A year ago, the 49ers deemed the price of trading up to select wide receiver Odell Beckham too steep.
The organization could face a similar decision this year, as the 49ers would certainly have to trade up for either of the top two wide receivers in the draft. Amari Cooper (Alabama) has long been considered the top receiver. But West Virginia’s Kevin White figures to be No. 1 on a lot of draft boards around the NFL after his impressive all-around showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, including a 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
The 49ers own the No. 15 overall pick. Cooper and White are expected to be long gone by the time that pick rolls around. A year ago, the 49ers talked about trading up from No. 30 to grab Beckham before the New York Giants selected him at No. 12.
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“Odell Beckham is a heck of a talent,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in Indianapolis. “But are you willing to give up Carlos Hyde (second round), Jimmie Ward (first round) and Chris Borland (third round)? That’s the minimum you would have to give up to take that one player. Those are three pretty good players in our opinion.
“So is one great player better than three really good players? That’s always a debatable question. And were they (New York) going to move? That’s what a lot of people don’t understand. They weren’t moving anywhere. They were going to hold tight and take that pick. Their guy fell to them; they felt good about. It’s always nice to look at what you could have had, but the reality most of the time you couldn’t have had that or if you did get it, it would have cost you way too much to go get it.”
Baalke confirmed the 49ers checked in with teams with picks in the range that Beckham was selected to inquire about the possibility of moving up. Beckham had a spectacular rookie season with 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. He would have given the 49ers' offense an element of speed and playmaking that it lacked last season.
“We inquired with several teams in that neighborhood of being able to move up and go get, there were several players that we were interested in,” Baalke said. “But the cost of moving was too much, and the desire of those teams to move wasn’t enough. So you get locked in and then once that passes, and the players that you were looking up for were off the board, then it becomes a moot point.”
The 49ers held onto the No. 30 pick, and selected nickel back Jimmie Ward.
The cost of a trade this year would roughly the same for the 49ers to move from No. 15 to No. 6 to take Cooper or White on April 30, the first day of the draft. Cooper caught 124 passes for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, while White had 109 receptions for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns.
If the 49ers stand at No. 15, DeVante Parker of Louisville could be an option. Dorial Green-Beckham has the talent to be taken in that spot, but his off-field concerns could force the 49ers to pass. The 49ers could wait until Day 2 to add a talented wide receiver. Baalke said the 49ers do not feel they must use their first round pick on a wide receiver.
When asked if quality wide receivers will be there after the first round, Baalke said, “I think if you look at the league, you’d have to say yes. I mean, there are good receivers within the NFL that have been picked at every level of the draft. A lot of it comes down to system, quarterback and development -- those three things.”