If the 49ers choose to go with a linebacker instead, McCloughan said the team is in search of a replacement for Derek Smith, a longtime starter at inside linebacker.
Possibilities at No. 29 could include Tennessee's Jerod Mayo, who ran an impressive 4.54-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. Dan Connor of Penn State is coming off a season in which he was credited with a career-high 145 tackles.
Asked about Quentin Groves, the Auburn outside linebacker the 49ers brought in for a workout earlier this month, McCloughan said: "Size, speed - he's been very productive in the SEC for 3 1/2 years."
• McCloughan said the 49ers are more likely to trade out of the first round than trade up. Either way, the phone is already ringing.
The NFL's push for a more efficient draft means teams are laying the groundwork for trades earlier than ever. There are only 10 minutes between picks this year instead of 15.
McCloughan said he had talked to four teams already and expected to hear from four more by the end of the day. "There's been more contact this year than ever," he said.
• Larry Allen's status remains a mystery. The longtime offensive guard has not made it known whether he will return to the team or retire. A starting job with the 49ers is not assured, but McCloughan said, "If Larry Allen wants to be a 49er, he'll be a 49er. - There's no bad blood."
• Regarding this year's receiver class, McCloughan said: "The quality's good, but I wouldn't say as good as the last two years up top. In the mid-rounds, it's good. You have a chance to get one or two good football players at the receiver position in the mid-rounds."
Discussions with free-agent outside linebacker Takeo Spikes, 31, are on hold until after the weekend. McCloughan said, "We're sitting tight and seeing where the draft goes." Spikes is apparently doing the same, waiting to see which teams still need starters after draft day.