Kiper-Effect Enables Cardinals to Steal Our Thunder

May 3, 2005 at 12:00 AM


After watching the cameras interview either Eli Manning or a Manning family member every five picks a year ago, I thought for sure that the 49ers would receive some media adoration this year. But there were no Alex Smith childhood photos. There were no Andrea Kramer interviews with parents or relatives telling us that they always knew Alex would be a superstar NFL quarterback. In fact, aside from Sal Paolantonio standing in a locker room decorated with 49ers equipment, the 49ers got scant attention. There must be a reason for this!

Much like a Congressional inquiry, the purpose of the article is to answer the question, "What went wrong?" Did ESPN think that Aaron Rodgers dropping to twenty-fourth was more important? Did they think that we were outdone by the Dolphins, Browns, or Buccaneers, all of whom coveted Smith?

Actually, the primary problem is that the NFL people believe that the Cardinals' perpetual rebuilding project might actually get them somewhere. The Cardinals have out-ranked the 49ers in virtually every draft analysis I've seen. There must, I insist, be a reason for this. East Coast bias? No. An attempt to appeal to the major media markets? No. Something far more sinister. An unhealthy obsession with Mel Kiper.

What? I know what you're thinking, but don't worry, I'll explain everything later. Let me just start out by stating for the record that I hold nothing against the Cardinals organization or their fans. In fact, I like their fans because they keep their long-standing suffering to themselves, unlike Cubs and Red Sox fans who feel the need to trumpet their pain to the world on an hourly basis. My problem lies squarely with the draft experts who believe that the Cardinals who, despite drafting seven picks behind us and choosing from our leftover table scraps, apparently made lemonade out of our passed over lemons.

But let's briefly consider how, or why, the media evaluates the draft. With every selection, coaches and GMs select the player that they believe will help their football team the most. Any scout, even the most incompetent, could easily justify to the sharpest of media moguls why his team selected the player it did, and do so with sufficient depth and industry-specific knowledge to make the sportscaster look silly.

The point being, when Kiper lists his "Best Available Players" at the bottom of the screen, he has no idea what he's talking about, as evidenced by the fact that teams don't usually pick the "Best Available Players" right away. Nevertheless, Kiper, via his website, radio cameos, and Elvis-like walks through New York City, drums up considerable interest in the players he ranks at the top of his draft board. Thus, when the Cardinals drafted Darryl Blackstock in the third round, it looked like a steal because Kiper had him going in the early second round.

The Cardinals benefited from this Kiper-effect on three separate occasions with the selections of Blackstock, Eric Green, and Elton Brown. Who cares if Blackstock is too small to play defensive end in the Cardinals' 4-3? Who cares if Eric Green was the fifteenth cornerback taken and, thus, probably not a steal? Who cares if Elton Brown, the Maurice Clarett of offensive linemen, is going to combine with L.J. Shelton to form the most cancerous locker room in the history of football? They were ranked highly on Kiper's website!

But did the Cardinals really draft better than the 49ers? Should the 49ers have drafted Antrel Rolle, then J.J. Arrington, etc.? Probably not. We've all known for a long time that it all starts with the lines. Lines are the building blocks. It doesn't matter how good everything else is if you don't have the solid base. We are fortunate to have a coach who is willing to bypass the flashier picks in order to draft the meat and potatoes that enables everything else to develop. I don't know a single person who jumps off the sofa when his team drafts a guard. But thanks to Nolan, the team now has five highly regarded offensive linemen, and two backups who could step in as starters while barely missing a beat. Injuries will still occur, but they will no longer be an excuse for pandemonium in the backfield.

The two most important things the 49ers needed to accomplish in this draft were finding a quarterback of the future and protecting that quarterback. When quarterbacks face constant pressure in their developmental years, they hear the footsteps for the rest of their careers. Nolan is doing everything he can to make sure that when Alex Smith takes his first snaps he will have solid protection and a power running game to take the heat off. Doing so gives Smith the best chance of developing into a Pro Bowl quarterback and gives him the best chance of playing at a high level for the next fifteen years. That's more important than filling a free safety void this year. That's more important than investing in a wide receiver that is a tick of a tenth of a second faster than Arnaz Battle.

Nothing against Kiper, nothing against the Cards, but all things considered, I'm Rollin' with Nolan on this one.
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.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



"We've been our own worst enemy": Kyle Shanahan on how the 49ers can rebound from 3-game skid

By Marc Adams
Oct 23

The San Francisco 49ers self-scouted themselves during the bye week. What are the areas they saw that require improvement to snap their three-game losing streak? "There isn't one specific [area]," Shanahan told Greg Papa during a segment for NBC Sports Bay Area. "We need to get better all over because it hasn't just been, 'Hey, we're doing this bad. We're doing this good.' We've been up and down at everything, and if you even look at the numbers, we're kind of middle of the pack everywhere. And that's why the majority of this league is sitting at 2-3, 3-2, right there. And where are you going to go from there? "My biggest thing on what we need to do to get better is, I think you've heard our players say it a lot, but I keep talking to them about, 'Which team is



49ers' Nick Bosa fine after Cardinals player fell on his arm, humorously avoids criticizing officiating

By David Bonilla
Oct 11

Watching Nick Bosa test his arm and wrist on the sideline had to be a scary moment for San Francisco 49ers fans. Bosa missed most of last season after suffering a torn ACL. The last thing anyone wants to see is the talented pass rusher miss more time this season. San Francisco is 2-3 and hopes to rebound after the bye week from its three consecutive losses. The team needs Bosa down the stretch if it hopes to turn things around. The third-year defender briefly left the game after sacking Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray on Sunday. Fans watching the broadcast saw Bosa nursing his right arm as he headed off the field. The defensive end returned to the game,



49ers' Trey Lance suffered knee sprain vs. Cardinals; Marcell Harris fractured thumb

By David Bonilla
Oct 11

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke with reporters this afternoon and provided some injury updates from this weekend's game against the Arizona Cardinals. Quarterback Trey Lance suffered a left knee sprain during the game, but the injury is not expected to be a long-term issue. However, it could impact the rookie's availability for the game against the Indianapolis Colts after the bye week. Lance might miss one or two weeks. "We'll re-evaluate him at the end of the week to determine his status for next week," Shanahan said. "We really won't know whether he's got a chance versus Indy until next week, but he's got a chance. It's possibly one or two weeks. We'll have to wait and see." Neither Shanahan nor Lance knows when the injury



Positives and Negatives: What to make of 49ers' loss to the Cardinals

By Rohan Chakravarthi
Oct 12

Another week, another close loss, and another game with multiple missed opportunities for the 49ers. It's been the same narrative during the 49ers' current three-game losing streak, and Sunday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals now puts the team at 2-3 on the season as it heads into its bye week. Huge news came Monday afternoon, as Kyle Shanahan noted that rookie quarterback Trey Lance suffered a left knee sprain and will be out for 1-2 weeks, leaving Nate Sudfeld as the only healthy quarterback currently on the roster. But, we'll get to the future later. First, let's break down Sunday's loss with three areas of needed improvement and four positives that came out of the game. The Problems (Yeah, I'm starting with the


Featured

More by Brett Pahler

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone