San Francisco 49ers: 5 Trades the 49ers May Make in the 2013 NFL Draft
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Saying the San Francisco 49ers might trade up in the 2013 NFL Draft is kind of like saying, "If you jump off a rooftop, you may experience contact with the ground."
With 13 picks heading into this year's draft, San Francisco is poised to "shake things up" like never before.
The multitude of draft picks creates a dilemma for the 49ers, its head coach Jim Harbaugh and General Manager Trent Baalke. It is a positive dilemma and creates a situation San Francisco would rather have. For starters, the 49ers have no need to utilize each one of those picks. Simply stated, there are not enough holes to fill on an already talented 49ers team.
There are some glaring needs, however. The 49ers need a safety, especially after the departure of Dashon Goldson via free agency. They also need to look for a pass-rushing replacement for the aging Justin Smith. A tight end that would fill the void left by Delanie Walker is also possible as is another wide receiver. The 49ers might also consider a cornerback as well.
These needs, along with addressing San Francisco's depth, are the only legitimate concerns the 49ers have heading into the draft. With that, the 49ers would have no interest in drafting 13 prospects. Instead, they will undoubtedly trade a portion of their picks to move up in the draft.
The question is not if they will trade up, but when and at what cost.
If the price and situation is right, San Francisco will be in contention to move up in the draft multiple times. There are a number of teams that are looking to broaden their draft depth. The 49ers have a plethora of picks. Other teams do not. Some teams have so many holes to fill, that trading away top picks for a multitude of later options would be wise.
The 49ers should take advantage of that.
If we examine the draft picks and their values, we can determine the feasibility of potential trades. Of course, all of this is speculation at best and pends various teams' needs, including contracts, salary-cap considerations and the like. While predicting exactly how any draft will happen is next to impossible, it is possible to make legitimate predictions.
Here are five potential trade scenarios that San Francisco may execute during the draft.
49ers Trade Picks in 2013 for Picks in 2014
49ers' general manager Trent Baalke is known for executing trades with draft picks.
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Scenario: San Francisco trades its third-round pick (#93 overall) and its fourth-round pick (#128 overall) to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2014 draft.
Trading picks for picks is not as sexy as moving up in this year's draft or acquiring a player like Anquan Boldin. Yet the job of a general manager is not only to put the pieces in place for a team to win now, but also to prepare wisely for the future.
In the 49ers' case, some of its mid-round picks may be of little use considering some of the areas they need and how deep their draft classes are. If San Francisco plans to address immediate needs, such as a safety and pass-rusher, those extra mid-round picks may be irrelevant.
San Francisco currently has five picks in Round 3-5. There are not five positions the 49ers need to address during those rounds.
Instead, the 49ers may be looking to address future needs. For starters, defensive end Justin Smith, safety Donte Whitner, center Jonathan Goodwin, cornerback Tarell Brown and wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams will all be free agents after the 2013 season (spotrac.com).
While the 49ers may elect to draft a pass-rushing replacement like Alabama's Jesse Williams in this year's draft, they should probably consider upgrades down the road as well, especially at a soon-to-be thin wide receiver position.
On the flip side of the trade, the Colts need some immediate help. They have two picks in Round 3-5 and have plenty of holes to fill. For starters, their defense is a mess. The Colts' defense was ranked 21st overall in points-allowed last year (pro-football-reference.com). Complicating the situation is the fact that defensive backs Antoine Bethea and Vontae Davis are free agents after 2013 (spotrac.com).
Considering how deep the backfield class is, especially at cornerback, Indianapolis may be interested in broadening its draft choices during the middle rounds and getting some young draftees involved before the possible departures of Bethea and Davis. The offense is improving with Andrew Luck at the helm, and Colt fans undoubtedly want to see their team get back to their winning ways they enjoyed not so long ago.
The 49ers could make the move and address a need in 2014. They would not be able to trade their other fourth-round pick (#131 overall) as it is a compensatory pick, but it is only a difference of three draft slots.
San Francisco has the pieces. Indianapolis wants them. It could happen.
San Francisco Trades Up for Travis Frederick in the 2nd Round
Travis Frederick is touted as the top center in the draft.
