San Francisco 49ers

Talent shows: Bowl prospects the 49ers should be spying

North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10)safety Stephen Albright (16) during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Miami, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. North Carolina defeated Miami 20-13.
North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10)safety Stephen Albright (16) during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Miami, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. North Carolina defeated Miami 20-13. AP

SANTA CLARA -- How can the 49ers upgrade their roster in 2017? It’s time to get your armchairs and imaginations ready because bowl season is upon us. The following bowl guide is just a partial list compiled with the help of CBS draft expert Rob Rang. (See his big board here). It presupposes that the 49ers’ biggest draft needs will be wide receiver, linebacker -- outside and inside -- and quarterback.

Dec. 26, Camping World Independence Bowl, 2 p.m.

Vanderbilt ILB Zach Cunningham (No. 41): He's tall, long-armed and has a similar body to 49ers inside linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong. He's registered double-digit tackle numbers seven times this year, including a 19-tackle game against Georgia. At 6-4, Cunningham presumably would be good in coverage against tight ends.

Dec. 28, AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, 6 p.m.

Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett (No. 15): He's the odds on favorite at this point to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. After the Browns beat the Chargers Saturday, the 49ers briefly were in position for the top pick. But they gave it back to Cleveland with their 22-21 win against the Rams. Can Cleveland return the favor? They finish the season against Pittsburgh, which already has clinched the AFC North.

Dec. 30, Hyundai Sun Bowl, 11 a.m.

UNC QB Mitch Trubisky (No. 10): He's being eyed as a first-round pick and could boost his status even more with a strong game against the Cardinal. Trubisky has a quick release, a strong arm and plays in a spread attack. He's not a great runner like some other QB prospects -- something that Chip Kelly seems to prefer in his offense -- but he has scored five touchdowns with his feet this year.

UNC DL Nazair Jones (No. 90): He's a late bloomer with good size and athleticism who could go later in the draft. Jones has a career-high 62 tackles this year with 7½ tackles for loss, 1½ sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and three pass breakups.

Stanford RB Christian McAffrey (No. 5). McCaffrey will not play in the game.

Dec. 30, Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, 12:30 p.m.

Tennessee edge rusher Derek Barnett (No. 9): He's been more productive and consistent as a pass rusher this year than Garrett. Barnett has 12 sacks; Garrett, who missed three games, has 8 1/2, 4 1/2 of them coming last month against UT San Antonio.

Dec. 30, Capital One Orange Bowl, 5 p.m.

Michigan edge rusher Taco Charlton (No. 33): Charlton also has 8 1/2 sacks this season, including 2 1/2 in Michigan's double overtime loss to Ohio State.

Michigan safety/linebacker Jabrill Peppers (No. 5): The Wolverines played him at linebacker this year but Peppers has the size of an NFL safety. He's charismatic (something the 49ers need) and is a playmaker (something the 49ers need). But do they need another safety?

Florida State pass rusher Demarcus Walker (No. 44): Coaches in the ACC voted him the conference defensive player of the year after he tied for the FBS lead in sacks with 15.

Dec. 31, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, 12 p.m.

Alabama DT Jonathan Allen (No. 93): He's been consistently disruptive all season and has a very interesting background, as this storyin the Washington Post describes. The 49ers have used first-round picks on defensive linemen in their last two drafts. But considering their woeful defensive ranking, it seems they could use more.

Alabama ILB Reuben Foster (No. 10): Foster's a more traditional Mike linebacker than Vanderbilt's Cunningham. He's got a combination of speed and explosion reminiscent of recent 49ers greats Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.

Alabama edge rusher Tim Williams (No. 56). He has 8 1/2 sacks on the season and seems a lot like the pass rushers the Seattle Seahawks have drafted/signed in recent years.

Washington WR John Ross (No. 1): He'd automatically be the 49ers' best receiver and return man and you'd imagine Chip Kelly would get him involved in the running game, too. Ross has excellent balance, tracks the ball well deep down field and is harder to bring down they'd you'd suspect looking at his frame.

Washington DT Vita Vea (No. 50). He's athletic for someone who goes 6-4, 332 pounds. If the 49ers stick with a 3-4 defense, they might need a nose tackle. Glenn Dorsey is scheduled for free agency at the moment.

Dec. 31, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, 4 p.m.

Clemson QB DeShaun Watson (No. 4): He's got a big arm and can move. Watson is the early favorite to be the first quarterback selected. But in a light year for quarterbacks, how high will he go?

Clemson WR Mike Williams (No. 7): He has the size and physicality -- 6-3, 225 pounds -- the 49ers receiving corps lacks. Williams had 84 catches for 1,171 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. The argument for taking a receiver early in the draft: He would seem to make everyone -- from Torrey Smith to Vance McDonald to whoever is playing quarterback -- better.

Jan. 2, Cotton Bowl, 10 a.m.; Rose Bowl, 2 p.m.

A pair of receivers, Western Michigan's Corey Davis (No. 84) and USC's JuJu Smith-Schuster (No. 9), plays on this day. Some consider Davis the best all-around receiver in the draft. Smith-Schuster seems to have the strong catch-and-knife ability that Kelly covets but that has been missing from his offense this season.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at