NFL Mock Draft 2011: 49ers, Raiders SB Nation Mock Draft Results

A home for all your draft needs, curiosities and opinions. We are going to track mock drafts and possible trade scenarios for the bay area teams. For all news, analysis and discussion regarding these teams be sure to check out Silver and Black Pride and Niners Nation.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: SB Nation 'East' Blogs Roundup For 49ers

In the last update, we took a look at how SB Nation's AFC and NFC North blogs viewed the 49ers and their seventh overall pick in various mock drafts. There was some interesting perspectives, after dealing with ESPN, Walter Football, Draft Tek and the likes of those, it was actually refreshing to just get an honest fan's take on things. So now we're going to continue the series and move into the NFC and AFC West.

We begin with Blogging The Boys, SB Nation's Dallas Cowboys blog. In their community mock draft, the 49ers landed Von Miller, the outside linebacker out of Texas A&M. In this draft, Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert was still on the board, but they (wisely) went with Miller, filling a big team need. They rationalized the pick very well, to the point as well:

Purely going best player available. Von Miller is the DeMarcus Ware of this draft. No questions about it. It also fills a huge hole with the 49ers defense. Miller is a exceptional pass rusher and can do it all. His leadership and athletic ability made it an easy choice.    

That's high praise from a Cowboys fan, as DeMarcus Ware is probably the best pass rusher in the NFL. Miller fills a huge team need for the 49ers and is also the best player available at this point, depending on where you rank Gabbert. I obviously do not rank him all-that-high.

From there, we move to Bleeding Green Nation, our Philadelphia Eagles blog. In their community mock draft, the 49ers actually picked sixth because the silly Cleveland Browns couldn't get their pick in on time, but no harm was done as they didn't intend to pick the guy San Francisco ultimately went with: Prince Amukamara, the cornerback out of Nebraska.

Prince is the second best corner in this draft following Peterson and he isn't far behind. Yes San Fran needs a qb, but this is a team that has gaping holes in multiple phases of the game, especially in the secondary. Shawntae Spencer and Nate Clements scare no one. ... Prince on the other hand is everything you want in a corner. Elite speed with good ball skills to match. He can lock down one side of the field like the best in college. Whether that translates is yet to be seen. However, I believe Prince will make the jump just fine

Emphasis mine. It's absolutely true, Clements and Spencer don't scare anybody. Teams will force balls in their direction, and big, physical receivers will have their way out there, see Vincent Jackson in the San Diego Chargers game last year for an example. Clements, and to a lesser extent Spencer, is a decent corner, but he needs somebody shutdown on the other side. Amukamara is definitely the best pick in this scenario and he can immediately be a number two corner with the ability to progress to number one as early as this season. The need for somebody shutdown bodes well in the next couple picks, however.

In a seemingly collaborative effort, The Phinsider, SB Nation's Miami Dolphins blog and our Jets blog, Gang Green Nation, both have the 49ers landing Patrick PetersonMatty's mock over at The Phinsider has him falling after Buffalo takes a quarterback, which may be instrumental in San Francisco's ability to land him.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. The steal of the draft right here. Peterson is going to be a stud and he falls to pick 7 simply because of the needs of the top 6 teams.    

That's the best way to put it: Peterson is undoubtedly the steal of the draft when your needs as big as San Francisco's and you're dealing with someone who might be the best player in the draft at the seventh overall pick. Here's a link to Gang Green Nation's pick, as well. 

Pats Pulpit, SB Nation's blog for the New England Patriots, had their community mock span through two rounds thus far, and the 49ers have went defense both times. Reader BJA had the team lined up to take either Robert Quinn or Nick Fairley, this is with both Peterson and Amukamara off the board, Da'Quan Bowers still on the board and Cam Newton eventually falling to the Washington RedskinsThe pick was prioritized for Robert Quinn, and that's who the 49ers ended up with after Cleveland took Amukamara one pick prior.

While San Francisco needs a quarterback more than anything else I don't think Jim Harbaugh is in love with the idea of making that guy Cam Newton. If he's in fact thinking of adding a young quarterback I think he'll more likely see what there for him in the second round (Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick).

The 49ers need a pass rusher and a cornerback as well and the option likely comes down to Prince Amukamara or Robert Quinn. Quinn would be an instant upgrade as a 3-4 OLB and would add a dimension to the pass rush the teams hasn't seen in a while.

The pick definitely makes sense, especially with the top two corners gone, but my gut tells me that would instead be Nick Fairley. Either way, their mock extended into the second round and the 49ers took care of their cornerback need with my sleeper of the draft, picking Davon House, the cornerback out of New Mexico State.

This is not a dream scenario for the 49ers. I think Jim Harbaugh might be eyeing a QB to develop here to eventually become either the starter or the backup (if he were to say pick a guy named Andrew Luck next year). In this scenario there isn't anyone worthy of a selection here.    

He goes on to rationalize picking House over Brandon Harris, and I honestly could not agree more. That wraps things up for the mocks roundup for the ... oh wait, we still have another mock to look at. Big Blue View, our New York Giants blog, had their community mock draft and the 49ers came out with a rather surprising back. After the Cincinnati Bengals took Blaine Gabbert and the Browns took Marcell Dareus, it came down to a somewhat familiar scenario for the team, they found themselves drafting for BPA and taking A.J. Green, the wide receiver out of Georgia.

But who is available at this point in the draft who addresses any of these needs at a reasonable value? Only three names are worth mentioning: Prince Amukamara, Robert Quinn, and Da'Quan Bowers. I don't see Prince as a top 7 talent; Justin Blackmon would agree. Robert Quinn missed an entire season, and he didn't exactly shine at the combine. I don't think the reward outweighs the risk. Finally, Bowers seems to be a better fit for the 4-3, although he could certainly play in any defense. Indeed, Bowers was really the only "need" pick I strongly considered.

Interesting picks all around.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: SB Nation 'North' Blogs Roundup For 49ers

We've seen how most of the main dream mock draft sites have had the 49ers picking in the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft. The results have been pretty varied up to this point, and SB Nation Bay Area is revealing its own mock draft over the next week or so, starting later on today. But first, I figured a quick look at all of SB Nation's wonderful team blogs and their mocks would be pertinent. Not every blog is running one, but we'll take a quick look over them and what the San Francisco 49ers are doing in said drafts. We begin by looking at the AFC and NFC North blogs and their mock drafts.

We'll start with the Daily Norseman, SB Nation's Minnesota Vikings blog. In their community mock draft, they took a vote on who the 49ers should select. Nick Fairley, the defensive tackle out of Auburn was still on the board, but the voters eclipsed him (second place with 21%) and gave the 49ers Prince Amukamara, the cornerback out of Nebraska, with 33% of the vote. Their post announcing the pick is right here.

If Newton and Gabbert are indeed gone... I say Prince goes here. Then I'd say the Niners would be the front-runner in the Carson Palmer trade talks.

That's a quote from the comments of the article, and it's something that I see is a startling trend. It's obviously possible that the 49ers would take one of Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert, but is it really that likely? They have not worked out either quarterback, and head coach Jim Harbaugh had only a few good things to say about Newton, who doesn't appear to fit in the 49ers 2011 offense. The outward perception regarding the 49ers seems to be that they'd take one of these guys, at least among fans of other teams, which I believe to be wrong. I see it as more likely in the second round.

One of the writers (Mr MaLoR) at Baltimore Beatdown, our Ravens blog, put together a three-round mock draft on his own and it's looking good at this point. The first round sees Von Miller, the outside linebacker out of Texas A&M falling to them, and they take advantage of that right away. In the second round, San Francisco also fills a big need as they grab Ras-I Dowling of Virginia, a definite starting cornerback for them. Round three has them going in a bit of a different direction, but it's a pick that makes sense either way, as they grab Shane Vereen, the running back out of Cal.

If Miller falls to #7, I don't see how the 49ers could pass on him. While SF already has a solid group of 3-4 LB, Miller is too good to pass up and immediately creates an insane LB combo of Willis and Miller.

He's absolutely right in that the 49ers would not pass on Von Miller, and their linebackers would be absolutely insane at this point. The only player who could wrest Miller from their grasp if they both were to be available at the pick would be Patrick Peterson.

San Francisco passed on Amukamara and Smith in the 1st because of Von Miller being available, so Dowling here makes alot of sense. He can start right away at the #2 spot next to Clements. The 49ers are building one hell of a defense if the draft plays out this way.    

Sound logic in this pick, Dowling is a starting corner and would immediately take over the second spot opposite Nate Clements, and potentially the number one spot over the course of his rookie season.

Frank Gore is still the man there, but Vereen can be a very good back up to an already strong running game.    

This is definitely a weird pick, because the 49ers need a quarterback and there are still some worthy prospects on the board for Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman to work with in 2011. I suppose they'll be looking to free agency or trade to address the need in this scenario, but there are still some guys available in the fourth round to consider, which is good.

Cincy Jungle, SB Nation's Cincinnati Bengals blog, had the 49ers taking Prince Amukamara in their mock draft. Both Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton were still on the board at this point, but citing a struggling 2010 pass defense and a reluctance to take undeserving quarterbacks so high, they went with the number-two cornerback in the draft. Our Cleveland Browns blog, Dawgs By Nature echoed the sentiments with Prince going in their mock,while Nick Fairley, Blaine Gabbert and Robert Quinn were all on the board at the time.

To break the mold a little bit, we'll get away from Prince Amukamara for San Francisco, as Behind The Steel Curtain, our Pittsburgh Steelers blog, went a different direction in their mock draft. Blaine Gabbert fell to pick seven once again, and in their mind, he is the pick for the 49ers. He's definitely more likely than Cam Newton, to say the least.

Second, John Harbaugh can make a talented and accurate Quarterback a star in his system. The Niners underrated how good Jeff Garcia was for their system, so they let him go without ever finding a replacement. Harbaugh runs a similar West Coast system to those old Niners teams, and with a QB who hits over 62% of his passes, you are looking at some serious damage with an already solid supporting cast in the skill positions. Gabbert is only a Junior so he has room to develop and he will have time since no one is expecting Harbaugh and his 5-year deal to win immediately.    

Now, it's a bit of a misconception that Harbaugh's West Coast Offense will be similar to the great 49ers teams of the eighties and nineties, it will actually be more of a run-oriented system and would look more like Mike Singletary's intended vision than Bill Walsh's. That being said, the pick isn't far off, here. Gabbert is accurate and would fit a position of need, but is he a better pick than Amukamara?

Finally, there isn't much of a need at other positions with value at this pick. They need a shutdown corner, but Amukama doesn't grade out as better value for this team than Gabbert - however Peterson would be the pick over Gabbert if he falls    

Right here is where I mind myself disagreeing - I would say that Amukamara grades out as a better value pick than Gabbert. What say you?


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Will Raiders Work Out Second Round Quarterbacks?

Right now, the news is picking up regarding quarterbacks and their workouts. Cam Newton is going everywhere (except for Oakland and San Francisco, apparently), Blaine Gabbert has his workouts scheduled and things are generally picking up speed on that front. The 49ers have already begun working out the second round prospects, and it's clear they're going a different direction in the first round. They've already worked out Colin Kaepernick and will be meeting with Ricky Stanzi, Andy Dalton and the strong-armed Ryan Mallett.

