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Loaded 49ers could target safety, tight end in draft

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers got little return on their 2012 draft class, but it didn't matter as they made their way to the Super Bowl. With most of the key pieces returning, there's the potential for the same in 2013.

Despite having 13 picks in next week's NFL Draft, it's unlikely the roster will see an infusion of rookie talent. For general manager Trent Baalke, the priorities will be to find a safety who can compete for the starting safety spot with recently-signed Craig Dahl and add to the depth on the defensive line.

Texas' Kenny Vaccaro is widely regarded as the best safety in the draft, but with the 49ers drafting at No. 31 overall, he figures to be long gone. Widely regarded as a mid-first round pick, San Francisco could have the pieces to move up and take him if their evaluation dictates as much.

Florida's Matt Elam and Florida International's John Cyprien will likely be available when the 49ers draft at No. 31 and No. 34, so the team's brass could wait similar to what they did with Colin Kaepernick is 2011. LSU's Eric Reid and South Carolina's D.J. Swearinger are other options the team could pursue.

Much like last year, when Stanford's Coby Fleener was linked to the 49ers because of his connection to his former coach -- Jim Harbaugh -- Zach Ertz is creating similar buzz.

"I'd love to come play for the Niners," Ertz said at the 49ers' local pro day, which he attended but did not work out at. He's also aware of the 49ers situation at tight end. "After losing Delanie (Walker), I know there's an opening."

Former Seahawks tight end Cameron Morrah was signed to help fill that void, but he's not viewed as a player who can make an impact as a receiver like Ertz has the potential to. Cincinnati's Travis Kelce, San Diego State's Gavin Escobar and Maryland's Matt Furstenburg are other potential draft options.

The team has reported visits with defensive linemen John Jenkins (Georgia), Quinton Dial (Alabama) and Lawrence Okoye (British Olympian).

If the team is looking to make a splash, cornerback Tyrann Mathieu -- who visited the 49ers on April 6, according to -- could be that type of pick. The former Heisman Trophy finalist at LSU did not play last season after getting suspended and is the No. 72-ranked prospect overall by and the 10th-rated cornerback in this draft. Mathieu could be the team's solution at punt returner after the departure of Ted Ginn Jr.


-- GM Trent Baalke did not attend a Pro Day this year. He cited the team's longer season as the primary reason for not having the time to get out to a college campus for the first time in his time in the NFL.

-- Baalke met with approximately 120 potential draftees leading up to the draft, but the team did not fill its full allotment of 30 on-site visits.

-- Joe Montana's son, Nate, worked out for the team at its local Pro Day. Montana, a third-string quarterback in high school at De La Salle, played four different colleges. He started as a walk-on at Notre Dame before transferring to Pasadena City College. He also had a stop at Montana before finishing his career as the starter at Division-II West Virginia Wesleyan.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You're not going to get a straight answer from me (about the draft)." 49ers GM Trent Baalke before the team's local Pro Day.

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