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2011 Mock Draft Primer: The Niners

March 6th, 2011
Robert Quinn

Robert Quinn

It’s time for the second primer of today as earlier I posted my thoughts on where the Cleveland Browns will go with the sixth overall pick. It’s time to move on to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 7.

The 49ers are sitting at a point in the draft, where they probably don’t really control their own destiny. Depending on which players go ahead of them will primarily determine which position they address.

But in the end, I think they will settle on a pass rusher such as North Carolina’s Robert Quinn to help solidify their defense.

The 49ers have their fair share of needs, first and foremost is their quarterback position. While new head coach JIm Harbaugh has been praising Alex Smith in recent weeks, the 49ers know that he is not their long-term option. Smith is good enough to keep the seat warm for a year or so for another player, but Harbaugh knows that in order for him to be successful as an NFL coach, he’s going to have to find a stud, young quarterback at some point like his brother did in Joe Flacco in Baltimore.

Sitting at No. 7, it’s going to be hard to find that player. Not unless they maneuver upward to go up and get a player like Blaine Gabbert. It certainly becomes a possibility if Carolina passes on him with the No. 1 pick. They could also move down in the draft and try to grab someone like Ryan Mallett or Jake Locker later in the first round. I’m not sure how much Harbaugh will like either of those guys. He saw Locker play for four years while at Stanford, but Locker always struggled against them, so he’s probably more aware of his flaws than anybody else. In the end, it may mean the 49ers are waiting for some time to address their more glaring need.

Besides quarterback, they have several other spots that could use shoring up. Wide receiver is a position of concern. While Michael Crabtree is a good pro, he hasn’t quite been the top notch playmaker they hoped he would be. Although part of that could rest on their issues at quarterback. But they could be tempted to take a receiver like Georgia’s A.J. Green if available. But considering Harbaugh has a more conservative offensive approach, that doesn’t seem likely.

On the defensive side of the ball, they could use some help in all three areas. Patrick Peterson probably fills the biggest problem area for the 49ers. They are looking for another corner to pair with Nate Clements on the outside, since Clements is starting to slow down and Shawntae Spencer is less than reliable. But he may not be available.

A pass rusher on the outside would definitely help. So someone like UNC’s Robert Quinn makes a ton of sense. They probably would prefer Von Miller over him, but it’s doubtful that Miller lasts this long. Quinn is a work in progress as an outside linebacker, but definitely has the tools to make the conversion. They have a decent rotation of outside linebackers that combined can put pressure on the quarterback, but nobody that can consistently do so.

Up front, they could use more help at defensive end. Ray McDonald is improving and Justin Smith is a Pro Bowler, but the addition of someone like Marcell Dareus could really solidify this unit for years to come. But it’s not as big a need because they have already a pretty solid rotation.

It would not surprise me if in the end the 49ers don’t pick seventh in this draft because they trade up or trade down. But if Quinn is there on the board, I don’t think anybody in San Francisco’s war room is going to be sad.

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