49ers' picks show pundits figuring them out

The San Francisco 49ers used the 40th overall choice of the 2013 NFL draft for Florida State defensive lineman Tank Carradine, a player analysts connected to San Francisco in pre-draft projections.

That move came one day after the 49ers used the 18th pick for LSU safety Eric Reid, a player multiple analysts had projected to the 49ers in the first round.

Lots of people saw the Carradine and Reid selections coming. That marks a departure from the past, when San Francisco's choices seemed to catch outsiders by surprise. Aldon Smith and A.J. Jenkins were not widely linked to the 49ers entering the past two drafts, but San Francisco used first-round choices for each.

The difference now is that fans and analysts have had two years to watch the 49ers build their roster. Patterns are developing. It's easier to see what needs exist and where the 49ers perceive those needs to be. Our feel for the team is improving.

Carradine should provide immediate depth to the 49ers' rotation on their defensive line. He joins Glenn Dorsey, Justin Smith and Ray McDonald -- players with the versatility to move around. This selection made sense in the short term because the 49ers needed depth at the position after letting Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean-Francois leave in free agency. They also could have longer-term needs in mind given that Justin Smith is entering the final year of his contract.

Note: Some have noted that Carradine could project at outside linebacker. He is 6-foot-4 and 276 pounds. That is certainly possible given Carradine's credentials as an outside rusher. We might more accurately say Carradine helps out the front seven, specifically the pass rush. We'll see how the team plans to use him.