San Francisco 49ers

In their sights: Potential 49ers’ targets in free agency

Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele (72) blocks during an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Cleveland. Baltimore won 23-21.
Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele (72) blocks during an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Cleveland. Baltimore won 23-21. AP

There will be exceptions for certain, but here's a broad way of thinking about the 49ers' offseason rebuild: They'll look at restocking the offense in free agency and the defense in the draft.

That makes sense. The draft, after all, is loaded with defensive linemen and inside linebackers while it's light on wide receivers and tight ends. General manager Trent Baalke, meanwhile, has proven to be better, much better, drafting defense than offense.

Whom might they target in free agency, which begins March 9? This was the scuttlebutt at the scouting combine:

Guard: Some of the young players drafted in recent years may one day be good players, but none is a lock to start in 2016. The 49ers had massive protection issues last season and, Week 1 aside, couldn't run the ball. Multiple reports have linked them to the top guard available, Kelechi Osemele, who could command top-tackle like money. The 49ers have not spent heavily at the position in the past but must consider doing so this offseason. If Osemele is too expensive, other options include zone-blocking specialist Brandon Brooks as well as Richie Incognito, Ramon Foster and Seahawks free agent J.R. Sweezy.

Wide receiver: The 49ers have exactly one proven receiver, Torrey Smith, signed for next season. While the Bears held onto the top potential free agent at the position, Alshon Jeffery, with the franchise tag, there are two other big-bodied receivers, Mohamed Sanu and ex-Cal receiver Marvin Jones, hitting the market. Baalke has shied away from drafting receivers since his 2012 misfire with A.J. Jenkins. Receivers will be expensive this year -- $6-, $7-, $8 million a year? -- but the 49ers need to bulk up the position. After a few good drafts for receivers, this one is considered weak.

Cornerback: Like guard, the 49ers have a lot of young players at the position but no standouts. Sean Smith has the size (6-3, 218) both Baalke and Chip Kelly prefer at the position, and despite this being his second foray in free agency, he's still only 28. A caveat: He was suspended for the first three games last year after pleading guilty to DUI. The Rams, meanwhile, must decide whether to keep the bigger-bodied Trumaine Johnson or Janoris Jenkins. The 49ers probably would prefer Johnson, but also might like Jenkins, an early second-round pick in 2012.

Running back: There was some talk that the 49ers could go after Doug Martin, who was born in Oakland, grew up in Stockton and who rushed for 1,402 yards last season for Tampa Bay, which was second only to Minnesota's Adrian Peterson. Martin had the longest run of his career, 84 yards, last year against Kelly's Eagles. But would Martin want to share carries with Carlos Hyde in San Francisco? He ran the ball 288 times last season. The Eagles' top two rushers last year, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, had 193 and 106 carries respectively.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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