San Francisco 49ers: NFL Draft Big Board Entering Day 2
The San Francisco 49ers threw a bit of a curveball at the rest of the league with their first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft, taking defensive back Jimmie Ward out of Northern Illinois. While most of the draft experts had the team taking a more traditional corner, Ward can serve as nickelback for now while preparing to take over for Antoine Bethea in the long run.
With their biggest need thus taken care of, the 49ers turn to Day 2 of the draft to patch up other holes. With five picks in the second and third rounds, the 49ers could target any player they so desire; they have the draft capital to go anywhere on the draft board.
The team still needs a third receiver to play behind Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. It could use insurance on the offensive line behind the unproven Daniel Kilgore. The 49ers could also use pass-rushers at both linebacker and defensive end to help back up both Justin Smith and Aldon Smith, whose long-term futures with the team are in question for different reasons. Finally, they could use a developmental prospect at quarterback, as Blaine Gabbert isn’t the most trustworthy backup in the world.
Let’s take a look at the best remaining players entering Day 2 to see who the 49ers might target in potential trades at the top of the second round.
- Marqise Lee, WR, USC
- Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
- Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
- Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
- Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
- Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
- Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise State
- Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
- Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
- Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
- Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
- Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
- Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada
- Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin
- Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
- Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
- Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
- Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida Stat
- Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
- Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
- Marcus Martin, C, USC
- Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
- Weston Richburg, C Colorado State
- Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Here are the top 25 remaining players, adjusted for San Francisco’s particular needs. In theory, I believe the 49ers will draft the highest remaining player when they go on the clock, regardless of whether that’s holding steady at No. 56, trading up to No. 33 or even trading back out of the second round altogether.
1. Marqise Lee, USC
2. Cody Latimer, Indiana
12. Davante Adams, Fresno State
15. Jarvis Landry, LSU
19. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
21. Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
I’d be very surprised if the 49ers came out of Round 2 without a new wide receiver, much less Day 2. As such, six of the top 25 players left for San Francisco are receivers, joined by a couple of tight ends on the next slide. The 49ers need pass-catchers.
Both Marqise Lee and Cody Latimer would have been solid picks with San Francisco’s first-round selection. To get either, the team will likely have to trade up, as teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets will be looking to grab a receiver in the second round as well.
The remaining four receivers are more likely to be available at the 49ers’ natural second-round picks, and they could actually double-dip on the position. Taking, for example, the tall, physical Jordan Matthews and pairing him with the speedy Bruce Ellington would give the 49ers offense multiple dimensions.
Other Skill Position Players
16. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
20. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
23. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
With Frank Gore, Marcus Lattimore, Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald on the roster, taking a non-receiver skill position player would be a luxury selection.
Jace Amaro might be the most logical of the three picks, as he’s essentially a slot receiver. He’s mostly called a tight end due to his 6’5”, 265-pound frame, as opposed to his skills or experience as an in-line blocker. If none of the receiving options available thrills the 49ers, Amaro would be an interesting alternative option.
Carlos Hyde is the best of these three players, but the 49ers already have a crowded backfield. The only reason Hyde’s on the list at all is because of a potential LaMichael James trade, but even then the backfield already appears to be set. If Hyde fell, he’d be tempting based on talent alone, but the need really isn’t there.
3. Morgan Moses, Virginia
11. Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
13. Joel Bitonio, Nevada
All three offensive tackles will likely be gone by the time San Francisco goes on the clock. With Joe Staley and Anthony Davis already manning the edges, the 49ers don’t need to trade up for any of these three players, either. It seems highly unlikely that they’ll come away with anyone on the outside of their line.
Morgan Moses’ drop has been surprising to me. I thought he would go in the middle of the first round to a tackle-needy team, perhaps to Baltimore. He needs to improve his power, but he’s got great movement abilities for a 310 pound tackle. If he keeps free-falling, he might be worth looking at regardless of positional need.
With only one pick in the second round, there’d be no chance the 49ers would take a tackle. With two, though, they have the option to make a surprising pick based on sheer value, if they so choose.
Interior Offensive Linemen
17. Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
22. Marcus Martin, C, USC
24. Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
The interior line is essentially one large need. After this season, the 49ers will have to decide who starts at center and left guard. Jonathan Goodwin’s already been let go, while Mike Iupati’s contract is up after 2014.
