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Expect 49ers to trade, move up in draft

  • SMU defensive lineman Margus Hunt could be an enticing selection for the 49ers, who have the 31st pick in the first round of today's draft. (DAVE MARTIN / The Associated Press)

Even though the San Francisco 49ers played in the Super Bowl a few months ago, they have needs like any other team. In fact, they have more needs than you'd think, and they have to figure out a creative way to address all of them in the upcoming draft. Below are five important things to know about the 49ers right now:

1. CONSOLIDATION OF PICKS

The roster is so talented and deep, only six or seven rookies will make the final cut after training camp. On the other hand, the 49ers own 13 picks in the draft.

Look for the 49ers to consolidate their picks by trading some of them up or trading some of them out of the draft in exchange for picks next year. Both options are better than drafting 13 rookies and cutting half of them before the season starts.

2. PREMIUM CORNERBACKS

The 49ers have no premium talent in the secondary. The 49ers never have won a Super Bowl without a premium defensive back -- they won four with Ronnie Lott and one with Deion Sanders.

The current 49ers cornerbacks, Carlos Rogers and Nnamdi Asomugha, used to be premium talents, but each player will be 32 in July. The 49ers traded Ronnie Lott when he was 31.

They need young, elite defensive backs. If they trade up with the Carolina Panthers to No. 14, the 49ers probably could draft Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner, and if he's been picked, they could take Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes.

3. JUSTIN SMITH NEEDS BACKUP

Defensive lineman Justin Smith, the 49ers' MVP the past five seasons, had left-elbow surgery this offseason to repair a torn ligament. He will turn 34 in September and will be a free agent next offseason. When he was healthy last season, the 49ers had a top-two defense along with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After he got hurt in Week 15, the 49ers' defense was one of the 10 worst in the NFL.

The 49ers would like to find his replacement sooner rather than later. Players who could audition for the role: Utah's Star Lotulelei, Florida State's Cornellius Carradine and Missouri's Sheldon Richardson.

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