The 49ers will address their most obvious needs at safety, defensive line and tight end with their three selections in the first two rounds, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. envisions.
In his annual draft report, Kiper has the 49ers picking defensive end Margus Hunt of SMU in the first round and safety Matt Elam (Florida) three spots later with their pick at No. 34. At No. 61, Kiper forecasts the 49ers selecting tight end Gavin Escobar.
But those are not the only players at those spots Kiper links to the 49ers. He said he would not be surprised if the 49ers select UCLA defensive end Datone Jones at No. 31.
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"He had a great Senior Bowl week," Kiper said on a conference call Wednesday. "He had a great heck of a year for Jim Mora. He's an ideal fit for what they do."
Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien, who also had a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, could be a legitimate option at either No. 31 or 34, Kiper said. And if the 49ers decide to address tight end with one of their top two selections, Stanford's Zach Ertz could get the call.
"Or do they wait until late in the second round and look at Ertz, if he's still there, or Gavin Escobar from San Diego State or Dion Sims from Michigan State?" Kiper said.
"If they can get those three positions filled with those picks at 31, 34 and 61, that would be a nice draft for Trent Baalke and Co., and then hope that A.J. Jenkins can come back and give you something at wide receiver."
Hunt, a 6-foot-8, 278-pound native of Estonia in Eastern Europe, was a world junior champion in the discus and shot put. He did not play football until his freshman year at SMU. He flashed tremendous ability on defense, to go along with 17 blocked kicks in his career.
"He's got tremendous physicality and potential," Kiper said. "He's a great athlete and has the right attitude. He's raw. I think the ball-location skills, you question them when you watch him. Obviously, he needs to improve his technique. You think about where Margus Hunt can be in two or three years with pro coaching. That's what you're drafting him on. Where he can be two or three years from now, not where he's going to be as a rookie.
"Physically, he's a top-10 pick. But he's going to be a late-one or early-to-mid-two because of the fact that there's going to be a roll of the dice whether it'll all come together for him at the pro level."