We already discussed the topic as to whether or not the Raiders could afford to draft a quarterback early, as they are without a first round pick and have considerable holes that can be addressed in the second round:

Can the Raiders then afford to spend a second round pick on a quarterback? In my opinion, no they can't. Jason Campbell wasn't terrible in 2010, whereas certain positions on the Raiders' offensive line could definitely be referred to as 'terrible' at this point. Sporting only a 59% accuracy rating in 2010 was definitely bad, but it also is definitely not the norm for his average. He was sacked a lot, constantly under pressure, and his number one receiving target was a tight end who might not be there in 2011. The Raiders would be much better off shoring up the team around Campbell, and if he doesn't pan out in 2011, an early pick next year will be worthwhile.

The question here though, is whether or not the Raiders are going to even work out a guy in the second? Do they have any of the quarterbacks slated to go in the second round on their board of targets? Maybe the quarterbacks they like are later on in the draft, but to think that players like Mallett, Locker, Stanzi, Dalton, Kaepernick and more might not even be on their board for the second round is almost absurd.

Not that they should take any of those guys over another position, but you never know how a draft will play out, and quarterback is very likely a need. Either way, I expect we'll eventually hear news of them working out a quarterback, but it's really hard to predict any kind of move from the Raiders.


2011 NFL Draft: 49ers, Raiders Awarded Compensatory Picks

The NFL released compensatory picks for the 2011 NFL Draft and the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders will get extra picks for the upcoming draft. The 49ers received two compensatory picks in the 7th round, while the Raiders received one compensatory pick in the 7th round.

The general equation for figuring out compensatory is not really known as far as I can tell, but it basically involves a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. Not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by this formula.

The Raiders lost free agent Cornell Green and signed free agent Kyle Boller. Although the Raiders did not suffer a net loss of compensatory free agents last year, under the formula, the compensatory free agents lost by these clubs were ranked higher than the ones they signed (by a specified point differential based upon salary and performance). This resulted in the Raiders receiving the 40th pick in the seventh round, which is 240th overall.

The 49ers lost free agents Arnaz Battle and Tony Pashos and signed free agent David Carr. In spite of the fact that this is a fairly motley mix of free agents, the 49ers received the 38th and 49th picks of the seventh round (238 and 249 overall).

For more on the Raiders, check out Silver and Black Pride. For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: 49ers Working Out Kai Forbath

The 49ers currently have Joe Nedney as their kicker for both kickoffs and field goals, and many have assumed that it was likely to remain that way, at least through 2011. Nedney has been quietly consistent throughout his tenure in San Francisco, but he's missed nine games over the past couple seasons now, with an injury concern that has been present for virtually the entirety of his kicking career. Initial reports, as stated, were that the team planned to go forward with Nedney, and not his 2010 fill-in, Jeff Reed, of former Pittsburgh Steeler renown. Or, if that doesn't do it for you, the guy that beat up a bathroom.

Enter Kai Forbath of UCLA, who is scheduled to workout for the 49ers on Friday. Kai was pretty good at UCLA and head coach Jim Harbaugh is undoubtedly already familiar with him. He's one of the top five kickers to be coming out this year, but there are definitely a few ahead of him at this point, like Alex Henery, Josh Jasper and Thomas Weber, of Nebraska, LSU and Arizona State respectively.

At this point, it's hard to see Forbath going any earlier than the seventh round, but the 49ers need to do their due diligence to its fullest. You can bet they'll be working out more kickers, if they've taken an interest to Forbath.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Would 49ers Trade To Top Of Second Round For Quarterback?

We've discussed how the 49ers are unlikely to be drafting a quarterback in the first round, or at least that it's unlikely they grab a guy at the seventh overall pick. There remains the situations of trading back to the back-end to grab a Christian Ponder type of guy or trading back into the round to do the same after-the-fact. Those two scenarios are also unlikely for a team with the type of needs they have and their ability to address them at seven with the talent at need positions in the 2011 draft class.

It was widely discussed last year the draft's new format - in that, the first round is held by itself on one day, while rounds two and three are the next day, followed by rounds four, five, six and seven on the third day. Many believed that this would create a flurry of activity following the first round for teams to potentially trade into that first spot in the second round. It didn't happen last year, the St. Louis Rams used that pick as opposed to trading it, but the theory is still there.

This draft is heavy on developmental quarterbacks, and the first round is heavy on athletic specimens at positions along the defensive line and defensive backfield. Teams will address those needs and players like Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton will be around in the second round for the picking. These guys are already getting heavy interest around the league, and the 49ers are sitting with the 13th pick in the second round, and that may leave them with limited options if teams load up on the developmental talent. Ryan Mallett, Jake Locker, Kaepernick, Dalton, Ponder - these guys could all be gone at this point.

So would it be within San Francisco's best interest to trade up into the top spot in the second round? The pick is currently owned by the New England Patriots, who may opt to use it to gain a tactical advantage, but if there's anything we know about that organization - it's that they know how to turn one pick into many. They've got to be licking their lips at the prospects of moving out of that pick following day one so one team can grab one of those fringe first rounders that fell in the draft.

The 49ers have a pick in every round, possessing two in rounds four, six and seven. A second round pick, especially one high-up in the round, is worth more now than it was just a couple years ago when the first and second rounds were held on the same day. Many believe that it might require something akin to a future first round pick (because many believe that is potentially what this is, the fringe first-round talent) but that's not necessarily true. Maybe the prospects of switching picks in the second round, plus one of those fourth rounders and potentially more is enough?

Either way, head coach Jim Harbaugh seems to be a big proponent of building through the draft, as is general manager Trent Baalke, so don't expect the 49ers to pay the price if it's a future first rounder - they'd settle for another developmental guy at that point, but if they can get up there with little issue, don't be surprised is San Francisco jumps up to get someone that Harbaugh may like. Some might say that you can never overpay for a franchise quarterback, which I liken in a way to the San Francisco Giants World Series win in 2010. They had a could players like Barry Zito and Edgar Renteria seemingly overpaid - but a World Series win and those contracts are 100% validated. Just some food for thought.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: 49ers Taking Prince Amukamara, Peterson Out Of Reach Again

I seriously considered beginning this article likening Prince Amukamara to the Prince of Bel-Air with a Bay Area lyrics twist (In Glendale, Arizona, born and raised - at Nebraska - is where I spent my college days ...) but I couldn't do that to you folks. Instead, we'll note how the Nebraska talent is once again being pegged as coming to the San Francisco 49ers with their seventh overall pick in the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft. SB Nation's latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft is out, and the pick re-surfaces:

7. San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. San Fran is a bit of a wild card in the Top 10, with several legitimate directions the team could take. We keep coming back to Amukamara, a safe prospect in an area of need for Jim Harbaugh's club.

It's a scenario in which Patrick Peterson, Von Miller and both of the (widely perceived) top two quarterbacks in Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton are gone. That covers the top three needs for the 49ers, which is definitely not the ideal scenario, but as noted in the past, Amukamara is not a consolation pick. In fact, he's the exact opposite. Pegged as the only number one corner in this draft aside from Peterson, Amukamara would come to San Francisco and immediately be a starter over Shawntae Spencer, and potentially give the team wiggle room with Nate Clements and his monstrous contract.

In this case, Nick Fairley, the defensive tackle out of Auburn, has fallen. For the 49ers, Fairley would be a 3-4 defensive end, and this writer thinks he'd be a great fit there in Vic Fangio's defensive alignment. Just a few weeks ago, Fairley was almost the consensus first overall pick to the Carolina Panthers, and now he's falling to the 49ers at seven.

Akumara is definitely the safe pick here, but no team could go wrong with Fairley, so it's a clear case of need vs BPA, and at that point, the 49ers would probably go with need and the number two corner in the draft. The poll results on Niners Nation would seem to indicate the same, with 39% taking Prince Amukamara, only 15% taking Nick Fairley, while 19% would have grabbed A.J. Green, 2% are absolutely crazy (grabbing another player) and 21% think the 49ers should trade the pick.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Could The Oakland Raiders Afford To Draft A Quarterback Early?

The Oakland Raiders have significant needs at many positions: offensive tackle, wide receiver, and potentially quarterback, cornerback and tight end. Filling all of these needs will be a tall order when the team doesn't possess a first round pick. The first time they get a go-round is around the middle of the second round, where most believe they will be taking one of the high-level cornerbacks who should still be available at that point, as Nnamdi Asomugha might not be coming back due to his status as a free agent.

They currently have Jason Campbell under contract, and it's possible that he's the guy going forward. Bruce Gradkowski stands a chance to be re-signed as well at this point, but what if the Raiders have a guy they like enough there in the second round? What if somebody falls? What if they just don't think Jason Campbell is the answer?

Then the second round would be the place, in response to the last question. 2011 isn't top-heavy in quarterback talent, but there are a lot of high-ceiling, developmental guys strewn about the draft's middle rounds. The folks over at Silver And Black Pride took a look at Nevada product Colin Kaepernick.

Yes, I realize that our greatest weaknesses now are at ROT, OLB and possibly CB - depending on whether Nnam signs. But, a QB like Kaepernick, talented in every phase of the position: he's smart, brave, a leader, a cannon for an arm and fleet of foot (he loves to run) may not be someone we should let slip. The 49rs are trying him out today - this is who Harbaugh considers the substitute for Luck.

There's a lot of praise from this particular writer, but the poll results are adamant in their indecisiveness. 40% of voters (346 votes) were right there with the guy - saying yes, Kaepernick is a guy that the Raiders should consider in the second, while 45% of voters (382 votes) are of the opinion that other needs are more important. The rest of the voters don't really know, but they trust the front office to make the right decision.

As to whether or not Kaepernick is that guy, it's hard to tell. But there should be a plethora of other options available, including players once considered to be top picks like Ryan Mallett, Jake Locker and Andy Dalton. Even somebody like Christian Ponder could fall at this point. What then? Can the Raiders then afford to spend a second round pick on a quarterback?

In my opinion, no they can't. Jason Campbell wasn't terrible in 2010, whereas certain positions on the Raiders' offensive line could definitely be referred to as 'terrible' at this point. Sporting only a 59% accuracy rating in 2010 was definitely bad, but it also is definitely not the norm for his average. He was sacked a lot, constantly under pressure, and his number one receiving target was a tight end who might not be there in 2011. The Raiders would be much better off shoring up the team around Campbell, and if he doesn't pan out in 2011, an early pick next year will be worthwhile.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: 49ers Fans, Don't Forget About Prince Amukamara

More and more NFL mock drafts have Patrick Peterson falling to the San Francisco 49ers at the seventh overall pick. Considered by many to be one of the top three players overall in this year's draft, and potentially one of the best cornerback prospects in recent years. In short, the 49ers and their struggling pass defense would be ecstatic to end up with Peterson, and a long run of talented defensive linemen, mixed with some stellar talent at outside linebacker could be enough for the 49ers to get him.

But this isn't the likeliest of scenarios, regardless. When you're widely regarded as the top player in the draft, six teams passing on you doesn't seem probable. If Peterson is gone and the 49ers stand firm on their desire for a number one corner, the next guy (and some believe this next guy to be only other number one corner in the draft) would be Prince Amukamara out of Nebraska.

We've talked about Amukamara in the past, because many have had him pegged as coming to San Francisco in the first place. At least one recent mock still has Amukamara going to San Francisco, as Draft Tek already had Peterson off the board, to the Cardinals at five.

