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Battle Stations: A look at the 49ers pre-draft competition that should arise

Chris Culliver will have competition behind him
Chris Culliver will have competition behind him
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The NFL is less than one month away from the 2014 NFL draft which will happen on May 8. Majority of the 49ers roster would appear to be set minus a few depth positions on the roster, but there will be a few notable battles on who makes the team.

Here are some positions where there will be competition whether it's a reserve spot or a starting job:

Center: Daniel Kilgore was recently extended through the 2017 season, but there could be competition from Joe Looney on the interior of the line. It appears the 49ers are mostly committed to Kilgore as the replacement for veteran Jonathan Goodwin, who was the starting center for the last three seasons. With no other offensive lineman listed as a center on the 49ers roster, they should draft or sign an undrafted one for depth reasons.

Backup Quarterback: The 49ers acquired Blaine Gabbert from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a sixth-round pick on the first day of free agency. Practice squad QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson is the only other QB under contract behind Colin Kaepernick. It would not be surprising if the 49ers take another QB in the late rounds for competition as the team shuffled their third QB position on the roster.

Inside Linebacker: NaVorro Bowman will presumably start the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list as he recovers from a torn ACL. Michael Wilhoite is penciled in as the Week 1 starter alongside Patrick Willis, who has experience when he filled in during the 2013 season. The 2013 Sixth-round draft pick Nick Moody is the only other ILB under contract. While the team has faith in Wilhoite, the 49ers could bring in another versatile linebacker who could play both inside and outside if needed during the draft.

Slot wide receiver: Only Quinton Patton has experience behind Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree on the depth chart. The 49ers should be using a high draft pick on a deep threat who can stretch the field who can make an impact right away. Besides Jon Baldwin, the rest of the WRs were mostly practice squad members.

Cornerback: The cornerback position becomes the most intriguing as only Tramaine Brock has a solidified starting role for the 49ers. Chris Culliver would be the starter on paper, but like WR, the 49ers should be spending a higher pick on a CB in this upcoming draft. Culliver excelled as a nickel CB and he should compete with whoever the 49ers take in the draft next month. Trent Baalke likes Eric Wright, who was re-signed last offseason, but the coaching staff has not found a role for him.

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