San Francisco 49ers

A year ago, general manager Trent Baalke went with his instincts, put pass rusher Aldon Smith atop the 49ers’ draft board and nabbed him with the No. 7 overall pick.

This year, the 49ers again have a leading candidate in mind for their first-round pick, even though it’s not slated to come until No. 30.

“There is one (prospect) in particular that we feel will be there, and if he is, we’ll be prepared to make the pick,” Baalke said.

Come next Thursday night, on April 26, the 49ers will be on the draft clock. All of which leaves plenty of hours and endless speculation about whom the 49ers might pick — and where.

“Trent’s trying to be dramatic with you guys and build drama,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “There’s a lot of guys we’d love to have at that pick.”

Might they select Stanford tight end Coby Fleener, who visited the 49ers facility Wednesday and talked with coaches but did not audition with the 50 other local prospects?

Could the 49ers bolster the depth on their top-notch defense? How about a right guard to replace Adam Snyder (now with the Arizona Cardinals) and Chilo Rachal (Chicago Bears)?

What about wide receiver despite the additions of Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, the latter of whom won’t show up for offseason workouts until April 30 per Harbaugh’s recommendation?

There’s no telling how the draft will unfold, of course, but Baalke said the 49ers’ board is 90 percent set. Asked about Fleener, Baalke declined to share his impressions, nor would he rule out any other player or position, even quarterback.

“We want to create competition, and quarterback’s no different than any other,” said Baalke, later repeating that logic in explaining the 49ers’ failed recruitment of Peyton Manning.

— When Moss signed a one-year contract March 12, Harbaugh said he suggested Moss stay back east with his family for the first two weeks of voluntary workouts. More than 60 players have shown for the conditioning program.

— Harbaugh said he will poll players before deciding if the 49ers stay in Youngstown, Ohio, between their Weeks 3 and 4 games at the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Jets.

— Running back Brandon Jacobs and Manningham, both former New York Giants, have been welcomed into the 49ers locker room. “A lot of guys looked up at me and said, ‘You’re big,”‘ said the 6-foot-4, 264-pound Jacobs.

Jacobs and Manningham both are aware the 49ers will play host to the Giants, on Oct. 14. Said Manningham: “They do things different in a good way around here. Lifting, running, they do different workouts for different parts of your body.”

Asked his impression of quarterback Alex Smith, Manningham replied: “Cool. Cool. We’re going to try to get on the same page and go out there and get some ‘W’s.”‘

— Dan Kilgore, Mike Person and Alex Boone were mentioned by Baalke as possible replacements at right guard. Asked if another option could be moving right tackle Anthony Davis to right guard, Baalke didn’t rule it out and said the five best offensive linemen will play.

Kyle Williams, who botched two punt returns in the NFC final, remains backed by the 49ers’ brass. “I’m not down on Kyle Williams, nor is anyone else in this organization,” Baalke said. “I’m very confident that Kyle will get past the incident of last (season) and is ready to move on. And he’ll get better because of it.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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