Sports Out West

49ers offseason: Wide receiver and cornerback highlight draft needs

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Mississippi State

As another NFL season comes to an end, it’s time to start turning our attention to what seems to be a never-ending offseason. For the San Francisco 49ers, they will return in 2014 with a very deep team that should still be in the hunt for the Super Bowl but will have some holes to fill. While definitive needs won’t be known until after free agency sorts itself out, it’s never too early to take a look at some possible draft scenarios. The 49ers have the 30th pick in the 2014 NFL draft and could go in multiple directions in the first round. Here’s a look at possible options for two positions that may very well be focal points for the team, cornerback and wide receiver. 

Cornerback

The secondary is the biggest question mark heading into 2014 as there will inevitably be changes to the roster. It’s highly unlikely that the 49ers will keep Carlos Rogers and his $6 million-plus salary around next season. There is a chance that they could ask him to take a pay cut, but given his declining performance over the last two years it’s doubtful he’ll be a part of their plans going forward.

Tarell Brown is a free agent and will likely gain a lot of interest on the open market. Considering San Francisco just extended the contract of Tramaine Brock to start on the right side, Brown probably won’t be back. With Eric Wright and Perrish Cox both free agents as well, that leaves Chris Culliver as the only other viable option to start. It’s unknown how Culliver will rebound though, as he missed all of 2013 with a knee injury. The 49ers will also likely bring back Darryl Morris for his second season but he doesn’t look like a player who will see a lot of defensive snaps.

If the 49ers go cornerback in round 1, the selection is

Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State

At 6’0 and 200 lbs, Gilbert has good size and excellent straight line speed. While he struggled during his junior season in 2012, you could argue he was one of the best corners in the nation in 2013 as he recorded six interceptions. His body size will allow him to match up with some of the game’s bigger receivers and he is someone who can come in and start from day one. Gilbert can also return kicks and owns the OSU record with six career kickoff returns for touchdowns. He could also fill in as the primary return man should the team part ways with LaMichael James.

Wide Receiver

Even if Anquan Boldin is re-signed to start along Michael Crabtree, the 49ers could still use a wide receiver. Crabtree is only signed for 2014 and Boldin, if back, would be on a short term deal. Quinton Patton showed some promise as a rookie but there are no guarantees with him. Even with those three receivers in the fold, San Francisco could use someone with speed to take the top off the defense. Right now, tight end Vernon Davis may be their only big play threat. 

If the 49ers go wide receiver in round 1, the selection is...

Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

For the second year in a row, the 49ers would go with an LSU product in the first round as Beckham would provide a burner the team so desperately needs and could also return kickoffs and punts. Beckman has big play potential every time he touches the ball as he broke the Tigers’ all-time record for all-purpose yards as a junior in 2013 with 2,222. As a receiver, he averaged 19.6 yards per catch and had 57 catches for 1117 yards and 8 touchdowns overall. His versatility would be a boon for the 49ers who could not only use him in the passing and return game, but also work him into the running game. Beckham carried the ball five times in 2012 and average 11.6 yards a carry.

Photo: USA Today Sports

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Al Sacco

Al Sacco is sports expert who knows football, baseball, basketball and hockey. He has spent his time as a sports journalist covering the San Francisco 49ers as a staff writer for 49erswebzone.com and 49ersgab.com. He is also a contributor to Yahoo! Voices and has had his work used on ESPN NFL Insiders.