Unlike the previous two seasons, the San Francisco 49ers are entering the 2015 NFL draft with more than just a handful of needs. An offseason that saw critical retirements, free agent departures and a shuffling of the roster mandates that the 49ers strike gold in the upcoming draft.
General manager Trent Baalke has nine picks, including two compensatory, with which to work.
San Francisco could use some depth at inside linebacker after the retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland. The cornerback position is also questionable given the free agent departures of defensive backs Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox.
There are also long term needs along the defensive line as defensive end Justin Smith considers retirement. And a desire to add a playmaking wide receiver to the mix could also be a part of Baalke’s draft plans.
So which collegiate prospects are on the 49ers’ radar?
Let’s dive into San Francisco’s big board as the draft nears its starting date on April 30.
Running Back1 of 6
San Francisco lost its all time rushing leader Frank Gore to free agency this offseason. Gore’s departure opens up the door for No. 2 running back Carlos Hyde to become the featured back. He’ll be supported by running back Kendall Hunter and the newly acquired Reggie Bush.
But Bush is 30 years old and is coming off an injury plagued season in which he appeared in just 11 games.
Added to the fray is Australian rugby standout Jarryd Hayne, although he is an unknown commodity, per Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area.
Running back might not be the top priority for the 49ers in this draft. But the 2015 draft class is deep, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see Trent Baalke add some long term depth at this position.
1. Todd Gurley, Georgia
Taking Georgia running back Todd Gurley with their first pick might be a stretch and a gamble for the 49ers. This Round 1 target does offer a lot of promise, and Rob Rang of CBS Sports compares him to running back Marshawn Lynch.
A torn ACL last November could also drop his draft stock, and the fact that San Francisco already football jerseys form china
has a complement of runners means it wouldn’t have to insert Gurley into the mix until he is physically capable. But if Hyde emerges as the talented back most suspect he is, such a pick might not be worthwhile here.
2. David Johnson, Northern Iowa
Running back David Johnson could be another piece that may provide long term depth behind Hyde.
The 6’1″, 224 pound prospect is a stout runner and is tough to tackle, per Dane Brugler of CBS Sports. He projects as a late second or early third round pick, which would give the 49ers an opportunity to sit on him as late as their third pick in the draft.
With Bush likely departing the 49ers after one season and Hunter entering a contract year, a player like Yeldon could be the added piece who could solidify San Francisco’s long term needs at this position.
Adam Lefkoe and TheSacramento Bee’s Matt Barrows discussed how Yeldon would fit into the 49ers’ plans in this Bleacher Report video.
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