The NFL offseason is in full swing, the combine is complete, players are being traded, and free agents are meeting with potential new teams. The draft is less than 7 weeks away and teams have already narrowed down their boards to find the best fits to improve their organizations. Here is a list of guys the 49ers should take into consideration come late April.
Jesse Williams NT, Alabama- The 49ers need a force at the nose tackle position. Isaac Sopoaga, who currently is heading to free agency, has been solid, but will be 33 when the season starts. Given the depth on the defensive line in the draft, it’s time to draft a replacement for the veteran. Williams should come off the board late 1st-early 2nd, the Niners have 2 picks in that range.
Landry Jones QB, Oklahoma- as of last year he was a first round talent. Overall his numbers were still good, he has the right size and arm to play quarterback. If the Niners can grab him in the 3rd or 4th round, they will be getting great value and a guy who would easily become the #2 guy on the depth chart. So many people have the 49ers going after a mobile threat quarterback because of Kaepernick, but everyone keeps forgetting the Niners want a passer first and anything past that is a bonus. Sorry to all the Tim Tebow and EJ Manuel fans out there.
Phillip Thomas FS, Fresno State- The fact that the Niners didn’t tag Dashon Goldson means they are willing to risk losing him. With future contracts of Kaepernick and Crabtree looming, it would be difficult to tie up 7 million a year on a safety. Even if they resign him I believe Thomas is still a possibility. Donte Whitner allowed more touchdowns than any other safety in the NFL, therefore still leaving improvement needed at the safety position. Thomas is a 2nd to 3rd round guy, so the 49ers will have plenty of chances to grab him. The 49ers met with Thomas at the Senior Bowl so there is interest there.
Corey Fuller WR, Virginia Tech- Here’s a mid-late round pick on a big 6’2’’ receiver that has track-star type speed that exploded this last year. With the amount of picks the 49ers have they have room to take fliers on guys with limited football experience. The team has been searching for a big deep threat, and after bringing in guys like Randy Moss and Braylon Edwards, it’s time for a younger, cheaper alternative. The 49ers have met with more receivers at this point than any other position including Robert Woods, Keenan Allen, and Quinton Patton. I’d like to think they’d wait and grab a guy a little later in the draft, we’ll see.
Margus Hunt DE, SMU- The 49ers defensive line needs major help, which was evident when Justin Smith went down. Smith turns 34 at the start of the football season and is entering the last year of his contract. Ezekiel Ansah and Datone Jones are also possibilities, but the 49ers might have to move up in order to draft either of them in the first round. I think Ansah is the one who will have the best career, but the 49ers will only move up if they are getting good value in the trade. It will be interesting to see if the team signs a veteran at the position. With guys like John Abraham and Dwight Freeney on the market, a veteran could be signed fairly cheap and take away the need.
Other notable players to keep an eye on Terry Hawthorne CB Illinois, Melvin White CB Louisiana-Lafayette, Tyrann Mattieu CB LSU, Jeff Baca OG UCLA.