With the 2013 NFL draft less than 24 hours away, it is important to shed light on the San Francisco 49ers, which might be the absolute wild-card team of the draft. Not only are they sitting comfortably as reigning NFC Champions, but they possess a league-high 13 draft picks.
But there is a very good chance general manager Trent Baalke utilizes his draft ammunition to move up on prime time. Contrary to last year, the 49ers are not looking for depth as much as premier talent.
San Francisco has needs, primarily at defensive line, tight end and safety.
Heading into Round 1 from Radio City Music Hall, Baalke is bound to create waves with a notable trade up. With that in mind, the 49ers GM will want to target teams with needs across the board and thus in need of more picks.
The rumor going around is that plenty of teams are looking to trade back, which could allow San Francisco flexibility and leverage in trade talks. Ideally, if the 49ers move up, they would like to find an impact player while taking care of a need.
Here are a few teams San Francisco may be looking to do business with on Day 1 of the NFL draft.
Miami, No. 12
The earliest and most logical team the 49ers trade up with is the Miami Dolphins at No. 12 overall.
In Joe Philbin’s transition to his second year as head coach, Miami bum-rushed the offseason, shelling out several big free-agent contracts. They brought in Dannell Ellerbe and Mike Wallace and re-signed Brian Hartline.
At this point, the Dolphins need additional players, and by moving back, they’ll have less money due to rookies.
The Dolphins have two second-rounders at the moment, but if they manage to close the rumored deal with the Chiefs for Branden Albert, they would be able to recoup that pick via the 49ers.
Possible Targets: Sheldon Richardson (Missouri), Xavier Rhodes (Florida State), Star Lotulelei (Utah)
New Orleans, No. 15
After a miserable 8-8 season in 2012, the Saints are looking to restore their persona in the league. With head coach Sean Payton returning, the team should be reinvigorated, but with the realization that there is much work to be done.
As a team in transition, the Saints are in the market for a fresh wave of players. After taking a step back this past year, New Orleans is more than one player away from being in front of the NFC again.
Also, considering their scheme change (4-3 to a 3-4), new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan requires new personnel to aid with the switch. And when it comes to the defense, the Saints have flexibility picking across the board.
By recognizing New Orleans’ current situation, the 49ers can leap to the middle of the first round, which would give them plenty of options. And by completing this trade, the 49ers would jump the Rams’ first of two picks in Round 1 at No. 16 and No. 22. They would also position themselves to take the best player available at a position of need.
Possible Targets: Kenny Vaccaro (Texas)
Pittsburgh, No. 17
There may be no team riper for a trade than the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Perched in the middle of Round 1, the Steelers are strapped by the salary cap and have several needs to fill. They lost playmakers on offense, the offensive line is frail, they are rebuilding the backfield and their defense is aging out.
Like the Saints, they need an influx of talent, rather than just one or two high-caliber picks.
The Steelers can take a player at No. 17, but with their needs, they can find a starter at No. 31 and be just as happy. It would be ideal for Pittsburgh to move back and pick up an extra early-to-mid-round selection.
This way, San Francisco does not break the bank moving up near or within the Top 10, but they secure a top-ranked player who fell through the cracks. This might be the ideal trade partner for the 49ers on prime time at Radio City.
Possible Targets: Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame)
Indianapolis, No. 24
The 49ers could very well let the majority of the first round play out before making their move. With the depth and anomalous identity of this year’s draft class, talented players are bound to drop.
In fact, the concentration of the truly gifted players who could flourish at the next level may reside in Round 2.
Like the aforementioned teams, the Indianapolis Colts are an organization in transition. At this particular juncture, they are continuing to establish the foundation of this new team under Chuck Pagano.
They brought in Andrew Luck, who will be the lynchpin of this franchise, but this year will be about building around him.
The Colts personnel department will want to bring several players in because with that philosophy, they are more likely to find a potential building block for the future. With more picks, Indianapolis brings in more components, so they are open to a trade.
Possible Targets: Datone Jones (UCLA), Tank Carradine (Florida State)