49ers' defensive draft needs


49ers' defensive draft needs

With the 49ers able to bring back nearly their entire defense from a year ago, there figure to be no starting positions up for grabs this season.Still, the 49ers do have some depth concerns on defense that the organization will seek to address throughout the draft, which runs April 26, 27 and 28:Defensive line
Who's here: LE Ray McDonald, NT Isaac Sopoaga, RE Justin Smith, Ricky Jean Francois, Demarcus Dobbs, Will Tukuafu, Ian Williams.
Draft needs: Smith played 91 percent of the 49ers' defensive snaps, while McDonald was on the field 83.5 percent of the time. Jean Francois is the only backup lineman who saw significant action behind Sopoaga. With more quality depth, the 49ers would be able to create a regular rotation with their defensive front and keep Smith and McDonald fresh. The 49ers will be on the lookout for quality depth and potential future starters on the defensive line from the first round on.Linebackers
Who's here: OLB Ahmad Brooks, ILB Patrick Willis, ILB NaVorro Bowman, OLB Aldon Smith, OLB Parys Haralson, ILB Larry Grant, ILB Tavares Gooden, ILB Michael Wilhoite.
Draft needs: The 49ers carried only three outside linebackers on their 53-man roster last season. The lucked out a year ago. Depth was not needed a year ago, as everyone remained healthy. They would like to add an insurance policy at outside linebacker. Not a lot of help is needed at inside linebacker with Grant's return. He did not get an offer as a restricted free agent to start elsewhere, so he is back with the 49ers as their top inside linebacker backup for another season. But the 49ers will likely keep their eyes peeled for a player who also has special-teams value in the mid to late rounds.

Defensive backs
Who's here: CB Carlos Rogers, CB Tarell Brown, S Dashon Goldson, S Donte Whitner, CB Chris Culliver, CB Tramaine Brock, S C.J. Spillman, CB Perrish Cox, CB Curtis Holcomb, CB Cory Nelms, S Mark LeGree.
Draft needs: With the departures of reserve safeties Reggie Smith and Madieu Williams, the 49ers must add a young player to compete with Spillman for the top backup spot behind starters Goldson and Whitner. Also, the 49ers would like to create more competition for the cornerback jobs. The 49ers kept five cornerbacks last season. Shawntae Spencer was released, so there is an open spot for a newcomer to compete with Brock, Cox and Holcomb for roles behind Rogers, Brown and Culliver. And if the 49ers take a cornerback with the No. 30 overall pick not an unlikely scenario -- suddenly there becomes more competition for the top three spots, too.Specialists
Who's here: K David Akers, P Andy Lee, LS Brian Jennings, LS Ryan Pontbriand, LS Kyle Nelson.
Draft needs: Akers, Lee and Jennings all deservedly made the NFC Pro Bowl team last season. There's no reason to waste a draft pick on any of those positions. Where the 49ers could use some help is in the return game. They need another reliable decision-maker for punt returns behind Ted Ginn, so the 49ers could add a player who has return skills at some point in the middle of the draft.Projected starters in italics

Cosell: It's fascinating that Kelly clearly didn't want Kaepernick to throw

Cosell: It's fascinating that Kelly clearly didn't want Kaepernick to throw

Colin Kaepernick was benched after three quarters on Sunday.

He completed 1-of-5 passes for four yards.

"To me, what's most fascinating about that is what Chip's approach was," Greg Cosell said on KNBR 680 on Monday evening. "Chip (Kelly) clearly did not want him to throw the ball ... it was clear to me that Kaepernick does not throw a wet or a cold ball very well...

"He has small hands so I'm wondering if he just couldn't really throw the ball effectively in this kind of weather.

"Hey, Troy Aikman always said, 'I couldn't throw a wet ball.'"

Kaepernick was sacked five times for -25 total yards.

"Looking at the sacks, there were opportunities for tighter window, but NFL throws -- and first of all, I don't think Kaepernick is that guy under normal circumstances -- and my sense is, he didn't feel comfortable in this weather," Cosell added. "He certainly wasn't gonna cut it loose on those kinds of throws in this weather.

"Maybe Chip knew that, maybe he didn't. But to me, as I said, it's more fascinating that he didn't have him throw the ball at all."

Blaine Gabbert supplanted Kaepernick and completed 4-of-10 passes for 35 yards. He was sacked once.

After getting benched vs Bears, Colin Kaepernick to start vs Jets

After getting benched vs Bears, Colin Kaepernick to start vs Jets

Colin Kaepernick will remain as the 49ers’ starting quarterback on Sunday against the New York Jets.

Offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins made the announcement on Tuesday while coach Chip Kelly was in Maine for services for his father, E. Paul Kelly, who passed away on Friday.

Kaepernick has started the past seven games for the 49ers, during which time the club has gone winless. The 49ers (1-11) are on a franchise-long 11 game-losing streak.

Kaepernick went 1 of 5 on Sunday for just four yards in the 49ers’ 26-6 loss to the Chicago Bears. Kaepernick was also sacked five times for minus-25 yards before getting benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert. He became the first quarterback in NFL history to be sacked five times and have fewer than 5 yards passing in the same game.

"We have been playing really good football, good football on offense and the thing had been trending in the right direction," Modkins said. "Obviously, Sunday didn’t bear that and we’ve got to go to work today and figure out how to get it back going in a direction we had it and obviously it has to be better than what it was on Sunday."

A week earlier against the Miami Dolphins, Kaepernick threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for 113 yards as the 49ers rolled up 475 yards of total offense.

Kelly said the 49ers made the switch at quarterback early in the fourth quarter on Sunday against the Bears in hopes Gabbert would provide a spark. Gabbert started the 49ers’ first five games of the season before Kaepernick replaced him.

"Kap is going to be the starter and we’ll go from there," Modkins said. "We just decided during the game to try to see if Blaine could give us a spark. Kap is back being the starter. It’s nothing other than that.”