Regarding Peterson to Arizona:

Arizona was in the bottom half of the league in terms of pass defense and sacks last season. There are two major ways to solve this problem, better coverage or better pass rush. In Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals are getting the player widely considered the best in this draft class. DRC had a poor year and Toler showed he's nothing more than a nickel back so adding Peterson would go a long way towards improving their defense.    

This makes sense for Arizona, as I've had Peterson going there more than once. The caveat is Von Miller, but in this scenario, Draft Tek has him going to Buffalo third overall.

Regarding Prince Amukamara to San Francisco:

I've heard from some of you that Amukamara shouldn't be taken this high, but this week again the value (Big-12 DPOY) for the CB spot directs the 49ers draft. With high need at NT, CB, and OLB, the Drafttek simulation takes the best available player, continuing to stack the 49ers with young defensive talent. Amukamara combines size (6-1), speed (4.43 40), long arms, and fluid hips, and the ability to play man coverage to create an NFL ready CB. His completion against (35%) overshadows his lack of INTs last year. He is outstanding in run-support as an impressive tackler.    

Just note, 49ers fans, that Amukamara as a "consolation" in the Peterson sweepstakes is far from going home empty-handed. The 49ers will have themselves a number one corner who will immediately improve the defense and potentially give them a little leeway in regards to Nate Clements and his huge contract. 


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Todd McShay Has Patrick Peterson To 49ers In Latest

Todd McShay released his latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft over at ESPN, and there's no surprises for the 49ers. San Francisco clearly needs to take either a cornerback, quarterback or outside linebacker in the first round, and in McShay's Mock 4.0, outside linebacker Von Miller is already gone and the 49ers are likely to address the quarterback need in the second round or later, as evidenced by their private workout with Colin Kaepernick.

The 49ers are looking for a quarterback to fit their West Coast system and would likely pass on Newton even if he were available, and in a dream scenario they would find a way to bring in Kevin Kolb from Philadelphia. That would allow San Francisco to fill a big need with one of the top three players on the board. Peterson's combination of size, athleticism and versatility are unmatched in this year's cornerback class.

As noted, there's no surprise here. Peterson is the best in his class at the position and possibly the best player overall coming out in 2011. McShay made the pick easy for the 49ers, as Von Miller went to the Denver Broncos at the second overall pick. Peterson is probably the dream pick for any 49ers fan at this point, and McShay is on board with those that believe he'll be around.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: 49ers Working Out Colin Kaepernick

The San Francisco 49ers need to draft a quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft. This is no secret, under any circumstances. They only have one quarterback under contract, and he was demoted from second to third string after only a handful of passes attempted.  We've beaten that subject to death at this point. Even if they sign a veteran free agent or retain Alex Smith, they still absolutely need to bring in a young, developmental guy. There's no other way about it.

Yet, the people who are talking about the 49ers addressing such a glaring need in the first round are, for all intents and purposes, a vocal minority. Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton are the consensus top two, but they could be gone before the 49ers pick at seven. More than that, the 49ers might not be interested in either of these quarterbacks for Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman's West Coast Offense. After them, there's a drop-off and nobody else is truly considered worth a top ten pick. So mocks have cornerbacks and outside linebackers going to San Francisco, which makes perfect sense.

After that though, there will be a run of talented, but raw quarterbacks. This class is very deep in that regard. There's not a lot of high floor guys within, so teams will be looking to the beginning of the second round to get "their guy." One potential choice for the 49ers is right within their range in the second round (and potentially in the third round as well), and that's Colin Kaepernick. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reported that the 49ers are going to take an early look at him before his scheduled pro day, and that both Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke are expected to be on-hand.

Kaepernick has a strong arm, is accurate on the intermediate and deep routes, and has good instincts. His leadership ability is there, and he has the drive to compete and is of the opinion that he could start from day one. Negatives include less-than-stellar throwing mechanics and a questionable college offense (the "pistol") that he'll need to grow out of.

He's a solid developmental option with potential to start with the right offseason. In an interview on SB Nation, Kaepernick expressed his confidence that, not only could he run a west coast offense, but he could run any offense with the right preparation. But questions remain, and that's why teams schedule private workouts. It's the only real time the 49ers get to work with potential quarterbacks, as Alex Smith has been officially locked out of the team's facilities and is a pending free agent.

They'll look for Kaepernick to display the ability to hit quick timing routes that are so crucial. I doubt they have him showcase his deep ball at all, it will be slants, bubble screens and things of that nature. Kaepernick is scheduled to hold his pro day on March 22.


NFL Mock Draft 2011: What Happened To Nick Fairley?

SB Nation has released their latest NFL Mock Draft and the 49ers are picking Patrick Peterson with the seventh pick in the first round, a pick that is virtually agreed on by everybody doing mock drafts on the internet (protip: there's a lot of us). Peterson is the number one cornerback in the draft and potentially the number one corner of the last five years. There's a lot to like about him, and here's what SB Nation had to say about the pick, below.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. A very large number of people believe that Peterson is the best player available this year. He certainly has the fewest question marks. Should he slide this far into Round 1, San Francisco would sprint gleefully to the podium to pick him.

As noted, that's a scenario that San Francisco should be looking for. One question this writer has is: what happened to Nick Fairley, the defensive tackle out of Auburn? For at least a few months, Fairley was consistently in the top two draft picks as going to either the Carolina Panthers or the Denver Broncos. In this edition of the mock (and many others like it), Fairley is falling all the way down to the Houston Texans at the eleventh pick.

11. Houston Texans: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. Wade Phillips' 3-4 under defense is predicated on having elite talent at pretty much every position in the front seven. Fairley's athleticism gives him the range to play end for Phillips, and eliminates some of the worry about him wearing down during games.

The NFL Scouting Combine is a weird event, and every year somebody rises and falls to a point that I personally can't make sense of. Fairley skipped some drills and has some off-the-field issues, but he fell at a weird rate. Marcell Dareus is now the consensus number one defensive tackle, and that's totally understandable: Dareus is deserving of that number one spot, but as to why one person's rise must have a counter-weight and instigate another person's fall is beyond me.

It's being brought up because Fairley is still a top-two pick talent. If he'll be so useful to Houston's 3-4 defense at pick 11, wouldn't he also be useful for the 49ers in Vic Fangio's defense? He would play defensive end, and if his pro day is any indication, he would play the position as well as any potential draftee right now. With SB Nation's latest mock, Fairley and Peterson are both available at seven, and they're both considered top talent.

Peterson should still be the pick, but the point is that 49ers fans would be fortunate to have either player, at this point.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Raiders And Samson Satele

Most believe the Oakland Raiders could use an improvement on the offensive line. That is to say, the Raiders could stand to get better at three positions on said offensive line. That's a whole lot to potentially improve upon, especially when you're lacking a first round pick. The 49ers had similar needs a year ago, but they possessed two first round picks, and spent them accordingly. It's unlikely that the team can get three starters on the offensive line when their highest pick is mid-second round, especially with the question marks elsewhere.

They have significant needs at the very least at one tackle and one guard position. A lot of people might say they have a need at center as well, something the folks over at Silver And Black Pride took a look at recently. Samson Satele is currently that guy. Their poll results indicate that most people believe him to be "good" (47%) or "average" (43%). Personally, I'm in the camp that considers him "good," and thus, I don't think the Raiders need to be drafting a center high.

The problem with that is that Satele is a free agent, though we don't know what even means at this point. Still, it's something to consider. If somebody falls in the draft, do the Raiders then draft them? Still doubtful, considering their other needs. Assuming they are able to keep Satele and you are one of the folks who voted "bad" or "terrible", you're thinking the Raiders should be drafting a guy who can step up and take the job from him.

It's just not likely to happen at this point. The best center in the draft, Stefen Wisniewski, will be gone by the time the Raiders draft. After him, there's nobody who can come in and start right away. Short of trading up and losing their already lacking draft picks and ignoring other key needs, the Raiders will be starting somebody who was on the roster last year or a free agent.

As the article linked above states, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Satele is, at his worst, average. He's capable.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: 49ers And Cameron Jordan

The NFL Players Association decertified yesterday, but our draft coverage will continue. As it stands the draft is still set to occur, even if the NFLPA doesn't want it to in the future. The latest buzz is right here in the Bay Area: Cameron Jordan from Cal. Jordan is currently mocked to go at some point after the tenth overall pick and some time before the twentieth overall. But Matt Barrows recently talked to a scout who saw Jordan as a dark horse pick for the 49ers.

It's definitely a possibility, Jordan is a versatile athlete. He did some linebacker drills at his pro day, but he almost assuredly would take over Isaac Sopoaga's spot on the defensive line over on the left side, across from Pro Bowler Justin Smith. Smith lead the 49ers in sacks in 2010, and Soapoaga actually had the best year of his career, but if you can add somebody with the skills Jordan has (right out of the gate, too), don't you do it?

Barrows' scout calls him the safest pick in the draft, as well. Not sure if I agree with that, but he's definitely up there. It feels as though the worst case scenario for Jordan is that he becomes a decent starter on the left side who gets occasional pressure, and that in itself is an upgrade over Soapoaga.

Is his noticeably high ceiling enough reason for the 49ers to take him at seven? Probably, but only if there are not top cornerbacks or outside linebackers available.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: How Early Could 49ers Take A Quarterback?

It's obviously conceivable that the 49ers take a signal caller with the seventh overall pick, but for the sake of this post, we'll pretend that it's not possible. At the very least, it really doesn't appear to be likely, but that is beside the point now. The team needs a quarterback, at least two of them this offseason and potentially three. Not only is it very likely that the team selects a quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft, it's also conceivable that they walk away from said draft with multiple quarterbacks.

Many have identified Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert as the quarterbacks who will be going first, potentially both of them in the top ten. After them, we have Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett, and then there's a perceived dropoff. Some folks are saying that Mallett might fall into the second round (and it's possible Locker could, as well. If you follow some of the bigger sites, you'll see those guys all over the place. But again, we're going to consider the prospects who will definitely (not an exact science) be around in the second and onward for this post.

The fifth round could be the latest that the 49ers get a guy with "franchise quarterback" potential in Greg McElroy, at least for the type of offense they hope to run. He's a game manager type of guy and could be an option moving forward, and even the second guy taken at this point. He could even be around in the sixth round.

Andy Dalton and Pat Devlin are two guys who could go in the fourth round or so. Devlin is my top west coast offense quarterback, while Dalton receives a lot of praise from most scouts (but a lot of flack from others). Both of these guys could come into San Francisco and compete. After these guys, Colin Kaepernick is definitely an option in the third or second round. Kaepernick is the definition of a developmental guy with potential.

Christian Ponder, though, is the first guy that the 49ers could be after, but they might have to trade to the top of the second round to acquire him. If they did, he would likely be worth it. Ponder has a ton of potential and had a fantastic combine. It's possible he lasts a few picks in the second, but part of me feels like teams will be scrambling to get to that pick and acquire Ponder.

So maybe it's not probable that the 49ers take a quarterback in the first 32 picks - but they could definitely be in the market at oh, say 33?


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Mel Kiper Mock Draft 3.0 Projects Patrick Peterson To 49ers

As we move further into March and Pro Days get busier and busier, 2011 NFL Mock Drafts will be coming along more frequently. Today noted ESPN analyst Mel Kiper released the third version of his 2011 NFL Mock Draft. Kiper has his hits and misses year in and year out but is generally considered the godfather of draft analysis. That doesn’t make him any more correct than the crazy person I see near the Powell Street cable car turnaround, but he certainly does his homework (Mel, not the homeless guy).

