You might say that predicting all 12 of the 49ers selections in a weird year that promises to have all sorts of draft-day twists and turns is an exercise in futility, not to mention one that completely wipes away a Saturday morning. I might agree. And yet, I was able to nail two picks (a roaring success) in 2009 and I absolutely crushed the 49ers two first rounders, Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati, last year. Do I have X-Men-like clairvoyance? We shall find out ...
Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. General Manager Trent Baalke said the other day the 49ers "certainly could go back" in the first round depending on how the draft unfolds ahead of them. The thought here is that Peterson is atop the list of the players the 49ers would love to see available. He and OLB Von Miller are the two players most able to help Vic Fangio's defense become the aggressive, versatile system he wants it to be.
Hedge: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert. He and Peterson seem to be connected when it comes to the 49ers and pick No. 7. If Peterson is taken in the first six picks, Gabbert might be there. If Gabbert goes early, Peterson could drop. Robert Quinn and Prince Amukamara would satisfy needs, but they'd have the whiff of consolation prizes to Miller and Peterson.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada. My guess is that Harbaugh thinks Kaepernick has the biggest upside of the remaining quarterbacks and that he'd be the ideal player to mentor and mold. It's been written that Kaepernick is a poor fit for the West Coast because of his long wind up. But Harbaugh isn't running a "pure" West Coast like Bill Walsh used to run and he's not running a shotgun-heavy system like they do in Philadelphia and Green Bay. That is, a hitch in the delivery won't be as big a deal here as it might be elsewhere.
Hedge: This seems to be the logical spot for a QB, but the 49ers also could trade up for one. In that case, TCU's Andy Dalton is a strong possibility. If the 49ers don't go QB here, or if they took one at No.7, they could take a cornerback like Texas' Aaron Williams or an outside linebacker like underrated Texas 'tweener Sam Acho or injured but promising UNC OLB Bruce Carter.
Shane Vereen, RB, Cal. The 49ers will be looking for a NT here, but the better value will be at running back. Vereen is an excellent all-around back who can contribute right away because he is smart and also a good blocker in pass protection. He also ran for 193 yards and three touchdowns against Harbaugh and Stanford in 2009.
Hedge: There are a number of runners who could be taken here, and the 49ers have taken close looks at many of them, including Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter, Nebraska's Roy Helu, Kansas State's Daniel Thomas and Syracuse's Delone Carter. I figure Taiwan Jones will be off the board by the start of the third round. If the 49ers haven't taken a QB yet, pencil in Iowa's Ricky Stanzi here.
Greg Salas, WR, Hawaii. Salas has great size and pass-catching ability and would be perfect working out of the slot. He's in the mold of Packers receivers James Jones and Jordy Nelson - not a burner, but smooth with the ability to pick up yards after the catch.
Hedge: Stanford's Ryan Whalen is tough and smart, and he knows the offense.
John Moffitt, G/C, Wisconsin. Moffitt is big - 315 pounds - aggressive and has moved seamlessly between center and guard for the run-happy Badgers. He'd immediately provide depth at center where David Baas is an unrestricted free agent and Eric Heitmann is dealing with a tricky neck injury. He'd also be a possibility at right guard where a certain someone hasn't been very consistent.
Hedge: The 49ers passed on nose tackle last year and still haven't snagged one. They also need an OLB. If Fresno State's Chris Carter is still around, they take him.
Owen Marecic, FB, Stanford. It will be a disappointment if the 49ers don't draft at least one Cardinal, and Marecic is the logical choice. He's a smart, strong blocker who promises to be a demon on special teams given his linebacker background. It also would help to have someone well-versed in the offense if the 49ers only have a small window to learn it.
Chris Neild, NT, West Virginia. The 305-pound Nield might not be the space eater most people think of at nose tackle. But he has the scrappy, lunch-pail mentality of a guy like Kelly Gregg, who has anchored the Baltimore defense. He also was a team captain.
Steven Friday, OLB, Virginia Tech. The unsung Friday had nine sacks last year for the Hokies and came up big in the team's biggest games. (Two sacks vs. Boston College and soon-to-be first rounder Anthony Castonzo). Friday mostly played with his hand in the dirt last year and would have to convert to linebacker.
Zane Parr, DE, Virginia. Parr is a 3-4 defensive end who left school a year early because the Cavaliers are changing back to a 4-3. He has "practice squad" written all over him, but he could be a smart pick up.
Ryan Taylor, FB/TE/H-back, North Carolina. Taylor visited the 49ers, and he seems like just the kind of versatile and physical player Harbaugh would like. He was a reliable pass catcher last year.
Marc Schiechl, OLB, Colorado School of Mines. The 49ers worked out Schiechl on May 31. He is the Division II all-time sack leader with 46 and is fourth all-time in tackles for loss with 70 ½. There's a thought that this year teams might be more apt to hold onto seventh-round picks so that they can snag players they normally would have tried to pick up as undrafted free agents. Teams can't sign those undrafted FAs until the lockout is lifted.
Justin Rogers, CB, Richmond. I originally had UT-Chattanooga's Buster Skrine here, but the commenters below are right -- Skrine won't last nearly this long. I don't know about Rogers, either, but the point is that like last year Baalke and the 49ers will try to find a diamond-in-the-rough type CB late in the draft.
Round 1, Pick 7 (7)
Round 2, Pick 13 (45th overall)
Round 3, Pick 12 (76th overall)
Round 4, Pick 11 (108th overall)
Round 4, Pick 18 (115th overall)
Round 5, Pick 10 (141st overall)
Round 6, Pick 9 (174th overall)
Round 6, Pick 25 (190th)
Round 7, Pick 8 (211th overall)
Round 7, Pick 30 (231th)
Round 7, Pick 38 (239th)
Round 7, Pick 49 (250th)
-- Matt Barrows