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2017 NFL Draft, San Francisco 49ers: Top needs, suggested picks, current outlook

2017 NFL Draft Reset: 49ers engineer roster overhaul

By
Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com
Former Chicago Bears and new San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brian Hoyer throws the ball during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field in Chicago on September 19, 2016. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
Former Chicago Bears and new San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brian Hoyer throws the ball during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field in Chicago on September 19, 2016. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

For a while, new San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan could relate with the previous regime -- they had no quarterback. Now they have two. Well, on paper, anyway.

The 49ers have replaced Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert, who had an almost identical number of starts the past two seasons, with more of a clear-cut, 1-2 pecking order when they plucked Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley from free agency.

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A third quarterback almost surely will come from the draft, where the 49ers own 10 picks, including No. 2 overall, in the seven-round player dispersal.

Shanahan has yet to commit to Hoyer as his starter, but the two-year, $12 million agreement -- with $6.95 million guaranteed -- is a strong indication he is the early front-runner.

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The ability to trade down in a quantity-over-quality move could prove beneficial for the 49ers and, by the way, Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas has been shooting up draft boards.

The 49ers began the free-agency process with more money to spend than any other team and filled some of the many holes on their roster.

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If quarterback was Priority 1A, then the 49ers have focused even more attention on 1B -- wide receivers -- signing a wide variety, including proven standout Pierre Garcon and speedballs Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson, while also retaining their chief underneath target from last season, Jeremy Kerley.

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Highlighting 15 other free-agent signings were fullback Kyle Juszczyk, inside linebackers Dekoda Watson and Malcolm Smith, outside linebacker Brock Coyle and kicker Robbie Gould. They also added a potential starter on the offensive line, guard/tackle Jeremy Zuttah, in a trade with Baltimore.

Here is a closer look at where the 49ers are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft, at No. 2 overall.

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THE BREAKDOWN

2016 finish: 4th NFC West (2-14-0)

STATISTICS

TOTAL OFFENSE: 308.1 (31st)

RUSHING: 126.2 (4th)

PASSING: 181.9 (32nd)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 406.4 (32nd)

RUSHING: 165.9 (32nd)

PASSING: 240.5 (14th)

TEAM NEEDS

1. Quarterback: Is Brian Hoyer the answer? At best, he would seem like a long-term backup for a star of the future. The question now is: Has Kyle Shanahan identified one atop this year's draft, or might the 49ers explore other needs and put the future of the quarterback position on the back burner for another day?

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2. Safety: Sending Antoine Bethea, one of the team's most dependable defensive players, on his way has created yet another position to be filled. The 49ers have not addressed the issue in free agency, an indication they could be looking to draft a safety with their first pick.

3. Wide receiver: They've added a solid No. 2 (Pierre Garcon), retained a proven No. 3 (Jeremy Kerley) and imported some speed for stretch-the-field alignments (Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson). But the 49ers could still use a game-breaker along the lines of Kyle Shanahan's previous team -- the Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones.

KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 6)

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

RB DuJuan Harris: Not tendered as ERFA; terms unknown.

DT Chris Jones: UFA; $825K/1 yr, $50K SB.

WR Jeremy Kerley: Potential UFA; $8.4M/3 yrs, $1.7M SB/$3.5M guaranteed, $700K injury only at time of signing.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

QB Matt Barkley: UFA Bears; $4M/2 yrs, $500K SB.

LB Brock Coyle: Not tendered as RFA by Seahawks; 1 yr, terms unknown.

WR Pierre Garcon: UFA Redskins; $47.5M/5 yrs, $12M SB/$20M guaranteed, $3M injury only at time of signing.

WR Marquise Goodwin: UFA Bills; $6M/2 yrs, $2.5M SB/$4.45M guaranteed.

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K Robbie Gould: UFA Giants; $4M/2 yrs, $500 SB/$1M guaranteed.

RB Tim Hightower: UFA Saints; terms unknown.

QB Brian Hoyer: UFA Bears; $12M/2 yrs, $4M SB/$9.85M guaranteed; $2.75M injury only at time of signing.

S Don Jones: UFA Texans; $2.2M/2 yrs, $250SB/$750M guaranteed.

FB Kyle Juszczyk: UFA Ravens; $21M/4 yrs, $5M SB/$9.85M guaranteed; $2.75M injury only at time of signing.

DT Earl Mitchell: FA Dolphins; 4 yrs, terms unknown.

TE Logan Paulsen: UFA Bears; $1M/1 yr, $125K SB.

WR Aldrick Robinson: UFA Falcons; $4M/2 yrs, $300K SB/$500K guaranteed.

LB Malcolm Smith: UFA Raiders; $26.5M/5 yrs, $7M SB/$13M guaranteed, $1.5M injury only at time of signing.

LB Dekoda Watson: UFA Broncos; 3 yrs, terms unknown.

C/G Jeremy Zuttah (trade Ravens).

PLAYERS LOST

LB Nick Bellore: UFA Lions; terms unknown.

S Antoine Bethea (released).

K Phil Dawson: UFA Cardinals; $6M/2 yrs, $1.5M guaranteed.

RB Shaun Draughn: UFA Giants; $1M/1 yr, $100K RB 4/5.

C Marcus Martin (released).

WR Quinton Patton: UFA Jets; $825K/1 yr, $25K SB.

WR Torrey Smith (released).

LB Michael Wilhoite: UFA Seahawks; $1.55M/1 yr, $500K SB.

MOCK DRAFT

NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No. 2 overall)

Rob Rang:

Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford. Head coach Kyle Shanahan was hired to help spark a listless offense that ranked 27th in the NFL in points scored and dead last in passing last season but ignoring better players just to draft a quarterback may only guarantee another poor season in 2017. Thomas is a natural disruptor who has drawn comparisons to Rams star Aaron Donald. He could be the perfect finishing touch for a defensive line currently better prepared to stuff the run than bother rival quarterbacks.

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Dane Brugler:

Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford. Yes, there is the Stanford connection with general manager John Lynch, but more importantly, Thomas is an excellent football player who adds immediate pass-rush help on the defensive line.

Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?

Based on the team's current status, there are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate check out NFLDraftScout.com's full mocks and ratings.

--Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. TSX team insiders contributed to this article.

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