In his latest mock draft, Kiper has the 49ers selecting Patrick Peterson. Mel has Peterson as the number one player on his big board, which would seem to raise questions as to why he’d fall to the seventh pick. Well, Mel explains:

There were a lot of comments questioning why I could see my No. 1 overall Big Board player dropping this far on draft day. But consider the history: in 1987, I had Rod Woodson rated similarly, and he fell to No. 10 overall. In 1989, Deion Sanders was far and away the best athlete on the board — he fell to No. 5. Champ Bailey was my best athlete and the top corner available in the 1999 draft, and he fell to No. 7. At this position, it simply happens and San Francisco should be happy if it does. Peterson is an immense talent. He checked in at 219 pounds and ran a 4.34 40-time in Indy. Enough said.

That does make sense. Teams at the top of the draft seem hesitant to invest a top three or four pick in cornerbacks, even though a great one can shut down a huge chunk of the field. Most 49ers fans would be ecstatic to see Peterson there at number seven. I think he goes before then, but if Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton go in the top six as Mel projects, a quality player will end up in the 49ers lap.


NFL Mock Draft 2011: Who's Still On The Board If 49ers Are Considering A.J. Green?

Sticking with the A.J. Green discussion over the past couple of days, we'll take a look at who the 49ers would likely be leaving behind if Green were to fall to them at the seventh overall pick. Yesterday, second and third round options at key positions were explored under the assumption that the 49ers would be taking Green in the first, which would indicate a "best player available (BPA)" drafting strategy.

However, there are a few teams ahead of the 49ers that would like to get Green's services, or at least it appears that way. If he were to make it to seven, that means those teams would have been presented with options they like better. Would those options be players that the 49ers would normally take over Green as well? It's probable, so let's take a look at the circumstances.

The two teams I've identified as probable destinations for A.J. Green ahead of the 49ers are the Cincinnati Bengals at pick four and the Cleveland Browns at pick six. The Bengals are the most likely candidate, but they do have other pressing needs. They could use another defensive lineman, particularly an end, and someone like Da'Quan Bowers could be the pick, easily. The problem with that logic is that all three teams above will consider drafting Bowers. Cincinnati could also be in the market for a quarterback, and the thought is that either Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton could be considered at that pick. Unfortunately, the Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills could both take quarterbacks, leaving the Bengals with no option but to take A.J. Green. If both quarterbacks, Green and Bowers are there at four, I'd say Green is the second priority, behind a quarterback.

The Browns also have defensive line needs, and wouldn't you know it: defensive linemen may just be available. The aforementioned Da'Quan Bowers is definitely an option, but as noted, the top four teams would consider taking him, so that may be out of the question. Someone like Nick Fairley could be the pick, along with Marcell Dareus, and depending on where the first two picks go, one of those two could be available.

With these defensive line guys and the quarterbacks, that's plenty enough for Green to fall to the 49ers at the seventh pick. If he did though, and using the logic above, who else is on the board? Von Miller probably goes to Arizona at five, but they also could go after a quarterback. It's actually likely that one of Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara or Von Miller would be there at the seventh overall pick, and if so, A.J. Green might as well ... the question now is, would the 49ers take Green over Peterson or Miller?

No .... no they would not.


NFL Mock Draft 2011: If The 49ers Took A.J. Green, What Happens Later?

As noted in an update yesterday, SB Nation's latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft has the 49ers making a rather unconventional move: selecting wide receiver A.J. Green. The first obstacle to this line of thought is the feasibility (or lack thereof) that Green will actually be available at the seventh pick. As noted yesterday, it's definitely possible if two quarterbacks are taken in the first five picks, but the major roadblock lies at the sixth pick, held by the Cleveland Browns, who would almost assuredly pick Green at that point, as second-year franchise quarterback Colt McCoy really could use a weapon or two.

San Francisco could use an upgrade at the wide receiver position, to be sure. Michael Crabtree may or may not pan out (this writer is thinking he will in the West Coast Offense) and Josh Morgan has been searching for his breakout season for a few years now. The thought is that they'll look to free agency or the later rounds in the draft, if they even choose this offseason to address it at all. One small caveat lies in the fact that they might not be able to afford to spend a first round pick on the position, not with the needs they currently have.

Quarterback, cornerback, outside linebacker and potentially a few more positions - the 49ers are not in the best of shape. The good thing in this scenario is the depth the 2011 draft possesses: it's considered one of the deepest for quarterbacks (while simultaneously being one of the least top-heavy) in some time, while starting cornerbacks can potentially be found throughout the second and third rounds. Outside linebackers are very hit or miss, so that is a definite question mark, but we'll address it either way.

Many are of the opinion that the 49ers would not be considering a quarterback in the first round at all, and it's a sentiment that this writer shares. Neither Blaine Gabbert nor Cam Newton are great options for San Francisco, while no other quarterbacks are really viable at the seventh pick. Someone like Ryan Mallett or Jake Locker could be options, but either prospect could honestly fall into the second round.

So that's one position out of the way, but what about a cornerback? Let's assume that Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara and Jimmy Smith are all gone, are the 49ers left with viable options in the second round? They certainly might, short of a big run of corners at the beginning of the second round, because it's not likely any other than the three listed are gone in the first.

Brandon Harris, Aaron Williams, Curtis Brown and Ras-I Dowling are the next top corners available, and I would consider them all to be players who would come in and take over a starting corner position. They all have potential to be superstars in the NFL, though Williams and Harris are clearly a cut above the rest. The only problem is that there are two-to-four teams with a need at the position picking ahead of the 49ers in the second round, with two especially catching my eye.

The Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans both could be after a cornerback. The Philadelphia Eagles could be after one in the first round, later on. This could leave the 49ers with even more limited options.  Is "settling" for Curtis Brown or Dowling such a bad thing? No, but the team would definitely need to keep Nate Clements on board and pay him the piles of money he's due in 2011. One sleeper candidate I like for the 49ers to take in the second round is Davon House out of New Mexico State. He's a physical corner with big play ability, and the 49ers will have done well for themselves if they took him in the second round.

As far as outside linebacker is considered, the pool is not nearly as deep. The Niners could find themselves with five 3-4 OLBs taken before the first round is even over, and potentially more by the time they pick in the second round. There's not much else to say other than that they'd stand no chance of getting someone near the level of Von Miller, Robert Quinn or Aldon Smith. If he's available, I really do like the 49ers to take a long look at Brooks Reed. Failing to nab him, the elite or near-elite level pass-rushers abruptly end with Sam Acho. The good news is the latter two could possibly fall into the third round.

The 49ers wouldn't be in terrible shape need-wise when it comes to the second and third rounds of the NFL draft if they took A.J. Green, but they wouldn't be in great shape, either.


NFL Mock Draft 2011: Will A.J. Green Fall To The 49ers?

SB Nation released their latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft and it has a whole assortment of interesting picks. It remains to be seen how realistic it is, but if the 2011 NFL Draft falls out in this order, it would lead to some interesting discussion. A quick look through the mock draft has the 49ers selecting Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green:

7. San Francisco 49ers: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia. You won’t see this pick in a lot of projections, because when you get right down to it, Green isn’t a snug fit for Jim Harbaugh’s West Coast Offense. If the Niners were smart, they’d look past that; pairing Green with Michael Crabtree would be a win no matter who’s at quarterback.

This pick would be very much like the 49ers decision to select Michael Crabtree in 2009. The 49ers didn’t have a desperate need at wide receiver but he was clearly the best player available when the team went on the clock.

While I don’t see Cam Newton necessarily going number one overall, I would not be shocked to see him join Blaine Gabbert in the top six picks. If that were to happen, Green slipping to the 49ers wouldn’t be the most surprising development. I think the Browns will grab Green, but the top seven or eight picks seem very fluid right now.


NFL Mock Draft 2011: Raiders In Good Shape In Second Round

You never want to be without a first-round pick in any NFL Draft, especially when you finished with a .500 record the previous year, but the Oakland Raiders are not without options in the draft. They can come out of it very well in fact, especially if they lean on their 2009 propensity to draft smart. Their biggest needs are on the offensive line and potentially at the cornerback position, things we've already covered this far.

Fortunately, the draft is deep at almost every position, I really only see lacking production out of this crop of safeties and tight ends, while interior linemen, cornerbacks and project quarterbacks dot the mid-rounds like a minefield. The biggest question mark for Oakland is cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who is now a free agent and might be out the door. Thirty-one other teams are now interested in Asomugha's services, and he is almost certain to break the bank. That isn't to say that the Raiders are not an option at all, but it's going to be hard at this point.

With his absence, cornerback is automatically the biggest need for the Raiders. Obviously, when you lose someone of Asomugha's prowess, you would love to be able to get the Patrick Peterson's and Prince Amukamara's of the draft, but without a top fifteen pick, they'll be unable to secure such a scenario. Instead, they will have to settle for the second tier of cornerbacks, but what does that mean? Is it a bad sign for them, a consolation prize?

Not at all, as I said months ago, this draft is largely deep at the position. There are starting caliber corners throughout the top three rounds, and the Raiders could be in excellent position to grab a guy they want. That's the beauty of a draft deep with talent everywhere. When someone like Brandon Harris out of Miami has a chance of being there at the 16th pick in the second round, you know it's a deep draft.

Still, he will probably be gone, but I'd wager that the Raiders will land one of Aaron Williams of Texas, Ras-I Dowling of Virgina or Curtis Brown of Texas, if they are going for a corner. It certainly would be the safe option with the uncertainty of free agency. Ras-I Dowling is intriguing because he's got that speed that Al Davis loves (4.40 40), and would immediately be a starter in the Raiders secondary. If he's the guy that Oakland walks away with, they will have done very well for themselves, especially without a first round pick.

Guard, center and tackle can all be addressed at the position as well. Someone like Mike Pouncey can fall, and the Raiders would literally dive on that opportunity. Marcus Cannon of TCU might be available as well, and has even been mocked as going to the Raiders several times from what I've read. Oakland will get a starter in the second round, rest assured.


NFL Mock Draft 2011: 49ers Free Agent Replacements: Finding A Nose Tackle

The nose tackle position is essentially the most important one in a 3-4 defense. Currently, the 49ers have Aubrayo Franklin at the position, and he does a good job there, after beginning his Bay Area career on the downside. San Francisco fans were just about ready to close the book on him, when in 2009 he decided to become one of the best, if not the best, nose tackles in the league. In 2010, he definitely regressed, mostly due to a lacking offseason workout program.

But regression or not, he is now one of the league's most respected nose tackles, and the 49ers will be sticking to the 3-4 with new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. It's still up in the air as to whether or not the rather smallish Franklin fits in Fangio's iteration of the 3-4 alignment, but his skillset alone is something that any coach in the league could use in some way. Franklin played the 2010 season on a franchise tag, and will now apparently hit the 2011 free agent market, in whatever form it exists.

After Franklin, the 49ers have Ricky Jean Francois, a player the previous coaching staff believed could grow into the role of starter, a steal out of the seventh round. In preseason playing time, Jean Francois impressed and solidified himself as the backup nose tackle. When he got a chance to take some snaps in the regular season, he didn't do as much as the 49ers would have liked, leading many to believe he's just not ready. Coming out of the seventh round, he's still a steal even if he never pans out as a starter — you want to at least be able to get your backups out of he later rounds, and Jean Francois fits the bill.

