Every NFL team enters the draft and offseason with a singular mission—to build a team that can win a Super Bowl.
Over the past two seasons, no team has been as close as the 49ers have been to realize that dream only to see the opportunity slip from their grasp in the waning moments of the game. In the 2011-12 season, the 49ers lost in the NFC Championship game in overtime to the New York Giants. The Giants went on to defeat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. Last season, the 49ers failed to finish a dramatic comeback against the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII and fell short once again.
To say the 49ers are driven to win their sixth Vince Lombardi trophy is be a understatement. The 49ers fans, players, coaches, general management and owners all know they are that close to winning it all and that their window to win is now, not later. To add more pressure to next year, it will be the 49ers' final season in Candlestick, a meaningful place for 49ers fans during much of the 1980s and 1990s. There would be no better way to to close out the 49ers' reign at Candlestick than with a championship.
But don't expect the 49ers to try and reach for that one elusive player fans believe will take them to the promised land. Instead. the 49ers will approach this year's draft with their business as usual approach seeking players who offer value, address needs and provide impact immediately.
In last year's draft, we saw the 49ers picking talented players and "red-shirting" them for most of, if not all of, the season. I personally believe this was primarily due to the depth of the talent in front of these draft picks more than their lack of ability to make an impact.
While there will certainly be moves made both up and down in the draft by the 49ers, I see GM Trent Baalke, head coach Jim Harbaugh and the rest of the 49ers' brain trust continuing with their proven and patient strategy of looking for players who provide best overall value while addressing current and future needs and attempting to find those special players that can be game changers such as LaMichael James.
Here are some possible candidates the 49ers may select in this year's draft which may or may not be on the radar screen for San Francisco. I have not attempted to predict which players the 49ers will take with each specific draft pick given the dynamic nature of the draft. Instead, I have focused on some talent that the 49ers may have their eyes on by skill position.
In the first part of this article, let's take a look at three offensive skill position players—TE, WR, RB.