The 49ers are doing their homework on quarterbacks who might be available to them in the second round. That, coupled with the defensive talent at the top of the draft, points to the team going with either a cornerback or pass rusher in the first round and a passer in the second.
But what if there are no worthwhile quarterbacks on the board when the 49ers use their 45th overall pick? Or what if the 49ers take a quarterback in the first round? Who would be left in the second round at the 49ers' positions of need at defense? For that I checked in with Matt Miller, who runs New Era Scouting, to help compile a list of possibilities.
Brooks Reed, Arizona, 6-3, 257. Miller says Reed might not be around in the second round after making good impressions at the Senior Bowl and combine. However, he notes that Reed wasn't even the biggest pass-rush playmaker on his team last season. Fellow defensive end Ricky Elmore finished with 49 tackles, 13 for a loss and 11 sacks. Reed's numbers: 47, 10, 6 ½.
Justin Houston, Georgia, 6-3, 270. Miller: "He'll probably be gone by that point, but he's someone the 49ers could like." Houston mostly was an upfield pass rusher for the Bulldogs, finishing with 67 tackles - an impressive 18 ½ for a loss - and 10 sacks last season.
Akeem Ayers, UCLA, 6-4, 255 . He's another guy who could be gone by the 45th pick. Ayers had a disappointing 40 at the combine - 4.84 seconds - but plays faster on game days. "His film is a lot better than what he did at the combine," Miller says.
Sam Acho, Texas, 6-3, 260. Miller: "He might be a little bit of a reach at 45. He's a physical freak, but the production wasn't there at Texas." Like Reed, Acho had an impressive week at the Senior Bowl.
Bruce Carter, North Carolina, 6-3, 258. Carter is coming off a December ACL tear and he might not be ready to run until late summer. In that case, an extended lockout might prevent a rookie in his situation from being lost in the shuffle. Miller: "He's a little undersized but has good speed, and he's a good overall athlete."
Here's a list of second- to third-round cornerbacks Miller likes:
Ras-I Dowling, Virginia, 6-1, 198
Curtis Brown, Texas, 6-0, 185
Aaron Williams, Texas, 6-1, 195.
Brandon Burton, Utah, 6-0, 185
Davon House, New Mexico State, 6-0, 184
Curtis Marsh, Utah State, 6-1, 197
And nose tackles in the second and third rounds:
Stephen Paea, Oregon State, 6-1, 295
Kendrick Ellis, Hampton, 6-5, 340
Jerrell Powe, Ole Miss, 6-2, 331
The quarterback buzz is all about Florida State's Christian Ponder rising in the draft and perhaps challenging Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett as the third quarterback selected on April 28. Ponder had his pro day today (Wed) and ended up throwing many of his passes to ex-49ers wideout Isaac Bruce. Huh?
The reason is that the lockout is preventing non-draft eligible wideouts from taking part in these scripted passing sessions. Bruce, who like Ponder is represented by agent Jimmy Sexton, has filed his retirement papers and thus was able to participate. Another quarterback, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, also is expected to throw to receivers with whom he is unfamiliar. Gabbert's pro day is Thursday.
The 49ers were represented at FSU's pro day by national scout Matt Malaspina, whose job is to scout the top prospects.
According to NFL.com, San Francisco is on a list of spring visits for Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller. It's not known when that visit will take place.
-- Matt Barrows