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San Francisco 49ers: 2014 Final 7-Round Mock Draft

Peter PanacyCorrespondent IMay 6, 2014

San Francisco 49ers: 2014 Final 7-Round Mock Draft

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    Will the 49ers be aggressive in the first round like they were in 2013 when they traded up for safety Eric Reid?
    Will the 49ers be aggressive in the first round like they were in 2013 when they traded up for safety Eric Reid?Al Bello/Getty Images

    The San Francisco 49ers are counting down the final days and hours before the 2014 NFL draft, which is scheduled to begin on Thursday at 8:00 p.m. ET.

    Armed with 11 total picks, per CBS Sports, the 49ers are in position to strike it rich in a prospect pool that NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock called "the deepest draft class in a decade," according to Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk.

    For the 49ers, the focus is simple—grab the best possible pieces via the draft that can help turn an already elite NFL team into a Super Bowl champion.

    One of the things that has made San Francisco such a successful team the past three years is that they have been able to sustain the level of dominance and fortitude that many other teams struggle with in this era of large contracts and salary caps.

    The 49ers have been willing to let go of players who are too costly to retain, instead electing to draft eventual replacements.  Look at the transition from safety Dashon Goldson to rookie Eric Reid a year ago as a perfect example.

    By doing this, general manager Trent Baalke and the 49ers brass are capable of keeping the proverbial "window of opportunity" open for the foreseeable future.

    If San Francisco fielded zero picks in this year's draft, the team would still put a remarkable squad on the field in 2014.  The team is loaded with talent.  Everyone knows that.

    Yet Baalke, head coach Jim Harbaugh and the front office cannot afford to take this draft lightly.

    San Francisco has a number of needs to address in this year's draft.  Aging players, depth and contractual questions will all factor into the decision process leading up to May 8.

    In this slideshow, we present a final seven-round mock just before the start of the draft.

    While mock drafts are never a perfect prediction to what will transpire—remember, nothing in the NFL is ever guaranteed—they do give us insight into how teams might approach their needs and what specific actions they could take to accomplish their goals.

    San Francisco is no different.

Establishing the Need

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    General manager Trent Baalke has a large number of picks to use in the draft.
    General manager Trent Baalke has a large number of picks to use in the draft.USA TODAY Sports

    It would be a pipe dream to suggest San Francisco has few needs in this year's draft.

    Like it or not, the 49ers need to address the 2014 NFL draft very seriously.  There are a number of reasons why.

    First, we can look at the obvious needs.

    To do this, we shall use NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah's description of San Francisco's needs.  He has the 49ers targeting the wide receiver, center and D-line positions.  We can also plug in a few additional ones as well.

     

    Wide Receiver

    It is beyond a doubt at this point that the 49ers will try to grab a talented wide receiver, or two, in the draft.  We can assume this given the fact that incumbent No. 1 and 2 receivers Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin may not be in San Francisco for the long run.

    The 33-year-old Boldin has two years left on his current deal, but there is always the age factor. Crabtree is signed through 2014 and may be tough for the 49ers to re-sign.

    Behind them, San Francisco has its hopes pinned on one-year veteran Quinton Patton, offseason acquisition Brandon Lloyd and a number of depth receivers who will likely not make significant impact in the upcoming season.

    Stack that upon the 49ers' 30th-ranked pass offense in 2013 and one can see the need for an explosive wideout who can not only impact the offense immediately but carry his skills over for a long period of time when Crabtree and Boldin may no longer don red-and-gold uniforms.

    Fortunately, this draft class is deep when it comes to wide receivers.

    The depth, described in detail by Mike Mayock to media reporters (h/t Taylor Price of 49ers.com), is something that plays into the 49ers' hands.  

    Should they sit tight at No. 30 in Round 1, they'll have a number of plausible options.  Or, we could see San Francisco execute some sort of trade up to put it in a better position to grab a receiver who may not drop to No. 30.

    We also cannot rule out the possibility of the 49ers grabbing receivers in Rounds 2 or 3, given the established depth and number of picks in their arsenal.

     

    Cornerback

    Not on Jeremiah's list of 49ers needs is a position that cannot be overlooked: cornerback.

