First-round landscape has changed for Nolan & crew
The 49ers aren't taking any chances with their second pick in the NFL draft. San Francisco is looking to get a sure-fire starting prospect at a position of need at that slot, and the chances of that greatly improved Wednesday when the Niners traded with the Denver Broncos for the No. 22 overall pick in the college lottery, making San Francisco one of just two teams to own two selections in the first round come April 29.
But the price the 49ers paid for the premium pick was high. San Francisco relinquished the fifth pick in the second round - the No. 37 overall - and the fourth pick in the third round - the No. 68 overall - to move up in the draft.
The Niners apparently are angling to pick up one of the top outside linebackers in a linebacker-rich draft at the No. 22 slot with the assumption that Ohio State product A.J. Hawk - generally considered the top linebacker prospect available - will not last past the first five picks. The 49ers own the No. 6 overall selection in accordance with their 4-12 finish in 2005.
“We took advantage of a great opportunity to acquire a second first-round draft pick today after working out a trade with the Denver Broncos,” Niners coach Mike Nolan said. “We feel like we acquired more value by making the trade for this pick. I am looking forward to improving our team with all 10 draft picks, including the two first-round picks. We will continue to build this team through the draft.”
The trade contradicts the pattern Nolan's Niners have set of accumulating extra picks to add both talent and depth through the draft. Since last September, the 49ers had added four picks to their package of 2006 selections via trades.
But those extra picks allowed the Niners to make such a move for an additional first-rounder, where San Francisco will be looking to fill a void in its starting lineup.
The 49ers now have 10 picks overall at the end of this month. San Francisco also owns the 20th pick in the third round (No. 84 overall), along with one fourth-rounder (No. 100), one fifth-rounder (No. 140), two sixth-rounders (Nos. 175 and 192) and three seventh-rounders (Nos. 213, 236 and 254).
The Broncos now own seven picks in the first four rounds. They have the 15th overall selection after moving up from 29th in a deal with Atlanta. Denver had acquired the 22nd overall pick from Washington in a trade last April.
The Broncos also had been looking to trade up to acquire the Niners' No. 6 pick, where Denver was hoping to land Maryland tight end Vernon Davis. But the Broncos apparently didn't make a sweet enough deal for the Niners to bite on that offer.