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The draft is less than a week away and if the NFL prognosticators are correct, the Arizona Cardinals will select Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in the draft. This will leave the 49ers sitting pretty at number two with their choice of talent. What position groups should they focus on and what are some players they can come away with?
Nick Bosa and the solution at edge
The glaring need for the 49ers since 2014 has been edge pressure. Since releasing Aldon Smith, the best sack total put up by an edge player was Ahmad Brooks in 2015 with 6½. Defensive end Nick Bosa should be the clear selection at number two; Bosa brings a presence off the edge that the team has sorely missed for the last five seasons. He’s a rare player that can win with either power or speed from edge and immediately upgrades the defensive line.
Receiver vs. Secondary on Day 2
The belief right now is that the 49ers take both a receiver and a safety on the second day of the draft. The fanbase is clamoring for a big receiver and this draft has them. Players like Hakeem Butler, N’Keal Harry, and A.J. Brown could be available at pick 36. But Kyle Shanahan has said in interviews that his offense doesn’t need a big receiver in order to run.
While the offense may not need a receiver, the defense certainly needs a safety. The single-high safety in the Seattle style defense the team runs may very well be the most important position on defense. Not everyone has the speed and instincts to excel at the position, but much like edges, this draft has some players like Nasir Adderly and Juan Thornhill who possess the skills to thrive at the position. Before you insist that receiver has to be the pick at 36 ask yourself this: Am I more comfortable with Shanahan and the current receiver group, or Robert Saleh and the current secondary?
Safety should be the pick.
Later Round Needs
After hopefully adding an edge, safety, and receiver, the team can look for fill less glaring holes in later rounds. It’s clear that Shanahan values the tackle and center position over guards. In the later rounds they could turn to players like Ross Pierschbacher from Alabama or Keaton Sutherland from Texas A&M. Both excel at run blocking and are proficient in the passing game and could challenge Mike Person for the right guard spot while providing value as a Day 3 pick.
The front office should also invest a Day 3 pick at cornerback. While Ahkello Witherspoon improved as the season went on, he’s far from a sure thing opposite Richard Sherman. Players like Sheldrick Redwine from Miami and current 49ersHub favorite Jimmy Moreland out of James Madison are players the front office could target to infuse some competition into the cornerback group.
With only six picks in this draft, it’s imperative that the front office and coaching staff take full advantage. While it’s unlikely they will come away from the draft with more than two starters, the time has passed to target “project” players that the team hopes will develop or players that they want to try at a different position. Heading into 2019, it’s time for the team to compete now, drafting smart this season and plugging a few major holes will go a long way to ensuring that happens.
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