With the San Francisco 49ers holding the No. 15 pick in this year’s draft, it will be interesting to see what GM Trent Baalke does. Will he stay put, trade up or trade down? These are all questions that many Forever Faithful have been debating since their awful underachieving 8-8 season. And with wide-receiver, cornerback, and defensive-end being their biggest needs, the question remains, what route will the 49ers go in?
I think it’s safe to say you can scratch off cornerback considering no prospects are worthy of being drafted that high. (in my opinion)
Sixth-year veteran CB Tramaine Brock looks to bounce back from his injury-plagued 2014 season while the 49ers try and lock up at least one of their two unrestricted free-agents in CB Perrish Cox or CB Chris Culliver.
Not to mention, last year’s first-round pick (No. 30) DB Jimmie Ward will likely get a second-shot at covering the slot with CB Dontae Johnson playing swing backup, you can see the log-jam that the position will have if they reached for a CB Marcus Peters (Washington) or Trae Waynes (Michigan State).
Which leaves us to the 49ers most pressing need on offense–wide receiver. Well there’s a couple good ones that I can see them trading up for in WR DeVante Parker (Louisville) and WR Kevin White (West Virginia).
Both players have the speed, quickness, and agility to make plays between the 20s while possessing the catching radius to high-point the ball. The problem I’m seeing is that both players will likely be gone when the 49ers are on the clock. Mark my words when I say that both Parker and White will shine during the combine and pro days, making their draft stock sky-rocket. Parker has the sub 4.3 speed while White is this year’s version of a poor man’s WR Sammy Watkins.
If the 49ers fall in love with either one of these two receivers, they will likely need to give up multiple draft picks in order to land them. Last year, Ethan Waugh was at WR Brandin Cooks Pro Day, Matt Malaspina met with WR Mike Evans, and regional scout Bob Morris spoke with WR Odell Beckham Jr., the need was high and the value was there but no moves were made.
This year could be a different story.
In 2010 it was Baalke who traded up two spots from No. 13 to No. 11 with the Denver Broncos in order to grab promising right tackle RT Anthony Davis.
Baalke knew the run on tackles were flying off the board with T Trent Williams at No. 4 and T Russell Okung at No. 6, leaving Baalke to make a move and draft the player they had targeted throughout the draft process. A trade up is very possible considering Baalke has done it with both Davis and FS Eric Reid at No. 18 in 2013 so let’s not rule that out.
If the Niners stay put at No. 15, the 49ers could surprise everyone and take the best player available at guard/tackle with G/T Brandon Scherff (Iowa). Baalke drafted two offensive linemen in 2010 with Davis and G Mike Iupati (No. 17), and with Iupati’s future uncertain as he’s an unrestricted free-agent it remains to be seen if last year’s third-round pick G Brandon Thomas (No. 100) is ready to relish a starting NFL role as he recovers from a torn ACL.
Scherff has all the intangibles to be a solid mauler in the run-game with the quick feet to hold up in pass-protection, so he would be an ideal fit for new 49ers OL coach Chris Foerster’s unit.
However, if there’s one defensive player that I can see the 49ers trading up for it’s Washington’s NT Danny Shelton.
A behemoth of a nose-guard as Shelton stands 6-2, 340 pounds, he would easily become the biggest defensive lineman the 49ers had since NT Aubrayo Franklin. And with Franklin joining the 49ers revamped coaching staff as a defensive line assistant, it would make sense for them to have a young nose tackle to groom.
Sure, the 49ers have NT Glenn Dorsey and NT Ian Williams but with their recent injuries it would be good to have someone in there who can anchor the line without being rotated out. Shelton has a very high-motor and is considered a three-down lineman despite his size. Rarely is he seen taking plays off or substituted out as Shelton played in the up-tempo Pac-12 conference.
It’s also good to point out that Williams will become an unrestricted free-agent after this season, while Dorsey will turn 30 in August, so you can see where the need meets value.
Shelton stood out during the Senior Bowl and was by far the most talked about player during the week. Simply put his performance only confirmed his draft status as a sure-fire top 10 prospect. If the 49ers want him, they will need to trade-up that’s a given.
With the 49ers owning the No. 15 pick in this year’s draft they have plenty of options. They can target that coveted player they have been enamored with, stockpile more picks and trade back or they could let the draft board talk to them and stay put. Whatever decision they make it will surely impact their 2015 season as they will have 19 free-agents by year-end.