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Scenario: 49ers trade their second-round (#61 overall) and a fourth-round pick (#128 overall) as well as a fifth-round pick in 2014 to Miami for their second-round pick (54th overall). San Francisco then drafts center Travis Frederick.
The 49ers' lone weakness on their offensive line is the 34-year-old center Jonathan Goodwin. Goodwin is entering the final year of a three-year, $10.9 million contract, and it is safe to say that San Francisco is looking to part ways with the aging veteran.
Fortunately, there are a couple of attractive prospects coming out of the draft that could fill the void. Both Wisconsin's Travis Frederick and Alabama's Barrett Jones are atop the rankings for collegiate centers. The 49ers may have their eyes set on both centers and may be lucky enough to have one of them fall to them with their latter pick (#61 overall) in the second round.
Both Frederick and Jones are predicted to be drafted in the second round (cbssports.com). Frederick, however, may be the more attractive option.
ESPN's Mel Kiper lists Frederick as the top junior center in the nation (via si.com). Foregoing his senior year, Frederick would be a solid addition to the 49ers and would be able to play under the tutelage of Goodwin for at least one season.
Frederick is ranked 56th overall in the draft and will be highly touted by a number of teams needing centers in the draft. If Frederick does fall on or around the 56th overall pick, he may go to the Green Bay Packers who hold the 55th pick. Frederick would undoubtedly love staying in Wisconsin, and playing for Green Bay who have been reported as being interested.
If that were the case, the 49ers would have to trade up in the draft, potentially with the Miami Dolphins who hold the 54th overall pick. Miami already has a plethora of picks, so they are not necessarily looking to broaden their draft board. They also spent a good amount of cash during free agency (spotrac.com).
Whether or not the Dolphins would be interested in trading their pick remains to be seen, but it is possible. San Francisco could easily part ways with its late second-round pick as well as some other picks to make the move.
If it did, Frederick would join one of the most potent offensive lines in the league, boasting young talent including Mike Iupati, Anthony Davis, Alex Boone and Joe Staley.
Keeping that offensive line young and talented is a high priority for the 49ers. Do not be surprised if San Francisco executes this type of move.
49ers Trade Up for Jesse Williams
Jesse Williams may not fall to the 49ers.
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Scenario: The 49ers trade their first-round (#31 overall) and third-round picks (#93 overall) to the Denver Broncos in exchange for their first-round (#28 overall) and fourth-round pick (#125). The 49ers then draft defensive tackle Jesse Williams.
If the 49ers sit tight where they are in the draft, it is entirely possible that Alabama defensive tackle Jesse Williams may fall to them at the 31st overall pick. It is also possible that another team may draft Williams ahead of San Francisco.
There is a lot to like about Williams. Projected to go either late in the first round or early in the second, Williams has tremendous strength and is capable from moving from the defensive tackle position to the end, something he will probably do in the NFL (cbssports.com).
CBS Sports' Dane Brugler has San Francisco drafting Williams with their first-round pick (cbssports.com). It would be a great pickup for the 49ers. Williams' talents would fill in nicely for Justin Smith. Williams could play under Smith's leadership and learn a few things from one of the best ends in football. The transition would help alleviate the 49ers' future needs in its pass-rushing game.
Sacramento Bee columnists Matt Barrows and Daniel Jeremiah feel that Williams would be an excellent fit with the 49ers.
I look at a guy like [Jesse] Williams. To me that makes a lot of sense. Just because he's a strong nose, played in that defense in college, he's been coached well. He'd be more of a push-the-pocket player at this point, but he's got some tools to work with. The good thing I like about him -- he's got so much lateral range for a big guy. He can really run. He's not confined to make plays inside the tackle box. He can get outside the pocket and make plays. (sacbee.com)
However, other teams are undoubtedly interested in drafting Williams.
CBS Sports' Pete Prisco has the Denver Broncos drafting Williams with their first-round pick (#28 overall), which would thwart the 49ers' efforts to land the talented defensive tackle.
Depending on what happens in the first round, San Francisco may want to be more aggressive in pursuing Williams.
