The 49ers will need a QB like Andy Dalton to learn the offense quickly when the labor dispute ends.
Each one of the six teams selecting ahead of the San Francisco 49ers in the 2011 NFL draft are going to have to talk themselves out of drafting LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. The guy's the best athlete and football talent in the draft.
One of those six teams will realize the value of a shutdown corner, a sure-thing like Peterson. So, Peterson won't fall to the 49ers at No. 7 overall. He just won't.
The Arizona Cardinals need a quarterback just as much as the 49ers need one. So, they'll either draft Missouri's Blaine Gabbert before the 49ers even get to consider him or trade down into the second round where most of the other top QBs will be selected. (Hmm...how many teams drafting behind the 49ers might want to trade up to get a CB like Peterson with the Cardinals' pick?)
So, where does that leave the 49ers? A week ago in this space, they were shown drafting Peterson and 11 other players whose selections were all predicated on the club filling that glaring need at corner with their first pick.
Without Peterson at No. 7, everything changes. They could change even more given that teams like the Washington Redskins are aching to draft Gabbert and might trade up. The St. Louis Rams would love to give quarterback a big-time receiver with that No. 7 pick.
For now, here's a look at a 49ers mock draft list that has changed dramatically from the one pieced together a week ago.
The 49ers haven't drafted a CB No. 1 since they grabbed Mike Rumph first back in...um...sorry, Rumph had a forgettable career. The fact that we don't remember Rumph is why the 49ers will draft the pass rusher they need in the versatile Quinn. He's 6'4", 265 pounds and ran a 4.57 40-yard dash at his pro day. He sat out the 2010 season after taking money from an agent. He had 11 sacks in 2009. He can play outside linebacker and defensive end.
Prince Amukamara has been widely considered the 49ers' fallback choice if Peterson's not available. But, the Nebraska cornerback isn't the sure-fire impact player that Quinn will be.
Quinn has a benign brain tumor that requires an MRI every six months. The assumption is that since 49ers' GM Trent Baalke and other team representatives came back raving about him after his pro day, they're convinced his health will not be an issue.
Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
Comcast Sports 49ers' beat writer Matt Maiocco figures that if Alex Smith really wanted to return to the 49ers, he would've signed with them before the labor dispute put everything on hold. Last week, the guess here was that Smith would be the 49ers' QB whenever camp opens. Now? The hunch is they'll draft Dalton, who is the athletic, intelligent type head coach Jim Harbaugh likes.
Dalton would be a reach at No. 45, but the 49ers will need a quarterback other than David Carr who can learn Harbaugh's system in a hurry.
The No. 45 pick would be best used in a trade up, somewhere in to the top 30 picks, to get a quality cornerback.
Demarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
Anthony Dixon simply is not the long-term answer behind Frank Gore. Murray is a steal at No. 76.
(108th, 115th overall)
KJ Wright, outside linebacker, Mississippi State
He's one of the top-10 OLBs but is actually in a draft spot that the 49ers could package to move up to get a CB. It just doesn't appear that there will be a corner available at No. 108 who merits being chosen there.
A trade using picks No. 45 and No. 108 could get the club in position to land a good CB and leave the club time to pick a couple of QBs to increase the chance that one will be a quick study.
Terrance Toliver, WR, LSU
The guy led LSU with 41 catches for 579 yards and five TDs. He's 6'4", 212 pounds and runs a 4.52 40. It's worth noting that he strained his hamstring at his pro day, left briefly, then returned to finish the workout—that's one tough dude.
Sione Fua, DT, Stanford
The 49ers need a nose tackle, and with changes atop the draft, they'll get Fua here. He's 6'2", 308 pounds and can stuff the run. Notre Dame's Ian Williams could also be considered here...if the 49ers don't trade the pick.
(174th, 190th overall)
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech
The 49ers can't assume any quarterback they draft will be a long-term answer, so selecting this big-time athlete will be another steal here.
Note: This is the QB who'll bring the most bang for the buck, especially if the club uses the No. 45 pick to grab a cornerback in the top 30 picks.
Chris Rucker, CB/FS, Michigan State
See? Without being able maneuver with the 12 picks to get a quality corner, this mock draft results in the 49ers not getting a value cornerback until No. 190. The fact that Rucker can also play safety adds value.
(picks 210, 230, 238, 249 overall)
DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami
The guy runs a 4.25 40, and if the club does wind up making the wise choice with Quinn and then being forced into picking a QB who could learn and run an NFL offense quickly (Dalton qualifies, it's just that no one knows how well he'd run it)...Van Dyke would fill a need. He's 6'1", 176 pounds, and remember, recent Miami players have tended to emerge after they reach the NFL.
Quentin Davie, LB, Northwestern
Ryan Whalen, WR, Stanford
Jason Kelce, C, Cincinnati
Ted Sillanpaa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.