Jan 26, 2013; Mobile, AL, USA; Senior Bowl north squad defensive back Jonathan Cyprien of Florida International (37) prior to kickoff of a game against the Senior Bowl south squad at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2013 NFL Draft: 49ers May Be Targeting Secondary In First-Round

Oct.15 2011; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive back Johnthan Banks (13) breaks up a pass intended for South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Damiere Byrd (3) at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL Draft just weeks away, it remains unclear which direction the San Francisco 49ers are leaning towards in the draft. Most likely, it will be on the defensive side of the ball. However do they go big, and add a defensive lineman, or do they draft for speed, and select a ballhawk defensive back? Those are some serious questions that need to be answered, inside the 49ers war room. So with an abundance of prospects to choose from, which direction will they go in? After evaluating the prospects, and supply and demand, I believe they will shore up the secondary first.

The 49ers hold the 31st pick in the first-round, and many NFL Draft pundits including Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have the 49ers drafting a defensive end, with DE Datone Jones (UCLA) and DE Margus Hunt (SMU) respectively. In addition, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has the 49ers picking DT Jesse Williams (Alabama). However, I would be first to argue that none of those players hold value to warrant the 31st pick. GM Trent Baalke, loves to pick players based on value, and besides Jones, none of those players resemble anything close to a first-round grade. Sure they were workout warriors during the NFL combine (Hunt) and Pro Day (Williams), but none of them looked like a first-round grade on film. Welcome Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks, Washington CB Desmond Trufant, and Florida International University FS Jonathan Cyprien. 

Jan 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver (29) during the first quarter of the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

All three of those players have been shooting up draft boards early, and then cooled off as of late. Banks in particular would provide great value with the 31st pick. He was the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the Nation’s best defensive back, while consistently suffocating wide receivers in the SEC. He is the ideal cornerback in terms of size, standing 6-2 and 185 pounds. Although not a true shut-down corner, Banks is good enough to compete with CB Tarrell Brown and CB Chris Culliver for playing time, which would be a huge lift in Vic Fangio’s sub-packages.

Trufant on the other hand is the perfect H-W-S (Height-Weight-Speed) specimen. At 6-0, 190 pounds, and running a blazing 4.38 40-yard dash, Trufant is eye-candy for most defensive coordinators. He played well at the Senior Bowl and continued that momentum at the NFL combine. Trufant does not have the potential to be great, but he does have the skill-set to succeed in nickel and dime packages for years to come. He also would provide versatility as a gunner in the return game.

Cyprien, is the dark horse of the three. He has the skill-set to play in the box, while possessing enough speed to play zone coverage. He does not have elite speed which can be a problem against the Green Bay Packers or Atlanta Falcons, but Cyprien more than makes up for his coverage skills with vicious hits. A similar player to the departed FS Dashon Goldson, Cyprien is not afraid to mix it up with ball-carriers, especially between the tackles.

With the 49ers holding the 31st, 34th, and 61st picks in the first two-rounds you can bet your money they will go defense with at least two of those picks. And if these players are still on the board, I predict the 49ers will target at least one of them, by either trading up or trading down.

As the draft nears, look for the 49ers to be actively pursuing trades, in order to better the team.


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Tags: Desmond Trufant Johnthan Banks Jonathan Cyprien San Francisco 49ers

  • loverpoint

    There are only a couple of players that i would trade up to the top of the 1st round for, and neither one is a DB. Would I trade up 5 spots in the first round to get certain DB’s ?, sure depending on what the team you are doing business with wants in trade. I would use my two 5th round picks my 6th round pick and my two 7th round picks and maybe my 4th round pick in order to move up in rounds 2 and 3 to secure the best players available. Hopefully the 49ers will have no draft picks except the two 7th round supplemental picks left after the 4th round, and will have moved up and drafted 7 very good players that can make the team, then hope and pray that you get a diamond in the rough picking the two 7th round supplemental picks.

    • Ryan Sakamoto

      It will be interesting to see how everything plays out loverpoint. I would hope the 49ers have targeted a few players, and if they believe highly of them, to go after them and get them.

  • loverpoint

    Repeat after me: Secondary Second Round, Secondary Second Round. I think if a decent DB was within their grasp around the 20th pick they might trade up that high otherwise you are wasting picks on talent that is about the same as other players that will drop to #31. I still believe that if the 49ers want to trade up to a top 5 pick they can do it with Oakland. Oakland has purged itself of just about every Top 10 pick they have made over the last 7 years, of course they never had a 1st round pick in 2011 and 2012 thanks to the ill advised trade for Carson Palmer, who might be fired by them any day now if he does not restructure his contract, and as we all know Carson Palmer is only playing football for one reason, the millions of dollars teams keep throwing at his feet. Lets see when he threatened to retire, he claimed he had stolen $70 million dollars from Cincinnati and had it socked away in a bank account, so right about now I’d say he has maybe $90 million, and his only thoughts are that he will someday be a TV pundit ( Because of his ties to USC and the Media world ) and do nothing all day except play golf and sit before the TV camera for 1 hour everyday babbling on about how much it hurts to be tackled. Between 2006-2010 the Raiders picked 5 players in the top 8 and only one is still on the team, barely, Darren McFadden, if he doesn’t make it through a full season they will probably release him too. The last time the Raiders drafted a standout player in the first round was in 2003 when they took Nnambi Asomugha with the 31st pick, by the way that happens to be the 49ers pick this year. Maybe Oakland does better drafting in the later rounds, and for numerologists, that was 10 years ago?

  • Franz Paul

    Without much horse trading- if any- the Niners could pick up these 5 guys and solidify their defense for the foreseeable future:

    RD 1 @ 31 – Jonathan Banks – DB

    RD 2 @ 34 – Jonathan Cyprien – SS

    RD 2 @ 61 – Margus Hunt – DE

    RD 3 @ 74 – Darius Slay – CB

    RD 3 @ 100 – TJ McDonald – FS

    Though unlikely- this is very possible and they still have 9 picks to leverage…….

    • Ryan Sakamoto

      Those would all be great picks Franz. I love every one of them.

      • Franz Paul

        thank you Ryan- don’t sleep on:

        Robert Alford CB- Southern Louisiana – 2nd to 3rd round
        - undersized @ 5’10″ & fast @ 4.34 & a 40″ Vertical

        Marquise Goodwin WR- Texas – 3rd round
        - undersized @ 5’10″ & fast @ 4.21 & returns punts

        Rodney Smith WR- Florida State – 6th round
        - huge @ 6’5″ – good speed @ 4.43 – big hands @ 10 3/8

        the Niners need to get faster and bigger @ WR & CB
        - with CB’s – Jonathan Banks & Robert Alford
        - with WR’s – Marquise Goodwin & Rodney Smith

        the Niners could solve both issues @ both positions without having to do much moving @ all

        IMHO- this draft is not stacked enough @ the positions- where the Niners need the most help. For me it doesn’t make sense to move up in the first round. There is plenty of value picks in this draft & the Niners are built on value……