    Without taking anything away from San Francisco's vaunted defense, the defensive backfield should be considered one of the team's weak spots heading into 2014.  

    During the offseason, the 49ers parted ways with veteran cornerbacks Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers. They are also counting on corner Chris Culliver, who spent all of 2013 on injured reserve, to compete for a starting job alongside Tramaine Brock.

    San Francisco added former Minnesota Vikings corner Chris Cook during the offseason, but the need for some added power in the secondary still remains.

    Just like the wide receiver position, the cornerback prospects in this class are also very deep, as described by Dan Kadar of SB Nation. This gives the 49ers plenty of flexibility when it comes to selecting a cornerback of the future.  Still, we should expect the team to address this need within the first two rounds of the draft.

     

    Center

    San Francisco's need to draft a center may be one of the lower priorities on draft day.

    After all but parting ways with veteran Jonathan Goodwin during the offseason, the 49ers extended backup O-lineman Daniel Kilgore's contract, essentially guaranteeing he will be the front-runner for the starting job.

    But as Jeremiah described in his article, Kilgore could benefit from some competition. It would not be surprising to see San Francisco tab a center in the mid to late rounds of the draft.

     

    Defensive Line

    Even though his contract extension last year almost guarantees he'll retire a 49er, Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Smith is not getting any younger.

    On the opposite end, 29-year-old Ray McDonald has two years left on his current deal.

    We can't forget to overlook the eventual debut of San Francisco's 2013 second-round selection of Tank Carradine—who missed his rookie season while being on injured reserve—but we also cannot determine his impact until he actually takes the field.

    At defensive tackle, the 49ers will again count upon Glenn Dorsey and Ian Williams for the upcoming season.  Dorsey's current contract expires after 2014, and Williams' deal does so the following year.

    2013 draftee Quinton Dial is also in the mix for playing time.

    As it stands, San Francisco would be OK with its returning defensive line.  Yet as we all know, injuries and the rigors of a 16-game schedule can take their toll.  Additional depth, especially as elements of this unit age, is a worthwhile need here.

     

    Linebacker

    At the start of the offseason, it would have been reasonable to assume the 49ers would consider adding an inside linebacker with a late-round pick to compete for the starting job at the beginning of the 2014 season.

    With All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman possibly missing up to half the season as he recovers from his knee injury suffered in the NFC Championship Game, the 49ers will be looking to fill his void—a daunting task, to put things lightly.

    Backup linebacker Michael Wilhoite did this job in Patrick Willis' stead last season and should be expected to hold that spot for Bowman in 2014.  But if the 49ers find themselves to pick up a worthwhile mid-round inside linebacker, it might be an acquisition worth making.

    As far as the outside is concerned, the need has been more recently established.

    The recent off-the-field issues surrounding linebacker and sack specialist Aldon Smith have forced San Francisco's hand. 

    Recently, Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News reported the 49ers are seriously considering not playing Smith in 2014.  This also may affect San Francisco's decision on whether or not to pick up his fifth-year option in 2015.  

    What happens there is anyone's guess at this point and is perhaps best suited for another discussion. Yet it could have significant influence on whether or not the 49ers seek to replace Smith on the outside via the draft.

    It is also reasonable to assume San Francisco utilizes more of one-year veteran Corey Lemonier in a pass-rushing role for the 2014 season.

     

    Quarterback

    It isn't exactly a serious need with quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert holding the No. 1 and 2 slots on the depth chart, respectively.

    It also may not even be a target for the 49ers in the draft.  After all, the team could wind up grabbing someone as an undrafted free agent, thus saving any late-round pick as trade bait.

    Or, the 49ers can count on current No. 3 quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson in this role.

    But it is not too far-fetched to suggest the 49ers take a flier on a quarterback in the late rounds if a player is to their liking.  Still, it does not seem a high priority at this point.

     

    The Possibility of Trading Up

    As we mentioned on the previous slide, San Francisco's 11 picks give the front office plenty of options when it comes to being aggressive on the trade front.

    There has already been plenty of speculation regarding whether or not the 49ers will pursue this option during the draft.  Perhaps they do it once in the first round.  Perhaps they do it multiple times throughout the draft.