The 2011 NFL Draft is the first option for the 49ers to strengthen the position, perhaps a bit earlier than the seventh round. They have other needs, especially if they believe Franklin can be signed for at least another season or if they feel secure with Jean Francois, so they likely won't be looking to the first or second rounds for the position. Someone like Phil Taylor, the consensus number one nose tackle in the draft out of Baylor, is probably out of their reach with his 2011 NFL Scouting Combine performance likely solidifying his position in the first round.

After Taylor though, you have a run of very solid nose tackles that could last until around the fifth round. Some of these guys look as though they could be day one starters, and the overwhelming strength of the class around them is forcing them to fall. Nose tackles also aren't drafted all that high with consistency, for whatever reason, which bodes well for the 49ers.

Jerrell Powe could go as early as the second round or as late as the fourth. The best thing about Powe is that he is a prototypical nose tackle, which is bad for him considering the way he was used at Ole Miss. His 2010 season seemed to be predicated on him trying to show he's something he's not, playing more like a 4-3 defensive tackle than a 3-4 monster occupying space. It's an easy case of being utilized incorrectly, and if that makes him drop, the 49ers could find themselves with an absolute steal in the third round.

Maybe they go with something a little more familiar, in many senses of the word. They could elect to go with a smaller type of nose tackle like Aubrayo Franklin is, and draft Sione Fua, the nose tackle out of Stanford. The very same Stanford Cardinal team that was coached by new 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. Fua could find himself in the middle of the third round, but could be around as late as the fifth. If San Francisco hasn't addressed the need by the fourth round and Fua is still on the board, I think they would be hard-pressed not to take him, with the uncertain perception of free agency going forward.

My colleague at Niners Nation, Tre9er, has his eye on Kendrick Ellis out of Hampton. He's a small school prospect, but he's got big time skills and physical abilities. If the 49ers go with a more traditional mountain of a man in the middle of their line, Ellis is a solid option who could be there in rounds 3-6, but I imagine his stock to rise and don't see him getting out of the fourth round, if he even gets into it.

The prospects listed are those I consider feasible to start from day one with proper coaching from Jim Tomsula and Vic Fangio, and beyond them someone like Anthony Gray out of Southern Miss might be coachable to a starting position at the pro level from the onset. It's a deep class at the nose tackle position, and it's really easy to see the 49ers getting on board a run of nose tackles and grabbing one as early as the third round, with or without Aubrayo Franklin under contract.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Post-NFL Combine 49ers Mock Draft Database

The 2011 NFL Combine wrapped up earlier this week and put us into the stretch run of the 2011 NFL Draft season. We’ll see a huge variety of NFL Pro Days on college campuses across America, but the Combine was where players could make their biggest move before the Draft. Accordingly, NFL mock drafts released over the last couple of days are of particular value. Folks are starting to factor in strong and weak Combine performances and adjusting projections accordingly.

Over at Niners Nation I put together an annual mock draft database of 49ers picks. I pick 30 mock drafts and use that to figure out what people are thinking about the 49ers first round pick. It’s not a scientific process, but the subjective information at least gets us in some kind of ballpark.

A look at the latest database (updated two days ago) continues to focus in on cornerbacks. The quarterback and outside linebacker positions are behind that, but cornerback is the clear-cut number one. I believe part of that is due to the fact that Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara are much more known commodities than the likes of Blaine Gabbert or Robert Quinn. They both appear to be talented players, but there are sufficient question marks that it’s hard to project them to a team like the 49ers with serious needs at those positions.


2011 NFL Mock Draft, Post-NFL Combine: Where Will Oakland Raiders Address Offensive Line Issues?

Now that the 2011 NFL Combine has come to a close, more and more 2011 NFL Mock Drafts are coming out of the woodwork. More importantly for Oakland Raiders fans, we’re starting to see more second round mocks. The Raiders traded away their first round pick this year in the deal to acquire Richard Seymour. The deal worked out well as Seymour has been a beast, but it makes things a little more difficult in getting mock drafts together.

Fox Sports put together a two round NFL mock draft in which the Oakland Raiders select Penn State guard/center Stefen Wisniewski. The Raiders are generally OK at guard although there’s room for improvement over Cooper Carlisle. However, the Raiders would seem to be in a solid position to develop Wisniewski into a long term answer at center. He apparently has to work on his size a bit but that would seem like something he could accomplish without too much difficulty at the NFL level.


NFL Mock Draft 2011: Prince Amukamara, Or: How The 49ers Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Numbers

Previously, we took a look at Patrick Peterson and what it would take for him to fall to the 49ers at the seventh overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. For 49ers fans, Peterson might just be the most desired of all prospects in the upcoming draft, due to the team's inherent need at the cornerback position. Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer were considered solid options heading into 2010, and they both fell short of expectations. Their careers have been defined as such, but the expectations were always lofty and it's unfair to say they are terrible by any means.

So Peterson is the guy, then. Peterson out of LSU is considered one of the better cornerback prospects in recent memory, and more than half of the teams ahead of the 49ers might be considering taking him. What if they do? What happens if Peterson is gone? Naturally, there will be players of other positions that the 49ers would be consider, someone like Von Miller or Blaine Gabbert. But they'd still have that need at cornerback.

It's true that the draft is deep at the position, but the 49ers are lacking so heavily on that front, they might consider going for the second best at the position, even as high as the seventh overall pick. Before the combine, that was considered by many to be a reach. After the combine, though?  He could even be picked before the 49ers are on.

Amukamara did well in the 40-yard dash, he did well in all of the positional drills and he left a big impression on just about everybody watching. His biggest concern was the aforementioned 40-yard dash, but he ended up with a 4.43 time, not bad at all and just outside the top ten for all positions. Amukamara is considered a very good zone corner and that fits right in with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's scheme.

Value-wise, he may not pass someone like Von Miller, or someone like Marcell Dareus, but if the 49ers absolutely need to draft a corner in the first round (like most think), Amukamara is much, much more than a consolation pick. He's a lot more than the "second best corner." For the 49ers, he's a starting corner, and probably the number one corner at that. Going into the second round of this draft with Amukamara secured is not only a scenario that isn't bad, it's one of the better available.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Will Oakland Raiders Consider Quarterback Greg McElroy?

The 2011 NFL Combine wraps up today and 2011 NFL Mock Drafts will really start to kick into high gear. This is especially pertinent for a team like the Oakland Raiders that lacks a first round pick. Up until now most mock drafts have just been projecting the first round. There are several projecting multiple rounds, but the completion of the Combine will up that number.

The Raiders currently roll out Jason Campbell as their starting quarterback. Both of his backups, Kyle Boller and J.T. O’Sullivan, will enter free agency whenever a new NFL CBA is signed. Given Boller and O’Sullivan’s free agent statuses and the fact that they’re both not particularly good, the Raiders need to make some kind of offseason move to add a quarterback. Additionally, Jason Campbell is sufficiently brittle and inconsistent enough that the team could use the 2011 NFL Draft to find a potential long term option.

Campbell is solid enough at this point to buy the Raiders some time, which means they could look for a project QB a little later in the draft. The folks at Silver and Black Pride have latched onto the idea of Alabama QB Greg McElroy as a potential fifth round option. McElroy stands 6’1 3/4 and is considered a late round pick due to his size and a general lack of NFL-level arm strength.

Folks are quick to roll out the “winner” argument because his Crimson Tide teams generally did very well with him at the helm. Being a “winner” certainly isn’t a bad thing, but it remains to be seen how it translates to the NFL given the superior athleticism of NFL defensive players.

Of course, as a project QB it would be a fairly low risk investment. You want your late round picks to hit, but if they don’t it won’t cost you the same as say a number one pick like JaMarcus Russell. I don’t know if Greg McElroy has what it takes to be a starting QB in the NFL, but I do think he’d be worth a flier in the fifth round if that came to pass.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: 2011 NFL Combine Could Impact Patrick Peterson & Prince Amukamara

The 2011 NFL Combine wraps up tomorrow afternoon with the defensive backs going through their various drills. The last major set of 2011 NFL Mock Drafts were released last week in advance of the combine and we’ll start to see more significant mock drafts later this week after the conclusion of the combine. As players run through their drills, a second short here or a few bench presses more there could cost some of these players millions of dollars.

Tomorrow’s Combine drills are of serious significance to the top ten of the 2011 NFL Draft. The running of the defensive back drills means the consensus two best cornerbacks will be in the dash for cash. At the moment Patrick Peterson has an edge over Prince Amukamara. Peterson is projected in the top seven picks with most folks having him fall no lower than the 49ers at number seven and going as high as number two to the Broncos. Amukamara is slotted somewhere in the seven to 10 range.

Peterson reportedly ran a sub-4.3 40, which if repeated might be enough to lock him in as the number one cornerback. One of the question marks about Peterson has been whether he’s too stiff in the hips. Some folks have said he’s likely to end up as a safety at the NFL level, which could cost him a few spots since safeties generally don’t go as high as cornerbacks. His positional drills tomorrow will give him a chance to quiet some of the naysayers.

Barring a disaster I don’t see Peterson going after Amukamara. However, tomorrow provides one last shot for Amukamara to elevate his stock. After tomorrow all that remains are team-by-team interviews and Pro Days. Given the somewhat protected nature of Pro Days, that would not provide enough opportunity to elevate stock. Accordingly, tomorrow could be a sort of million dollar day for Prince Amukamara.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Circumstances For 49ers To Land Von Miller

It's no secret that the 49ers need help in at least three areas: quarterback, cornerback and outside linebacker. In their 3-4 alignment, San Francisco depends on a defensive line to occupy blockers and an outside linebacker to get past the rest to put opposing quarterbacks flat on their butts. This need will be even bigger now that Vic Fangio is taking over as defensive coordinator, as his scheme is absolutely predicated on two things: movement and aggression. An outside linebacker somewhere in the first three rounds or free agency is an absolute must for San Francisco.

Previously, we took a look at what it would take for Patrick Peterson, the consensus best cornerback in the draft, to fall to the 49ers at pick number seven. If Peterson doesn't fall, that means there's one more opportunity for the Niners to land the consensus top 3-4 outside linebacker, Von Miller out of Texas A&M. The 49ers currently roster players like Ahmad Brooks, Manny Lawson (free agent) and Parys Haralson, all players who have pieces of a great 3-4 OLB, but none who have th complete set.

Von Miller would immediately come in and start, probably on the right side if the 49ers brought Lawson back, and on the left side if they don't. He has all the speed and athleticism to be a 3-4 OLB, and he definitely has that oh-so-important first step that they all need. Miller is just a tad undersized, but you can give up some size in a 3-4. He's got a ton of different rush moves, and a fantastic motor. This all says that he will be the best 3-4 OLB in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Unlike Peterson, Miller stands to be taken by only two teams by my count. The first obstacle would be the Buffalo Bills at the third overall pick. The good thing for the 49ers in this scenario is that the top quarterback will still probably be on the board and they sorely need one. Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton could go to the Bills at that point, in my mind I have them taking one of the two, probably the latter Newton out of Auburn. They have a big need, and they need to get the fanbase excited.

