Overview: The Niners will have their work cut out for them, drafting near the bottom of each of the seven rounds pending possible trades. Don’t rule out the possibility of some deals by a team that showed its willingness to strike very aggressively, despite its surprising success last season, when it made a serious run at Peyton Manning. Niners GM Trent Baalke earned a three-year contract extension and PFW/Professional Football Writers of America Executive of the Year honors in part due to the stellar job he did in last year’s draft. Baalke hit a tape-measure home run in his first year running the draft show, with first-round OLB Aldon Smith, third-round CB Chris Culliver, fourth-round RB Kendall Hunter and seventh-round FB Bruce Miller all making very valuable contributions.
Need No. 1: Offensive guard
The Niners could use a serious challenger for second-year pro Daniel Kilgore at right guard, and depth is sorely lacking at both OG spots. The versatile Adam Snyder, who replaced Chilo Rachal as the starter at right guard about a month into the 2011 season, signed with the division-rival Cardinals. Rachal, an unrestricted free agent, looks like a long shot to return to the Bay Area. The team thinks Kilgore could blossom with the benefit of a full offseason, but his only playing time last season was one snap as an extra blocker in the Monday-night game vs. the Steelers.
Need No. 2: Wide receiver
Free agents Mario Manningham and Randy Moss figure to bolster the Niners’ WR corps. But after the wideouts failed miserably in the postseason when it counted most and had considerable trouble converting third downs all season, more help is needed at this position, especially with the popular Josh Morgan having signed with the Redskins. By all accounts, Moss still has very respectable deep speed, but there are no guarantees he will be able to regain his prior form after sitting out last season.
Need No. 3: Defensive tackle
The Niners have been blessed with a workhorse starting D-line that possesses great stamina and goes above and beyond the call of duty. That said, DRT Justin Smith is 32 years old, DLT Ray McDonald has had problems on and off with his knees, and NT Isaac Sopoaga turns 31 before the start of the 2012 season. More depth up front could come in handy, with all those things considered.