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

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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.