A week ago, the Niners' strongest position was linebacker. How quickly things can change. With the shocking retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland, the Niners are suddenly very thin at ILB position. Look for them to try to fill this need early in the draft. Some potential namesinclude Eric Kendricks from UCLA and Benardrick McKinney from Mississippi State.
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY SportsChris Humphreys
The 49ers lost their two starting cornerbacks, Chris Cullver and Perrish Cox, to free agency. They have been active in response, signing Shareece Wright and re-signing Chris Cook, but both those guys are a downgrade from what they had before. With all the big receivers in the NFL, having a lockdown corner is a necessity. The 49ers will look early in the draft to help replace what they lost. An interesting name to keep an eye on is Marcus Peters out of Washington. He has had some off-the-field troubles but is an excellent talent and could be a steal in the middle rounds.
Getty ImagesThearon W. Henderson
The run game has always been a big part of the 49ers' success, so having someone to run behind will be extremely important for the 2015 season. The 49ers lost G Mike Iupati to free agency and still have not fully replaced him. They did sign OL Erik Pears, who can play multiple positions on the line, but he's more of a depth player rathern than someone they would like to plug into the starting lineup. A few names to consider in the draft are Brandon Scherff out of Iowa and La’el Collins out of LSU. Scherff is a guaranteed first-round pick deservedly so. He is the best guard in the draft, and if the 49ers want to grab him, they will have to hope he is available with the 15th overall pick.
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The 49ers made a great free-agent signing with Torrey Smith. He is that deep threat they've been looking for in San Francisco for years. They also have Anquan Boldin, who has been one of the most reliable receivers in his two years in San Francisco. But Boldin is in the last year of his contract, Crabtree is as good as gone and the Chargers signed Stevie Johnson after the 49ers released him. The 2015 draft class is filled with wide receivers, and the Niners would be foolish not to grab one and develop him for the future. Some names to look out for are DeVante Parker out of Louisville and Jaelen Strong out of ASU. The first five wide receivers taken in the draft have the potential to turn into All-Pros.
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The 49ers are on the verge of losing Justin Smith to retirement and lost Ray McDonald last season as a result of off-the-field issues. They did sign Darnell Dockett, but he is 33 years old and coming off missed season with a torn ACL, so it's very hard to predict what he will provide. With that said, the Niners must concentrate on the future here. Some names to look out for in the draft include Alvin Dupree out of Kentucky and Owa Odighizuwa out of UCLA. Both are great talents who can help stop the run and wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
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