Here is my final review of the 2011 San Francisco 49ers Draft.
Unlike most, I have not been brainwashed by the ESPN or NFLN analysts who defend their mock draft to a tee and shoot down anything that gives them the slightest chance of being wrong. For us select few on the board who actually have football savvy we know that this was one of the strongest, although not such a “sexy,” drafts in quite some time. I am pleased to see that the drafts of this and last years were intended to build a potentially great team. Baalke sure knows what he is doing, and with Harbaugh there to help him we could have a VERY good team.
This year’s draft was made on one simple idea, building a winning program. Yes, I know it may sound cliché. If you take a good long look at our draft picks every one of them are high potential kids, and phenomenal athletes at their respective position. Just because they aren’t on Mayock’s big board, or Kiper’s best available doesn’t mean they aren’t good football players.
Let me explain:
1st Round Pick 7 (7th overall) – Aldon Smith 6’4” 263 DE/OLB Missouri
This was a fantastic pick. I myself was at this year’s 49ers Draft Party and I could not believe the synchronized groaning of the fans. I heard people yelling, “Prince!” and “Quinn!” I mean, really people? Okay. I get that you want to get a big-name pass rusher. I get that you want a big-name cornerback. Robert Quinn might be a great player for many years in the NFL, but look at it from Baalke’s prospective. Quinn didn’t play his senior season due to “off the field” issues. Quinn also has a benign tumor in his head that he must get checked by MRI every month to make sure it’s not growing. He has off the field issues and a bad medical history. Check. Now, we all know Amukamara is a great prospect. But every true student of the game knows that pass rush always has priority over coverage (And there’s a reason why he slid so far). How well would a rookie Amukamara do in coverage with no pass rush? Darrel Revis wouldn’t do so well if he didn’t have that great pass rush supporting him and he’s one of the best corners in the game. No pass rush, with a rookie corner is a bad combination. Now here is where I justify picking Aldon Smith.
Aldon Smith is a great pickup for our team. He has a squeaky clean resume, no medical issues, and has the potential to grow into a dominate player in this league. If this kid stayed in college one more year, he would have been a consensus top five pick, much like Von Miller was this year. We did not reach for Aldon. I’ll repeat that, we did not reach for Aldon! He was slotted to go between picks ten and fifteen. There had been reports of us trying to trade back but we could not find a trade partner. So we went with highest rated on the board and the second best pass rusher with a higher upside that Von Miller. Aldon Smith is listed at 6’4” 263 and still growing at only twenty years old. By the time it is all said and done he could possibly play at 6’5” 270-280 range. He is a natural pass rusher with a 7’2” wingspan (which amazingly can still grow). That’s plenty of arm length to reach/grab/tackle/sack the opposing quarterback and to fend off those huge offensive tackles at the NFL level.
With the addition of Aldon Smith to our roster teams can no longer double Justin Smith while keying on Patrick Willis. They must account for this kid or he WILL get to the quarterback. I have a feeling that we will see our first double digit sack artist since Andre Carter. Heck, I’ll go out on a limb and say we might even see two! I’m excited for this kid. Not only is he surrounded by a great coaching staff (let’s go Jim Leavitt!) but he is also surrounded with a stable of stud linebackers. Expectations for our defense are high this year, as it should be.
2nd Round Pick 4 (36th overall) – Colin Kaepernick 6’5” 233 QB Nevada
We traded our second (45th overall), fourth (108th overall), and fifth (141st overall) to Denver for their second (36th overall). What did we get in return? We found our QB of the future. Most of you did not like that we traded so many picks to move up and get Kaepernick. We had twelve drafts picks this year, TWELVE! I always say quality over quantity. And even after all the trades we still have eleven draft picks, so don’t be so bummed out.
He is the definition of a developmental quarterback prospect with first round talent. But who else would you rather have developing a prospect with so much raw talent than our very own Jim Harbaugh? Kaepernick is one of the most prolific quarterbacks in NCAA history and will do great with good coaching (See: Jim Harbaugh). He has cannon of an arm, great mobility, accurate on the run, and just as athletic as the first pick of the draft, Cam Newton. Of course it will take time for him to be a contributor, and eventually develop into a starter, but some have said in a few years we might have the best quarterback out of this draft class. Sign a veteran of the WCO in the off season and watch this kid grow under Harbaugh’s tutelage.
3rd Round Pick 16 (80th overall) – Chris Culliver 6’0” 199 DB South Carolina
Speed, speed, speed. Speed kills and it is something our defensive secondary has been lacking. We traded our third (76th overall) to Jacksonville for their third (80th overall), and their sixth (182nd overall). I initially thought that we wanted this kid at safety. But after we drafted the Jones kid in the sixth, we want this kid to be a contributor at cornerback.
He has the perfect blend of height, weight, and speed. We constantly got burnt on the deep ball last year. This kid has the speed to run with anybody. I think Ed Donatell and staff can coach this kid up and maybe in a year he can replace Clements as a starting corner. Instant contributor on special teams and on nickel/dime sets. He was also a great return man in college which gives us extra depth at the return specialist position and not having Delanie Walker returning kick offs.
