The 49ers surprised more than a few folks with their first picks of the Trent Baalke-Jim Harbaugh regime the past two years.
And in the lead-up to Thursday's first round, if you ask 10 people who they expect to see the 49ers select at No. 31, you might receive 10 different answers.
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It's anybody's guess at this point, so let's make some guesses . . .
DL Cornellius "Tank" Carradine (Florida State): His teammate, Bjoern Werner, is a very good player. But Carradine is on a different level. He's got very good pass-rush moves off either side. He is a hard worker with a tremendous motor. He falls in this draft because he is coming off a torn ACL. It's difficult to imagine that he would fall to No. 31, so would the 49ers might have to move up to get him. He could fit in immediately as a pass-rush specialist to rotate in on nickel situations, giving much-needed breaks to Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith.
DL Margus Hunt (SMU): This former track star from Estonia has tremendous natural pass-rush skills. In many ways, 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula would be working with a blank canvas. Hunt could be eased into the action on the defensive line to rest starters Ray McDonald and Justin Smith. Hunt can play 3-4 end, like McDonald and Smith, and then line up as an inside pass-rusher in the 49ers' nickel defense. Hunt (6-foot-8) could also prove to be a big special-teams player, as he showed with 17 blocked kicks in his career.
TE Zach Ertz (Stanford): Delanie Walker, who played more than half of the 49ers' offensive snaps last season, is no longer on the team. Ertz would give the 49ers' versatility on offense as a second tight end, along with Vernon Davis. Ertz can line up tight and he can also cause matchup problems in the slot. As long as Davis is around, Ertz would not be a starter, but he could still see more action on offense than the 49ers' third wide receiver or fullback Bruce Miller.
FS Jonathan Cyprien (Florida International): The 49ers should come out of this draft with a starting-caliber safety. There will be plenty of options available with the 49ers' scheduled picks at Nos. 31, 34 and 61 -- and maybe even at 74. Cyprien looks the part. He is well-built and physical. He is a hitter, but he also has a lot of potential in coverage. One thing to remember: Whomever starts for the 49ers at free safety in 2013 is not going to be as good as Dashon Goldson.
Of course, these are not the only players under consideration for one of those early picks -- just four names that are intriguing.