    It is even possible to see San Francisco trade back or out of rounds in an attempt to stockpile picks for 2015 when the prospect pool may not be as deep.

    Determining exactly what it takes to execute a trade-up is difficult.  Perhaps the best tool is Walter Football's draft value chart, which assigns point values to each pick in the draft.  Of course, transactions can be made outside of these values and are complicated by the additions of players to "sweeten the deal."

    Still, this chart gives us a good estimate at what the 49ers—or any NFL team, for that matter—would be willing to do.

    As far as the trade-up possibility is concerned, all we can do is speculate.  Fortunately, the current situation gives us plenty to speculate about.  

    This beats the alternative.

Round 1 (No. 17 Overall): Odell Beckham Jr., Wide Receiver, LSU

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    Scenario: 49ers trade up to the No. 17 overall spot, sending the Baltimore Ravens pick No. 30 and two third-round picks (Nos. 77 and 94 overall).  49ers then draft LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

    Collegiate Statistics

    Size: 5'11", 198 pounds

     

    With two possession-type receivers already on the roster—Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree—the 49ers are in need of a speedster to stretch the field and open up plays underneath for their primary two receivers.

    In an ideal world, the 49ers would be in a position to aggressively move up in the draft and select one of the top two receivers in this year's draft class.  Yet Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are likely to be long gone before San Francisco could pull off a blockbuster trade in Round 1.

    While the team does have the ammunition to execute such a lofty trade, such a deal would be too costly from the 49ers' perspective.

    Instead, they pull off a move to select perhaps the next best receiver available—LSU's Odell Beckham Jr.

    At 5'11", he does not necessarily have the ideal size to match up against some of the more physical defensive backs that the 49ers will face in 2014.  What he does have, however, is size and agility—two aspects that are paramount when it comes to creating separation.

    He ran a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, one-tenth of a second slower than Oregon State speedster Brandin Cooks. His ability to break away from physical defensive backs and create space in the open makes him such an attractive option in the draft.

    Even more of an important asset is his hands.  Catching the ball has been something Beckham has improved leaps and bounds in, according to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports.

    A player of this type would give the 49ers exactly what they need—a playmaker with speed that can pull the secondary back, thus opening up more opportunities underneath.

    Additionally, he could serve as a returner on special teams—an aspect that makes him even more attractive considering pending developments surrounding current return man LaMichael James.

    The interest is already there, as pointed out by SFGate's Eric Branch after the 49ers met with Beckham on LSU's pro day.

    With this void in San Francisco's offense, Beckham could step in right away and be a contributor.  His speed alone would force defenses to consider him a threat.

     

    Trade Scenario

    Barring the most insane oddity, Beckham will not fall to the 49ers at No. 30.  Thus, San Francisco will be required to trade up in Round 1 much like it did to acquire safety Eric Reid in 2013.

    San Francisco could once again find a trade partner by utilizing the Harbaugh connection between brothers Jim and John.  The team made it happen last year with the offseason deal for Anquan Boldin, and it could be possible again.

    Given that the 49ers own three picks in Round 3 (one of them—pick No. 36—is compensatory and cannot be traded), two can be sent in exchange along with San Francisco's own first-rounder.

    The numbers add up, according to Walter Football. Given the fact San Francisco would still have three more picks left through Round 3, it would be an affordable move.

     

    Fallback Option

    49ers elect to move up in the first round to select Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who may be a less expensive option in terms of draft picks.

Round 2 (No. 56 Overall): Phillip Gaines, Cornerback, Rice

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    Scenario: 49ers utilize their first second-round pick (No. 56 overall) and select Rice cornerback Phillip Gaines.

    Collegiate Statistics

    Size: 6'0", 193 pounds

     

    Moving from one position of need to another, let us take a look at the next 49ers target: Rice cornerback Phillip Gaines.

    We briefly discussed San Francisco's need for a cornerback, or two, in this year's draft.  Already having spent their first-rounder on an explosive wide receiver, the 49ers will look to cash in on two NFL-ready prospects who can impact the team in their rookie seasons.

    At 6'0" and 193 pounds, Gaines has the size to compete with some of the larger receivers he will have to face.

    His blazing 40-yard time at the combine (h/t NFL.com) also suggests that he has the speed to keep up with the faster receivers as well.

