Will the 49ers Trade Up in the First Round of the 2013 NFL Draft?

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | With so many draft picks heading into the 2013 NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers must be thinking about trading up, trading down and preparing for a season in which many holes still need to be filled.

The laundry list of positions of need include cornerback, safety and defensive linemen, any of which could be the prime target for a trade in the first round, which is where the 49ers are presumed to be making their first big moves of the draft, per NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah.

"There is no way 14 rookies will be able to make this roster. It makes sense for general manager Trent Baalke and Co. to either trade a few of this year's picks for future selections or aggressively package some picks and move up for an impact player."

So which players could the 49ers be looking to move up in the draft to acquire?

Wide receiver Tavon Austin was the first expected high draft pick to be linked to the team. He is scheduled to visit with San Francisco in early April, according to the Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows.

Austin's speed would obviously come in handy for the 49ers, and the team is looking for any additional weapons to add to their already talented array of receivers that includes the addition of Anquan Boldin in March. Austin would also benefit the team on special teams, as he is a kick return specialist with blazing speed.

However, the biggest hole for the 49ers entering next season is on the defensive side of the ball in the secondary. With the loss of Dashon Goldson to free agency, the 49ers need to add a starting safety to play alongside Donte Whitner. With adding a safety via free agency looking grim at the moment, it appears as though the 49ers will head into the 2013-14 NFL season with a rookie starter at safety acquired through the draft unless San Francisco re-entertains the idea of Charles Woodson in red and gold for one season.

There are NFL-ready prospects in the draft this year, but San Francisco must trade up to acquire them.

Kenny Vaccaro is expected to be the only safety selected in the first round this year, and he will likely be the only player the 49ers would make a legitimate move to acquire in the first round.

Vaccarro is big, fast and shows the discipline on the field to become a stellar professional at the next level. Like Goldson, Vaccaro hits hard and covers the field well enough to make him one of the best players the secondary has to offer in this draft.

Trading up for any other player in the first round would seem like a reach for the 49ers. The immediate need for the team is at safety, and while cornerback is a weakness that needs to be addressed, the draft is deep enough at that position to be acted on in the later rounds.

Players like cornerback Xavier Rhodes, wide receiver Tavon Austin and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei will be intriguing for the 49ers, and it will be interesting to see how the team reacts if one of those players slips in the draft.

Scott Semmler is a senior at San Jose State University fortunate enough to have covered nearly every Bay Area professional sports team, including the San Francisco Giants' 2012 World Series title. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSemmler22.

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