According to Scot McCloughan, just about every team ahead of the 49ers is trying to trade back. Whether it's because of a dearth of talent or the amount of money required for a Top 10 pick, McCloughan said in a media session with the beatwriters a few minutes ago that seven of the nine teams ahead of the 49ers have called and said they had no problem trading down. McCloughan, however, said that while the 49ers would also consider trading down, they would not move forward. McCloughan said he thought the second quarterback (Mark Sanchez) and the third offensive tackle (Andre Smith) would be the pivotal players in allowing teams to trade down.
Will the Lions draft Matthew Stafford with the No. 1 pick? McCloughan seems to think so. `"Word on the street is, he is (the pick). They're negotiating with him, I know that," McCloughan said. He also said that the alleged rift between the 49ers and Stafford was overblown. In a Sports Illustrated story, Stafford was surprised that the 49ers team psychologist asked about his parents' divorce. "There's no bad blood (with) the agent, Tom Condon, or the player, Matt Stafford," McCloughan said.
This surprised me. McCloughan said the 49ers have not taken anyone off their draft board due to character issues. Two receivers, including one-time first rounder Percy Harvin, reportedly tested positive for marijuana. As far as behavioral issues, McCloughan said the team grades players like this: The area scouts are told to evaluate the player purely by his on-field performance. Then the 49ers will drop a player due to medical or personal issues. In 2007, for example, the team had Texas cornerback Tarell Brown ranked as a third rounder based purely on his play. But a couple of off-the-field incidents gave him a fifth-round grade. McCloughan said he thought there were 18 players worthy of a first-round value in the draft, which is slightly lower than previous years.
What positions are the 49ers considering? All of them, McCloughan said, which is typically GM-speak just a few days before the draft. Specifically, however, McCloughan was asked about the following positions:
Quarterback. "It's a good group of quarterbacks 1-7. We feel we have a chance to draft a quarterback at some point that will be a player for us at some point." McCloughan said he wants more competition at every position, including quarterback. "I would love to add more competition to it. I would love to. But you can't force the issue." McCloughan said there is currently no interest in a veteran passer, including Cleveland's Brady Quinn, who is on the trade block. "No discussions have ever taken place," McCloughan said of Quinn. "Ever."
Outside linebacker. McCloughan said a number of things that reinforce my opinion that the 49ers will not take Aaron Maybin or Everette Brown at no. 10. First he said that whomever the 49ers pick at No. 10 should be a three-down player. Later, when talking about Brian Orakpo, he said that what makes Orakpo attractive is that he's a big-bodied guy. On Maybin and Brown, McCloughan said that they both have a great burst but that they will never be 260-plus pound players, that they were limited in how much weight they could add. Taken together, that doesn't seem to bode well for Maybin - a mainstay to the 49ers in mock drafts - or Brown.
Wide receiver. McCloughan said he wants to add speed at the position. In fact, he said he could add two - maybe even three! - receivers in the draft.
Cornerback/safety. I asked McCloughan if the 49ers considered Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins a cornerback or a safety. "A corner who could play safety," is how he responded. McCloughan did say that the team is looking for a big-bodied safety with speed in the draft. Um, who isn't?
McCloughan also was asked about players currently on the roster.
Ray McDonald. McCloughan said McDonald had surgery on the same ACL he tore while at Florida. It was not clear whether McDonald re-tore it. However, McCloughan said that the right defensive end was recovering nicely and certainly would be ready by the start of the regular season. Whether McDonald will take part in training camp is still up in the air.
Reggie Smith. Last year's third-round choice was drafted to be a cornerback but was a safety at the recent minicamp. Will he remain a safety? "That's still up to the coaches. We've talked about it." Smith's position also likely will depend on who the 49ers draft this weekend.
Mark Roman. McCloughan said he has had no trade offers involving Roman, last year's starter at free safety who has been given permission to seek a trade. If the 49ers do some wheeling and dealing during the draft, however, Roman's name likely will pop up.
-- Matt Barrows