    Per his player profile page on CBS Sports, Rob Rang stated that Gaines was one of the cornerbacks in this draft that the 49ers should be keeping an eye on.

    Inconsistent play in the secondary led to the 49ers allowing veterans Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers to leave via free agency.  The team remains high on youngsters Chris Culliver and Tramaine Brock but may find Gaines' length and speed too intriguing to pass up with one of three picks in a 21-selection run through the second and third rounds (picks 56, 61 and 77).

    Rang also points out that Gaines allowed just 13 receptions in 45 targets, which gives us an indication that he has what it takes to become a shutdown corner.

    He also has an excellent work ethic and served as a team captain for two years.  If the 49ers are also looking for character guys in this year's draft, going with Gaines would be an excellent idea.

    Trevor Woods of Niners Nation was also high on Gaines' attributes:

    The biggest riser on draft boards very well could have been Gaines, who had a very good day.  After posting a 4.38 forty, Gaines was as good as about anyone in the drill portion.  He has easy speed with quick acceleration, I liked what I saw.  His game tape leaves some to be desired, as he gets lost in coverage at times, but a team will take a chance on him for being speedy and 6'0".  You can't coach good height and speed, and I think he can be coached up.

    Coaching up would be exactly what the 49ers would do with Gaines on their roster.  He would already benefit from defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's press-based defense, so that's on his side.  

    Competition along the cornerback position would also be beneficial to him.  Jim Harbaugh and San Francisco's coaching staff rarely give anything to new players, and Gaines would have to prove his worth.

    Regardless, this would be an excellent opportunity for the 49ers to bolster a position of need for a long time.

    Oh, and they still have two picks remaining in the top 100.

Round 2 (No. 61 Overall): Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State

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    Scenario: 49ers utilize their second pick in Round 2 (No. 56 overall) and select Mississippi State guard Gabe Jackson.

    Collegiate Statistics

    Size: 6'3", 336 pounds

     

    When evaluating the 2014 NFL draft, much of the focus will likely be on the playmakers. 

    Yet the 49ers do not wait long to continue to restructure the offensive line for years to come.

    In the second round, general manager Trent Baalke elects to utilize one of the 49ers' two second-round picks to bolster the offensive line by drafting Mississippi State guard Gabe Jackson.

    This selection makes sense upon further analysis.  Two-time Pro Bowler Mike Iupati is entering the final year of his five-year, $15.111 million contract.  Re-signing him may be one of the more difficult things to do following the 2014 season, given San Francisco's cap situation.

    With the offensive line trying to retain the level of dominance it has enjoyed in previous seasons, losing Iupati may be a tough pill to swallow.

    This is why a player like Jackson makes sense.

    Here are his strengths, according to CBS Sports' Rob Rang:

    Demonstrates not only the raw power expected of a man of his size but also surprisingly nimble feet and balance while in pass protection, to mirror quick rushers.  Jackson plays with excellent knee bend and has long arms, which help him stay square and in control of his opponent in pass pro.  He's a powerful drive blocker who uses his natural leverage advantage well, showing good leg drive to push defenders off the ball.  Despite his girth, Jackson shows good lateral agility and balance to find fits at the second level. 

    CBS Sports also projects Jackson to be selected either late in the second or early in the third round.  

    So why would the 49ers spend a second-round pick to bolster a unit that should be in good shape in 2014?

    First, let us consider how San Francisco has relied on the offensive line in recent years.  This stalwart unit has been a boon to the offense—most notably the running game—during the Harbaugh era and before.

    Retaining that level of dominance should be paramount moving forward.

    It may not necessarily be the sexiest of moves, but just think about how many offensive linemen go early in the draft.  These players tend to stick around for a while at the NFL level.  Some of the 49ers' own early-round O-linemen are no exception.

    A guard like Jackson could be the next of that breed in San Francisco.

Round 3 (No. 100 Overall): Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama

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    Scenario: 49ers utilize their remaining pick in Round 3 (No. 100 overall) to draft Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood.

    Collegiate Statistics

    Size: 6'2", 198 pounds

     

    The Kevin Norwood pick may be this author's intentions to buy insurance for the 49ers' recent history with first-round wide receiver draft picks.

