The San Francisco 49ers of 2010 have set the bar higher than ever before with a free agency and draft spectacle that looks like an approaching hurricane storm that is about to subdue the National Football Conference's Western Division. A major statement was made on behalf of new Vice President of Personnel Trent Baalke and head coach Mike Singletary to upgrade a lackluster offensive line that often looked like an oversaturated sponge that was unable to execute with any real sort of consistency.
If you are as old as I am you'll remember the very old Wendy's Hamburger Restaurant advertisement of "Where's the beef," from three adorable little old ladies that made headlines around the world. Well Mike Singletary and new offensive line coaches Mike Solari and Ray Brown purchased some USDA prime beef in Rutgers offensive tackle Anthony Davis with the NFL draft's 11th overall pick and Idaho's offensive guard in Mike Iupati with the NFL draft's 17th overall pick.
This is the 654 pounds of beef that will get the job done in the running game of Frank Gore, Glen Coffee and newcomer Anthony Dixon. And this new beef will be the impenetrable wall in pass protection for the number one overall draft pick in the 2005 NFL draft in Utah's Alex Smith to connect with an army of searing new talent in Michael Crabtree, Ted Ginn Jr., and Kyle Williams. Not to mention the super-veteran like reliability in Vernon Davis, Josh Morgan, Jason Hill and Delanie Walker.
This is the foundation of success that quarterback Alex Smith must cultivate and endorse as the motivational elements in transforming this mediocre offense to a high-octane multi-dimensional type offense are finally beginning to be inserted into place through multiple seasons of endless effort. The book on Rutgers Anthony Davis is that Mike Singletary is counting on him to deliver the book of revelations to the rest of the offensive line at the very young age of 20-years old.
At 6'5", 323 pounds with quick feet and 34-inch arms this is a right tackle you only dream about. He has over 10 inch hands an incredible durable frame and exceptional quickness off the ball. Analysts have described him as probably the best pure pass blocking tackle prospect in the draft and is fully capable of playing either the right or left tackle position. He allowed but only two sacks as a junior at his position. Mike Singletary has him penciled in to incite current right tackle Adam Snyder who was again inconsistent and vulnerable throughout the season last year.
Of course Anthony Davis comes with some known ghosts specifically in controlling his weight. With some variation he has struggled from time to time as has a high percentage of his fellow offensive linemen around the collegiate ranks. He was at one time or another a chubby freshman but a well sculptured one at this time. He also was seen as an inconsistent performer from time to time with a few occurrences of lost focus. Some critics draw conclusions to his less than ideal blocking efficiency in that he only scored an 82.58% grade in drawing concerns that he doesn't upgrade anything at all?
Is Anthony for real or just a young kid in it for a big payday? Mike Singletary has worked hard to dilute those skepticisms because he has done in depth research on this player through fellow colleagues throughout the league and doesn't get caught up in the weight label as many athletes do in their collegiate careers. Offensive line coach Mike Solari further opted to draw attention to his evaluations of Davis on game film that show just the opposite of what the critics are saying regarding his inconsistencies and lack of focus. He finds there are none. There may be bad plays from time to time but no real bad games with him in them.
The big payday for the San Francisco 49ers will be how Anthony Davis misspells these vicious accusations by his actions out on the field against premier NFL defensive ends that want to taste the blood of the quarterback he is sworn to protect. As Trent Baalke says when you watch him in clip after clip you see a giant of a tackle able to get off the snap of the ball quickly, watching his lower body explode like an uncoiled python into and against defenders. Defenders were pleasantly surprised by his initial punch and how utterly helpless they felt once Anthony's 34-inch arms were extended to keep them at bay.
Feedback from Anthony's mentor have told Singletary that he is a young man that is actively seeking development and wants a coach to keep a hand on him. He is a loaner by trait and a non-party type of young man. Trent Baalke has seen Davis move people off the block like no other which is a rarity now a days and stands square without leaning to one side. Playing lower and using more leverage will be the key coaching elements he'll need to learn going forward inside the league Baalke said.
One thing has been made abundantly clear by Mike Singletary to the notion of Davis becoming the starter this season is that he'll have to earn that right over veteran Adam Snyder via mini-camps, organized team activities and ultimately training camp itself. Nothing is to be taken for granted and Snyder must now realize that the heat is on like never before because here we are restraining an expensive first round type athlete that is expected to go one way or another. Anthony Davis has already admitted and been seen a raw prospect still on the learning curve as he struggles with the conditioning regimen the veterans normally do everyday in practice already seen getting gassed out and having to take a break.
Davis has made new personal goals and targets to live by and is working harder everyday to achieve them. I am excited about new 49er offensive line coach Mike Solari a proven known disciple of legendary 49er offensive line coach Bobb McKittrick who coached the 49er's offensive line for 21 total seasons from (1979-1999) and was allowed just one first round draft choice in that tenure being tackle Harris Barton in 1987. Solari learned from the best and is being assisted by a real student of the game in a perennial Pro Bowler 49er offensive lineman in Ray Brown.
The excitement about drafting two mammoth sized offensive linemen is very contagious with die-hard 49er fans and specifically offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye is that he believes size really does matter in the tune of 600-plus pounds in conjunction with 240-pounds of running back that it makes room for some optimism. I guess when you look at it from that standpoint that it is a real legitimate thought to be upbeat about?
Anthony Davis is anything but a sure bet. After all the 49ers traded away their fourth round draft -pick simply to move up two spots from No. 13 overall to No. 11 overall. The consensus to move up and take Davis was one made collectively by Vice President of Player Personnel Trent Baalke and head coach Mike Singletary. There were as many as four offensive tackles expected to be taken within the first round of the draft. Before the Anthony Davis pick the Washington Redskins selected Trent Williams at No. 4 while the Seattle Seahawks selected Russell Okung with the No. 6 pick overall.
Davis then was thought to be in the cross hairs of the Oakland Raiders at No. 8 but they chose linebacker Rolando McClain instead. Baalke indicated to all; that he wasn't necessarily concerned about the teams that were ahead of him as he was about other teams below jumping ahead of him in making the decision to move-up. Despite the critics that have said Anthony Davis lacks commitment and work ethic, he has put the entire league on notice in promising that his love for the game is unprecedented and that they will see results on the field when he takes to it. In sense he has put veteran tackle Adam Snyder on notice as long as he works a full head of steam throughout 49er training camp.
Back in Piscataway, New Jersey high school he weighed in at 363 total pounds. So be the weight concerns generated by the critics that foreshadow the draft. But now with his weight at 323-pounds that is a positive sign. Shedding 40-pounds in three years and being one of the most disruptive and talented tackles in the collegiate ranks out of Rutgers has to mean something?
Both head coach Mike Singletary and offensive line coach Mike Solari see Davis creating new habits that target his weight and put a heavy emphasis on conditioning. I think their consensus is right on track. I'm in support of the decision to address the offensive line twice within the first round of this draft. I like so many others saw the glaring need on display for too many seasons gone by. Again this is an endorsement for Alex Smith to up his game a bit and prove his just worth.
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.