The San Francisco 49ers have long been identified as a team capable of making a big splash in May’s NFL Draft. With the 30th, 56th, 61st, and 77th overall picks in their back pockets, and a history of moving up to nab their guys, the Niners are giving us every reason to believe that a deal could be on the horizon.
In an interview on “SportsCenter” Friday morning, ESPN NFL insider Chris Mortensen said the Niners’ tumultuous offseason — which included another off-the-field incident from top pass-rusher Aldon Smith and striking out on speedy wide receiver DeSean Jackson — could lead the team to move into the top-five picks and draft a difference-making player.
“There’s some talk with the 49ers, who have six picks in the first three rounds, are ready to do something big,” Mortensen said.. “At No. 5, the Raiders are open for trading business. Could they go to No. 5, give up a bounty of picks, maybe include something in next year’s draft and target a Khalil Mack? We know that Aldon Smith’s future is a question mark.
“Another name I’ve heard is Mike Evans, the big receiver from Texas A&M. Who do they play against? Seattle. Seattle’s got those big corners, Richard Sherman. You need someone to go up and win those jump balls. The 49ers are a team that people are starting to talk about as someone who could be very aggressive in this draft.”
Mack and Jadeveon Clowney are considered the top two pass-rushers in this year’s class, and both are expected to be off the board somewhere in the top five picks. Smith’s recent run-in with the law, which resulted in his second arrest in the span of a year, has muddied his future with the club. San Fran has a team option on Smith’s contract for the 2015 season, and the team could opt not to pick it up if it drafts his successor in the first round this year.
While Mack may be off the board by the fifth pick, there’s a very real chance Evans is still available. Evans is largely considered the second-best wide receiver in this class behind only Sammy Watkins and could be the big-time wide receiver the Niners have been looking for to pair up with Michael Crabtree. Earlier in the offseason, the 49ers tried to facilitate a trade for Jackson but came up short. The team settled for re-signing aging veteran Anquan Boldin and signed Brandon Lloyd, who sat out the season in 2013. San Fran has a poor history of drafting wide receivers in the first round — see A.J. Jenkins, now a member of the Kansas City Chiefs — but Evans is widely considered a surefire talent.