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NFL Draft Primer: San Francisco 49ers

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Team needs: Wide receiver, Pass rusher, Cornerback, Linebacker and Offensive line.

49ers’ Selections:

Round 1 – 15th overall

Round 2 – 46th overall

Round 3 – 79th overall

Round 4 – 126th overall

Round 4 – 132nd overall

Round 5 – 151st overall

Round 6 – 189th overall

Round 7 – 246th overall

Round 7 – 254th overall

Good fits early:

DeVante Parker: The San Francisco 49ers lost two of their top three receivers from last year, in Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson. However, they did sign Torrey Smith, who caught 49 passes for 767 yards with 11 touchdowns in 2014.

At the same time, depth at the receiver position is still an issue. Anquan Boldin isn’t getting any younger as he’ll turn 35 this fall, which is part of the reason San Francisco should strongly consider going receiver at pick No. 15.

Louisville product DeVante Parker would be a solid option. He possesses ideal size at 6-foot-3, 209 pounds and although he missed the first seven games of his senior campaign with a foot injury, Parker snatched 43 catches for 855 yards and five touchdowns in his final six games. When you’re asked to receive bullets from Colin Kaepernick, having soft hands is a must and Parker has those soft hands at his disposal.

Trae Waynes: There’s a good chance Trae Waynes doesn’t fall this far, but if he were to, this is a guy San Francisco shouldn’t pass up. Currently, the 49ers number one cornerback is Tramaine Brock. After him, there’s little to desire with Jimmie Ward and Shareece Wright.

Although Brock is really good, even he comes with flaws. He missed 13 games last year with toe and hamstring injuries.

If the Niners are able to snatch up Waynes, they would be getting a guy that’s capable of being put on an island at the next level. Waynes only allowed two touchdowns over his last two seasons at Michigan State. He received first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2014.

Donovan Smith: With the Niners possibly shifting to a zone read scheme, they’ll need a more athletic guard who’s able to get to the edge. Former Nittany Lion guard Donovan Smith fits the mold.

At his pro day, Smith ran a 40-time of 4.98, which is pretty impressive for a guy weighing 338 pounds. Not only is Smith athletic, but he’s also strong enough to fit in a man blocking scheme.

Don’t be surprised if San Francisco took a chance on Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon with their first round pick. With Frank Gore no longer in the Bay Area, the Niners need someone to help carry the load with Carlos Hyde.

Potential late-round targets:

Trey Flowers: With the losses of Justin Smith, Chris Borland and Patrick Willis all to retirement, San Francisco is all of a sudden in dire need of some immediate pass rushing. Considering the plethora of picks they have at their disposal late in the draft, one would surely expect them to fill this void.

Former Razorback Trey Flowers is a viable option in the middle rounds. Over the past two seasons, Flowers received second team All-SEC honors. During those two seasons, he led his team in sacks and tackles for loss. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, 266 pounds.

Flowers played basketball in high school, so you know he’ll bring some good footwork and athleticism to the Niners defensive front.

Paul Dawson: You just don’t replace a potential Hall of Fame linebacker, but the 49ers must at least try. Former TCU linebacker Paul Dawson could be the ultimate second day steal. Talent wise, he’s a first day guy but character issues play a factor here and reports say he wasn’t well liked within the program.

However, when it comes to productivity, no one may have been better than Dawson in 2014. He led TCU with 136 tackles, including 20 for losses, and he snatched down four interceptions. Those gaudy numbers made him Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Daryl Williams: Its normally pretty safe to add depth at offensive line late in the draft. A lot of these guys are raw talents that need some seasoning at the next level. Daryl Williams brings a certain toughness and physicality you want from a guy up front.

The Oklahoma product is listed at a massive 6-foot-5, 327 pounds. He received first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2014, while starting every single game.

The 2015 campaign appears to be a rough one in the Bay Area. With all of the retirements and overall loss of key players, its safe to say the 49ers are in rebuild mode. This draft will prove to be a vital one for San Francisco moving forward. Either in a good or bad way.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.