The San Francisco 49ers reached their third straight NFC title game in 2013. They lost, but they were still one of the toughest, most balanced teams in the league.
Considering the Niners could have easily made their second straight Super Bowl, it’s pretty safe to say they don’t have many weak points. Colin Kaepernick even improved throughout the playoffs, while getting Michael Crabtree back really balanced the offense out.
San Francisco is aging in some spots, while injuries or off field actions should cause them to add talent even at positions where they’re currently regarded as strengths. With that, let’s see what the Niners could do in the 2014 NFL Draft, based on their needs on both sides of the ball:
Offensive needs: WR, OL
San Francisco is built extremely well from top to bottom, so naturally they don’t have a ton of holes to fill. Wide receiver, however, is not a position that should be neglected. Anquan Boldin is aging and life without Michael Crabtree sucked last year. They also have no reliable third option. It’s time for the Niners to forget about the bust that is A.J. Jenkins and take another shot on a big play wide receiver. Penn State’s Allen Robinson is a popular guy associated with them, but if they want him they might have to take him in round one. Wide receiver is really deep this year, though, so if they think that’s too high for him, they can pick from the litter in round two or three.
The offensive line in general is probably the only other area of need. They aren’t lacking at any one spot outside of center. It wouldn’t be shocking if they just attacked this position with Weston Richburg in round one, but waiting on Travis Swanson might be the better move. The rest of the line could use some depth, as well.
Defensive needs: DE, CB, LB
With few big needs on offense, the 49ers will most likely look to keep adding to the strength that is their defense. As good as it is, they will have some issues considering Novarro Bowman is returning from a shredded knee and Aldon Smith is a psychopath. That makes linebacker a pretty big need, both in the middle and on the outside. Both of these guys are still hopeful key cogs, though, so it’s doubtful the Niners spend an insanely high pick. If the right guy like a Shayne Skov slides into the fourth round, he could be used for depth behind Bowman.
Defensive end is quickly becoming an issue. Justin Smith is getting weekly editions of AARP and they could use depth behind Tank Carridine, either way. A quality defensive lineman could be taken as early as round one. Dee Ford can man the outside, while Stephon Tuitt can kick inside and demolish the run.
Corner is probably the other big need, as young guys are poised to step up. The Niners brought in Chris Cook for depth, but he might not pan out. Spending a mid-round or even an early round pick on a talented corner is a good idea.