49ers’ heir to Justin Smith may be in deep ’14 DE draft class


With all the changes the 49ers are making to their secondary, they will likely work from front to back if they plan to bolster their defense with the draft in May.

San Francisco has almost completely overhauled its defensive backfield from 2013. The lone returning starter is free safety Eric Reid, who’s entering his second NFL season. The team cut ties with cornerbacks Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and safety Donte Whitner and signed cornerback Chris Cook and strong safety Antoine Bethea, presumably to free up cap space. That leaves the 49ers with only one right corner in Eric Wright and two left corners in Tramaine Brock and Darryl Morris to go with Reid and Bethea at the starting safety spots.

That’s a skeleton crew.

With that mind, plus the success Reid had as a rookie in 2013 and the direction defenses are heading, it should come as no surprise if the 49ers draft several DBs.

Would it be so crazy if the 49ers flipped the script and put defensive linemen near the top of their list of priorities?

This year’s draft class of defensive ends is especially deep, as cover32’s Buck Stanton wrote Monday.┬áThe 49ers just might look for the heir apparent to Justin Smith, who turns 35 in September.

Follow Scott on Twitter @SJAdams

To read more about the 49ers’ defensive line needs, click here.

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