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Summing up the 49ers 2011 draft

Diego Del Barco
Apr 30, 2011 at 5:51 PM

The 2011 NFL Draft is officially in the books, and the San Francisco 49ers sure made a lot of interesting picks. Here's my quick take on each one of them.

7th overall - Aldon Smith (Missouri), OLB: I think it's pretty clear that the 49ers as an organization value pass-rushing over coverage in today's NFL, and it seems that's the trend in the league overall. I was happy to see the team pass on QB Blaine Gabbert as I don't believe he's a good fit in the west coast system, but I was really shocked to see the team pass on the opportunity to take CB Prince Amukamara. However, other teams with serious needs in their secondary went this route as well: I thought for sure the Texans would take Amukamara with the 11th overall pick, instead they shored up the front line of their 3-4 with DE J.J. Watt; after that I thought it was a no brainer for the Lions to take him at 13th overall but they also beefed up their 4-3 defensive line by taking DT Nick Fairley. Maybe Amukamara was over-hyped throughout the season and pre-draft process (I doubt it).

I am a firm believer in the idea that first round picks, especially top-10, should be used on players that can contribute right away and make an impact on your team in their rookie seasons ,unless you have enough talent to just take a guy full of potential and develop him for a couple of years. The 49ers do not have that luxury, so unless Aldon Smith can surprise the heck out of me in 2011 I am not so thrilled about this pick.

36th overall - Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), QB: I'm pretty sold on Harbaugh knowing what to do when selecting a QB, and the fact that the 49ers traded up to get Kaepernick tells me that this was a player the new head coach did not want to miss out on, and that alone gets me excited.

Kaepernick, contrary to 'popular' belief, isn't a project and could very well be starting games in the second half of the season if whoever veteran starting for the team doesn't get the job done. He's an incredibly gifted athlete with an arm that allows him to make all the NFL throws, if Harbaugh and his coaching staff can successfully teach him all the necessary technique to be a fundamentally sound signal-caller at the next level, then #10 (and yes, I think he will take that number from Kyle Williams) is the QB we've been waiting for since Jeff Garcia.

80th overall - Chris Culliver (South Carolina), CB/S: I dislike this pick.

He is fast, he is strong, he is athletic, he played in arguably the best conference in all of college football, but when addressing the secondary the 49ers should had been looking for a cover corner, and Culliver isn't it in my opinion. He projects a lot better as a SS than as a CB, and the fact that the team is planning to use him as a CB worries me. We'll have to wait and see.

115th overall - Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), RB: I loved this pick.

Sure, the idea of Taiwan Jones being the next Chris Johnson was tempting, but Hunter isn't too far behind when it comes to speed and he's NFL-ready. He's not going to take over for Frank Gore, but #21 has been missing some games lately with injuries, and should he miss any games in the future Hunter should be able to step right in and produce for this team. He will also give Anthony Dixon a good battle for that backup RB role, something Harbaugh and his coaching staff will definitely be excited about.

163rd overall - Daniel Kilgore (Appalachian State), OG: the 49ers surprised me with this pick, especially because there were a couple of other offensive linemen on the board that I was hoping they would draft. However, Mike Solari seems to have had a heavy hand on this pick, and I'm not going to stand here and double guess him.

182nd overall - Ronald Johnson (USC), WR: talented prospect from pro-system school with a lot of potential, could be a steal for San Francisco in the 6th round. I don't think he'll be more than a #2 WR for the 49ers, but if Michael Crabtree can start living up to his potential Johnson could be a nice compliment.

190th overall - Colin Jones (TCU), S: a very instinctive player who always finds the ball, if I was a betting man I would bet on him making the final roster, and the fact that he has blazing speed will surely help him. He won't be more than a special team's contributor in his first couple of seasons, but if the defensive coaching staff can make him into a legit NFL starter he could turn out to be really special.

