By now 49ers fans have been inundated with mock drafts, predictions, and analysis offering many takes on how the team should spend their two top picks in the draft.
Opinions vary, but for the most part we've gotten to the point that we're beginning to see the same names reappearing frequently in reference to said picks.
Trent Williams, C.J. Spiller, Joe Haden, and Earl Thomas have all been mentioned as popular picks among fans, and for good reason—all are top prospects at their respective positions and would fill an immediate area of need.
But, when it comes to actually deciding who to take with these picks, we have to realize that it ultimately comes down to the opinions of two men—Mike Singletary and Scot McCloughan.
McCloughan prefers size and strength, and would prefer to not make exceptions to this strategy.
Mike Singletary is relatively inexperienced in the draft process, but by nature he is defensive minded, and will rely heavily on his Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye to assist in evaluating offensive talent.
Both Sing and McCloughan consider character and motivation when evaluating players. When asked recently how much value he places in character versus talent, McCloughan responded: "I would say the talent level for a player is probably 60 percent, the person who he is, is probably 40 percent. The person makes a player from good to great."
Considering what we know about the decision makers in the 49ers draft process, let's take a realistic look at several players and determine the likelihood of their being selected at picks No.13 and 17.
Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
I think it's safe to say that if he's available when we select at 13, we'll take him. He has good size and strength, fills an immediate need at the tackle position, and would be able to contribute immediately.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
One of my favorite players in this draft, he would bring an element of speed and explosiveness to an offense sorely lacking it. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that the Niners will be spending a high pick on him.
Word is that Singletary has been traveling the country exploring options for the kick/punt returner vacancy, and with Glen Coffee having just been drafted to backup Gore, they seem to feel that the need for Spiller isn't high.
I don't necessarily agree with that approach, but as it stands now, I think that Spiller will be playing elsewhere next year.
Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
Davis has been mentioned as an option should Williams be off the board when we pick at No.13, but that's probably not going to happen.
A poor combine showing, an unimpressive interview, and the fact that he was a no-show to his own pro day probably eliminates him from consideration for Sing and Co.
Joe Haden, CB, Florida
Nevermind his poor 40 time at the combine. He apparently decided to run despite having back issues, and has been clocked in the past at much faster speeds. The best corner in the draft, if he falls the Niners should take him. But will they?
McCloughan will vote no, based on size alone. But Singletary can be very convincing, and I think that if Williams is off the board, and Haden is there, we might see his name called for the red and gold. A cover corner with his ability is just too hard to pass up.
Earl Thomas, FS, Texas
Thomas might still be available, and as a ball hawking safety with speed and great instincts would be a perfect fit for the Niners at free safety. But the lone knock against him is size and strength—and we know how that'll sit with McCloughan and Sing.
I think that the Niners will draft a safety at No.17—but it might not be the one that fans want.
Taylor Mays, FS, USC
No shortage of size, speed, or intensity here, but his coverage skills have come into question. Mays claims that it was the system, but his poor Senior Bowl performance suggests otherwise.
Coverage skills aside, I just can't imagine that McCloughan and Singletary aren't both absolutely in love with this guy. Singletary will want to coach Taylor Mays, and McCloughan will be enamored by Mays measurables.
If you're not a fan of Mays, there is still hope that this won't happen. There is a very real possibility that Al Davis will spend the No.6 pick on him. And no, I'm not kidding.
Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan
If the board is shot when the Niners pick at No.17, Graham could be an option. There have been questions as to whether or not he can play OLB in a 3-4, but his pass rush ability can't be ignored.
It's no secret that Singletary and McCloughan still consider this an area of need, and I would think that both would be able to agree on adding Brandon Graham to the mix.
Trades Are Always A Possiblity, Team Must Produce
Of course the options of trading up or trading down are there as well, but I'm not sure about the likelyhood of either scenario.
However, I know that the GM and Head Coach of the 49ers don't always draft the players best suited for the job, at least from the fan's perspective.
With two picks in the first 17, fans expect results. If both players aren't on the field and contributing from day one, both McCloughan and Singletary might find themselves looking for new jobs.