Fortunately, the Broncos have a few other draft needs that could be addressed slightly later in the first round. If the 49ers were able to execute a trade, such as sending their first- and third-round picks in exchange for the Broncos' first-round pick and potentially a later pick, San Francisco would be in much better shape to draft Williams.
San Francisco Trades Up for Jonathan Cyprien in the 2nd Round
Jonathan Cyprien could solve San Francisco's needs at safety.
Scenario: 49ers trade their second-round pick (#61 overall) plus a third-round (#93 overall) and a fourth-round pick (#128) to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for their second-round (#44 overall) pick. 49ers then draft safety Jonathan Cyprien.
Safety Jonathan Cyprien is one of those prospects that may be difficult to predict regarding where he is drafted.
Both Dane Brugler and Pete Prisco of CBS Sports have Cyprien being drafted as high as 22nd overall by the St. Louis Rams, while other reports have him being ranked as the 42nd highest prospect in rankings and slated to be drafted toward the middle of the second round.
There is no doubt the 49ers are in need of a safety. The departure of Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson opened a huge hole in the 49ers' secondary. San Francisco filled the void by signing former Rams safety Craig Dahl, but it is still examining the need for help at the position.
Cyprien would be a solid pick for the 49ers if he slides to them late in the first or early in the second. They may also consider trading up for Cyprien depending on how the draft takes shape.
Yet if Cyprien's stock falls into the middle portion of the second round, the 49ers may elect to use their first two picks in the draft to address other areas of need. Then, they may consider a trade up from their latter second-round pick at 61 overall.
Currently, the Carolina Panthers are slated to draft 44th overall. They are also short on draft picks this year and would love to get their hands on some of San Francisco's multitude of picks.
Depending on how far Cyprien falls in the draft, it is possible to see the 49ers execute a trade that would send its latter second-round pick along with two later picks to Carolina in exchange for the chance to draft a player like Cyprien.
If he's available at that point in the draft, San Francisco would still hold onto its top-two picks and not give up very much towards the tail end of the draft. Carolina would also be able to build around a larger draft and take advantage of its needs in a deep class.
49ers Trade Up in for Wide Receiver Tavon Austin
Tavon Austin shall be highly sought after on draft day.
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Scenario: The 49ers trade their first-round (#31 overall) and second-round picks (#61 overall) to the New Orleans Saints for their first-round pick (#15 overall) plus a third round pick in 2014. San Francisco then drafts wide receiver Tavon Austin.
There have been plenty of rumors recently stating that the 49ers have legitimate interest in West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin.
Currently, CBS Sports' Rob Rang, Dane Brugler and Pat Kirwan all have Austin falling to the St. Louis Rams in the draft (cbssports.com). San Francisco would love to get its hands on a player like Austin for two reasons.
First, San Francisco would solve its pending need at wide receiver. True, the 49ers are still considering last year's first-round draft pick A.J. Jenkins as a work-in-progress at the position, but they still need considerable help, especially with the pending departures of Anquan Boldin, Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams.
Second, the 49ers would love to thwart their division rivals by denying them the opportunity to draft a player with such lofty potential.
Austin is both explosive and fast and, despite his small stature, would be a perfect fit for the 49ers as a slot receiver.
The 49ers could easily make this work if they wanted to.
It is a credible argument that San Francisco's immediate needs in this draft do not revolve around a wide receiver. It needs help in the backfield, as well as on the defensive line. Fortunately, there is a lot of depth at the corner and safety positions this year, and the 49ers may still be in position to package draft picks to trade up for a safety like Jonathan Cyprien in the second round after making a move with New Orleans.
San Francisco would also be able to retain its other second-round pick (#34 overall) to address its pass-rushing need.
New Orleans would also be interested in pulling the trigger. Currently, it holds zero picks in the second round, and considering some of its draft needs, an extra pick this year would do the Saints some good. The hiring of Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator may also provide some necessity to examine more options in the draft.
By examining some mock drafts, it is possible that any one of the targeted prospects may still fall to the Saints later in the first round, which would be tempting.
It would be a flashy move by the 49ers in any regard. Yet with all these draft picks and relatively few needs to address, it might be a move San Francisco should consider making.
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