211th overall - Bruce Miller (UCF), FB: Miller was a DE and OLB in college but the 49ers either don't think he can be better than any front-seven player on their roster or they have a really good vision by turning him into a FB. We better hope it's the latter because one of my favorite FB's in this class, Stanley Havili, was there for the taking.

239th overall - Michael Person (Montana State), OG: he may pass the eye-ball test, but I don't think he's skilled enough to make the team, not even the practice squad.

250th overall - Curtis Holcomb (Florida A&M), CB: he possesses outstanding speed to go with average ball skills, he'll have to work hard to stick around but if he can show coaches that he's more than just a speedster he could find a role with this team.

I don't expect this 49ers draft class to get many A grades by draft experts out there. Trent Baalke certainly rolled the dice these last three days, time will tell if the risks will pay off.
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.


  • sj.sharks
    after looking back at your comments on the draft.. i am glad you are not a scout, completely wrong on smith, culliver
    Nov 8, 2011 at 9:03 PM
    Response: you know what? you got me. Aldon Smith HAS surprised the heck out of me, and many other as well. He hasn't just been able to contribute right away, he's arguably the DROY right now. But I'm even more impressed by Culliver, I was just dead wrong about him, and the best part about him is that he's still has so much more room to get better. So thank you for pointing that out, I'll never be afraid to admit I was wrong.
  • Frank
    Well...only Johnson didn't make the roster or PS. Aldon Smith is proving to be the beast I thought he was...he's very fast, strong, and is a relentless pass rusher. CK hasn't had much action, but he's got a huge upside. Culliver is proving he's got what it takes to play CB in the NFL. Hunter is the steal of the may just be coincidence, but when Gore was dinged up and Hunter started showing what he could do, Frank sure got well in a hurry. Kilgore and Person are both versatile OL, which Harbaugh loves. Colin Jones is a work in progress...outstanding speed, which Niner coaches will need to harness and mold into a position player. Miller is quite an transition from DE in college to FB in the NFL is quite a feat. In short order, he'll displace Norris on the roster. Holcomb has had injury issues and has been a victim of numbers...but he's got better than avg ball skills.
    Oct 22, 2011 at 8:18 PM
    Response: pleasantly surprised with the draft class so far for sure
  • jody mccoy
    PLEASE answer question you said miller was not fast enough or strong enough but he broke the record with 35 reps for a DE compared to 20 bench reps with aldon smith and ran a 4 29 i think didnt he also have the fastest shuttle time too do i have my facts wrong so why is he not strong enough or fast enough?
    May 7, 2011 at 11:45 PM
    Response: Jody, I did NOT say he wasn't fast or strong enough. In the 49ers scheme he would be a 3-4 OLB, but as I pointed out it doesn't seem as if he would be an upgrade over our curren't OLB's, so it looks like instead of keeping him buried at the bottom of that depth chart they're moving him to FB and see if they can display him more effectively there. Regardless he's most likely to start off as an effective member on special teams. And I do not have his official combine/pro day times, but even if all those times you mentioned were accurate, there's a reason he was there in the 7th round, right?
  • BodyRocker
    At least you're not as jaded as Jeff Kaplan in his review but still I believe your take on Aldon Smith as the #7 pick is still off. The webzone member I am most agreeable with is PhilGood and his Final draft review: I hope every member goes to the 49erswebzone Draft Forum and go and read his review; it's Fantastic! I too was surprised by the pick but I'm not expert, I'm just a fan. But in the days and week since, I've become a believer in Aldon and I for one, am glad Baalke didn't follow the other lemmings.
    May 4, 2011 at 11:38 PM
    Response: thanks, got me to laugh
  • Daryl Stone
    What is with The Coach giving A Smith the playbook ,If that really happened that's weird logic. The draft, hmm in a year w/o freeagency before the draft it's hard to say what was going thru the new staffs minds, liked some wait'n see on the rest.
