The first rush of free agency has passed, and the San Francisco 49ers, like many teams around the NFL, have experienced a few changes. Significantly for the 49ers, however, none of their changes greatly affects position needs heading into the NFL Draft. Antoine Bethea replaced Donte Whitner, Carlos Rogers was, as expected, cut and Tarell Brown, as expected, left in free agency.
Most draft analyses already were taking these two losses into account. Re-signing Eric Wright and getting Chris Cook may help with depth, but cornerback still remains a position where quality players could be quite useful, even if the two starters are probably already on the roster (Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver). If the 49ers land Walter Thurmond, perhaps this position will be lower on the 49ers’ list of needs, but for now, it remains right up there with wide receiver.
On the receiver front, the 49ers have done very little, despite many rumors, except re-sign Anquan Boldin. Emmanuel Sanders remained an intriguing option on the market, until he reportedly got picked up by the Broncos, so, for now at least, a receiver seems quite likely to be the first round pick.
Outside of receiver and cornerback, the 49ers’ moved to establish depth on the offensive line (Jonathan Martin) and at quarterback (Blaine Gabbert). These moves may take the pressure off of a late-round draft selection at these positions (in fact, essentially they were late-round draft selections, as the 49ers gave up a conditional 7th-rounder and a 6th-rounder, respectively). Without a need to draft for depth here, could the 49ers package some low-rounders and trade up? It certainly is not out of the realm of possibility.
The 49ers have a lot of options. They could trade up in the first round, package some of their lower picks and 2nd or 3rd rounders to get two picks in the late 1st-round, or they could sit pretty and see what comes to them. The last option seems least likely. Get excited, 49ers’ fans, less than 2 months before the draft! May cannot come soon enough.