Mathew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Mathew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

First and Goal: I Feel the Need, the Need for Speed

Apr 17, 2015 at 10:02 AM

Welcome to 'First and Goal', your guide to everything Niners. This week we'll dive into part one of our draft special and look at some offensive studs that could help our team. As always, be sure to check out our Hero of the Week!

Let's get to it!

2015 Draft: Offense Edition

The NBA took away hand-checking in 1994. Forearm bars went away in 1997. By 1999, defenses were no longer able to re-route players without getting a foul. By 2001, the defensive 3-second rule was enacted. The purists grumbled because, well, purists are old and they like to grumble about lots of things. I grumbled a little too, because my team was the Knicks. We relied on our defense. How else are you supposed to stop Michael Jordan without mugging him every time he comes down the lane?

The NFL, as some people like to think, is becoming a league of two-hand-touch. I've seen my fair share of hits that looked legal but got flagged. All in the name of preventing concussions? I don't think so. The NFL, just like the NBA, wants to see scoring go up. When scoring goes up, more people watch. Every rule change in the last 10 years has gone to the benefit of the offense. The NFL wants you to score. So how do we do it better than last year? We get FAST!

Speed kills, children. It kills cornerbacks, it kills safeties, it kills slow linebackers and it kills defensive coordinators. You can have 10 people do their job perfectly well on defense but when the CB can't hang with the fleet-footed wideout… touchdown. The NBA is all about spacing, speed, above the rim athletics and long-range assassins. The NFL wants to get there too. So as much as people like to run the ball around here, we need to get some speed on this offense to help with the spacing.

So without further ado, here are some offensive players with wheels. I'm not sure who Baalke is going to draft this year, but I can pretty much bet at least one player from the list below will make our team.

We know Baalke will draft a RB. He always does. This year is also a good year for RB's and we need one on the roster to back up Hyde. (Bush backs up Hunter) There are some intriguing RB's this year, and we start with one that might fall to #15 and just might be BPA at that point.

Todd Gurley, Georgia: powerful, explosive, quick, fast, this man has it all. Some are wondering if he's a top 10 pick. Others are worried about his recovery from an ACL. Talent that falls due to injury, isn't that what Baalke specializes in?

Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin: Elite vision and acceleration make Gordon a running team's dream. Has the balance to get through the muck and the speed to burst through the 2nd level. Will be there at #15 but maybe there's better value later?

Tevin Coleman, Indiana: One of the fastest RB's in the draft, Coleman had 8 TD runs of 60+ yards last year, leading the nation while averaging 7.5 yards a carry. Has a 2nd round tag and already looks good in red.

Duke Johnson, Miami: Displays incredible acceleration, agility, burst and light feet to elude tacklers. Leaves speed-factory Miami as the leader in all purpose yards. Great receiver who can line up anywhere.

David Johnson, NIU: He's big (6'1" 225) he's fast (4.5 40) and he's explosive (41.5 vert). The long strider out of Northern Iowa isn't very elusive and he won't stop on a dime, but he's fast, big and decisive. Also sports some great hands. 3rd round value and someone will be happy with him.

Jeremy Langford, MSU: The fastest RB at the combine (4.42) also has good balance, vision and keeps his feet moving. He's also a natural pass catcher and very good at pass pro. Should be available in the 3rd and I'm hoping Baalke makes a move.

We know Baalke will draft a WR for two reasons -- We need one and this year's crop seems to be pretty good. Signing Torrey Smith is a plus, but teaming him with another burner will have an effect on the entire offense. Imagine our running game with 2 safeties deep. I can. Hyde 2K.

We're not talking about speed just for speed's sake, we want ballplayers. I'm looking at you Perriman. I know a lot of other people are high on Perriman but I see a guy who's a little stiff in the WR role. He can make some plays but I don't see him as a dynamic downfield threat that others see. Time will tell. There are plenty of other speedy threats that would look good on our team and I'm skipping the consensus top 3 because I think all three will be gone by 15.