    May 3, 2011 at 4:49 PM
  • lasvegaswally
    I thought Miller would be an eventual replacement at ILB for spikes. He is strong and fast enough. Your thoughts?
    May 3, 2011 at 7:52 AM
    Response: I don't think he's strong and fast enough. You asked ....
  • jason 49er
    It really gets on my nerves every year people keep talking about how this guy or that guy is more ready to play right away then the other. who are any of you to think you can judge football tallent better than the guys that get payed to do it. and to add to that every single year all the same people are always complaining we didnt do enough. i been paying attention for years and most the people on here have been soooooooooooo wrong with there judgements on who is going to be good and who isnt. If I make a draft board i will go by what my scouts have to say, not what tv guys or other teams scouts think we should draft. if we have one guy rated higher on our board than another and we take the higher rated guy(on our board) how can any of us have anything to say??????????
    May 2, 2011 at 7:34 PM
    Response: ok let's not get out of hand here and talk about scouts like they are perfect when they have often been wrong, VERY wrong. But point taken, nonetheless
  • Jaimsauce
    Harbaugh has had an infatuation with Kaepernick this whole off-season, and I beileve had no interested in any other QB. I don't even think they'd pick up Newton if he dropped. Colin seems to be more effective on the run and if Alex resigns (looks like he will) it should be a hell of a competition. Coming out of the pistol offense at Nevada, he will have a bit of a transistion coming into a pro style offense. Who knows? Maybe this compeition will be exactly what Alex needs to consistnatly produce. As for Aldon Smith, he reminds me of a shade better Manny Lawson. He lacks the natural bulk which is required to play DE. Im predicting we'll see him more in the 3-4 as an outside linebacker. Personally I was praying for Patrick Peterson to drop two more spots, and it's gonna suck playing against him and DRC 2x a year.
    May 2, 2011 at 4:18 PM
  • Oahuan
    Assuming the 49ers could not find a trading partner in the 10 to 14 range, who besides Gabbert or Amukamara (who Baalke/Harbaugh obviously did not like so much) would you have picked other than Aldon Smith to come in and start right away? Nick Fairley? J.J. Watt? I think if there had been a big, fast, skilled corner available in the 2d round, the 49ers would have taken him rather than Kaepernick and waited until later to pick Stanzi, or more likely Tyrod Taylor. However, Ras I Dowling and Aaron Williams went 1 and 2 at the top of the 2d, so the shift to get Kaepernick made sense. Culliver is the perplexing pick, but not a crazy one. As you said he's got size and speed. The supposedly more accomplished CBs left were all (slightly) smaller and/or slower guys, except perhaps for Davon House who did not go until the end of the 4th round The real question is why the 49ers did not go for NG. Kendrick Ellis, Jerrell Powe and Sione Fua were there for the taking, but I guess this is where the "gold stars" came into play, at least with regard to Ellis and Powe. The rest of the draft seemed pretty sound to me - addressed needs (Hunter and Kilgore) and added special teamers.
    May 2, 2011 at 11:16 AM
  • old49er
    I have to agree. When you have the 7th overall pick and the most picks in the draft and don't come away with at least one starter after a losing season, that is not acceptable. I have followed the 49ers and the draft for 35 years and this is not a good draft. When you are a losing team you don't get better by drafting potential, you get better by upgrading your current starting roster. Our team didn't do that. Very poor job Balke.
    May 1, 2011 at 4:33 PM
  • 4th and 1
    Ronald Johnson seems to have very good hands and is a run after the catch type of guy. Very fast. Solid pick. Culliver is the real deal. Check out his hightlight tape. Very disruptive, fast and tough.
    May 1, 2011 at 9:45 AM
  • John
    The Aldon Smith pick took the life out of the Draft Party here in Rhode Island Niner Nation; however, we all started pulling up more film on this kid and he is outstanding with freakish abilities. Kaepernick is an unreal athlete, with great character. He has the speed, size, and skills to potentially be a bigger and stronger version of Michael Vick. Finally, Kendall Hunter was a steal...this may be the best late pick of this 3-day draft. Overall pretty happy. Only negative would have to be not grabbing one of the "name" corners earlier in the draft; probably could have traded a few of our 6th or 7th round picks to get a more proven CB.