Taking any of these three players would give the 49ers some insurance in case Iupati becomes too expensive to re-sign. Xavier Su’a-Filo is the best of the bunch, but he’s also the least versatile; he’s likely not shifting inside to play center, so it would require Daniel Kilgore to succeed in his new starting role.
Both Marcus Martin and Weston Richburg have starting experience in college at both center and tackle. While they may not quite be at the level of prospect Su’a-Filo, their ability to play multiple positions gives the 49ers more options. They could have a Kilgore-Martin starting combo or a Martin-Iupati starting combo in 2015, depending on how things go this season.
5. Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
6. Kony Ealy, Missouri
25. Scott Crichton, Oregon State
Both Tuitt and Ealy would have been fine selections with San Francisco’s first pick, so if they were to fall all the way to No. 56, they’d be no-brainer selections. Tuitt fits in as a 3-4 defensive end, while Ealy might need to be converted to outside linebacker, but both would be very solid players on the edges.
Crichton might not be as good a fit in the 49ers’ 3-4 system, as he’s undersized for a 5-technique end. At less than 280 pounds, he would have to be converted to outside linebacker. He’d need to improve his coverage skills and learn to play standing up, but he has the athleticism and speed to excel at the position.
Crichton may not make sense at No. 56, but the 49ers could seriously consider him at No. 61
8. Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnsota
9. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
10. Louis Nix III, Notre Dame
The three falling defensive tackles occupy consecutive slots on my second-round big board.
Hageman is a player who was mocked to the 49ers multiple times leading up to the draft, including by ESPN's Todd McShay (subscription required), so getting him with a second-round selection would be a steal.
All three of these players are quality nose tackles, which is a position the 49ers are sort of fine at. Glenn Dorsey filled in well when Ian Williams went down with an injury, and the team may even be fairly happy with Quinton Dial behind them. That said, if first-round talent falls into your lap at the end of the second round, you take it.
I don’t see the 49ers trading up for any of these three players, but I’d put them above the second tier of wide receivers still available should they all last to No. 56. More likely, they’ll be taken off the board quickly by teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins.
Other Defensive Players
4. Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
7. Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise State
14. Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin
18. Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State
We end with a hodgepodge of other defensive players. While the 49ers need an outside linebacker, the pickings are a little slim when it comes to the second round, and they may be better off waiting for the third round and players like Stanford’s Trent Murphy.
Jeremiah Attaochu was another player I thought the 49ers could have considered in the first round. I wouldn’t trade up for him, and I’d imagine a team like New Orleans Saints or Tennessee Titans would grab him before he could slip all the way back to San Francisco’s next pick, but he’s still worth watching. A more likely scenario would be grabbing Demarcus Lawrence with one of the team's natural second-round picks.
Chris Borland would provide insurance in case NaVorro Bowman’s injury takes longer than expected to heal, but I think the needs are more pressing at other positions.
Finally, we have Lamarcus Joyner. I think if the 49ers had wanted a pure cornerback, they should have taken Joyner over Jimmie Ward at the end of the first round. Ward will likely eventually transition to safety, while Joyner is more of a traditional cornerback.
Doubling down at the position wouldn’t be a bad idea, though I think I’d do it with a third- or fourth-round pick rather than right at the top of the second round. It’s something to consider, though.
UPDATE: 3:00 PM Eastern
Late breaking news has the 49ers trading for Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson. This happened after the article went live, so it changes San Francisco's team needs somewhat.
Johnson obviously lowers San Francisco's need for a receiver. They could still draft a player like Marqise Lee or Cody Latimer, but I think this takes players like Jordan Matthews and Bruce Ellington out of the picture for them.
A trade up now likely puts Georgia Tech OLB Jeremiah Attaochu right in San Francisco's cross-hairs, or a defensive end like Stephon Tuitt or Kony Ealy. Staying put at No. 56, I think USC center Marcus Martin becomes the most logical choice.
Replacing Matthews and Ellington at the bottom of the big board would be outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy from Brigham Young, an athletic player who projects well as a right outside linebacker, and running back Bishop Sankey from Washington, who is a poor man's Emmitt Smith.