It's long been assumed the 49ers will take a wide receiver high in the upcoming draft, and Jim Harbaugh bolstered that sentiment at the owners' meeting last week. Harbaugh not only said quarterback Colin Kaepernick needed a strong No. 3 receiver -- in fact, he was missing a strong No. 2 for most of 2013 -- the 49ers needed weapons to deal with Seattle's formidable defense.
The question now becomes: Which type of receiver does the team need? Could they use A.) a speedy T.Y.-Hilton receiver who can put pressure on the back ends of defenses? Or do they go with B.) a tall, sturdy, Alshon Jeffery-type player who fits their tough-guy offense and who can be a threat in the red zone.
It's a trick question. The answer is C. They need both.
Because neither of the team's starting receivers, Anquan Boldin or Michael Crabtree, is known for his speed, the offense currently is screaming out for a fast player who can make plays downfield. Then again, Crabtree is entering the final season of his contract while Boldin has two more seasons on his deal. The 49ers must think about replacing one or both in the lineup, and the current draft is ideal for teams that want to restock the position.
The real question becomes: Which type of receiver do the 49ers take first? If they're looking for speed demons in the first round, LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. and Oregon State's Brandin Cooks fit the description. Later, the draft offers Wyoming's Robert Herron, Colorado's Paul Richardson, Clemson's Martavis Bryant and South Carolina's Bruce Ellington.
If they wanted a bigger, more physical wideout with their No. 30 pick, Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin or Penn State's Allen Robinson are options. (They would have to trade up -- way up -- to get either Texas A&M's Mike Evans or Clemson's Sammy Watkins.)
There also are plenty of good-sized receivers after Round 1, including Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews, Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief, Fresno State's Davante Adams and Indiana's Cody Latimer, whom they watched at Indiana's pro day last week.
The 49ers have six picks in the first three rounds and 11 picks overall.
-- Matt Barrows