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SportsPulse: NFL reporter Lorenzo Reyes details why Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski’s absences at Patriots’ offseason program shows there is still tension between the team and Brady’s trainer Alex Guerrero.
USA TODAY Sports

In the build-up to the 2018 draft, USA TODAY Sports will take a look at each NFL team’s situation and needs

San Francisco 49ers

1. Linebacker was a position of need even before 2017 first-round pick Rueben Foster’s troubling offseason, which included two arrests and three felony charges, including one of domestic violence. The 49ers would be wise to add a fast inside linebacker who can help improve a run defense that ranked 22nd last year.

Advice: The 49ers will be on the clock at pick No. 9 in the first round, which could be the perfect spot to take Georgia’s Roquan Smith or, if he’s gone, Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds.

2. The 49ers had just 30 sacks in 2017, fewer than all but five teams. After using first round picks last year on a versatile defensive lineman (Solomon Thomas) and linebacker (Foster), San Francisco could further rebuild its front seven with an edge rusher early in the draft.

Advice: Picking at No. 9 should take the Niners out of contention for North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb, but the next best pass rushers should be available, including University of Texas San Antonio’s Marcus Davenport and Boston College’s Harold Landry. If the 49ers choose to wait until the second day of the draft to fill the need, Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter, Oklahoma’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, or Louisiana State’s Arden Key could be targets.

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3. After locking in their franchise quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo) and a highly-paid running back (Jerrick McKinnon), wide receiver is the only skill position left unaddressed in San Francisco. A young target is needed to join veterans Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin.

Advice: It would make sense for the 49ers to spend their highest pick on a defensive player, but it would not be surprising in head coach Kyle Shanahan were to push for a receiver on the second day, especially if players like Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk or SMU’s Courtland Sutton are available early in the second round.

Follow Lindsay H. Jones on Twitter @bylindsayhjones.

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