The NFL Draft Daily’s first surprise of the draft comes with the San Francisco 49ers first pick. Jim Harbaugh and crew have made San Fran unquestionably one of the most unpredictable teams when it comes to free agency and the NFL Draft. The Niners didn’t make much of a splash in free agency, they signed possibly the second best cover safety available in Antoine Bathea; while also signing the underachieving corner from Minnesota, Chris Cook. Blaine Gabbert and the highly publicized offensive tackle, Jonathan Martin; were traded for by the 49ers, and practically the rest of their off season they signed their own, most notably wide receiver, Anquan Boldin. Some of the key issues San Francisco have come upon are contractual talks with their quarterback of the future, Colin Kaepernick; and dealing with the cumulative off season issues of star pass rusher, Aldon Smith. With 11 picks in this years coming draft; the 49ers could possibly trade up with the amount of ammunition they have. Have they fallen in love with a wide receiver? Do they have a corner they prefer over all the rest? The NFL Draft Daily isn’t sure, but with six picks in the first three rounds, the niners could make just about any move they would like.
Just for the sake of drafting a prospect and not including any possible trade up situations, let’s just say the 49ers are tired of all the Aldon Smith off field dramatics. Sources have said that San Francisco may decide not to pick up Smith’s fifth year option on his rookie deal, which means they may use Smith as a trade commodity in the future. With the future of Smith in turbulence, the 49ers need themselves another pass rusher; in comes the surprise of the 2014 NFL Draft, Defensive End/linebacker Demarcus Lawrence out of Boise State. Who is Demarcus Lawrence, and why does he deserve a first round grade? Well quite frankly he will not be around for San Fran’s first second round selection. The sleeper out of Boise State is a raw athletic talent who can drop back into zones and has dynamic pass rushing moves when lined up on the line of scrimmage. The 6’3 project could afford to pack on some more muscle if he plans on lining up against offensive lineman full time, but make no mistake about it; Lawrence’s 20 sacks in two years of college football is no fluke, the guy can ball.
Some reports have the 49ers looking to trade up into the draft, possibly eyeing two or three wide receivers to boost their offensive production. Their last first round wide receiver, A.J. Jenkins, would love to be forgotten by the niners faithful. Michael Crabtree is looking to regain form but besides him, the talent somewhat falls off. Boldin is 33 years old, Baldwin has been a bust since they swapped him for Jenkins, and what about Quinton Patton; can he finally step up? Other possible players on the radar for the 49ers are a possible back up quarterback to Kaepernick, someone like Jimmy Garoppolo or Tom Savage could both beat out former first rounder, Blaine Gabbert. Corners will also be at the top of the list, Louchiez Purifoy out of Florida or Pierre Desir out of Lindenwood provide the long lean corner on the outside. So many picks and one weekend to make it all happen, the first round of the draft is open game for the San Francisco 49ers. Tight End Vernon Davis says Super Bowl or bust for his team this coming year, let’s see if they can deliver.
This article is one in a series, published daily, providing analysis, insight and predictions leading up to the NFL draft and beyond.
Commentary by Justin Huffman