    Perhaps that is exactly the route general manager Trent Baalke takes as well, and one could do worse than draft Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood.

    By this point, the 49ers have already gotten their speed guy in the first round by drafting Odell Beckham Jr.  But assuming that Baalke and Co. are not quite finished adding bulk to the receiving corps, a move to pull in another wideout in this deep draft class makes some sense.

    At 6'2", Norwood is three inches taller than Beckham and has impressive combine numbers to go with his physical attributes, per CBS Sports.

    His seven touchdowns during his senior year also lend credence to him becoming a bona fide red-zone threat—an offensive element the 49ers could use.

    On his CBS Sports profile page, Dane Brugler points out Norwood's excellent hands and positive character—an added bonus.  While Brugler points out the receiver's need to add some weight in order to become more physical against press-based defenses, the initial attributes seem to be there.

    So are the 49ers interested?

    His hands alone could make the difference.  Being able to work for the ball in tough situations is paramount when combined with his excellent speed.

    Plus, if San Francisco's projected first-round selection of Beckham does not pan out, it would at least have another receiving threat who could help boost the passing game down the road.

Round 4 (No. 116 Overall): Josh Mauro, DE, Stanford

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    Scenario: 49ers trade up to the No. 116 overall spot, sending the Miami Dolphins pick No. 129 and running back LaMichael James.  49ers then draft Stanford defensive end Josh Mauro.

    Collegiate Statistics

    Size: 6'6", 271 pounds

     

    The 49ers defense continues to get better in this draft as the team makes a move in Round 4 by trading up in the round with a running back-needy team, the Miami Dolphins.

    To do this, San Francisco sends off third-year back LaMichael James to make the trade-up happen—more on the transaction shortly.

    San Francisco then grabs Stanford standout Josh Mauro with the No. 116 overall pick.

    To quote Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Dylan DeSimone:

    Stanford defensive end Josh Mauro is a total madman on the field—all 6’6”, 271 pounds of him.  Though a little rough around the edges, lacking in experience for the most part, Mauro is a promising young player, looking like a solid disruptor in the trenches.  He also hasn’t developed any bad habits and what he did at Stanford—racking up sacks and destroying blocking schemes—was done by mere physical ability.

    He goes on to state that D-line coach Jim Tomsula would love to take these attributes and turn them into something special.

    By the time Round 4 rolls around, the immediate-impact players are likely gone.  At this point, count on Trent Baalke looking toward future impact and development.

    Here is where Mauro fits in.  

    He is tabbed to be drafted early or in the middle of Round 4.  Since San Francisco sits at the 29th pick in the round, it would have to execute some sort of move to make this deal happen.

    With Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Tank Carradine likely holding the outside of the D-line, and Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey and Quinton Dial at the nose tackle position, there will be some time for the 49ers' coaching staff to hammer out some of the rawness that DeSimone speaks of.

    Mauro will not have to contribute right away but could serve as a bona fide backup and be utilized in specific situations.  Being able to rotate a defensive line is becoming paramount in today's NFL, after all.

    In the long run, Mauro could even fit in as a full-time starter once players like Smith—and potentially McDonald—have moved on.

     

    Trade Scenario

    With the recent news from The Sacramento Bee (h/t Eric Branch of SF Gate) that the 49ers are trying to shop James, the possibility of using him to sweeten a draft-pick trade is something we should consider.

    According to Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com, the Miami Dolphins are one such team looking to add a running back in this year's draft class.

    Should they elect to tab a back in the draft, this deal may, or may not, take place.  But adding an experienced—albeit minimally—back with return capabilities would be a safe investment at the cost of moving down from the 16th to the 29th pick in Round 4.

    There are those who wonder if the 49ers could get more for James.

    In theory, it would be nice to net something worthy of a return, given that San Francisco utilized a second-round pick on him in 2012.

    But as David Ochoa of Golden Gate Sports points out, James' trade value is virtually worthless at this point, and at best, he would net little more than a sixth or seventh-rounder.

    Sweetening a deal may be a better option.

Round 5 (No. 170 Overall): Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama

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    Scenario: 49ers utilize their fifth-round pick (No. 170 overall) to draft pass-rushing specialist Adrian Hubbard out of Alabama.

