San Francisco 49ers Day 3 2014 NFL Draft Primer

Peter PanacyFeatured Columnist IVMay 10, 2014

San Francisco 49ers Day 3 2014 NFL Draft Primer

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    The San Francisco 49ers were highly active on Day 2 of the 2014 NFL draft.
    The San Francisco 49ers were highly active on Day 2 of the 2014 NFL draft.Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    If the San Francisco 49ers were content with sitting at No. 30 in Round 1, while Rounds 2 and 3 on Day 2 of the 2014 NFL draft saw the 49ers execute a plethora of moves that totaled four picks over the course of the combined rounds.

    The 49ers still have a total of seven picks remaining in this year's draft, per NFL.com.

    Coming into the draft, speculation pointed toward San Francisco targeting a wide receiver and a cornerback early and, perhaps, often.

    With five selections now in the books, the 49ers have drafted neither. Instead, the team has made a number of different moves—some of which make sense, while others can be perceived as a bit of a stretch.

    Considering all that transpired in San Francisco's camp on Day 2, what should we expect from general manager Trent Baalke and the 49ers' front office on the third and final day of the NFL draft?

    There are still a number of plausible wide receiver and cornerback prospects remaining if San Francisco elects to go that route. The seven remaining picks give Baalke the means necessary to continue trading up—or down—as he desires.

    Or should the 49ers continue to go with the theory of selecting the best available player on the board when their number is called?

    While Days 1 and 2 often provide the biggest names and hype found during the draft, the proverbial "diamonds in the rough" can be found later on on Day 3. 

    With Rounds 4, 5, 6 and 7 looming, let us prepare ourselves for the 49ers' plan of attack as they look to put the finishing pieces on what has already been one of the more intriguing drafts in recent memory.

     

    Statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.comand Sports-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated. Contractual information courtesy of Spotrac.com.

Day 2 Recap & Analysis

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    Perhaps the biggest news that came out of the 49ers' camp on Day 2 was not something that took place on the 2014 draft board.

    The 49ers acquired Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson in exchange for a 2015 conditional fourth-round pick per Adam Schefter of ESPN (h/t ABC News).

    THIS JUST IN: Bills trade WR Stevie Johnson to 49ers for conditional 4th-round pick in 2015. (via @AdamSchefter) pic.twitter.com/ZbWnHkVrRz

    — SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 9, 2014

    The 27-year-old, San Francisco-born wideout has totaled 1,000-plus yards in three of the last four seasons. Johnson possesses a combination of both size and speed—elements the 49ers were unquestionably looking for in a collegiate prospect this year.

    The move makes sense considering general manager Trent Baalke's track record with collegiate wideouts in recent years. The memory of 2012 first-round draftee A.J. Jenkins still looms large in the minds of many a 49ers fan.

    With the inclusion of Johnson on San Francisco's roster, the 49ers need to target a wide receiver in Rounds 2 and 3 suddenly became less important.

    If the 49ers' acquisition of Johnson turned some heads, the multitude of moves made by Baalke over the course of Day 2 was enough to confuse plenty of analysts—this author included.

    I think that's five trades by the 49ers today, including the Steve Johnson deal. That's a lot.

    — Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) May 10, 2014

    The 49ers back-to-back trades with DEN/MIA was beautiful. Really robbed the Broncos, getting a 2015 4th in the process.

    — Football Perspective (@fbgchase) May 10, 2014

    Simply put, the 49ers were aggressive with their Day 2 draft moves. They had the means to make almost any move they wanted and it showed.

    Yet none of these moves—aside from the Johnson trade—involved a cornerback or wide receiver. Odd perhaps, but after some close examination of the 49ers' moves, San Francisco appears comfortable drafting for future investments opposed to immediate needs.

     

    The Picks

    Here's the third-round wrap-up for the 49ers. They tap center, linebacker, guard ... http://t.co/XzD93ygOJt

    — Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) May 10, 2014

    For a full rundown of 49ers draft picks, visit this author's analysis and grades here.

     

    Round 2, Pick No. 57 Overall: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State

    The 49ers love to run the ball with powerful, downhill running backs. Carlos Hyde fits that mold, even though he will be moving into a crowded backfield with the aging Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore.

    This is a decent idea considering Gore is nearing the end of his career and the fact that Lattimore is yet to take the field, but at No. 57?

