Kudos to Mike Sando - he works for some outfit called ESPN - for pointing out today something that's been in front of our noses all along but hasn't been fully articulated until now. The 49ers' 14 draft picks this year are valuable not just for filling current holes on the roster but for plugging future ones as well.
Sando notes that several big-name starters - such as Justin Smith and Donte Whitner - are under contract for just one more season. As Dashon Goldson's situation this month illustrates, the 49ers won't be able to hold onto everyone in coming years, especially with a potential mega deal for Colin Kaepernick on the horizon. That's why having 14 draft picks is such a boon to the 49ers right now and so crucial to sustaining success. It gives them the ability to plan for the future with relatively cheap labor.
Here are players scheduled to become free agents in 2014 along with some potential replacements in the draft. The 49ers also are likely to parlay some of the picks this year into even higher picks next year.
* WR Anquan Boldin. He said he'd be interested in extending his contract. If the 49ers are looking for another physical, big-bodied wide receiver in the draft, the best one is located up the road in Berkeley: Keenan Allen.
* CBs Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock. In my view, Brown, 28, has been the most consistently good cornerback on the team over the last two seasons. Brock, who currently is a restricted free agent, always has been a favorite of GM Trent Baalke. The team has been looking at cornerbacks both in free agency, Nnamdi Asomugha, and the draft, David Amerson, Tyrann Mathieu, B.W. Webb among others. That is, it's a safe bet the 49ers will add at least one more cornerback to the mix by April 27.