San Francisco 49ers: Day 2 2014 NFL Draft Primer
While common thought most likely had the 49ers tabbing either a wide receiver or a safety in Round 1, potentially trading up within the round, general manager Trent Baalke did neither. Instead, he stayed put at pick No. 30 and drafted Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward.
There can be plenty of speculation behind why San Francisco was not as aggressive as it could have been.
First off, the 49ers owned 11 picks heading into the draft—six of which fell within the top 100.
Simply put, San Francisco had the ammunition to be potent in almost any trade-up scenario. There were targets that the 49ers had been linked to. LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. topped many 49ers mock drafts, including this author's mock.
Yet Beckham was gone long before the 49ers had a chance to trade up to a likely partner—the Baltimore Ravens, as pointed out by CSN Bat Area's Matt Maiocco:
The Ravens are a definite trade-up spot where the 49ers could land at No. 17.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) May 9, 2014
We may never know exactly what transpired with the 49ers' draft-day plans and how Baalke elected to sit on the 30th pick and land Ward.
Perhaps San Francisco's targets had all left the board too early and were possibly not worth the price Baalke was willing to pay in terms of a trade-up package.
On the other hand, maybe Baalke saw something in Ward that others did not—realizing that the young player's flexibility could immediately solve a couple of needs.
At any rate, the 49ers still own 10 picks and shall enjoy two in Round 2 and another three (one compensatory) in Round 3.
This still gives San Francisco plenty of ammunition to fire away at a trade-up or to land some promising prospects in this deep collegiate pool.
So let us prepare ourselves for the 49ers' plan of attack as the 2014 NFL draft resumes on Friday, May 9.
Day 1 Recap and Analysis
Round 1, Pick No. 30: 49ers select Northern Illinois strong safety Jimmie Ward.
For those of you hoping the 49ers would trade up in Round 1 and land either a stud cornerback or wide receiver, San Francisco's actions on Day 1 may have disappointed you.
As it turned out, neither happened. San Francisco instead elected to go with Northern Illinois strong safety Jimmie Ward.
The initial reaction could flow like this—why would the 49ers want to add yet another safety after drafting Eric Reid in the first round last year and adding veteran safety Antoine Bethea in free agency?
This was CBS Sports NFL draft analyst Pete Prisco's reaction, who wrote, "he is a heck of a football player, but with Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid was that really a need?"
Yet others felt that the addition was a solid one, including ESPN's Trent Dilfer:
Again, GM Trent Baalke nails first round pick for #49ers. Jimmie Ward and Eric Reid together in back end will create fits for opposing off— Trent Dilfer (@TDESPN) May 9, 2014
If there was one problem with this pick, it probably lies in the fact that San Francisco had plenty of ammunition to make a big move in the first round. Eleven picks entering the draft should have been enough in order to target a higher-profile target.
Yet for whatever the reason, Baalke did not execute such move. Perhaps the options available to the 49ers were not to their liking. Perhaps the players San Francisco's front office was targeting—like LSU wideout Odell Beckham Jr.—had already been drafted.
It did appear the #49ers had some trade up targets, but none of them were available at a reasonable spot. (Beckham already taken)— Christian Gin (@Christian_Gin) May 9, 2014
At any rate, Ward will now don the red and gold entering 2014. So what should we expect out of him, and how do the 49ers plan on utilizing him?
San Francisco already has two safeties as mentioned. Why add a third?
The use of three-safety sets is a popular option, considering some of the pass-happy teams the 49ers will face in 2014. Additionally, Ward provides the flexibility of playing either at safety or in the slot as a cornerback, as suggested by Maiocco:
Safety Jimmie Ward probably moves to nickle-CB day one. #49ers— Damon Bruce (@DamonBruce) May 9, 2014
If this is indeed the case, the 49ers can (most likely) cross off one of their needs during this draft. While there are still plenty of talented corners available—and possibly remain as targets—at least San Francisco knows it has a hard-hitting defensive back to complement players like Reid and Bethea.
The 49ers know how to build an elite defense. It's hard to argue with the success generated so far, so perhaps this pick has more merit than we initially think.
Updated Needs for San Francisco 49ers
With safety Jimmie Ward now a part of the 49ers, general manager Trent Baalke and the San Francisco brass can possibly cross off one significant need as they enter the later rounds of the draft.
After adding a safety who can possibly serve as a slot corner, San Francisco can now shift its attention to some of the other pending needs.
By again examining the team needs laid out by Curtis Crabtree of NBC Sports, we can assume the 49ers will start looking toward a cornerback/wide receiver with their subsequent picks in Round 2 and beyond.