Another possibility is the aforementioned Patrick Peterson. If he's available, then the Bills may just take him. It's possible they let him go, but he is one of the best talents (if not the best) in this draft and could get priority over Miller. Providing the Bills take one of the two mentioned, the 49ers would stand a much better chance at getting him. Unfortunately for San Francisco, the first two picks could be Newton and Peterson, respectively. But then someone like Nick Fairley would be available and there's a lot to look at once that happens ...

The second team would be the Arizona Cardinals at pick number five. I see the Cardinals going for Miller more than I see them doing anything else. There's a couple directions they could go. They could always bring in a quarterback, as one of the top two is very likely to still be available, but it's still not all that likely of an option. They'll likely be looking to free agency or the trade market to bring in a veteran to be their signal caller in 2011.

Another option is, once again, Patrick Peterson. The Cardinals have invested a high pick in a corner recently, but Peterson really is a definitive "top five pick," and his abilities may be too much to pass up. One thing going against this line of thought is the fact that the NFC West as a whole generally does not have a strong passing game. The demand for a top corner is not as high within the division, and they might go for some help up front.

The good thing with that is there might just be two more options up front. Defensive end Cameron Jordan could still be available, and he'll fill a need in their 3-4 defense. Aside from Jordan, there's actually one more: Robert Quinn, a fellow outside linebacker (or defensive end.)  It simply is possible that the Cardinals like what Quinn brings more than Miller.

If the Cardinals pass up on Von Miller, then he will certainly make it past the Browns at the sixth pick and he'll be sitting in the lap of the 49ers. The question is: if he's sitting there at seven, do they take him?


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Circumstances For 49ers To Land Patrick Peterson

It's a universal truth that has been noted several times now: the 49ers three biggest needs are at the quarterback, cornerback and outside linebacker positions. Sitting at the seventh overall pick in the draft, they have the chance to feasibly grab the top player at any one of said positions, but they'll need some unwitting help from the six teams ahead of them, barring a trade of some sort.

Patrick Peterson is the consensus best cornerback in the 2011 NFL Draft. There are small pockets of resistance from wayward Prince Amukamara supporters, but let's face it: they probably just think he's got a cool name. No, it's the all-around corner from LSU who is the top corner and potentially the top player overall for this draft class. A lofty label to place on somebody, but when you consider his assets available, it's easy to see.

He's a big, physical corner who plays press coverage very well. His instincts are top notch and he's almost never lost in figuring out what route any given receiver is going to run. There isn't a specific type of wide receiver that consistently beats him, and he could even contribute in the return game if need be. The 49ers would like him especially for his man-to-man ability, especially in new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's (assumed) agressive scheme, where he'll be expected to shut down a team's top receiver.

But what would it take for Peterson to be around at pick seven? By this writer's count, four of the six teams ahead of San Francisco could be interested in landing the best cornerback prospect in a few seasons. Below, I'll look at what it would take for each of said teams to pass up on Peterson.

The Denver Broncos hold the second overall pick in the draft and they are the first team identified as possibly being in the cornerback market. Things are already working in the 49ers' favor in this regard, though, as they've just re-signed star cornerback Champ Bailey to a four year, $43M deal that could go as high as $47M. One would argue that you don't draft a corner in the top three if you're already paying one $47 million, no?

But that doesn't totally eliminate them from the equation. Champ is getting up there in years, and while he hasn't started his decline yet, it could literally happen at any moment. With a rare talent and a team that has enjoyed the luxury of not having to worry about one opposing receiver for the better part of seven years now, maybe Denver looks to afford themselves that luxury for the foreseeable future by locking up Peterson to play behind Champ. The move would also giving Champ the possibility of eventually moving to safety, something he's said he would consider to prolong his career.

To me, the biggest factor in the Denver Broncos not taking Peterson is the fact that there are some fantastic defensive linemen available early on. They will have their pick of either Da'Quan Bowers or Nick Fairley, out of Clemson and Auburn respectively. The latter will not get by Denver under any circumstances, while the former is a solid option for a team that now considers the cornerback position a luxury.

The Buffalo Bills hold the third pick and they are a serious threat to take Peterson. Their need at cornerback isn't glaring, but they do operate under the best player available (BPA) philosophy and could go with Peterson, who would certainly be that player. The good things for the 49ers? They have a couple needs, and a small mix of BPA/need could be gotten away with if need be. What needs you say?

Quarterback, for one. It's feasible that no quarterback has been taken at this point if the Panthers have opted for a defensive lineman or A.J. Green out of Georgia to fill their need for a wide receiver. This means that players like Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton are ripe for the taking, and Buffalo just seems like a team that could take one of those two.

For two, the team needs an outside linebacker and someone like Von Miller could easily go as high as pick number three. Taking a quarterback is far more likely at this point, and if I was a betting man, I'd be going with Cam Newton or Gabbert being on their way to Buffalo.

Peterson could also go to someone like the Arizona Cardinals. It is not the most likely of circumstances, and they're probably the least likely of said four teams to be taking Peterson, but cornerback remains a need and it is a possibility that the Cardinals do not want to pass up a prospect like Pat Peterson.

The final team that is a possibility for Peterson is the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are a much harder sell at this point, however. A harder sell to not take Peterson, that is. Their biggest needs at this stage in the draft are cornerback and basically all positions on the defensive line. I don't need to tell you why Peterson would be the smart pick, so let's move on.

Sitting at six, just one pick before the 49ers, the Browns could have a lot of options still available. If De'Quan Bowers is still somehow available, the Browns pick him without a second thought and all is well for the 49ers. Or maybe not, because if Bowers is available, that means one of the three already mentioned probably took Peterson. Still, there are other defensive line choices available. They could look to replace Shaun Rogers with Marcell Dareus, or they could go with the next best defensive end and go with Robert Quinn, a player worthy of the sixth overall pick.

So all it would take for the 49ers to land Peterson would be ... a lot of stuff. The biggest obstacle is the Browns at the sixth pick, and their pick hinges on the other three mentioned. The important thing to note is that crazier things have indeed happened, and Peterson could fall into the 49ers lap.

If he does, do the 49ers pull the trigger?


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Looking At Oakland Raiders Second Round Predictions

The Oakland Raiders dealt away their first round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft in order to acquire Richard Seymour. Given that Seymour has been a beast on the defensive line and a leader in the locker room, I’d imagine the Raiders are fairly pleased with the deal. However, a lack of a first round draft choice means they are appearing in fewer 2011 NFL Mock Drafts. Now that we’re approaching March, more mock drafts are adding second round predictions. Here are a few predictions for the Raiders second round pick (No. 48 overall).

Walter Football: Rashad Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech

The remainder of Nnamdi Asomugha’s contract has been voided, so one of the league’s top cornerbacks is now a free agent. The Raiders will need a replacement.

I’d say that I think Nnamdi will return to the Raiders in 2012, but he’s going to be arguably the most coveted free agent on the market if a CBA ever gets done. If he does sign elsewhere that leaves a gaping hole for the Raiders to fill.

Draft Tek: Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State

You’ve read about Hudson’s size issues here, but let’s look deeper at this talented prospect. He is a punishing blocker who combines a high football IQ with a mean streak. His technique and footwork along at the line are textbook and impressed senior bowl coaches. Hudson racked up many awards in college (from Freshman All-American to All-ACC first team), which speaks to his ability to put it all together and just play guard.

I’m not sure about this pick given the team’s investment in Bruce Campbell last year in the fourth round. A fourth round pick isn’t exactly guaranteed anything in this league, but I’d have to think with Robert Gallery over on the right side, that the Raiders would look to see what they have at this point.

MyNFLDraft: Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois

ESPN ranks Wilson as the No. 8 outside linebacker. Given Kamerion Wimbley’s nine sacks last season, his role would appear to be safe, leaving the weakside linebacker role open for competition. Wilson would appear to be coming in to handle that role.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: 49ers Pick Marcell Dareus In Latest SB Nation Mock Draft

SB Nation released its latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft and the 49ers pick has changed for the second straight week. After predictions of Prince Amukamara two weeks ago and Von Miller last week, this week the SB Nation mock draft has the 49ers selecting Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus:

7. San Francisco 49ers: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama. Quarterback is a need, but Newton doesn’t fit Jim Harbaugh’s personality or offensive system. San Francisco has bigger problems defending the pass than the run, but Dareus can help the team out in both areas.

Dareus is the second rated defensive tackle behind Auburn’s Nick Fairley. However, he played defensive end in Alabama’s 3-4, a defense the 49ers will continue to utilize under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Mocking the Draft put together a scouting report on Dareus in which they said:

It’s not often 3-4 defensive ends come along who are as polished, strong and athletic as Dareus. Playing end in Alabama’s pro-style 3-4 defense, Dareus should start as a rookie if a team with the same scheme picks him up.

He’s a good pass rusher for such a big player, but most teams will like him for his run-stopping ability. Dareus is powerful throughout his frame and should be able to hold the edge well.

The 49ers currently start Isaac Sopoaga and Justin Smith at their two defensive end positions surrounding nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. They also have Ricky Jean-Francois who has received a lot of backup playing time to Franklin, but could also swing out to defensive end. Whatever the case, Sopoaga is a guy the 49ers will eventually be looking to replace. Dareus would seem likely to slot in immediately at left defensive end.

Here are the first six picks of the SB Nation mock draft:

1. Carolina – Nick Fairley, DT
2. Denver – Patrick Patterson, CB
3. Buffalo – Blaine Gabbert, QB
4. Cincinnati – Da’Quan Bowers, DE
5. Arizona – Von Miller, OLB
6. Cleveland – A.J. Green, WR


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Raiders Select Marcus Cannon In Two Round SB Nation Mock

SB Nation released their latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft and their expansion to two rounds this week means the Oakland Raiders get to be included in a mock draft. The Raiders dealt their 2011 first round pick to the New England Patriots in their acquisition of Richard Seymour. In this edition of the SB Nation mock draft, the Raiders select TCU offensive tackle Marcus Cannon.

48. Oakland Raiders: Marcus Cannon, OT, TCU. He’s a giant man with outstanding athleticism. Al Davis will love him. He also has immense potential as an NFL guard.

Although Cannon spent his time in college as an offensive tackle, ESPN still ranks him as the number three offensive guard prospect. As with a lot of guys coming out of college, he can use his size and bulk to move players around in run blocking, but the big question is in regards to his abilities in pass protection. To this, Scouts Inc states:

Has quicker feet than anticipated. Plays with good balance. Gets set quickly for his size and shows some ability to mirror-and-slide in short area. Will have some trouble versus elite athletes off the edge. Will need to overextend in set and will be vulnerable back inside. Once he gets set he does a very good job of locking out and moving his feet. Biggest concern here is with his awareness and natural instincts.

The problem in that report is the last part about his awareness and natural instincts. One has to wonder whether something like natural instincts can develop or can be taught. If he doesn’t have those instincts, can he still make a big impact at the next level? If he can he’d make a huge acquisition for the Raiders offensive line. If he can’t, he turns into a wasted draft pick. Without a first round pick, the Raiders have to make sure their second round pick hits.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: 49ers Picks In Two-Round SB Nation Mock

SB Nation has released its latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft and it's expanded the draft to include two rounds instead of its normal one. SB Nation projects the 49ers to select Texas A&M OLB Von Miller with their first-round pick and Virginia CB Ras-I Dowling with their second-round pick.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M. Pass rusher isn’t necessarily San Francisco’s biggest need, but Miller is a difference-maker and a leader; Jim Harbaugh would love him.