     

    Round 3, Pick No. 70 Overall: Marcus Martin, C, USC

    San Francisco's coaching staff does not typically just give jobs to players on the roster. 

    Such would have been the case had the 49ers not tabbed a safety before training camp. Daniel Kilgore looks to be the initial favorite to take over for Jonathan Goodwin, but Martin changes all of that. He has the potential to start his rookie season.

     

    Round 3, Pick No. 77 Overall: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin

    Adding Borland solves an immediate depth problem in the wake of NaVorro Bowman's injury. With Bowman looking to return towards the middle of the 2014 season, adding some depth at this position alongside Michael Wilhoite became a priority.

    Borland may be a bit undersized and perhaps San Francisco could have waited, but the need was there and they wasted no time in picking up the Wisconsin linebacker.

     

    Round 3, Pick No. 100 Overall: Brandon Thomas, OL, Clemson

    Coming off an ACL tear, Clemson's Brandon Thomas will assuredly spend his rookie season on injured reserve—redshirting his first NFL season. Thomas was certainly a much higher-ranked pick before the injury, so the 49ers will get some value here if Thomas fully recovers.

    In the bigger picture, Thomas could be a potential favorite to take over for Pro Bowler Mike Iupati if he proves too difficult to re-sign after his 2014 contract year.

Updated Needs for 49ers

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    Trent Baalke has been able to cross off a number of needs from San Francisco's list two days into the 2014 draft.

    While some of these needs—primarily wide receiver—were not picked up in the draft, the 49ers have to be feeling pretty good about their situation as they move into the final day.

    Rounds 4 through 7 can still provide a number of viable options for San Francisco, supplementing the remaining needs Baalke and Co. have as they look to put the finishing touches on this year's draft class.

    Starting off with NBC Sports analyst Curtis Crabtree's assessment of 49ers' needs, the team can cross off three of the five needs he points out—wide receiver, center and linebacker.

    Two needs remain solely based on Crabtree's opinion—cornerback and quarterback.

    The cornerback position has been addressed to a point by San Francisco's first-round acquisition of Jimmie Ward, who can line up as a safety or as a slot corner.

    Interesting pick by 49ers. We all thought corner, but not nickel safety/corner type.

    — Mike Sando, ESPN.com (@SandoESPN) May 9, 2014

    Let's take a look at some remaining needs of our own.

     

    Cornerback

    The 49ers may have passed on all the corners in this draft thus far, banking on Ward becoming the slot option. 

    Yet this position still remains relatively thin, even with the addition of Ward in Round 1. A number of prospects still remain to be had in Round 4 and beyond, so perhaps we should predict San Francisco nabbing a corner if he is the best available player on the board.

    Baalke said 2014 CB draft class "hasn't been what's it been in past years." #49ers open to drafting CB if he's highest rated when they pick.

    — Taylor Price (@TaylorPrice49) May 10, 2014

    Corners like Lindenwood's Pierre Desire are still available and may entice another 49ers move.

     

    Wide Receiver

    Perhaps adding another wideout at this point is not so much of a need as it is a luxury.

    If a talented receiver falls to the 49ers at whichever pick moving forward, Baalke may elect to draft a prospect to his liking—much like how he did with Quinton Patton in the fourth round last year.

    Heading into 2015, San Francisco's depth chart at the position is looking pretty crowded. Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree hold the No. 1 and 2 slots. Quinton Patton and Stevie Johnson will compete for the third receiver, while Brandon Lloyd will offer some veteran competition. There is Jon Baldwin in the mix as well.

    But one has to consider that veterans like Boldin and Lloyd are not going to be around forever. Crabtree, entering a contract year, may be difficult to retain. Baldwin may be cast off if he fails to perform. 

    That leaves Patton as the only long-term option.

    Perhaps San Francisco looks at a third-round sleeper like Kevin Norwood out of Alabama.

    What Norwood does here is quite amazing too. Take heed @49ers /Baalke. Late round value! :) http://t.co/3K0SNkcBXu

    — Miguel Evangelista (@YouGoMango) April 8, 2014

     

    Outside Linebacker

    The 49ers have tabbed an inside linebacker to provide the depth necessary behind NaVorro Bowman as he continues his rehabilitation from knee surgery.

    On the outside, San Francisco may also be without Aldon Smith—suspended potentially for as many as eight games, per Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee when he was a recent guest on the 49ers' flagship radio station KNBR 680.

