Mel Kiper Jr. has released his initial 2013 NFL mock draft for the first round. We discussed his St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks projections previously. We round out the conversation with a look at Kiper's thoughts for the 49ers.
San Francisco's draft status could range from 29th through 32nd, depending upon where the 49ers finish in the ongoing playoffs. Kiper slotted them at No. 30 for the purposes of this mock.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Kiper's give: "At some point, San Francisco has to assume that the ageless Justin Smith might finally need a breather, and Floyd is the type of versatile defensive lineman who profiles well as a 3-4 defensive end. ... Like Smith, he's a powerful player who can push the pocket with power and will free up other pass-rushers, while making tackles for loss on his own."
Sando's take: Kiper is preaching to the choir here. The 49ers entered the 2012 season with the oldest starting defensive line in the league. Smith turns 34 in September and will need surgery on his injured elbow and triceps this offseason. The 49ers tried to address this position in the 2008 draft, but their selection of Kentwan Balmer did not work out. Ricky Jean-Francois has value as a versatile backup. Ian Williams and Tony Jerod-Eddie are the other backups on the defensive line. It's tough to envision the 49ers targeting another position in the first round, at least from a need stand point. The 49ers have not drafted a true defensive lineman in the past three drafts. Aldon Smith, Bruce Miller and Cameron Johnson were listed as defensive linemen coming out of college, but they have transitioned to other positions. Smith plays outside linebacker. Miller plays fullback. Johnson projects as more of an outside linebacker. The 49ers appear mostly set at the skill positions if A.J. Jenkins develops at wide receiver.