Some of the top targets at the wide receiver position are now long gone.
The prospects for bringing in speedy receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandin Cooks have since fallen by the wayside. Those who were interested in adding a bona fide red-zone threat like Kelvin Benjamin will also have to wait.
San Francisco elected to pass on whatever receiver was atop its board at No. 30. Interestingly enough, the 49ers passed on USC's Marqise Lee, a wideout whom CBS Sports projected as a first-round pick.
Thankfully, the pool of receivers remains deep even after all the Day 1 selections. While the 49ers have yet to answer the question of how they can build up the receiving corps, we can still try to predict what moves they make to solve this issue.
According to Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News, the 49ers are not all that concerned that five wide receivers went off the board when the time came for the team to draft.
Speedy receivers may still be the name of the game for Baalke and the 49ers brass. There are also a number of big-bodied wideouts that may entice San Francisco with the thought of improving its red-zone offense.
Whatever the case, the 49ers need to improve upon their 30th-ranked pass offense from last season. They also need to prepare for the potential free-agent departure of No. 1 receiver Michael Crabtree, who is entering a contract year.
Adding Ward to the secondary certainly helps alleviate some of the pressing needs the 49ers have with regard to their cornerback situation.
Yet this position still remains relatively thin, considering the offseason subtractions of veterans Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers. Chris Culliver is returning from a season-long injury, and Eric Wright is still looking to resurrect his career.
Ward helps, but it would not be surprising to see the 49ers target yet another defensive back in this deep pool of cornerbacks.
Tall, physical corners like Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Utah's Keith McGill are still out there—perhaps Day 2 targets for Baalke and the 49ers defense.
We all know the 49ers are elite up front. That shouldn't change in 2014. Yet coming into this offseason, bulking up the secondary had to be a priority.
San Francisco made one move to help this. It would not be a surprise if it made another.
Curtis Crabtree points out the need to add another center to compete with Daniel Kilgore entering training camp.
While this move does make some initial sense—competition is never a bad thing—it is still hard to fathom Baalke adding this position until much later in the draft.
Doug Williams of NBC Bay Area cites Todd McShay of ESPN as having the 49ers drafting a center as early as the second round. The suggested target—USC's Marcus Martin.
Travis Swanson out of Arkansas or Gabe Ikard out of Oklahoma may be safe later-round picks at this position, but the smart money is on the 49ers utilizing a fourth- or fifth-round pick to supplement some other areas of need.
Day 1 was obviously not the time for the 49ers to solve some of their linebacker questions moving into the 2014 season.
Yet the questions surrounding Aldon Smith and his off-the-field issues, along with All-Pro NaVorro Bowman missing the first half of the season, raise enough need for the 49ers to add at least add some depth when it comes to linebacker.
Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee sat down with Tom Tolbert on the 49ers' flagship radio station, KNBR 680, and predicted that Smith would be suspended by the NFL for eight games this upcoming season.
This means that both Bowman and Smith would be out—potentially simultaneously—for half the season. While the 49ers can already count upon depth players like Michael Wilhoite, Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier to fill the voids, adding some depth would be a smart move here.
Outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard out of Alabama would be a plausible option to help alleviate the loss of Smith, and Hubbard also can play on the defensive line—giving San Francisco's defense even more flexibility.
This author was a little surprised that Curtis Crabtree did not point out the defensive line as a need for San Francisco. Instead, he went with quarterback.
His point makes sense in that the 49ers may be looking to add some competition under center at the No. 3 slot, but San Francisco's recent history with an ever-revolving door of backups—Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace, B.J. Daniels and more—raises the question of how serious the 49ers are about developing this position.
Instead, adding some bulk to the defensive line may be a better option, especially in the middle rounds of the draft. Remember, Justin Smith is not getting any younger and Tank Carradine has yet to take the field.
The 49ers are pretty much set at defensive tackle with Glenn Dorsey and Ian Williams vying for playing time, but the line—which suffered some attrition last year—could use some added depth.
The 49ers defensive line has depth, but will the 49ers look for more in the 2014 NFL Draft? http://t.co/ViVQ7yEKdv— Niners Nation (@NinersNation) April 9, 2014
Fortunately, this is not a high priority for the 49ers. If they are able to get their hands on a sleeper to fulfill this need, great. If not, they are still pretty deep.
At any rate, this need supplants any desire to add a third-string quarterback.
Top Day 2 Targets
The 49ers have two picks going into Round 2—Nos. 56 and 61 overall.
They also will carry over three picks in the third round—Nos. 77, 94 and 100.