4th Round Pick 18 (118th overall) – Kendall Hunter 5’7” 199 RB Oklahoma State
Great pick for value and fills a need. Hunter is going to be our change of pace back. We have Frank “Mr. Everything” Gore. Gore does it all and is darn good at it too. But we need to limit the tread on the tires if we want to keep Gore going at this stage in his career. He’s getting to that age where running backs start to decline. With Anthony Dixon as the bruiser and Kendall Hunter as our scat back, we can surely let Gore get good rest. Hunter was a finalist for the Doak Walker award which is rewarded to the best running back in the country. A little known fact about Hunter, over his four year college career, he averaged a mere 5.9 yards per carry.
5th Round Pick 32 (163rd overall) – Daniel Kilgore 6’5” 308 OL Appalachian State
We traded our sixth (174th overall) and our seventh (231st overall) to the Packers for their fifth (163rd overall). We moved up to get this athletic offensive lineman that plays with a mean streak. He had starts in college at every position on the line. He’s been told that we’re going to look at him at center. This makes sense because David Baas is a free agent, Eric Heitmann is uncertain about his career, and Tony Wragge is also a free agent. If we do resign Baas then he can be a viable backup at center, can add depth to every position on the line, and maybe replace Baas when his time is up.
6th Round Pick 17 (182nd overall) – Ronald Johnson 5’11” 199 WR USC
Apparently Johnnie Morton, our wide receivers coach, lobbied hard to get Johnson. Harbaugh also has familiarity with Johnson having played against the kid in college multiple times. Johnson gives us another option at the deep threat with better hands than Tedd Ginn Jr. Ginn was our deep threat last year but when put into position to make a play, he couldn’t catch the damn ball. Johnson will compete for return specialist as well compete with the receivers lower on the depth chart a la Dominique Zeigler, Kyle Williams, and Kevin Jurovich.
6th Round Pick 25 (190th overall) – Colin Jones 6’0” 201 DB TCU
I like this pick. We haven’t had a special team’s ace since “Killa” Keith Lewis. I have a feeling a lot of fans are going to fall in love with this kid. He is a white boy with speed that plays with reckless abandonment. He may not be a starter but he adds speed to a lackluster special teams unit and valuable depth at the safety position.
Round 7 Pick 8 (211th overall) – Bruce Miller 6’1” 254 DE/OLB UCF
This was another interesting pick by Baalke and Harbaugh. Miller was a beastly defensive end/outside linebacker at UCF. Supposedly we want to make him a fullback. I know one thing that is for sure, this kid likes to hit. Miller’s response to coach Harbaugh when asked about playing fullback, “I’m a football player coach. I’ll play anything you want me to.” Sounds like an old school, throwback football player. That’s a guy that I like on my team!
Round 7 Pick 38 (239th overall) – Mike Person 6’5” 299 OL Montana State
This pick adds depth to the offensive line. He is a small school prospect that can add valuable depth to one of the weaker units on the team. Person also adds versatility to the o-line. Played tackle at Montana State but will kick inside in the NFL.
Round 7 Pick 49 (250th overall) – Curtis Holcomb 5’10” 190 DB Florida A&M
Not much with this pick. Holcomb might be able to crack the roster, depending on what free agents we get when free agency opens it. He’s camp fodder at the least and could possibly make the practice squad.
Overall grade: B+
I base my grade on the potential of the players in this draft. Although some of the names called weren't the sexy pick, it was a very solid draft. Couple the potential of the players, with a very good coach staff that will get the most out of every player on the roster and you get a playoff team. With the quality of coaches we have on, I believe they'll get it done.
OFFENSE – Total players 26.
QB (3): Alex Smith*, Colin Kaepernick, David Carr
RB (3): Frank Gore, Anthony Dixon, Kendall Hunter
FB (2): Moran Norris, Bruce Miller
WR (6): Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn Jr., Dominique Zeigler, Kyle Williams, Ronald Johnson
TE (3): Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Nate Byham
OT (4): Joe Staley, Anthony Davis, Alex Boone
OG (4): Mike Iupati, Adam Snyder, Chilo Rachal, Mike Person
C (2): David Baas*, Daniel Kilgore
DEFENSE – Total players 24.
NT (2): Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean-Francois
DE (4): Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Demetric Evans, Will Tukuafu
MLB (4): Patrick Willis, Takeo Spikes*, NaVarro Bowman, Scott McKillop
OLB (4): Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Parys Haralson, Travis LaBoy
CB (6): Nate Clements, Shawntae Spencer, Tarrell Brown, Chris Culliver, Phillip Adams, Tramaine Brock
FS (2): Reggie Smith, Curtis Taylor
SS (2): Taylor Mays, Colin Jones
SPECIAL TEAMS – Total players 3.
PK (1): Joe Nedney
P (1): Andy Lee
LS (1): Brian Jennings
FINAL ROSTER: 53 players.
(*) notes free agents.
Hope you guys like it! Don't rip me too much. Hahaha.