The draft is more than three weeks away, and the 49ers have a lot of flexibility with their scheduled nine picks.
Expect them to trade up, trade back and stand pat during the course of the three-day draft, which begins April 30. A couple years ago, the 49ers moved up in the first round to select safety Eric Reid.
Might they do the same thing this year? That’s the first question in today’s 49ers Mailbag. . .
How realistic is it trading up for Amari Cooper? (Sal Ingrande)
Let’s go back one year. The 49ers wanted wide receiver Odell Beckham, but with the No. 30 overall pick, the price to jump up to No. 12 (or earlier to get him) was going to be exorbitant.
General manager Trent Baalke later said the price in draft picks would have seen the 49ers, in essence, give up the rights to select Jimmie Ward, Marcus Martin, Chris Borland and Carlos Hyde to select Beckham.
Recently, well-connected Matt Miller of Bleacher Report said the 49ers want to make a move to get Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. I think the 49ers would love to land Cooper or West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White. And I have no doubt the 49ers will investigate and seriously consider the cost of such a move.
[RELATED: NFL Draft Profile: Alabama WR Amari Cooper]
But the problem, as it was a year ago, is the cost of moving from No. 15 overall to into the top-10 – perhaps as high as No. 6 to assure themselves of landing Cooper or White.
The 49ers would likely have to give up their picks in the first round (No. 15), second round (No. 46) and third round (No. 79) to move up to No. 6 to get one of those receivers. Anquan Boldin is nearing the end. The 49ers spent big money on speedy Torrey Smith. Cooper (or White) would see a lot of action in Year 1, then become a full-time starter in 2016 and beyond.
Baalke determined a year ago that price was too high for Beckham. And, it seems, the 49ers have more need for depth across the board this year.
Are the 9ers done in free agency or are we still looking to sign players before the draft? (Christopher George Ilejay)
The 49ers will be very reluctant to sign any players who might ultimately cost them the chance of a compensatory pick in next year’s draft. That’s why I don’t believe the 49ers will sign a qualifying free agent until after May 12.
After May 12, no free-agent signings count against the compensatory formula.
So the the 49ers really hope Michael Crabtree, who is getting little attention on the open market, lands a contract before then. (He is reportedly scheduled to visit the Raiders this week.)
There remains the possibility the 49ers could sign wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and linebacker Lance Briggs, but there is no urgency to execute deals before the draft – or, more specifically, before May 12.