With such a deep draft class, especially at wide receiver, we can expect San Francisco to look closely at filling another pressing need.
In addition, the 49ers may be enticed to simply grab the best player on the board. With this in mind, we cannot immediately assume Trent Baalke will just sit on searching for a specific position.
So what are the top targets for San Francisco as we move into Rounds 2 and 3?
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Perhaps it was a surprise to some that USC wideout Marqise Lee fell out of the first round.
Perhaps it was not. Some, like Bleacher Report featured columnist Dylan DeSimone, felt that Lee would not be a good fit in San Francisco:
#49ers -- take a hint and notice that Marqise Lee is still available for a reason. Don't. Do. It.— Dylan DeSimone (@DeSimone80) May 9, 2014
Perhaps it was his injury concerns, pedestrian combine numbers or whatever, but the 49ers elected to go defense first when Lee was still on the table.
Yet as the pool of wideouts starts to thin out, the 49ers may start to wonder if Lee would eventually be worth an addition if the price was right.
The further Lee slips, the more enticing a possibility he becomes. While it is doubtful Lee makes it to the 49ers at No. 56 overall, a trade-up at this point would be nowhere near as expensive as it would have been had the 49ers executed a similar wideout deal in Round 1.
All that remains is determining what value San Francisco puts on Lee in Day 2.
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Let's stay on the wide receiver trend here for a while and continue evaluating the 49ers' need at the position.
If they elect to pass on the Lee (6'0"), adding a wideout like Penn State's Allen Robinson (6'3") may be the better option.
While not the speedster that other prospects are, Robinson does have the combination of size and excellent hands, per his CBS Sports profile page. Both of these are attractive attributes that may draw the 49ers' attention when addressing the red-zone offense.
Matt Miller says NFC West is falling in love with Allen Robinson. I was hoping the 49ers could get him in the 2nd Rd. http://t.co/A7lcFT82Hk— Joey Akeley (@Joeyakeley) April 14, 2014
Like Lee, the 49ers would probably have to trade up from their first of two second-round picks, but this is not out of the question at all.
Not making a presumed trade-up in Round 1 gives San Francisco an even bigger possibility of executing such a move.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Penn State
Again, another wide receiver. Notice a trend here?
If they are lucky, the 49ers may be able to sit back at No. 56 and let a player like Penn State's Jordan Matthews fall to them.
Matthews is slated by CBS Sports as the 46th overall prospect in the 2014 draft class and, with the way things have gone thus far, there is an outside chance he falls to San Francisco when the team's name is on the clock in Round 2.
If there is something that the 49ers like about Matthews, a relatively cheap trade-up is also an option here.
Matthews is an enticing prospect given his combination of size (6'3", 212 lbs) and speed (4.4-second 40-yard dash time), per his draft profile on CBS Sports. He also has excellent hands—an aspect that could be useful when it comes to hauling in the occasional errant throw from quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
The 49ers may have solved their cornerback concern by drafting Jimmie Ward—who may wind up being shifted to the position—in Round 1.
At 5'11", Ward may not possess the elite size San Francisco's secondary is seeking in order to truly turn this unit into one of the league's best.
49ers fans know all too well about big-bodied cornerbacks. Richard Sherman is perhaps the best example. One of the next prospects who might fit this mold is Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste.
If CB - Nebraska's, Stanley Jean-Baptiste would be my selection. #49ers
— Damon Bruce (@DamonBruce) May 9, 2014
Ranked by CBS Sports as a potential late-second- or early third-round pick, Jean-Baptiste should be available when San Francisco utilizes one of its two picks in Round 2.
In doing so, it gets the size on the outside it needs.
Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
It all starts with the offensive line.
Fortunately, San Francisco's O-line looks all but intact heading into 2014. The only change came when the 49ers elected to let veteran center Jonathan Goodwin depart via free agency. The team extended the contract for backup lineman Daniel Kilgore.
But the pressing question revolves around one of the other members of San Francisco's venerable offensive line—Mike Iupati.
Iupati is entering a contract year this season and may be difficult to re-sign when one considers the pending contract extension for Kaepernick as well as free-agent-to-be Michael Crabtree.
Gabe Jackson out of Mississippi State would be one of those selections that would make parting ways with Iupati much easier.
According to his draft profile on CBS Sports, Jackson excels at both run and pass protection. He would also have the benefit of lining up with one of the better lines in the league.
Ranked as the 66th overall prospect, the 49ers would have no trouble at all grabbing him either late in the second or early in the third round.
He would have a year to develop at the NFL level before being asked to fulfill a full-time role.