The first rounder is a change from the last three weeks in which SB Nation projected Prince Amukamara to the 49ers. The big difference-maker this week was the movement of Cam Newton into the top six picks. Previously Newton was not included in the first round (not sure why), but this week Brian Galliford projects him to the Arizona Cardinals who have plenty of QB issues.

While outside linebacker likely isn’t the 49ers No. 1 need at this point, Von Miller would likely qualify as best player available at the seven slot. The 49ers have a huge need for a quarterback, but this year’s class of QBs is fairly weak at the top. In fact, the 49ers might be hoping more QBs go ahead of them to drop some talent to the seven pick. One such QB would be Blaine Gabbert. While Gabbert is currently projected to the Vikings twelfth overall, a strong Combine and Pro Day workout could move him into the top six picks.

The 49ers second round selection of Ras-I Dowling would give them a guy who could compete for a starting defensive back spot in a secondary that has some serious question marks. Nate Clements may or may not be back in 2011 depending on whether he takes a pay cut, Shawntae Spencer has been a bit inconsistent year-to-year, and Tarell Brown continues to work to move beyond the nickel back role. Dowling would be a guy who could come right in and compete for playing time.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Post Super Bowl XLV Mock Stays The Same For 49ers

SB Nation released their first post-Super Bowl XLV 2011 NFL Mock Draft and the 49ers remain consistent. For the third straight week SB Nation has the 49ers drafting Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara. The 49ers have a definite need at cornerback, but the dot-com is still not quite sure what to make of the 49ers in spite of giving them the same pick every week:

San Francisco’s pick is rather difficult to project, because no one is quite sure how Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers will attack the draft. As such, we’ll stay conservative with Amukamara – a top prospect, a senior, and at a position of need.

They make a good point about the 49ers being difficult to project. After all, it’s a new coaching staff that will be implementing a new offense and making some changes to the defense. Trent Baalke ran last year’s draft and is expected to run this year’s as well. However, Coach Harbaugh will definitely have some say in in, which creates all sorts of question marks.

In looking over the picks following the 49ers, some possible other players they might grab include Blaine Gabbert, Robert Quinn, and maybe even Cameron Jordan. I suggest these players not because of specific inside information, but rather because they fill various areas of need for the 49ers.


NFL Mock Draft 2011: 49ers New Offense Changes Everything

The San Francisco 49ers have a lot going on right now with their coaching staff. They've only retained a handful of positional coaches, and sport new faces at both coordinator positions and a new guy controlling them both in Jim Harbaugh. Had things stayed the same for them and Mike Singletary was still in town, folks would be approaching the draft almost entirely differently than they are now. Singletary wanted the 49ers to be a power running team, and they had a guy in Frank Gore to execute that kind of attack. The draft would be approached in such a way as to strengthen the team around him.

Now though, now there are questions at almost every position on the team. Frank Gore is still the centerpiece of the offense, but he will be utilized a little bit differently. Coming into the offseason, people assumed that Anthony Dixon was a guy the 49ers liked and could groom coming out of the sixth round and playing well - maybe that's not the case now with the change to the west coast offense. They might go for someone more protypically set up for the job.

Many questioned Michael Crabtree's ability to be a number one receiver after disappointing in Jimmy Raye's offense, but that might be different under Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh. He's jut the type of wide receiver who can shine in the West Coast Offense, and if the team gets a new quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft, he could be more than just good. That's just one of many positions that will need to be evaluated differently now.

Fullback is another one to be critical of. Moran Norris gets his share of flack, but there are worse players than him to have blocking in front of Frank Gore. He could conceivably have been a player the 49ers use moving forward, but that's changed now that they are going to the WCO. How far up their list has a fullback gone now? Is our mystery new player someone they grab in free agency, or someone they aggressively pursue early in the draft?

Not everything is changing that drastically, Frank Gore will still run and run hard. Harbaugh had a very strong rushing attack at Stanford, and utilized the tight ends a lot in the passing game, and those two things are set in stone in San Francisco, but his hiring changes everything about the way the 49ers will approach this offseason and the 2011 NFL Draft.

Mocking this is more dizzying than having a battle of wits against a Sicilian when death is on the line.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Prince Amukamara Remains The Pick

SB Nation released its latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft and for the second straight week Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara remains the 49ers' pick. Amukamara remains second on Scouts Inc’s cornerback rankings. At this point it appears the only significant change for Amukamara’s draft positioning would seem to be if he can move past Patrick Peterson into the number one cornerback slot. The Combine could be the difference-maker, although Peterson has a lot of momentum in his favor.

The Boston Celtics drafted Larry Bird as a draft-eligible junior, signing him a year later. Does anyone doubt that Jim Harbaugh wishes he could do the same with Andrew Luck? With no QB a lock here, the Niners would do well to add Amukamara to help replace the fading Nate Clements.

The 49ers have a need at cornerback as their pass coverage suffered quite a bit last season. Some would argue adding a pass rushing outside linebacker could also improve the 49ers coverage since it would give the QB less time to cycle through his options. Von Miller would appear to be that pass rusher but his stock is sky high right now. This mock has him going fifth to the Arizona Cardinals and it seems that barring a disaster at the Combine or his Pro Day, or a failed drug test, he won’t be dropping to the 49ers.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Ricky Stanzi, Impressing Early at Senior Bowl A Mid Round Steal For 49ers or Raiders?

2011 NFL Mock Drafts have Ricky Stanzi projected as a mid-round pick. He is in the process of raising some eyebrows at the Senior Bowl. He would certainly be an intriguing pick for the Raiders and 49ers, who are both in need of a QB roster infusion.

The Senior Bowl is as much about the practices as it is the games. Scouts watch every pass with great attention. Wes Bunting of the National Football Post has been covering the Senior Bowl practices and had to say about Stanzi:

Overall, he’s the one quarterback on the North roster who seems to always be in control of his surroundings, does a nice job of deciphering information quickly and has the kind of ball placement and arm strength needed to make him one of the more intriguing QB prospects in this year’s draft. Looks like a guy with starting potential at the next level that could be had for a bargain in the mid rounds. It’s been a very good week for Stanzi in Mobile.

If this assessment is anywhere near accurate, one of our fine Bay Area teams needs to snap this guy up if he is still available in the mid-rounds. The Raiders have a horrible track record at developing their own QB talent, but if they have a head coach who has spent time as a QB coach and an offensive mastermind/stickler for details in Al Saunders as an offensive coordinator.

The 49ers are also in a position to take a flier on a project QB. While they could certainly use someone more starter ready, they have room to let their ex-QB head coach groom a youngster.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Will Jake Locker Senior Bowl His Way To 49ers?

2011 NFL Mock Drafts are getting ready for their final in-game performance shake up as the Senior Bowl approaches. The Senior Bowl marks a golden opportunity for Washington QB Jake Locker to improve his slipping draft status. The 49ers would currently be reaching for Locker at seven, but it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility that Locker could play his way back into the QB-needy 49ers draft territory.

Scouts question Locker in pocket accuracy. It is worth mentioning that he never enjoyed playing with elite wide receivers while at Washington. It will be worth watching if the upgrade in receivers helps his confidence and accuracy. 

If Locker completes a high percentage of passes in the Senior Bowl, I fully expect him to bounce back into the top 10 of the NFL Draft. The combine was made for athletes like Locker. He has good size and speed. He features very solid mechanics and a strong arm.

Most importantly, especially for a QB, teams are going to be blown away by his interviews. Locker is a natural leader and you are not going to find a single bad word about his character. Jim Harbaugh, from their Pac-10 days, knows Locker better than any coach in the NFL. I am sure he already knows if he'd consider drafting Locker or not. The Senior Bowl is not likely to affect him. However, for all of us Mock Draft junkies it will.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Prince Amukamara To Fill 49ers CB Need?

SB Nation released their latest mock draft and they have the 49ers selecting Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara. As they put it, "Jim Harbaugh needs a quarterback. No debate there. There is debate, however, that he’ll like any of the available QB prospects this year. Amukamara fills the team’s biggest secondary need with elite talent and top-notch intangibles. He’s a Harbaugh guy."

In the SB Nation mock draft two weeks ago they had the 49ers selecting Auburn QB Cam Newton. At the time we were a bit hesitant about this pick and now SB Nation has joined in on whether Cam Newton is the right pick for Jim Harbaugh’s offense. The next few months will help clarify the issue, but I really don’t see Cam Newton coming to the 49ers at this point. He just seems to lack some of the skills a West Coast Offense QB needs.

As for Amukamara, Scouts Inc. ranks him as the No. 2 cornerback behind Patrick Peterson with it being rather close (Peterson given a 97 rating, Amukamara given a 96 rating). In their CB-specific traits they grade him out as exceptional or above average in the four major categories. He is graded as exceptional in instincts/recognition and ball skills. He is graded as above average in cover skills and run support.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara and The 49ers Chances of Landing an Elite Corner

With the college football season over, 2011 NFL Mock Drafts are beginning to resemble  a final product. As James Brady pointed out in this thread after the 49ers debacle against the San Diego Chargers, the 49ers are in need of an elite corner. The first two corners names that pop up in this year are almost universally Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara. So, now that players draft positioning is beginning to grow roots, let's take a look at the 49ers chances of landing one of these seemingly elite talents.

Patrick Peterson: The short answer here is, the 49ers do not have a chance in hell of drafting Peterson. They'd have to either trade up or Peterson would have to rape his grandmother and show up at the combine looking like Jerry Garcia to not be gone by the time the Niners draft.

In the mocks I have looked over that have been done since the end of the season, Peterson has not lasted beyond the fifth pick. The majority of them have him going to the Broncos with the second pick. It's probably best for the 49ers to forget about Peterson.

Prince Amukamara: Amukamara is another story. Amukamara is going off of most mock drafts between picks 7-12. I have not seen him go higher than the 49ers pick. Amukamara does not rank very far behind Peterson.  They are almost the exact same size, both 6'1. 200-plus pounds. Peterson has a faster top speed, but Amukamara has displayed better tackling skills. In short, the 49ers would not be reaching by taking Amukamara at seven. 

*Note/Disclaimer: Amukamara could jump Peterson on draft boards if he posts a better 40 time at the combine. However, this is not expected.


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Mel Kiper Releases Version 1.0

Mel Kiper is one of the longest-running draft gurus in the business. In fact, one could argue he basically invented the business of draft prognosticating, and he’s turned it into a year-round business. Thus, even though he’s been wrong quite a bit, when Mel Kiper speaks people generally give him a chance to say his piece.

Kiper released his first mock draft of the 2011 NFL Draft season and has the 49ers drafting North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn. Kiper has this to say about the pick:

It’s an understatement to say that Quinn will be fresh. After sitting out his entire junior year at Chapel Hill, it’s a testament to Quinn’s talent that he’s this high on the draft board. And make no mistake — scouts think extremely highly of Quinn. If his preparations for the draft process are up to par, at this spot he offers the Niners a pure pass-rusher at defensive end that can only be matched by Bowers.

Although Quinn is talented, selecting him this high would certainly be rather ballsy. Quinn was part of the group of players who were ruled ineligible because they accepted improper benefits. He apologized for his actions, but sitting out an entire season has not done well for players in the past. While character issues will be raised, I’m more concerned with the fact that he hasn’t played in a year. I don’t know if I want to roll the dice on “[i]f his preparations for the draft process are up to par.”


