(Sports Network) - Jim Harbaugh's move to quarterback Colin Kaepernick from
Alex Smith midway through 2012 added a big play dimension to the San Francisco
offense and helped lift the 49ers to the NFC Championship before ultimately
coming up a little short against the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl.
The Niners look ready for another run at the Lombardi Trophy and sport one of
the most talented rosters in football.
The 49ers can run the ball with Frank Gore, stretch a defense with Michael
Crabtree along with athletic tight end Vernon Davis, and possess of the
game's best offensive lines.
San Francisco also replaced the enigmatic and descending Randy Moss with a far
more dependable player in ex-Raven Anquan Boldin, who dominated the 49ers in
the second half of the Super Bowl. Colt McCoy was also acquired from the
Browns to replace Smith as the backup to Kaepernick, a solid if unspectacular
A pure burner on the outside would help as would a second tight end to replace
the versatile Delanie Walker, who signed with the Titans.
The defense, though, should be in the forefront at least early for the 49ers
come draft time.
The team lost defensive tackles Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean-Francois as well
as Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson in free agency while cornerback depth was
the team's biggest weakness a year ago.
With 13 picks and only three of them compensatory the 49ers are in a great
position to target players and move up or down as needed. There's been some
speculation that San Francisco may use some of its extra picks to move up for
West Virginia slot star Tavon Austin, but focusing on defensive backs in the
early rounds is the far more likely scenario in Northern California.
2012 Record: 11-4-1
Top Needs: DT, S, CB, TE
First Three Picks: No. 31, No. 34, No. 61
Number of Selections: 13 (1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 7)
RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2012 - A.J. Jenkins (WR, Illinois); 2011 - Aldon
Smith (OLB, Missouri); 2010 - Anthony Davis (OT, Rutgers), Mike Iupati (G,
Idaho); 2009 - Michael Crabtree (WR, Texas Tech); 2008 - Kentwan Balmer (DL,
North Carolina); 2007 - Patrick Willis (LB, Ole Miss), Joe Staley (T, Central
Michigan); 2006 - Vernon Davis (TE, Maryland), Manny Lawson (OLB, North
Carolina State); 2005 - Alex Smith (QB, Utah); 2004 - Rashaun Woods (WR,
Oklahoma State); 2003 - Kwame Harris (OT, Stanford).
The Sports Network