We want blow the top off the defense speed. Back 'em up speed. Beat Seattle speed. I'm hoping Baalke trades down, maybe with Dallas who wants to draft Gurley/Gordon at 15. Then I take the first guy on my list, WR Devin Smith while picking up an extra pick so I can go ILB/RB/CB in the next 2 rounds.

DEVIN SMITH, OSU: I'm putting him in caps, that's how much I believe in him. Elite speed, elite playing speed, elite change of direction speed and big enough at 6' 200 lbs. Second in the NCAA in yards per reception at 27.2. He's athletic and agile to make plays on the ball and he has a 39' vertical. Is he perfect? No. Is he perfect for us? Yes! T.Y. Hilton roasted the Seahawks and I think Devin Smith can too.

Philip Dorsett, Miami: Gotta love Miami, they know how to find speed. I like Dorsett but I think he's too small to play in the NFC West. I know he can blow by people but he'll get tackled at some point too. You have to be on the field to provide value. But I could be wrong. And by running a 4.33-40 it would be a great toy to have. Led the NCAA in yards per catch and offers massive big play potential for someone like… Joe Flacco. Watch out, Ozzie on the prowl.

Nelson Agholor, USC: See the common theme here? These guys don't just time real fast, they have the agility and game speed to make a difference. Agholor is smooth and agile, gets separation, doesn't get caught from behind and doesn't seem to shy away from incoming CB's. The fact that he's also a returner makes him a real interesting option at #46 if he's there. Baalke, invest in the PR position for Chryst's sake! The more tape I see of other people, the more I like Agholor.

Sammie Coates, Auburn: He's fast… but to me that's not how he wins. He wins with size and body control. Tested fast, and looks fast on tape but I'm skeptical. Maybe at the right pick.

This spot reserved for Tyler Locket, who I can't tell if he's closer to AJJ2.0 or Randall Cobb. Arms are too short for Baalke, though.

Chris Conley, Georgia: Athletic freak who displays playmaking skills. I think he's raw, but there's a lot of potential if he gets with the right team.

This spot reserved for Kenny Bell, who I think will be a baller, but maybe not right away. He needs a few of those protein shakes you only get in the NFL.

Stefon Diggs, Maryland: I like his speed and wiggle on tape. I love his return skills. Might be had in the 5th? I think that's good value.

There will be a lot of speed available in the first 3 rounds and I hope Baalke trades back so we can accumulate picks and take advantage of some of this speed.

Hero of the Week

We here at 'First and Goal' believe in mankind. We believe that humor heals broken hearts. So this week, I want to take a moment to thank the one coach who's given me the most laughs the past few months. I know a lot of Eagles fans so that man is Chip Kelly!