2011 NFL Mock Draft: Cam Newton To The 49ers?

SB Nation released their latest 2011 NFL mock draft this morning and they currently have the 49ers drafting Auburn QB Cam Newton. As they put it, " The 49ers were a competent coach and a play-making quarterback away from a cakewalk to the NFC West title in 2010. They’ve got their competent coach in Jim Harbaugh; it may be too tempting to pass on the ultra-productive Newton here."

I have plenty of research to do regarding quarterbacks in the draft because the 49ers most certainly will select at least one quarterback at some point in the April NFL Draft. However, with Jim Harbaugh’s announcement that he will implement the West Coast offense, one has to wonder if Cam Newton is the right choice. Coach Harbaugh discussed the specific characteristics he looks for in a quarterback:

[Jim Harbaugh] “Athletic instincts, accuracy, timing, decision making, leadership, intelligence, and you could keep going on and on here, and they’re all important. They’re important like to a carpenter, the hammer, the saw, the nails, the ruler – you need ‘em all. So we’re trying to find those men and develop those characteristics and those abilities.”

Cam Newton had one solid year at a junior college and one great year at Auburn. One has to wonder if he can make the necessary passes at the next level to be successful in a west coast style offense. And given his off the field issues over the course of his college career, one has to wonder if he’s ready to be an NFL quarterback. Even with a rookie cap in a new CBA, a first round pick is still gonna cost a lot of money. Is this the guy you want to invest in?


NFL Draft Order 2011: NFL Releases Official Order Pre-Playoffs

The NFL released the official 2011 NFL Draft order today. There are still 12 teams in the playoffs that will impact the end of the order, but the first 20 picks are ready to go. The San Francisco 49ers are locked in at number seven. The Raiders are 17th in the draft order, although they do not have their first round pick courtesy of the trade in which they acquired Richard Seymour from the New England Patriots.

The 49ers are currently tied with six other teams at 6-10. However, the first tiebreaker is strength of schedule, which the 49ers lead the entire group at .488. The Raiders are tied with Jacksonville at 8-8, but they trail Jacksonville courtesy of a .469 strength of schedule. Unlike last year, it appears no coin flips will be required to separate out teams as strength of schedule appears able to break any and all ties. We’ll have an update later with all trades and how that impacts draft order.

1. Carolina Panthers
2. Denver Broncos
3. Buffalo Bills
4. Cincinnati Bengals.
5. Arizona Cardinals
6. Cleveland Browns
7. San Francisco 49ers
8. Tennessee Titans
9. Dallas Cowboys
10. Washington Redskins
11. Houston Texans
12. Minnesota Vikings
13. Detroit Lions
14. St. Louis Rams
15. Miami Dolphins
16. Jacksonville Jaguars
17. Oakland Raiders (New England has first round pick)
18. San Diego Chargers
19. New York Giants
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers


2011 NFL Mock Draft: DT Nick Fairley To 49ers

The NFL season is now complete and the 49ers are officially locked into the number seven pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Now that the season is over for most of the NFL mock drafts are now ready to kick into high gear. If you have access to the Internet and can put a few words together you probably have created a mock draft for the 2011 NFL Draft.

SB Nation released their first mock draft with some help from Dan Kadar of Mocking the Draft. The 49ers projection at this point is somewhat difficult because the team is in the midst of finding a new GM and new head coach. Accordingly most mocks must be taken with more of a grain of salt than normal. Here’s what SB Nation had to say for the 49ers:

7. San Francisco 49ers (6-10): Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn (JR). The 49ers will have a new GM and a new head coach, so it’s unclear precisely what direction they’ll take at this point in time. Fairley is a safe assumption here, as he’s near best-available quality and strengthens an already-solid 49ers defense.

The 49ers needs depend in part on what defense they’ll employ in 2011. If they switch to a 4-3 defense a new defensive tackle might be necessary. In either case, I don’t see them taking a defensive tackle in the first round at this point. The team could potentially franchise nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin and they have young Ricky Jean-Francois. If Fairley would move over to defensive end that’s possible, but even then in this draft scenario I actually could see the 49ers trading down for more picks.


NFL Mock Draft 2011: 49ers Offensive Needs Following Thursday Night Football With Chargers

The 49ers have a lot of needs going into the next draft, so let's take a closer look with some more NFL mock drafts for 2011. Let's operate under the assumption that the 49ers do not make the playoffs representing the NFC West, even though they appear to control their own fate with two games left to play. If they win out and Seattle loses one of its remaining two games, the 49ers are in. That would mean they'd pick somewhere at or after the 21st overall pick due to being a playoff team and that would certainly muck this discussion up a little bit.

Previously, following the loss to the San Diego Chargers on Thursday Night Football, we took a look at the 49ers needs defensively and the options in the draft for cornerbacks. Today, we'll look at the options on offense, or more specifically one position that just about every San Francisco 49ers fan can agree needs to be upgraded: the quarterback position.

Starting quarterback Alex Smith had one drive that was arguably impressive on Thursday, and it's a drive that ended with zero points in their favor, even though they kicked a field goal and then scored a touchdown. Zero points out of that after all was said and done. Smith would go on to throw for only 165 yards with no touchdowns against one interception, going 19-for-29. He was largely ineffective. His leading receiver was Josh Morgan, who had a career high 106 yards on seven receptions, but his numbers came in big chunks. The next leading receiver was Michael Crabtree, with a paltry 17 yards. Pro bowl tight end Vernon Davis had four yards off of one reception.

The performance was just bad all around; you can't blame Alex for everything that happened on Thursday, he was sacked six times, after all. But strong quarterback play could have kept them in it more than they were. Head Coach Mike Singletary is now, once again, considering a change at the quarterback position. Troy Smith has started over Alex a few times this year, and could do so again, but one has to believe he's not the answer going forward either.

So what options do the 49ers have in the 2011 NFL Draft? One can assume that Andrew Luck of Stanford will be the first quarterback off of the board. If the 49ers do not trade up, they don't stand much chance of getting him. Walter Football would have you believe that the 49ers will be selecting Cam Newton from Auburn, which of course remains a possibility but not a likelihood. The next couple options are people who would be around when the 49ers are selecting.

Jake Locker would be the logical choice after Luck, and he's a guy that 49ers fans have wanted since last year. Unfortunately, he's been having a bit of a down year in college and the Niners will need to be cautious. Locker's supporting cast has done him no favors this NCAA football season, and that needs to be taken into account. Seems as though Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore could do the boy some good.

Another quarterback who is likely to go near the top of the draft is Ryan Mallett of Arkansas. Mallet was one of the most touted quarterbacks going into this year and his team has a good record under him, but he's no longer the quarterback that many thought he was. He's not accurate, he rushes things and gets rid of the ball too quickly, he doesn't ever throw his receivers open and he's practically begging to be sacked on any given play. Mallet is no longer a top option in the draft, according to many, but that may not stop the 49ers in the first round or even the early second if he happens to fall.


2011 NFL Draft Top 200 Prospects Big Board: Stanford Cardinal, California Golden Bears

SB Nation’s NFL Draft site, Mocking the Draft, has put together a revised big board of the Top 200 prospects in the 2011 NFL Draft. Things will change fairly drastically in the next four months, but providing numerous revisions will help us see how things develop through the draft scouting season that takes place between now and late April.

The Bay Area is well represented in the big board, with eight Stanford and Cal players showing up on the list. Stanford QB Andrew Luck is currently No. 2 on the board behind only Georgia WR A.J. Green. Luck is a red-shirt sophomore and Green is a junior so both are eligible to declare for the draft. We’ll find out more about Luck’s status sometime after the Orange Bowl.

Stanford is represented by eight players on this board. These include (overall ranking in parenthesis):

1 (2). Andrew Luck, QB
2 (94). Owen Marecic, FB
3 (96). Sione Fua, DT
4 (99). Chris Owusu, WR
5 (184). Delano Howell, SS
6 (193). Derek Hall, OT

California has two players on the board: defensive end Cameron Jordan and running back Shane Vereen. Jordan comes in ranked 28th and is seventh among all defensive ends and ninth among all defensive linemen. Of course, some of these defensive ends might move to outside linebacker, so that could affect draft stock.

Vereen is 76th overall and fifth among running backs as there are not a ton of great running backs at the top of this year’s draft class. Mark Ingram is MTD’s number one running back and is 15th overall.


NFL Mock Draft 2011: 49ers Defensive Needs Following Thursday Night Football With Chargers

Let the 2011 mock drafts begin, yeah? The season is coming to an end, and while the San Francisco 49ers are still mathematically in the hunt for the NFC West title and a playoff berth at 7-9, it's time to start the murky business of analyzing their needs. Can they take a head coach in the draft? Offensive coordinator? Thought it might be worth asking. After watching the game against the Chargers, a few things become immediately clear.

The 49ers quarterback, wide receiver, and offensive line positions are somewhat inept on offense. The secondary is inept on defense. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's take a look at the defensive position that would be most feasible to address early on in the 2011 NFL Draft, and taking the Chargers game into account, it was definitely the secondary that put up the sorriest performance.

Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer are the starting cornerbacks for the 49ers. Clements is the number one guy, but he moves around a lot and Spencer has the challenge of guarding the number one receiver more often than most number two corners do. Both are solid options, but neither can be depended on as much as they are. Clements is due to earn more than $40M throughout the remainder of his contract while Spencer is just losing a step. They addressed the safety position in the second round of this past draft, grabbing Taylor Mays, so right now we can focus on cornerback.

Clements and Spencer were both abused on Thursday. The first score was just San Diego's Vincent Jackson being bigger and better than Clements. Nate tackled well throughout the game, but he surrendered reception after reception, Spencer gave up big play after big play. Rivers threw for three touchdowns and Jackson caught all three of 'em, with 112 yards. On only five receptions.

A good secondary wasn't far away - the 49ers defense need only to look up while sitting on the bench. San Diego's secondary implemented a gameplan tailor-made to stall the 49ers. Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis were taken away by deep safeties and the corners beat their guys one-on-one to limit the 49ers to only 165 passing yards with no touchdown receptions. Why not the 49ers?

Cornerback is a position that needs to be addressed in the first or second rounds. Patrick Peterson in the first would be the ideal candidate, he's playing amazingly and is a top ten talent. Perhaps even top five, if the season were to end today the 49ers are picking eighth and there's a chance he'd be there. Then again, there's a chance the top three corners would already be off the board. If the 49ers fail to win their final two games (and miss the playoffs as a result), they'd probably move up one or two spots to increase their chances of grabbing him.

If they can't get Peterson and they still are looking for CB help in the first (which they should be) Prince Amukamara of Nebraska and Brandon Harris down in Miami would hold solid value, though the latter is more of a mid-first round pick. If they needed to wait until the second round, Aaron Williams could be a sleeper pick. Curtis Brown is a fitting player as well, if the 49ers were looking for a younger, faster Nate Clements-esque kind of player. Both of those Texas products could be valuable in the second or third rounds.

Corner is one of the 49ers top two needs in the draft. These are all solid options for San Francisco, who desperately need the help in their aging secondary. Tomorrow, we'll take a look at the offense against the Chargers and what positions the 49ers will need to address in the 2011 NFL Draft on that front.

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