    At the outset, the 49ers would probably tab Corey Lemonier and Dan Skuta on the outside to fill in Smith's stead.

    This scenario should be fine for most 49ers fans, but the addition of another pass-rushing linebacker late in the draft would not be the worst idea here.

     

    Defensive Line

    San Francisco's offensive line received two reinforcements in Round 3, one of which—center Marcus Martin—may be able to start in Week 1 if he wins the competition over veteran Daniel Kilgore.

    Having completed the bulking up on the O-line, the 49ers can now look to the defensive front.

    Justin Smith is not getting any younger and should be kept fresh. Tank Carradine—while very promising—has yet to take the field in an NFL game. Until his impact is felt, we cannot say how deep the 49ers' D-line truly is.

    At any rate, a multitude of talented pass-rushers along the front seven can prove to be a huge bonus for defensive-minded teams. The 49ers are one such franchise and adding such elements may be the route taken.

     

    Quarterback

    Just for the continued sake of argument, the 49ers are probably not ruling out the addition of a late-round quarterback prospect. 

    McLeod Bethel-Thompson currently holds down the third-string quarterback position, but that does not indicate that quarterback guru Jim Harbaugh would be against drafting another protege at some point deep in the draft.

    Does it happen? Perhaps.

    Will it? Who knows.

Top Day 3 Targets

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    We touched on a couple of potential targets San Francisco could be eyeballing in Rounds 4 through 7.

    While we should expect San Francisco to add a limited amount of prospects in spite of their seven remaining picks, which top targets will the 49ers consider adding on Day 3?

    Let's take a look.

     

    Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood

    CBS Sports Profile

    Even though the 49ers have likely picked up their slot cornerback of the future in Jimmie Ward, San Francisco's secondary could still use a little bit of work moving forward.

    Tramaine Brock figures to be atop the depth chart. Chris Culliver is returning from a season-long injury and Eric Wright is looking to have a more prominent role with the 49ers. Chris Cook was added during the offseason. There is Perrish Cox on the roster too. 

    Aside from Ward, most of those names do not necessarily inspire a ton of confidence when evaluating the 49ers' secondary. With that in mind, should the 49ers target a promising corner like Pierre Desir?

    Pierre Desir is still available. Someone's gonna get a steal tomorrow.

    — SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) May 10, 2014

    Desir would add further depth to San Francisco's secondary and, as noted by Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar's aforementioned tweet, he would be a steal in Round 4.

     

    Keith McGill, CB, Utah

    College Statistics

    With the same backdrop as Desir, the 49ers may also look to add a sizable corner by drafting Utah cornerback Keith McGill.

    McGill, who is 6'3" and 211 pounds, was listed by CBS Sports as a late second- or early third-round pick. His slip is a bit of a mystery considering his combination of size and speed, although injuries have possibly deterred some teams.

    Still, a player like McGill could be the viable addition to San Francisco's secondary that would put them on a similar level to other elite secondaries in the NFL.

     

    Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama

    College Statistics

    The addition of Stevie Johnson takes a lot of pressure off the 49ers when it comes to adding a receiver with the desired combination of speed and size.

    Yet, as we've covered, San Francisco's receiving corps could be vastly different in a couple of years pending what happens with players like Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Brandon Lloyd.

    Therefore, the addition of a receiver like Kevin Norwood from Alabama would be a smart option for the 49ers if they were looking to bulk up the wideout depth chart for years to come.

    At 6'2" and 198 pounds, Norwood could still bulk up to compete with some of the more physical defensive backs he will face at the NFL level. Yet one cannot overlook his excellent hands and desired speed—both of which are suggested by his draft profile on CBS Sports.

    In a deep WR class, Alabama WR Kevin Norwood will make some team look very smart for waiting. My feature: http://t.co/xYqzMjf6Pe #NFLDraft

    — BJ Kissel (@bkissel7) May 7, 2014

    Norwood may take a year or so to be coached and bulked up, but the potential is there. At this point in the draft, selecting a player like Norwood would be a steal.

     

    Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon

    College Statistics

    San Francisco has already addressed the future of its offensive line by this point in the draft. 

    But adding some more bulk to the defensive line could be a route taken by Trent Baalke in the later rounds of the draft. 