What Are the Experts Saying?
Round 1 of the 2014 NFL draft shook some heads and proved some experts right, while others were proven wrong.
That's just how the draft goes.
With all the factual evidence now on paper from the first round, what are the experts saying regarding what the 49ers will do approaching Day 2 of the draft? Here are some Round 2 projections.
56. San Francisco 49ers from Kansas City Chiefs—Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado: His 6-foot, 175-pound build isn't ideal, but his blazing speed could do for the Niners what DeSean Jackson used to do for Philadelphia — open up the field. Richardson should be able to track down strong-armed QB Colin Kaepernick's deepest shots while making TE Vernon Davis and WRs Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree even more effective underneath.
61. San Francisco 49ers—Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU: His flexibility could be very attractive to a team that may lose OLB Aldon Smith to a suspension and probably won't have ILB NaVorro Bowman to start the season as he recovers from reconstructive knee surgery.
Sitting on a talented wide receiver from a smaller program like Richardson may play into the 49ers' hands. His size isn't ideal, but he fits the mold of adding speed to San Francisco's passing game.
Adding Van Noy is also enticing, considering the need for another versatile linebacker to reinforce the possible half-season subtractions of Smith and Bowman.
56. San Francisco 49ers—Rice CB Phillip Gaines
The 49ers covet rangy press corners, and Gaines fits the bill as a 6-foot, 193-pound cover guy with adequate arm length and 4.38 wheels. Expect the Niners to select two corners in this draft.
61. San Francisco 49ers—Colorado State C Weston Richburg
The Niners expect Daniel Kilgore to be their Week 1 starting center, but he won't be handed the job free of competition. Richburg and Marcus Martin are the top-two centers in the 2014 draft.
Both picks make sense—the first obviously does. San Francisco is probably not finished adding pieces to its secondary. Defense wins championships, and the 49ers know this all too well after last season.
Adding Richburg to compete with Kilgore at center also makes some sense, although combining that with Kilgore's recent contract extension blurs this possibility a bit. Perhaps the 49ers look for competition at center later in the draft.
56. San Francisco 49ers—Lindenwood CB Pierre Desir
San Francisco needs help on the outside on defense and are expected to add youth at cornerback in the early rounds.
61. San Francisco 49ers—USC C Marcus Martin
Yes, the 49ers extended Daniel Kilgore at center, but Martin adds value at center or guard and Mike Iupati's is entering the final year of his rookie deal.
The Desir pick falls in line with what the 49ers may still be trying to do—beef up the secondary. But Brugler also tabbed San Francisco grabbing a wide receiver in Round 1, so unless a trade-up takes place, it's hard to see the 49ers going after Desir unless he falls.
Like Richburg, Martin makes sense from a competition standpoint. He also offers the flexibility of being able to take over at the guard position when and if Mike Iupati leaves the team via free agency.
4 Predictions for Day 2
We have already covered some of what the experts are saying as they analyze what the 49ers' approach will be entering the second day of the draft.
With five of picks in these two rounds, San Francisco remains in a powerful position to execute a variety of moves.
Should we expect the 49ers to be aggressive and trade up? Or will they sit tight and draft at their current slots in Rounds 2 and 3?
Let us evaluate some predictions for Day 2.
The 49ers Trade Up in Round 2
They didn't do it in Round 1, but all those remaining picks are still there, and the 49ers still do not need that many holes filled.
Picking at Nos. 56 and 61, San Francisco might like the idea of moving up higher into the round—perhaps eyeballing some of those late-first- or early second-round picks that remain beyond Day 1.
With 10 picks remaining in their arsenal, the 49ers still have all the firepower needed to execute such a deal. It is possible—perhaps even likely—San Francisco makes the move in order to cash in on the deep pool of prospects remaining.
The 49ers Go After Another Cornerback
By now, we have pretty much established that first-round draftee Jimmie Ward lacks the ideal size to play in the secondary. That's not to say he won't succeed—far from it—but it would not be surprising to see Trent Baalke eyeball a big cornerback in Rounds 2 or 3.
They have five picks in the two rounds combined, and there are still plenty of talented corners left.
At this point, selecting the best player on the board, or perhaps trading up to grab someone of interest, may be what the general manager orders.
LaMichael James Will Be Traded
The 49ers are not going to get much of anything for seldom-used running back LaMichael James—at least not outright.
But the possibility of moving him on Day 2 becomes more apparent if the 49ers wish to make a splash early in the second round.
