Ranking draft needs

With the NFL draft looming in less than a week, let's break down the San Francisco 49ers' draft needs in order of importance.


Why: It's the only position on the field where the 49ers currently have a hole. Tarell Brown departed in free agency and Carlos Rogers was cut. They both ended up in Oakland. The 49ers could easily take multiple players at this spot. If the right players are added, the 49ers could bring in a starter and a nickel cornerback. At the very least, one player who will see significant immediate playing time should be added.

When area will likely be addressed: The 49ers easily could use a first-round pick here.


Why: The 49ers need more speed at the position. They also have to develop a young player. One starter, Anquan Boldin, is 33, and the other, Michael Crabtree, is entering the final year of his contract.

When area will likely be addressed: The 49ers will likely add a receiver in the first or second round.


Why: Aldon Smith's off-field issues have made this a potential need position in recent weeks.

When area will likely be addressed: The impact pass-rushers will likely be gone before the 49ers want to address this area, but if they identify a player who they think fits their system, I could see the 49ers using a third-round pick at this spot.

Interior offensive line:

Why: Daniel Kilgore is going to get the chance to be the starting center, but he is unproven. The 49ers might want some immediate competition. Also, Mike Iupati is entering the final year of his contract. More youth could be needed at guard.

When area will likely be addressed: ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have linked USC's Marcus Martin center to the 49ers in the second round in mock draft. I'm not sure the 49ers will address this area so early, but I can see the 49ers using picks on a center and a guard, perhaps both on Day 3.

Inside linebacker

Why: NaVorro Bowman is expected to be out for about half the season while recovering from a torn ACL and Patrick Willis is 29. It wouldn't hurt to bring in a youngster.

When area will likely be addressed: I could see the 49ers looking here in the fourth or fifth round.


Why: The 49ers are interested in a long-term backup for Colin Kaepernick.

When area will likely be addressed: I think the 49ers could use the final pick in the third round on a quarterback or perhaps use their fourth-round pick at the position.


Why: The 49ers need some youth and depth here.

When area will likely be addressed: I think if the right player is available and the 49ers feel comfortable about other positions they addressed, a safety could be nabbed in the third round.

Defensive line

Why: It's not a huge need area, but teams can never have enough defensive lineman.

When area will likely be addressed: There are some scenarios where the 49ers could use a premium pick here if the draft falls that way. But there are other scenarios where a mid-round pick is the highest priority they give the spot.

Will other positions be addressed? The 49ers don't have huge needs elsewhere, but they have studied and visited players at virtually every position, so it wouldn't be a shock if the 49ers added a running back or perhaps a tight end in the late rounds.