Ranking the 49ers' draft 'wants'

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Ranking the 49ers' draft 'wants'

With their salary cap whittled down to the point where they can fit in their draft class and not much else, let's assume the 49ers are finished spending free-agent dollars.The focus now shifts toward the draft.The 49ers have seven draft wants -- and that's because needs is just too strong of a word.As I see it, there are only two positions where the 49ers can add a starter. At the very least, they need depth at those spots.Here is the complete list of spots the 49ers will look to fill in the draft:1. Guard: Daniel Kilgore is penciled in as the starter at right guard with the departure of Adam Snyder. But Kilgore will not be running unopposed. The 49ers could add a veteran-minimum type of player to challenge for a starting job. And the 49ers could add a potential first-year starter with a selection within the first four rounds of the draft.

2. Wide receiver: Michael Crabtree is likely to be a starter, and the other starting job is up on the air. Randy Moss is coming out of retirement. The last time Moss played in the NFL, he was not up to starter quality. Free-agent pickup Mario Manningham, a front-runner to start alongside Crabtree, averaged 52 receptions over the past three seasons with the New York Giants. If the 49ers select a wideout in the first or second round, there should be a good competition in camp.
3. Safety: Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner are the starters, but the 49ers have nobody behind them at this moment. Veteran Madieu Williams started three of the first four games due to injuries. The 49ers have not placed a priority on re-signing him. And Reggie Smith played 239 snaps of defense (23.6 percent of the time) as an extra defensive back. Smith is looking for a better opportunity on the free-agent market. So look for the 49ers to attempt to bolster this spot.
4. Cornerback: Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown return as the starters, and Chris Culliver enters his second NFL season as the team's third corner. If the 49ers select a cornerback with their first-round pick, then, that player would have a chance to step in and open the season as a starter. More likely, the 49ers would add a player to compete with Tramaine Brock for the job as the fourth corner.

5. Running back: Frank Gore is the starter, but the 49ers can be expected to try to upgrade behind him. Kendall Hunter is a change-of-pace back -- not an every-down solution. Anthony Dixon was in the doghouse a year ago because he was inconsistent with his assignments. Veteran Rock Cartwright was signed for his special-teams play. The 49ers are definitely in the market for a 215-plus-pound no-nonsense runner who is reliable in blitz pickup.
6. Outside linebacker: Parys Haralson is a good insurance policy to have behind starters Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks. But the 49ers should look to develop another young player for depth purposes. Outside linebackers Monte Simmons and Rick Elmore finished the season on the 49ers' practice squad. But Simmons signed with Philadelphia Eagles, and Elmore went to the San Diego Chargers.
7. Defensive line: The 49ers have some young players behind the entrenched starting line of Justin Smith, Isaac Sopoaga and Ray McDonald. The 49ers have depth with Ricky Jean Francois, Demarcus Dobbs, Ian Williams and Will Tukuafu. But a couple players from that group must step up and win places in the rotation. After all, Smith played 91.1 percent of last year's snaps, while McDonald was on the field 83.5 percent of the time. Depth means nothing if the coaching staff does not have the confidence to play the backups.
There is a very soft market for inside linebackers -- and an even softer market for restricted free agents. So it looks as if Larry Grant will return as the 49ers' primary backup to Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman on a one-year tender.
Of course, the 49ers could select a tight end, too. It's not a need with a roster consisting of Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker and blocking specialist Nate Byham. But Walker's contract expires after the 2012 season, so it would make sense, too.And it would definitely make sense if it's a best-player-available situation.

49ers 2012 draft pick
Round 1: No. 30 (No. 30 overall)
Round 2: No. 30 (No. 61 overall)
Round 3: No. 30 (No. 92 overall)
Round 4: No. 30 (No. 125 overall)
Round 5: No. 30 (No. 165 overall)
Round 6: No. 30 (No. 199 overall)
Round 7: No. 30 (No. 237 overall)(Updated to reflect official NFL draft order.)

49ers 2017 UDFA tracker: Southern Miss QB reportedly agrees to terms

49ers 2017 UDFA tracker: Southern Miss QB reportedly agrees to terms

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers are reportedly adding a fourth quarterback to their 90-man roster.