You won a power struggle with your front office and what do you do? You traded away McCoy… then you picked up Demarco… then you traded FOR Sam Bradford. You do know he has glass knees, right? Actual glass? You gave a raise to Sanchez. And yet I'm still impressed. The man has moxie. I think Niner fans should be happy our front office didn't get crazy like Chip. The fans are in a state of shock. Ever meet someone from Philly? That's a hard thing to do. Your brilliant Eagles coach by day, comedian GM by night and Hero of the Week, Chip Kelly.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • paul jones
    come on phil, don't let the lack of tape put you off DGB. this kid is special and could easily be the red zone option we need. can't you see it? smith on one side, DGB on the other, boldin in the slot, davis at te, and reggie bush coming out of the backfield...... just the thought makes me smile. I only hope it makes baalke smile too!
    Apr 23, 2015 at 2:04 PM
  • Arturo Bradley
    Great article and I believe you are right that Baalke is looking for speed and elusiveness. Its so obvious. He drafted Ellington last year. Also was willing to part ways with Gore and allow Hyde to take over. He acquired Torrey, Bush, and Simpson via free agency. They also had pre draft visits with Diggs and Smith. Just like you said, I really do not know what Baalke will do with that 1st pick. However if Perriman is there at 15 I think there is a chance 49ers may pursue him. Although Baalke is looking for speed I am also sure he is looking for a player who dominates in the red zone. 49ers in 2014 were very inefficient in the red zone and with the possible departures of Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin in 2016, I think a guy like Perriman may fit that void. I think there is also a chance 49ers may take Jaalen Strong but he may not be worthy of 15. If Niners dont take a WR in round 1, I can see them taking a guy like Devin Smith or Dorsett in round 2.
    Apr 19, 2015 at 10:00 AM
  • Marty
    I look for a receiver to beat Seattle's DBs. Hilton & Edeleman has had success against Seattle's DBs. Both are quick. Hilton is fast. DBs had to play off. They could not grab or hold these receivers. That is why they were effective. Torrey, Ellington & Patton are those kind of receivers. Would love Dorsett. With his quickness & speed Seattle's back field would be in trouble. Kaepernick has the abilities to make big plays. Just need the receivers & coaching staff to design the offense.
    Apr 19, 2015 at 5:54 AM
  • Geep
    OK Phil, what's up with no comment on DGB? He's got everything the 9ers need. Size, speed, hands, tracks the ball and high points the catch in the red zone! And you wouldn't have to worry about him, just pick him up from jail on Sunday morning and get him to Levi stadium in time for the game?
    Apr 17, 2015 at 7:57 PM
    Response: I used to be in love with DGB. The combine and lack of tape makes me not trust him as a first round pick. In the 2nd maybe but even then he's a huge risk and not as athletic as I thought he was.
  • Zinn
    We have the same RB's and WR's. Must disagree on Dorsett being too small for NFC West. The kid has after burner speed. Blazed a 4.25 at his Miami Pro Day.. Very competitive and highly intelligent. DeSean Jackson clone-cannot pass in 2nd round if available. I want him and Duke Johnson..
    Apr 17, 2015 at 7:51 PM
  • Dietrich from maui
    Great write up! I too hope we trade back. Wouldn't mind pick 29-31 with an extra 2nd.. speeeeeeeeeeed is what we need . Devin and Johnson would be epic
    Apr 17, 2015 at 4:02 PM
  • Jeff
    Phil, thanks for the read. I've really enjoyed your articles. Its some of the best content around. Love your analysis on Devin Smith. I couldn't agree more; he's going to be a game changer and it'd be great if it was for us. I'd avoid Sammie Coates like the plague. I don't like his hands and seems to be a body catcher. One name I'd add to the list is Tre Mcbride from William and Mary. Small school guy but seems ready to step up. 4.41 speed, 1.49 10yd split, and it shows on tape. Amazing body control, great hands, fearless over the middle, and tracks the deep ball well. Good size at 6ft 200lbs and could be had maybe for a 5th.
    Apr 17, 2015 at 1:04 PM
    Response: much appreciated.
  • Ryan
    i love your draft strategy, honestly. they need to trade back in the 1st, somewhere 23-30, there will be a ton of talent there still, and pick up at minimum another 3rd. i like both devon smith and langford. also like multiple CBs and stephone anthony. accumulate picks in rounds 2 and 3. as far as the Chip Kelly thing, i live in philly, and eagles fans are mostly idiots like alot of niners fans. Kelly traded McCoy for Kiko Alonso, Demarco Murray, and Ryan Matthews, great trade. no other way to look at it. McCoy was a malcontent, complaining about the practice schedule, and at least 4-5 carries a game gave up 3-5 yards to get 0 or negative yards by dancing around. however, i completely agree about Bradford. he is mr. glass. but he is more the skillset Kelly wants, which is quick decision maker, quick release, decisive with the ball. he ran a very similar offense at Oklahoma. still a huge risk.
    Apr 17, 2015 at 10:31 AM
  • Chris H.
    Great post! Speed is what we need and no doubt Baalke knows that as a major need as well. It will be interesting to see what happens in he draft in a couple of weeks.
    Apr 17, 2015 at 10:27 AM

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