It would take more than James to move up significantly from the 56th or 61st overall pick, but when paired with one of San Francisco's two non-compensatory third-rounders, the idea of getting into the top spots in Round 2 looks that much easier.
Don't be surprised if James is moved in this fashion.
The 49ers Will Stockpile More in the Front 7
While the 49ers' front-seven defense is already laden with talent, San Francisco knows that it is going to enter the 2014 season shorthanded.
All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman may miss the first half of the season, and Aldon Smith's possible suspension looms large.
With this in mind, the 49ers will try to find a possible depth option one or more times in these middle rounds. They have plenty of picks to utilize, and depth is never a bad thing.
Updated San Francisco 49ers Mock Draft
We now know what the 49ers have done in Round 1—adding Jimmie Ward with the No. 30 pick in the round.
This solves one of San Francisco's pressing needs, but we can still lay out a detailed mock knowing the 49ers' actions from Day 1.
Round 1, Pick No. 30: Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois
This pick is now in the books. For further insight, check out this author's recap and analysis here.
Round 2, Pick No. 48 Overall: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
The 49ers move up to the 48th overall pick by sending their first pick in Round 2 (No. 56 overall), a seventh-round pick (No. 243 overall) and running back LaMichael James to the Baltimore Ravens.
San Francisco then lands a tall red-zone threat in Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews.
Round 2, Pick No. 60 Overall: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
Stanley Jean-Baptiste is listed by CBS Sports as the 71st overall prospect.
Given his sheer size, the 49ers cannot pass up on the opportunity to land a cornerback who could add significant size to the secondary.
Round 3, Pick No. 77 Overall: Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
Jackson may have to slip to the 49ers at this point, but we have seen that before, and some of the better O-linemen have already been picked up by this point.
He will not fill an immediate need, but San Francisco looks to Jackson as the potential heir to Mike Iupati if he walks via free agency.
Round 3, Pick No. 94 Overall: Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama
Knowing that their receiving corps could look very different in two years, the 49ers stockpile some of the deep talent in this wide receiver pool. They add Alabama wideout Kevin Norwood—a player with tremendous hands and an excellent work ethic.
Norwood would likely not vie for a top-three receiving job on San Francisco's depth chart, but the coaching staff would try to turn him into a legitimate threat by the time aging vets like Anquan Boldin and Brandon Lloyd are long gone.
Michael Crabtree's contractual considerations have an effect on this decision too.
Round 3, Pick No. 100 Overall: Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
Daniel Kilgore gets competition for the starting center position when the 49ers use their final pick in Round 3 on Arkansas center Travis Swanson.
While Kilgore already has NFL experience, he has never held the job of starter. Jonathan Goodwin's job should not be handed to him without Kilgore having earned it.
Swanson provides that, as well as giving the 49ers offensive line added depth.
Round 4, Pick No. 129 Overall: Josh Mauro, DE, Stanford
Even though the 49ers defensive line is already stacked and awaiting reinforcements when Tank Carradine makes his long-awaited NFL debut, the 49ers recognize the need to have additional pass-rushers who can be floated in this unit as needed.
San Francisco goes with Jim Harbaugh's Stanford ties and lands defensive end Josh Mauro.
Mauro is a beast who is always around the ball. This type of play is something Harbaugh loves in his front seven, and Mauro offers the flexibility to have an ever-changing D-line in 2014.
Round 5, Pick No. 170 Overall: Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
The 49ers know that they may be without the services of Smith for a sizable portion of the 2014 season. While incumbents like Corey Lemonier and Dan Skuta will fill the void on the outside, adding some depth here is not a bad idea.
Adrian Hubbard out of Alabama is a nice stop-gap option for the 49ers to fill the need.
Scott J. Adams of Cover32.com writes that Hubbard even looks as if he could be a Ahmad Brooks-type of player.
Round 7, Pick No. 242 Overall: Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt
At 5'10" and 188 pounds, there is no question that Vanderbilt cornerback Andre Hal is undersized.
But what he lacks in size, he makes up for in physicality, per his profile page on CBS Sports. The 49ers have likely solved their cornerback needs by this point, but Hal adds some competition to San Francisco's depth chart and provides a nice addition to the special teams unit.
Round 7, Pick No. 245 Overall: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd's fall from draft grace may be unfortunate, but the 49ers recognize the need to add a third-stringer to the mix behind Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert.
There is a little bit of Russell Wilson to Boyd's game, per Rob Rang of CBS Sports, and San Francisco sees whether or not it can turn the guy who provided lofty stats to Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant into something useful.
As always, be sure to stay tuned to this author's coverage and analysis of each 49ers pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the San Francisco 49ers. Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.