49ers draft needs: Bigger priority, CB or WR?

49ers draft needs: Bigger priority, CB or WR?
May 6, 2014, 10:45 am
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The 49ers have little depth behind Tramaine Brock, Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree at their respective positions. (AP)

Editor’s note: Insider Matt Maiocco will have draft content every day leading up to the NFL Draft (May 8-10), including position breakdowns, retrospectives, mock drafts and more; bookmark our Road to the NFL Draft

1. Cornerback
--Reminder: Just because the 49ers have a greater need at this position, it does not mean they will address this spot with their first pick. Tramaine Brock is a starter on one side. Chris Culliver is the clear frontrunner at the other spot. And the nickel back position is wide open.

2. Wide receiver
--Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree are the team’s top two wide receivers. Boldin is 33. Crabtree, entering the final year of his contract, figures to be difficult to re-sign. Brandon Lloyd and Quinton Patton will compete for roles. Do not be surprised if the 49ers trade up for a wideout.

3. Outside linebacker
--Yes, the 49ers exercised the fifth-year option on Aldon Smith last week for the 2015 season. But the 49ers would be wise to not take Smith’s presence for granted. The 49ers need another outside pass-rushing threat.

4. Offensive line
--Daniel Kilgore is in line to replace Jonathan Goodwin as the starting center, but he figures to face some competition along the way. Mike Iupati enters the final year of his contract, and he likely will command a blockbuster deal.

5. Inside linebacker
--The 49ers already have All-Pros Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, but they made it known at the NFL owners meetings they were in the market for an inside linebacker. Bowman is expected to miss the first six weeks of the season as he rehabs from his knee injury. Michael Wilhoite is in line to replace Bowman. A rookie can compete with Wilhoite while lending assistance on special teams.

6. Running back
--It’s difficult to believe, but Frank Gore is not going to be around forever. It truly is a year-to-year thing with Gore. He is in the final year of his contract. Whether he has a chance to return in 2015 will hinge on how he looks this season and what the 49ers have on the roster behind him.

7. Defensive line
--Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial, draft picks from a year ago, will be expected to make an impact this season. There figures to be some turnover on the line over the next couple of years with Justin Smith nearing the end of his career and Ray McDonald entering the final two years of his deal.

8. Quarterback
--Colin Kaepernick figures to be the 49ers’ quarterback for a long time. Blaine Gabbert gets a one-year look as the team’s backup. The 49ers can be expected to bring in a rookie to compete with McLeod Bethel-Thompson for a roster spot and, perhaps, eventually rise to the backup job.

9. Tight end
--The 49ers looked at some big-bodied, blocking tight ends while evaluating draft-eligible players. Vernon Davis has two years remaining on his contract. The 49ers invested a second-round pick in Vance McDonald a year ago.

10. Safeties
--The starters are set with Eric Reid, a second-year player, and veteran Antoine Bethea, whom the 49ers signed to replace Donte Whitner. Craig Dahl and C.J. Spillman are slotted as the backups.

11. Specialists
--There are no needs at kicker, punter or long-snapper. But the 49ers will keep an eye on a position player who can double as a return man.