Nick Mullens a four-year starter at Southern Mississippi, agreed to terms with the 49ers after the conclusion of the Saturday’s NFL draft, he told the Hattiesburg American.

As a senior, Mullens completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 3,272 yards with 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Mullens joins a quarterback group that includes starter Brian Hoyer, backup Matt Barkley and third-round draft pick C.J. Beathard.

Other reported 49ers free-agent agreements include:

--RB Matt Breida, Georgia Southern: In three seasons at Georgia Southern, Breida rushed for 3,740 yards and 37 touchdowns while averaging 6.9 yards a carry. (Tampa Bay Times)

--OL Erik Magnuson, Michigan: Magnuson (6-6, 305) was a first-team All-Big Ten performer who started every game at right tackle. He announced on Twitter that he has agreed to terms with the 49ers.

--WR Kendrick Bourne, Eastern Washington: He caught 211 passes for 3,130 yards and 27 touchdowns in his four-year career. Bourne (6-1, 203) had his best season as a senior, with 79 receptions for 1,201 yards and seven touchdowns. Eastern Washington announced Bourne’s three-year contract.

--OT Darrell Williams Jr., Western Kentucky: Williams (6-5, 315) started 41 games. He played his final two seasons at right tackle after moving from right guard. Western Kentucky announced the contract agreement with the 49ers.

--WR KD Cannon, Baylor: Cannon caught 195 passes for 3,113 and 27 touchdowns in his three-year career. He turned pro after a junior season in which he caught 87 passes for 1,215 yards and 13 touchdowns. He announced his contract agreement with the 49ers via Twitter.

--DB Lorenzo Jerome, Saint Francis (PA): Jerome, a Senior Bowl invite, was named first-team FCS All-American. He intercepted six passes in 2016 with 59 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 11 pass break-ups. He added a touchdown on a kickoff return. (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

--LB Jimmie Gilbert, Colorado (Denver Post)

--OL J.P. Flynn, Montana (NEPatriotsdraft.com)

--DE Noble Nwachukwu, West Virginia (NEPatriotsdraft.com)

--TE Cole Hikutini, Louisville (NFL Network)

--LB Donavin Newsom, Missouri (Columbia Daily Tribune)

--WR Victor Bolden, Oregon State (Bolden via Twitter)

Lynch: TE McDonald to return to 49ers after being on trade block

Lynch: TE McDonald to return to 49ers after being on trade block

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers explored trade options for veteran tight end Vance McDonald during the three-day draft, but he is scheduled be back with the team when the club reports Monday for the fourth week of the offseason program.

“I think that’s the reality of new regimes coming, new schemes,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Saturday at the conclusion the seven-round draft. “That’s not to say that he can’t fit into our scheme. Frankly, we received some interest from some other people, then we did explore some options throughout the league with Vance. Nothing ended up happening, so Vance will come back and have an opportunity to compete.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he called McDonald on Friday night to keep him updated on the team’s though process in pursuing trade options. McDonald was at his brother’s wedding, Shanahan said, so he left him a long voice message. McDonald responded Saturday morning with a text. Shanahan said the two men will speak on Monday in Santa Clara.

“We did take over a 2-14 team,” Shanahan said. “We don’t feel all the answers are here right now. We have a lot of work to do. We need to improve in any way possible. And we’re going to do that. We’re going to do that from an organizational standpoint. How can we improve the building? How can we improve the coaching staff? How can we improve the personnel department? How can we improve the players?

“Just from Vance’s text back, I think people understand that. I think it does make sense. I don’t think that’s something personal.”

Former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke signed off on a five-year contract extension for McDonald in December that consisted of a $7 million signing bonus. McDonald appeared in 11 games last season, catching 24 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns. The 49ers acquired McDonald as a second-round draft pick 2013. In 48 career games, McDonald has 64 receptions for 866 yards and seven touchdowns.

The 49ers signed veteran tight end Logan Paulsen in the offseason. On Saturday, the 49ers selected Iowa tight end George Kittle in the fifth round of the draft. Kittle joins fellow tight ends McDonald, Garrett Celek, Paulsen, Blake Bell and Je’Ron Hamm on the 49ers’ 90-man roster.