Mike Singletary has done a great job getting this makeshift defense and inconsistent offense into a team that was in nearly every game they played this season.
Even though they had a Top-10 scoring defense, they need the most help on that side of the ball. Because of the youth at quarterback, running back, receiver, tight end, and left tackle, they only need depth on offense.
With two picks in the middle of the first round, they have a chance to either trade up to get a star defender, or could grab two very solid starters in that area. Either way, they have a great chance to push this defense to an elite, playoff caliber unit.
Mid second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh round picks
Quick Team Needs
Both of the Niners current outside-linebacker starters are solid. Manny Lawson had 6.5 sacks last season, while Parys Harlson had 5.0. However, neither is good enough be a featured linebacker.
The 49ers were 21st in pass defense, and that has a lot to do with their cornerbacks. Dashon Goldston had four interceptions, so he did his part this season, however, with Dre’ Bly a free agent this offseason and Tarrell Brown more of a nickel corner, they need a star cornerback.
The tackles played well this year, featured by Joe Staley. However, one thing I really noticed was the pressure brought up the middle on the quarterback and in the inside running game. A new guard somewhere in this draft or free agency to replace free agent David Baas and give an overall upgrade is needed.
First Round Targets
Joe Haden, CB, Florida
The consensus top cornerback in this draft, the 49ers would love it if Haden fell to 13. More than likely, they’ll need to get some form of package to get in the top eight if they hope to land him. Still, he’s a perfect fit and can really help complete this secondary.
Carlos Dunlap, OLB, Florida
A more likely prospect available at the 13 and 17 slots, Dunlap could be the best-available three-four outside linebacker at that slot. He has the size and athletic ability to fit in the 49ers' power-rushing system.
Perrish Cox, CB, Oklahoma State
With the fact Haden won’t be available at their draft slots, a Dunlap-Cox combination is more likely. Cox is a favorite prospect of mine, and with his physical ability and ball skills, he can be a shut-down corner with safety help over the top.
Second Round Targets
Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
The odds of Iupati being available in the mid-second round is a stretch, but I still think a guard as a first-round lock is so rare that I won’t put him in there as a lock until I hear it from an NFL scout. Iupati can be a dynamic run-blocker for this power-running team and play some right tackle in the future if need be.
Jerry Hughes, OLB, TCU
Whether they go with an outside linebacker in round one or not, I wouldn’t be surprised if they go after at least one more in the draft. Hughes is a very reliable pick and I think he had a very high floor, meaning he should be a safe pick to be a starter at the pro level.
Later Round Target
Jeff Byers, OG, USC
The 49ers are, as said before, in the market for guards, and make sure you keep in mind that’s plural. They could be looking for at least two this offseason, and Byers, like San Francisco guard Chico Rachal, is a USC product who quietly rose up draft boards.
Check out www.NFLHouse.com for more great information and insight. Contact me at EricG@Nflhouse.com
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!