33° Good Evening
33° Good Evening

2013 NFL Draft primer: San Francisco 49ers

South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger warms up before

South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger warms up before a game against Georgia. (Sept. 10, 2011) Credit: AP

The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft kicks off on April 25, and every team will look to build for both present and future. This is the 29th in a two-a-day, 30-part series that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.


2012 record: 11-4-1

Key offseason acquisitions:

Nnamdi Asomugha, cornerback

Anquan Boldin, wide receiver

Glenn Dorsey, defensive lineman

Phil Dawson, kicker

Craig Dahl, safety

Key offseason departures:

Dashon Goldson, safety

Delanie Walker, tight end

Isaac Sopoaga, defensive lineman

Alex Smith, quarterback

David Akers, kicker

Randy Moss, wide receiver

Ted Ginn, wide receiver

Ricky Jean-Francois, defensive tackle

Biggest holes in roster: Safety, tight end, defensive line

The 49ers are in prime position to defend its NFC championship. They did lose a few key players, but they're more than well-equipped to replace them with 13 total draft picks, including five in the first three rounds. With that many picks and that few holes, the Niners can afford to take the best player available early on in the draft. Still, there are some quality players at No. 31 that the 49ers should look at.

The Niners' biggest hole comes at safety after the physical Goldson bolted for Tampa Bay. South Carolina's D.J. Swearinger might be the perfect replacement if the bigger names (Eric Reid, Matt Elam, Jonathan Cyprien) are off the board. Like Goldson, Swearinger is a big hitter who will punish any receiver who comes too close. He's durable, too, playing in all but one game for South Carolina in four seasons.

The one game Swearinger missed? It was a one-game suspension last season for a hit on a defenseless receiver. That seems to be Swearinger's biggest issue: he plays hard and fast, but he developed a reputation in college as a trash-talker and as someone who will get an extra hit in after the whistle. Nevertheless, the 49ers could use that sort of edge in their defense, so long as they're prepared to deal with the 15-yard personal fouls that will come with Swearinger's style of play.

Swearinger is projected to go in the second round, meaning the 49ers could potentially wait until they pick again at No. 34. In that instance, they could take a tight end at No. 31. Enter Stanford's Zach Ertz. Ertz is a complete TE -- has great hands, is an underrated blocker and can line up in the slot or on the line. Plus, if anyone knows how to use Ertz effectively, it'd be 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, who recruited Ertz to Stanford out of high school.

The Niners signed ex-Chiefs defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey to replace Sopoaga but could still use some depth along the trenches. Alabama's Jesse Williams, if he's around, could be the pick. Williams is a big, run-stuffing inside presence who's versatile enough to play anywhere along the line. If San Francisco is looking for a pure DT, Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins might be the better fit.

One interesting thing that may or may not happen Thursday night: a trade up. The 49ers have plenty of picks and only a few holes that absolutely need to get addressed. If they covet someone such as Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro, San Francisco could put together a nice package to move up to the middle of the round.

New York Sports