    Oregon defensive end Taylor Hart (6'6 and 281 pounds) is a beast of a specimen who totaled 16 sacks during his four years with the Ducks.

    While his pass-rushing skills are not necessarily elite, he does offer the prowess on the field which could help relieve some of the better-known 49ers D-linemen. 

    Rotating defensive lines is becoming a more popular option in today's NFL, and adding a player like Hart could be a means to ensure the line stays fresh over the duration of a season.

What Are the Experts Saying?

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    Trent Baalke continues to stockpile picks in 2014 and beyond.
    Trent Baalke continues to stockpile picks in 2014 and beyond.Paul Sakuma/Associated Press

    Following the multitude of 49ers trades in Day 2, it is safe to assume that many experts and analysts were thrown for a whirlwind when it came to their predictions in Rounds 2 and 3.

    These obviously offset what many initially predicted San Francisco to do moving into the third day of the 2014 draft.

    With all of this in mind, what are the experts saying closing in on the final day of the draft? 

     

    Taylor Price, 49ers.com:

    Baalke has darts alright, seven to be exact. The GM’s draft-day trades earned San Francisco extra Saturday picks. Now the 49ers will have two picks in the fourth round, two picks in the fifth round, one pick in the sixth round and two picks in the seventh round. Assume Baalke will continue to take the best player available regardless of position when San Francisco is on the clock. With a talented roster comprising of veteran players, the 49ers are also in position to acquire more selections in 2015, so Baalke can continue his draft-day stranglehold of draft picks.

    Price is absolutely correct when it comes to Baalke's approach for the remainder of the draft. He will assuredly take the best player available when the 49ers' number is called in these remaining rounds.

    This is, of course, if San Francisco elects not to make even more trades on Day 3.

     

    Matt Barrows, The Sacramento Bee: 

    Now the 49ers have seven picks on Saturday. Do they have that many roster spots? Or lockers? Or helmets?

    — Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) May 10, 2014

    Barrows' tweet may be humorous to a certain extent, but he does bring up a notable point. The 49ers are running not out of picks, but rather out of roster spots.

    There are simply not enough holes on the roster to utilize each of the remaining picks San Francisco has. 

    With this in mind, do we expect a trade-off with the hopes of bulking up for 2015?

     

    Tim Kawakami, The San Jose Mercury News:

    It's everything for the 49ers, just like it was everything for the Seahawks last year, and the Seahawks won the Super Bowl because of it. It's all about one game in Seattle, one game in Santa Clara, and probably one game in the playoffs, and the 49ers are loading up for them, wisely and unabashedly.

    In this conclusion, Kawakami has hit the nail on the head. The Seahawks are not only the 49ers' chief rival, but the primary mark by which San Francisco needs to measure itself in order to reach that elusive sixth Super Bowl.

    Most of the 49ers' picks up to this point have appeared to have Seattle in mind. The 49ers want to be able to exceed what Seattle has done thus far, and their picks so far are evidence.

4 Predictions for Day 3

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    Unless you are a tremendous genius, you probably predicted few-to-none of the 49ers' actions—especially on Day 2.

    San Francisco certainly threw plenty of experts through a loop with their trades and transactions throughout the day. Perhaps we'll see some more surprises.

    Here are four of them.

     

    49ers Hold Onto LaMichael James... For Now

    Running back LaMichael James must be fuming with San Francisco's selection of Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde. 

    He was already counting on competing with Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Marcus Lattimore for playing time in 2014. Now, another back has been added to the mix.

    While James' primary value remains in the return game, the thought of him getting his touches on offense becomes even more bleak.

    For most of this author's coverage, moving James as part of a trade-up package appeared to be the most plausible option. 

    Now, thus far in the draft, San Francisco has yet to target a return man. Unless the 49ers have something unforeseen up their sleeves, James appears to be staying put.

    According to Taylor Price of 49ers.com, general manager Trent Baalke appears comfortable with retaining James as San Francisco's return man moving forward.

    Unless something changes in Rounds 4 through 7, James will probably remain part of the 49ers.

     

    More Picks Are Traded Off

    San Francisco did this plenty of times on Day 2. Why would anything change on Day 3?

    As we have covered, the 49ers have seven remaining picks throughout the rest of the draft. At this rate, San Francisco is running out of roster spots for these new prospects. 

    There may still be a handful of targets that Baalke and Co. are eyeballing, but certainly not seven of them. 

