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April 28, 2014
Baalke's list: Analyzing the 49ers' pre-draft visitors

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NFL teams are allowed to host up to 30 draft prospects, and Sunday was the final day NFL teams could have such a visit. Here's a partial list of the players who have visited with a bit of analysis below each position group.

Wide receivers:
Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Martavis Bryant, Clemson
Paul Richardson, Colorado
Albert Wilson, Georgia State

The common thread here is that each of these players can make plays downfield, a high priority given that the 49ers' starters, Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree, aren't exactly speedsters. The team also has spent time with LSU's Odell Beckham, Jr. and Indiana's Cody Latimer, who fit the above description as well, especially Beckham. The most intriguing name on this list is Benjamin, who has almost tight end-like size, including the long, powerful arms that Trent Baalke desires. But he's also a 23-year-old, redshirt sophomore, who comes with red flags, including showing up at the combine heavier than expected at 240 pounds. His visit is doubly intriguing because Baalke already had attended FSU's pro day. Wilson has return-man abilities. So does Beckham.

Running backs:
RB Terrance Cobb, University of the Cumberlands
RB Storm Johnson, Central Florida
RB Terrance West, Towson University

All three of these players are big-bodied, every-down runner types. With the exception of West, all are late-round options. The 49ers have a full house at running back. But with Frank Gore entering the final year of his contract, LaMichael James' future in doubt and Marcus Lattimore coming off a grisly knee injury, the 49ers are wise to at least look at options at this critical position.

Tight ends:
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
TE Nic Jacobs, McNeese State

These are both big-bodied, blocking-types. The 49ers would not use a high pick at this position after taking Vance McDonald in the second round last year. But they could use a later-round pick to give No. 3 tight end Garrett Celek some competition in training camp.

Offensive line:
OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, McGill University (Canada)
OT Seantrel Henderson, Miami
OL Matt Patchan, Boston College

Duvernay-Tardif seems similar to 2013 prospects Luke Marquardt and Lawrence Okoye. That is, he might be a project but his physical gifts make it one worth exploring. (Bonus: If the 49ers draft him, I finally can utilize my high school French. It's tres bien). The 49ers, meanwhile, likely brought in Henderson because he is a massive and talented prospect with red flags that the team wants to check out. Henderson told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel that his multiple suspensions at Miami were related to marijuana use.

Defensive line:
DT Kona Schwenke, Notre Dame
DT Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame

The 49ers likely brought in Tuitt to take a look at the foot injury that was discovered at the combine. He's a massive prospect (6-5, 304 pounds) with long, 34-plus-inch arms (Baalke's heart just fluttered), and he'd be a great fit as a 3-4 defensive end. But he's likely to be a first- or a second-day pick. The 49ers already have an abundance of defensive linemen on the roster, and it's hard to see them taking another early in the draft.

Outside linebackers:
Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
Aaron Lynch, South Florida

Both of these players were defensive ends in college. But so were Aldon Smith and Corey Lemonier. That is, Baalke likes big, strong, long-armed players at the position. Lawrence is similar to Smith in a lot of ways - perhaps the most similar prospect in this year's draft class - but has red-flag issues the team needs to check out.

Inside linebackers:
Carl Bradford, Arizona State
Preston Brown, Louisville

The 49ers are looking for someone to compete with Michael Wilhoite, who will be a free-agent in March, and Nick Moody for the top backup position, which will have a featured role as NaVorro Bowman recovers from his ACL injury. Patrick Willis also has been nicked up in recent years. Brown is a prototypical, downhill inside linebacker and the 49ers likely are intrigued by his rough-and-tumble style. Bradford is listed as an outside linebacker, but he's played on the inside, too, and he projects to an inside 'backer in the 49ers' scheme.

Cornerbacks:
Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
Bradley Roby, Ohio State

This is perhaps the biggest position of need for the 49ers, and they've likely brought in other cornerbacks that we don't know about. Colvin, however, fits the 49ers' profile in that he is a first-round talent who likely will be drafted later because he is recovering from an ACL injury. That is, the 49ers could get top value with a mid-round pick. Roby is a late first-round talent who also comes with some character concerns the 49ers must check out.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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