The San Francisco 49ers ended the regular season strong winning five games in a row with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo as their starting quarterback. Thanks to the NFL's rules on rolling over unused cap space, the 49ers have the most cap space in the NFL with $114.1 million, so expect them to build in free agency. To make a leap as one of the best teams in the NFC, they will also need to draft the right pieces in the 2018 NFL Draft. So which prospects will they be looking at in the first round? The 49ers have the ninth overall pick, but will have to flip a coin with the Raiders to see which team gets either the ninth or tenth pick.
Here are four players the 49ers should target in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
4.) Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The 49ers desperately need to surround Garoppolo with weapons, particularly at running back since running back Carlos Hyde is a free agent. Enter Saquon Barkley, who is probably the best pure talent in this class. He can do it all out of the backfield and has no weaknesses to his game. There's a chance that Barkley will be the first non-quarterback taken, which means he wouldn't be on the board when San Francisco picks. However, if he's there, they might take him.
3.) Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Nelson is clearly the best interior offensive lineman in this class and San Francisco would be smart to invest in keeping quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo upright - especially considering how the 49ers just signed him the biggest deal in NFL history on an average-per-year basis. They need to improve the interior, which will help their running game considering the question marks around the running back position since Hyde is a free agent.
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2.) Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Edmunds NFL Draft stock is soaring due to his size-speed skill set, plus athletic ability. The 49ers also need help in their secondary, but linebacker is a huge need since Rebeun Foster's NFL future remains in question. He led the Hokies with 109 tackles, adding 5.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles this past season.
1.) Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
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The 49ers need to upgrade their defense, especially at the cornerback position. Ward is regarded as the best cover corner in this years draft class, plus he can also come up and make a tackle. The 49ers finished the season strong with a five-game winning streak and in a division with Russell Wilson and Jared Goff upgrading the secondary is important.
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