Why bold trade for Austin made sense

Why bold trade for Austin made sense
April 25, 2013, 3:15 pm
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Tavon Austin is the only known wide receiver to visit the 49ers. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

UPDATE (6:10 p.m.): The Rams traded up for the No. 8 overall pick to select Tavon Austin.

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers have the resources available to make a bold move in the first round of the NFL draft.

The 49ers have done the unexpected in the first two Trent Baalke-Jim Harbaugh drafts. And the way they can do it again Thursday is with a move -- perhaps into the top 10 -- to select West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin.

The 49ers own the No. 31 overall pick, as well as 12 other draft picks. If they want to make a play to get an impact player, they can do it. If they want Austin, they can get him.

When thinking about what they could target with a trade, much of the conversation has been centered around the defensive line.

But general manager Trent Baalke said earlier this offseason he felt the 49ers' lack of a rotation with their defensive front had more to do with the philosophy of the coaching staff and not with a lack of talent at the backup positions.

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With Colin Kaepernick at quarterback, the 49ers' offense is going to be changing. The 49ers expect him to be the quarterback for a long time. And they expect the offense to be explosive with his ability to throw the ball down the field and create plays with his running ability.

The 49ers do not need to be a team built around defense and the running game. They can trend more toward an dynamic, big-play offense.

No team in the NFL used fewer three-receiver sets than the 49ers last season. The 49ers never felt as if their third wide receiver was better than their second tight end. With Delanie Walker gone and Kaepernick here to stay, the 49ers should become more of a passing team.

Austin -- the only known receiver to visit the 49ers -- could give the 49ers a legitimate slot receiver with bigger, possession receivers Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin on the outside. Coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have shown an ability to adapt the offense to their personnel. Austin would give them an explosive threat that they're lacking. He can even be used out of the backfield with the occasional read option.

Boldin, Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams are signed through 2013. Crabtree is signed through 2014, and he might be difficult to re-sign. Nobody really knows if last year's first-round pick, A.J. Jenkins, will develop into a quality receiver.

That's why the bold move of trading up to select Austin makes a lot of sense.

 

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