    We have seen Baalke get creative with late-round picks before, and perhaps he elects to move some of these picks for future considerations—perhaps draft picks in 2015 and beyond.

     

    49ers Target a Cornerback

    Regarding some of the Day 3 targets, the 49ers may be able to make a steal for one of the top-remaining corners left on the board.

    We've mentioned players like Pierre Desir and Keith McGill, so it is not far from truth that the 49ers would look to add some more muscle to their evolving secondary.

    With the 49ers picking sixth in Round 4, trading up wouldn't be necessary. Grabbing a player like Desir or McGill at this point would be a steal.

     

    Jim Harbaugh Wants a Quarterback

    Last season, head coach Jim Harbaugh grabbed B.J. Daniels late in the draft. 

    Daniels had some promising moments during the preseason before eventually winding up with the Seattle Seahawks. 

    During that phase, Harbaugh and Co. had their fair share of quarterbacks on the roster. Daniels, Scott Tolzien, Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace were among those vying for backup positions behind Colin Kaepernick.

    With Blaine Gabbert on the roster, and McLeod Bethel-Thompson competing for the third-string quarterback role, it is plausible that Harbaugh wants to get his hands on a quarterback that he feels could be turned into something useful.

Updated San Francisco 49ers Mock Draft

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    With Rounds 1 through 3 complete, the San Francisco 49ers now turn their attention to the final phases of the 2014 NFL draft.

    For a complete breakdown of the 49ers' actions during the first two days of the draft, check out this author's detailed analysis.

     

    Round 4, Pick No. 106 Overall: Keith McGill, CB, Utah

    A corner like McGill is not going to be sitting around for long, so the 49ers pounce on this pick when they have the sixth pick in the round.

    Having already added a potential slot corner in the first round with Jimmie Ward, San Francisco looks to add some bulk into the backfield. McGill provides that at a bargain rate.

     

    Round 4, Pick No. 129 Overall: 49ers trade remaining fourth-round pick for future considerations.

    Trent Baalke is at it again—he finds a team wanting to jump on some of the sleeper picks the 49ers have no use for.

    San Francisco's roster has quickly filled up and there is more benefit from trading this pick than there is using it.

     

    Round 5, Pick No. 150 Overall: Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers

    At 6'6" and 225 pounds, the 49ers look at Rutgers wideout Brandon Coleman as a potential solution to the team's red-zone problems.

    Coleman is extremely raw, and there are reasons why his physical stature did not do enough to place him higher in the draft.

    Rob Rang of CBS Sports compares him to Jon Baldwin, which would probably turn most 49ers fans' heads.

     

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

    The 49ers have taken care of their need for an inside linebacker already by drafting Chris Borland from Wisconsin.

    With Aldon Smith's suspension looming, adding an SEC defender is a nice stop-gap option behind likely replacements Corey Lemonier and Dan Skuta.

    Hubbard gives San Francisco some added depth and perhaps offers some enticing possibilities on special teams.

     

    Round 6, Pick No. 180 Overall: 49ers trade early sixth-round pick for future considerations.

    With the fourth pick in Round 6, Baalke finds some team out there that is willing to trade up, either for later picks in subsequent rounds or low picks in 2015.

    A number of teams still have a lot of pressing needs and one can bank that a few GMs are going to be desperate enough to try and land this early pick in the round.

     

    Round 7, Pick No. 243 Overall: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

    Rob Rang of CBS Sports compared Boyd to Seattle's Russell Wilson at one point and we all know how the 49ers are enamored with beating the Seahawks.

    Head coach Jim Harbaugh looks to mold another young quarterback that was once a promising prospect. Given how far Boyd has fallen since his senior year at Clemson, the 49ers figure they can try and turn him into something worthwhile.

    At worst, Boyd becomes another member on the growing list of 49ers' quarterback castoffs. 

     

    Round 7, Pick No. 245 Overall: LaDarius Perkins, RB, Mississippi State

    With the final pick on the 49ers' board, Baalke attempts to signal the end of LaMichael James' tenure in San Francisco by drafting Mississippi State running back LaDarius Perkins.

    At 5'7" and 195 pounds, Perkins has zero chance of ever becoming a part of San Francisco's ground game.

    Yet he does possess return abilities—having averaged 21.1 yards per return at the collegiate level.

     

    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.