Because of the way they’ve been run the last few years, the 49ers and Raiders will face very different scenarios in this year’s NFL Draft, which begins Thursday.
Adroit personnel moves have netted the 49ers extra draft picks, so they’ll have 13 to use or trade for future usage. Their first round pick is next-to-last, but trading Alex Smith to Kansas City netted them the Chiefs’ second-round pick, second in that round, so they’ll have two picks in four choices in that segment.
The panicky trade for quarterback Carson Palmer by then-coach Hue Jackson has cost the Raiders their second-round pick — and Palmer has since been traded. The Raiders do not have their fifth-round pick either, but have three in the sixth round.
The 49ers have one starting position to fill: safety. Last year’s starter Dashon Goldson accepted a free agent offer from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that was more lucrative than they could fit into their salary schedule. The Niners did sign safety Craig Dahl from the St. Louis Rams, but he’s not a long-term answer.
They also lost Delanie Walker, who played when the Niners went to a double tight end formation. Otherwise, they could use backups at outside linebacker and nose guard.
It’s likely that 49ers general manager Trent Baalke has been working the phones to package some draft picks to move up in the first round. Typically, those deals don’t materialize until draft day when teams see what will be available to them. This kind of deal will be more likely this year because there’s a general agreement that this is a deep draft but one without star power at the top — which means no sure-thing quarterbacks. Last year, the top two picks in the draft were quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, and both led their teams to the playoffs.
This year, there may be no quarterback taken in the first round.
It is equally likely that Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie will be trying to trade down to get additional picks, but because this is such a deep draft, his chances of doing that are slim. So, he’ll probably take a defensive tackle, Florida’s Sharrif Floyd and Utah’s Star Lotulelei are rated at the top in that category. Either should be a huge improvement. Tommy Kelly virtually disappeared last season and Richard Seymour has been living on his reputation since he was traded by the New England Patriots.
Even if the Niners are unable to move up, they could still fill two holes with their two picks at the end of the first round and start of the second. In this scenario, at least one of the top-rated safeties — Jonathan Cyprien, D.J. Swearinger and Philip Thomas would be available. So would tight end Zach Ertz of Stanford, who would be a perfect fit for the Niners, who love to use a two tight-end formation. Having Ertz and Vernon Davis flying down the field on opposite sides could cause fits for opposing defenses.
Overall, the two teams have much different goals. The 49ers are trying to reach that final rung, a Super Bowl title, after a near-miss. The Raiders are trying to build for the near future. Their draft picks next week will be a big part of the future of both teams.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.