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49ers 2014 Draft Forecast: Defensive Line

Stephon Tuitt
Stephon Tuitt
Photo by Jonathan Daniel

The front-four was addressed in the 2013 NFL Draft when the 49ers selected both Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial who were taken to develop for the long term.

Depth for both the nose tackle and defensive end are always key, but it appears the 49ers would be set for the 2014 season. Justin Smith and Ray McDonald are both under contract through the 2015 season with the former signing an extension last August. Ian Williams will return as the starting NT with Glenn Dorsey right behind him.

Tony Jerod-Eddie proved to be a decent rotational lineman, but the final spot on the roster could be uncertain. Rounding out the depth chart are Demarcus Dobbs and the British former discus thrower Lawrence Okoye.

DE Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame) 6-5, 304 pounds: Tuitt is the only notable defensive lineman who was brought in for a pre-draft visit with the 49ers. He had a fractured foot injury at the NFL Combine which didn't clear him for drills. Despite being limited for his Pro Day and Combine workouts, Tuitt has impressive size and the right motor for a DE in a 3-4 defense. While the 49ers took a look at him for a visit, he is unlikely to be playing for them as he's projected to be a first or second round pick.

DT Kona Schwenke (Notre Dame) 6-4, 288 pounds: Schwenke was the second lineman who came in to talk to the 49ers. He has the tools to be rotational player in the future. Schwenke is expected to go undrafted, but should provide competition in camp for one team.

DE Will Clarke (West Virginia) 6-6, 271 pounds: Clarke would be a five-technique player in a 3-4 defense for the 49ers and has good durability on the field. He would have to improve his game against the run if he wants to make an NFL team. Clarke is projected to be a late-round draft pick.

DT Caraun Reid (Princeton) 6-2, 302 pounds: Reid is still very young and could continue to grow both as a football player and physically with upside. In the short term, he could be a special teams player to block field goals as he has seven in his college career. He would also excel as a five-technique project for the 49ers in the 3-4. Reid is projected to be a third-round pick at the earliest.

DE Josh Mauro (Stanford) 6-6, 271 pounds: Mauro would need to hit the weight room and bulk up, but he has the frame and experience within the 3-4 defense. He was recruited by Jim Harbaugh and played under him for two seasons at Stanford. While Harbaugh has never drafted his own players that he once coached, he could sign Mauro as an undrafted free agent.

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49ers 2014 Draft Picks:

1. First round: Own pick, No. 30 overall
2. Second round: Kansas City Chiefs pick acquired for Alex Smith, No. 56 overall
3. Second round: Own pick, No. 61 overall
4. Third round: Titans pick acquired for a second round pick in a 2013 draft day trade, No. 77 overall
5. Third round: Own pick, No. 94 overall
6. Third round: Compensatory, No. 100 overall
7. Fourth round: Own pick, No. 129 overall
8. Fifth round: Own pick, No. 170 overall
9. Seventh round: Saints pick acquired for Parys Haralson, No. 242 overall
10. Seventh round: Panthers pick acquired for Colin Jones in 2012, No. 243 overall
11. Seventh round: Own pick, No. 245 overall

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49ers Draft Forecast Series: Running Back, Tight End