San Francisco 49ers: C+
Draft picks: DE Aldon Smith (first round), QB Colin Kaepernick (second round), CB Chris Culliver (third round), RB Kendall Hunter (fourth round), OL Daniel Kilgore (fifth round), WR Ronald Johnson (sixth round), S Colin Jones (sixth round), DL Bruce Miller (seventh round), OL Michael Person (seventh round), DB Curtis Holcomb (seventh round).
Analysis: Smith, according to personnel sources, is a questionable fit for a 3-4 defense. It may take him awhile to make the transition to outside linebacker. Kaepernick may wind up being the best player out of their draft class, but down the road.
San Francisco 49ers: C
Though the 49ers used their first-round pick on Missouri pass rusher Aldon Smith, their 2011 NFL Draft will ultimately be known as the draft in which Jim Harbaugh selected his future quarterback. Colin Kaepernick possesses many of the attributes necessary toward becoming successful in the NFL. He has a rare combination of size, arm strength and mobility for the position and is intelligent and hard-working. His awkward throwing motion has drawn the ire of some, though the 49ers are obviously comfortable with it. Recognized for his development of Andrew Luck at Stanford, Harbaugh's ability to cultivate Kaepernick will go a long way in determining both men's success in the NFL. As for Smith, quite frankly, I have my reservations about his potential in San Francisco's scheme. At 6-4, 263 pounds, Smith is already bigger than many 3-4 edge rushers and at only 20 years-old, he hasn't stopped growing. He's a bit stiff in the hips and I question how well he'll be able to turn the corner and close on the quarterback. Third-round pick Chris Culliver has a rare combination of size, speed and versatility. Of all San Francisco's picks, I'm highest on Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter, who is going to struggle to see the field considering the 49ers feature one of the NFL's top backs in Frank Gore. There is undeniably a lot of intriguing talent in this draft class, but one with some real gambles on upside.
San Francisco:Grade: B- ... but it's a winning class if Kaepernick pans out.
What I liked: Picking up QB Colin Kaepernick in the second round. He has incredible athletic talents and put up great numbers on the ground and in the air at Nevada. New head coach Jim Harbaugh, meanwhile, played quarterback in the NFL and has a proven track record now with Stanford's Andrew Luck of developing pro-style QB talent. More importantly, quarterback was the team's greatest statistical need in 2010. The Smiths, Alex and Troy, are clearly not the long-term answer at quarterback. Kaepernick could be a great value in the second round.
What I didn't like: The 49ers still need a lot of help on the offensive line. They ended the 2010 season No. 30 on our Offensive Hog Index and struggled especially protecting the passer. It's hard to groom quarterbacks in that kind of environment. Yet San Francisco waited until the fifth round to tab an offensive lineman, and then pulled Daniel Kilgore out of FCS school Appalachian State, most likely a backup at best in the NFL.
Mel Kiper Jr. = C+ only Four teams received lower grades.
Analysis: You'll hear Smith called the first big reach of Round 1, but he wouldn't have lasted long at all past the No. 7 slot where the Niners nabbed him. And beyond the obvious question at quarterback, an outside linebacker who can rush the quarterback was the biggest position of need for this team, and if Smith continues on his developmental path, he could be a star. Jim Harbaugh found a quarterback he can develop with Kaepernick in Round 2, but even with the run on quarterbacks, I saw that as a reach. There's a lot of development needed. San Fran did hit on other top needs at cornerback and wide receiver, and got decent value in Hunter for depth at running back. Kilgore also offers a little more depth at guard. It's all about what happens at quarterback in terms of how we judge the success of the 2011 49ers, but I judge this weekend as a relative success. It's just a small worry when your first two picks both have development requirements.
While Kiper went with traditional grades, Todd McShay was much more basic. He simply assessed each team's best move and most questionable move.
Best move: Trading up to get Colin Kaepernick Alex Smith is expected to be back for another year, but this gives coach Jim Harbaugh a quarterback to develop. Kaepernick needs work and is a long way away, but with the right coaching he could be one of the steals of this draft.
Most questionable move: Reaching at cornerback The 49ers had a pretty good draft, but there were better options, including Shareece Wright, Curtis Marsh and Johnny Patrick, available at cornerback than Chris Culliver at the No. 80 slot. They addressed the pass rush but could have done a little better here at cornerback. Still, if this is the most questionable move they made, the 49ers had a pretty good draft.
Solomon = B
Sapp = C
I really liked Solomons analysis on NFL Network. This is just something to think about in 3 weeks. I can bet you all one thing though, after so many were so wrong in such a short amount of time, I think our GPA will be much higher no matter who we draft.
[ Edited by DRUSTOPO on Apr 5, 2012 at 6:49 PM ]