy. I could easily see some quarterback-needy team trading up for a pick in the late first or early second round.
Having the most draft selections has it's share of advantages. If the picks aren't shaking out to the 49ers liking in the first round, they would be able to move down and secure even more picks with a team looking to get back in the first round.
Chances are the Arizona Cardinals could be one of those teams. If the 'Cards go offensive tackle at No. 7, they may want to grab a guy like Mike Glennon or Matt Barkley at the end of the first round. Obviously, that's assuming both players are still there at No. 31. But if they are, San Francisco is in luck.
It would most likely cost Arizona its second-round pick and an additional fourth- or fifth-round pick.
6. Trade for Cornerback Darrelle Revis
It's all but certain that the Darrelle Revis to San Francisco train has been shut down for some time now. However, that doesn't mean talks couldn't start to heat up on draft day. With the Jets struggling to find a trade suitor at their price, they may be inclined to get desperate before the well totally runs dry.
Pro Football Talk is reporting that Jets general manager John Idzik is trying to squeeze a 2013 or 2014 first-round pick out of a club for Revis. Tampa Bay seems to be the only team willing to talk to the Jets for that price, yet a deal doesn't appear to be imminent.
If the Bucs drop out of the running, New York will have to decide whether it wants to keep Revis or at least get something out of him before the player option portion of his contract kicks in. Chances are the Jets will try to trade him at a discounted price because all signs point to him opting out of his contract after the 2013 season.
I feel like the 49ers would re-open talks with the Jets if they were willing to drop the first-round pick requirement. A couple of early Day 2 picks, coupled with a late-round selection, are more than fair for a 27-year-old cornerback who is recovering from a torn ACL.
7. Trade Up for Safety Jonathan Cyprien
Moving up in the draft for Vaccaro may not end up working out for a variety of reasons, so the 49ers need to have a Plan B. In terms of the safety position, Plan B should be Florida International standout Jonathan Cyprien.
He is one of the best all-around safeties in the draft. He's strong in coverage against tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. Moreover, he is an aggressive, hard-hitting player at the line of scrimmage.
Even though he doesn't have the ability to play as a single high safety like Vaccaro, Cyprien won't make it out of the first round. His athleticism and potential are too enticing. So if the Niners want a shot at the second-best safety in the draft, they will have to cozy up with the Chicago Bears.
The Bears own the 20th pick in the draft. With Cincinnati selecting at No. 21 and the Rams selecting at No. 22, there's no way he makes it to No. 23. Moving up for Cyprien would cost Baalke the 31st pick and the 74th pick.
That's a reasonable deal when you compare it to Vaccaro and the value it would cost to move up for him.
8. Trade Up for Cornerback Dee Milliner
If the 49ers decide that the price for Darrelle Revis is too high, they may set their eyes on the draft's best cornerback. Dee Milliner is slated to go inside the top 10, so it would take a king's ransom to move up that far in the draft.
But Milliner may end up being worth the king's ransom. For a team that could stand a youth infusion in the secondary, the All-American cornerback has the skills to be a shutdown corner for years to come. The word on the street is, he won't get past the Cleveland Browns at No. 6.
Which means San Francisco would have to move into the top five. A move that high would likely cost the 49ers' four draft picks. Without question, they would have to part with their first-round pick from this year, both second-round picks and possibly a first-round selection in 2014.
It's a steep price to pay, but if the Niners believe he will put Vic Fangio's defense over the top for years to come, they have to pull the trigger. Even though it's the least likely of all the trades I've discussed up to this point, don't rule it out.
Crazier things have happened on draft day.
9. Trade Up for Wide Receiver Da'Rick Rogers
Despite adding Anquan Boldin for a sixth-round pick at the start of free agency, the 49ers could still stand another young top-tier player at wide receiver. Both Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham are recovering from serious injury, and A.J. Jenkins only saw 47 snaps last season.
So it's safe to say San Francisco has more questions than answers at wideout. The only two entrenched starters going into the season will be Michael Crabtree and Boldin. Neither player is known as a dynamic playmaker or game-hanger.
Enter Da'Rick Rogers, one of the most dynamic playmakers college football has seen since 2011. As a sophomore, Rogers led the SEC in receptions and receiving yards, not to mention that he was second in touchdowns with nine.
Yet, his run in the SEC didn't last long. After failing drug tests at the University of Tennessee, he was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. The suspension led to Rogers transferring to Tennessee Tech.
As a member of the Golden Eagles, Rogers caught 61 passes for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns, impressive numbers for a guy who was consistently game-planned for week after week. His top-notch junior season moved him up draft boards.
He's easily a top-100 player who will continue to climb up draft boards as the draft nears. Projected to go late in the second round, Rogers will likely cost the 49ers a couple third-round picks if they want to maneuver back into the second round to get him.
10. Trade Up for Cornerback Desmond Trufant
The last creative move San Francisco can make on draft day is a trade up for Desmond Trufant. He is the younger brother of long-time Seattle Seahawk cornerback Marcus Trufant. Desmond has been quickly rising up draft boards since his home run-type performance at the NFL Scouting Combine.
He ran a 4.38 second 40-yard dash and leaped 37.5 inches, outstanding numbers for guy who checked in at 5'11" and 190 pounds. Over the course of his four-year career at Washington, he made one All-Pac 12 first team.
He plays well in space and flashes his speed when driving on the football. A wide receiver rarely gets behind Trufant's coverage, and if they do, he has the ability to make up a ton of ground while the ball is in the air.
Another plus is that he isn't a scheme-specific corner. He has the tools to excel in man and zone coverage. According to Rob Rang of CBS Sports, his only flaw is that he is streaky with his technique at times.
That often leads to playing out of position and an over-reliance on athleticism over fundamentals. Although his versatility makes him an intriguing pick for the 49ers, it's believed he could go anywhere between 25 and 30, so San Francisco would need to move up for the Pac-12 product.
Moving up to No. 23 or 24 would probably cost the Niners their first-round pick and one of their third-round picks.