    Collegiate Statistics

    Size: 6'6", 257 pounds

     

    A lot of what transpires behind this pick is dependent upon what the 49ers elect to do with incumbent pass-rushing linebacker Aldon Smith.

    Given that the 49ers have shown faith in him by picking up his fifth-year option despite his off-the-field issues, signs point to the team keeping him on the roster for as long as contractually possible.

    Behind Smith, San Francisco can also count upon the pass-rushing abilities of last season's draft selection Corey Lemonier.

    But that does not necessarily mean the 49ers are done when it comes to looking toward the future.

    Let us assume for a moment that Smith's legal issues result in a lengthy suspension—a possibility in 2014, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport (h/t Dan Hanzus of NFL.com).

    While the 49ers will likely use their early picks to supplement playmaker positions, later picks could be slotted to add depth and potentially reinforce the pass rush.

    Here is where adding Alabama outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard makes sense.

    In his final two years at Alabama, he totaled 10 sacks as well as 16.5 tackles for a loss.  For a defense that has prided itself on a strong front seven, he would be a welcome addition.

    He would be a strong pickup not just because of this defensive prowess, but also because he would add insurance behind Smith and Lemonier moving into 2014.

    Hubbard is slated by CBS Sports as the 173rd overall pick. Given that San Francisco owns the 170th pick in the draft, the 49ers would not have to execute any draft-day trades to grab this pass-rusher.

    So would he fit in with what the 49ers have been trying to do on defense in recent years?

    Scott J. Adams of Cover32.com thinks so.  He writes:

    If they can, the 49ers should take Hubbard of Alabama with their lone fifth-round pick at No. 170.  As a 6-foot-6, 257-pound outside linebacker with great speed, he compares well to San Francisco’s Ahmad Brooks.  Hubbard’s pass rush needs work, but he could be a temporary solution, if not a promising long-term addition, if Smith has to miss playing time this season.

    Hubbard also has the versatility and size to line up at both linebacker and defensive end, per his draft profile page on CBS Sports—an added bonus that gives him more draft value.

    With the 49ers looking for value picks by this point in the draft, he gives San Francisco versatility, insurance and depth.  All three aspects are worthwhile.

Round 7 (No. 242 Overall): Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt

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    Scenario: 49ers utilize their first seventh-round pick (No. 242 overall) and select Vanderbilt cornerback Andre Hal.

    Collegiate Statistics

    Size: 5'10", 188 pounds

     

    By this point in the draft, the 49ers have likely locked up all their available roster spots and have even secured the necessary depth desired entering the draft.

    As things go, Round 7 is not typically a place where one finds a lot of impactful talent, but there are always gems to be had.

    Earlier on, we discussed the possibility of San Francisco tabbing potentially two cornerbacks in this year's draft.  Given the depth of the class, adding to the stockpile of defensive backs is not a bad idea.

    With the 242nd overall pick, the 49ers do just that by adding Vanderbilt cornerback Andre Hal.

    At 5'10" and 188 pounds, Hall might not necessarily have the desirable size for the position.  Yet he does have decent speed (4.50 at the combine) and he is aggressive enough in all the positive ways, per his profile page on CBS Sports.

    Matthew Fairburn of SB Nation's April 17 mock had the 49ers grabbing Hal with the 56th overall pick—thus establishing at least some interest on the part of San Francisco.

    While there is no way the 49ers would spend a second-rounder on Hal, considering CBS Sports has him tabbed as a sixth- or seventh-round prospect, at least he is grabbing other experts' attention.

    Dan Kadar of SB Nation (h/t David Fucillo of Niners Nation) responded about why they had him ranked so high by saying:

    [Fairburn] is apparently big on Hal, and views him a bit like TCU cornerback Jason Verrett. According to MtD, Hal "doesn't have the impressive size or anything, but he very much has good instincts.  He's more of a jammer at the line, but capable of playing zone.  I don't care for him as much playing off man coverage."

    Whatever the ranking, if Hal is available when the 49ers start drafting in Round 7, there is a good chance the 49ers take this physical cornerback.

