A closer look at the areas the San Francisco 49ers could address in the draft. We'll conclude Wednesday with a look at the defensive linemen, who are scheduled to work out Sunday in Indianapolis.
Position of need: The 49ers figure to stick with a 3-4 defensive alignment under coach Jim Tomsula, who was promoted from defensive line coach and will have Eric Mangini as his defensive coordinator. But there are questions at end, with Ray McDonald having been “terminated” late last season and Justin Smith still deciding whether to retire of play out his contract. The Niners have options with the likes of Tony Jerod-Eddie and Tank Carradine, but depth is needed in the trenches.
Three players the 49ers could target in the draft:
Arik Armstead (DT), Oregon: At 6-foot-8, 290 pounds, Armstead could conceivably move to end in a 3-4 scheme and his skill set -- nine tackles and a fumble recovery in the national championship loss to Ohio State -- suggests he would be more of a run stuffer than a pass rusher. With pass rushers at outside linebacker already in Aldon Smith and Aaron Lynch, Armstead’s physical presence would fit in nicely. Still, Armstead -- who also played basketball for the Ducks and is leaving Eugene after his junior year -- is seen as more of a project at this stage, though one with huge upside.
Malcom Brown (DT), Texas: More of a prototypical interior D-lineman with his 6-feet-2, 320-pound frame, Brown can play in both a 3-4 or 4-3 defense as a penetrating run stuffer. The first-team All-American led the Longhorns in sacks (6.5), tackles for loss (15) and forced fumbles (2) and was tied for the team lead in QB pressures (8) while getting a career-high 72 tackles. Many also see Brown as more mature, despite leaving school after his junior year, as he is married with two children.
Eddie Goldman (DT), Florida State: The 6-foot-4, 314-pound Goldman portends more as a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. And while the Niners already have Ian Williams and Quinton Dial, Goldman, who also played DE for the Seminoles, might be too tempting to pass up. Goldman is more of the prototypical space eater and has the look of an elite run stopper, though he needs to work on his pass-rushing effectiveness.