    At worst, he would be a late-round pick that does not necessarily materialize into anything useful.  Yet San Francisco's coaching staff could find ways to work him into a system where his physical attributes and style are best put to use.

Round 7 (No. 243 Overall): Christian Bryant, FS, Ohio State

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    Scenario: 49ers utilize their second seventh-round pick (No. 243 overall) and select Ohio State free safety Christian Bryant.

    Collegiate Statistics

    Size: 5'9", 198 pounds

     

    At this point in the draft—and likely long before Round 7—the 49ers are looking at the best available player on the board.

    They also do this without entirely overlooking needs, which are depth and developmental prospects at this point.

    With safeties Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea holding down the starting jobs in 2014 and Craig Dahl the primary backup, San Francisco does not have a pressing need at safety.  Yet that does not mean it will avoid the position entirely.

    San Francisco adds some developmental depth to the safety position by selecting Ohio State free safety Christian Bryant. At 5'9", he lacks the desirable size for the position.  He also comes with considerable injury concerns, per his draft profile page on CBS Sports.

    In an ideal world, a free safety prospect like Lonnie Ballentine would be available to the 49ers at this point—an aspect pointed out by Christian Gin of Examiner.com.

    But Ballentine is slated as a late sixth- or early seventh-round pick, per CBS Sports—an area the 49ers do not have the luxury of picking.

    They do, however, have the means to draft Bryant at No. 243.

    Gin writes that a safety like Ballentine would provide added bonuses on special teams, and this is where Bryant's aggressive, hard-hitting nature could also come in handy.

    He also adds further depth and competition at the position.

Round 7 (No. 245 Overall): Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

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    Scenario: 49ers utilize their final seventh-round pick (No. 245 overall) and select Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd.

    Collegiate Statistics

    Size: 6'1", 222 pounds

     

    Do the 49ers try and find a quarterback to hold down the No. 3 spot behind Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert?

    With 11 picks in the draft, why not?

    While McLeod Bethel-Thompson holds the slate as the third-stringer under center, adding another quarterback may play directly into the hands of head coach quarterback guru Jim Harbaugh.

    At Clemson, Tajh Boyd enjoyed the fruits of throwing to receivers like Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant—a benefit that fueled his 168.7 passer rating in 2013.

    Boyd will obviously not transition into the NFL with the same success, as suggested by his CBS Sports prospect ranking of a seventh-round (or undrafted free agent) selection. He lowered his draft stock with a poor performance in the 2014 Senior Bowl.

    The reasons why are highlighted on this profile page.  Watkins and Bryant helped inflate his stats.  His passes, according to Rob Rang, were typically easy in nature and not conducive to the NFL game.

    Rang does compare him to Russell Wilson, however. 

    With the possibility of adding a quarterback who fits the mold of what San Francisco already has with Kaepernick, would the 49ers consider drafting Boyd?

    If his draft stock had not fallen in recent weeks, probably not.  Since it has, the option is much more attractive.

    Bleacher Report NFL draft analyst Matt Miller told 49ers.com writer Taylor Price that he thought Boyd would be a good fit with the 49ers: "He’s shown some running ability, has the downfield arm.  [Boyd] needs to work on his mechanics especially on quick, underneath routes.  He seems to have the physical attributes that fit with what the 49ers have done (at quarterback)."

    As long as Boyd's draft stock stays this low, the 49ers should have interest.  They could always turn him into something useful and potentially have him as a long-term insurance policy and/or trade bait.

    Giving Harbaugh another opportunity to groom a young quarterback would be hard to pass up.


    So there it is.

    Mock drafts, being what they are, rarely hit home with 100 percent accuracy.  Yet we can determine needs and see how each team goes about addressing them.

    The 49ers are no different.

    What actually transpires during the draft can only be determined by each team's actions and reactions. Thankfully, there are good enough predictions to help us speculate what San Francisco might elect to do starting May 8.

    Now, we just have to wait and see what transpires.

     

    Agree or disagree with picks on this 49ers mock draft?  Chime in on the comments section.  Better yet, post your own picks and keep the discussion going!

    All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com and Sports-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.  Supplemental draft information provided by CBS Sports.  Contractual information courtesy of Spotrac.com.

    Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the San Francisco 49ers.  Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.

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