    May 1, 2011 at 8:25 AM
  • shobbrobb
    Diego i feel Trent Baalke set this team back with this draft,i was thrilled with last years draft not at all with this one. This is what happens when the wrong people(the Yorks)get ahold of your favorite franchise.
    May 1, 2011 at 6:36 AM
  • Bill
    I dont buy that they couldnt trade down, Jacksonville traded up, you mean to tell me they wouldnt have given the 49ers a second to move 3 spots higher? Another bad move by Baalke in the first round.
    May 1, 2011 at 5:47 AM
    Response: I'm not so sure the Jags wanted to trade down to #7, or that they ever thought Gabbert would still be there at #10. At that point (there's a HUGE difference between 7 and 10) they made their move. That would be my guess.
  • Neil
    I think Aldon's going to contribute faster than you think. After all he did break the Missouri sack record (previously set by our own Justin Smith) as a FRESHMAN. He ran into some injury problems, but played through them. He actually played football with a broken leg, and was still extremely explosive. Aldon's raw power, strength, and explosion may allow him to contribute very very soon.
    May 1, 2011 at 2:01 AM
    Response: Let's make one thing clear: success in college doesn't necessarily translate to the NFL, where the big boys play. Although it would certainly be nice if both Missouri boys wreck havoc on that right side.
  • drewnwon
    I've seen him play in person a few times. Great competitor. Strong arm. Very fast runner. Slow to read and react to coverages. Very long throwing motion. Lots of work needed before he can start.
    May 1, 2011 at 1:56 AM
    Response: I'll assume you're talking about Kaepernick, thanks.
  • lendogg714
    why the hell didnt they draft hynoski???..the polish plow!!!...he was there...i dont understand it..why waste a pick on miller...wouldnt it make sense to draft somebdy that knows the fullback position..rather than tryin to teach somebody whos foreign to the position??? i know why everybody talks s__t about trent baalke
    May 1, 2011 at 12:01 AM
  • Neil
    How can you justify saying that Kaepernick isn't a "project"? He's never even taken a snap from under center, he has never had to read a defense, or make pro style pre-snap reads and progressions. His footwork is an unknown quantity as are his mechanics. There is A LOT of work to be done on Kaepernick. In all I think he's a Cam Newton clone, that we got in the second round. He's a humongous raw chunk of flawless marble, and he needs to be molded into a beautiful statue. I think Harbaugh can pull it off to.
    Apr 30, 2011 at 9:05 PM
    Response: Smart, football savvy, leader who impressed scouts and everyone else in attendance during all-star games and workouts when asked to work from traditonal formations. You're right, he IS a Newton clone but with a lot less baggage than Cam. Remember Harbaugh himself worked him out in a private session in Reno, so if you believe Harbaugh can pull it off you have to feel pretty good about this pick.
  • jon
    Well informed and dispassionate. Thanks.
    Apr 30, 2011 at 8:42 PM
    Response: you know, not a lot of people use the word "dispassionate" nowadays, and you even managed to use it in a positive sentence.
  • Chris Hansen
    I like most of the players we took, (esp Kaepernick)but at this point I will have to give it a C+, due to the fact that we will have to wait a year or two to see the rewards of these picks, but hey, you draft for the future, right?
    Apr 30, 2011 at 8:38 PM
    Response: Right. Right?
  • matt49er
    The Bruce Miller pick puzzles me as well. I 2 was hoping for Havili with that pick, why move Miller to FB when the 2nd rated player at that position was right there??? I love the Aldon Smith pick, no DB can stay with a WR/TE in this league for 10 seconds and far too many times we gave QBs a ridiculous amount of time to throw the football. The 3rd round pick seems like a gamble also, another CB/S hybrid that we won't know what to do with until year 2 or 3 until he is finally moved to Safety (just like Reggie Smith). I think your wrong about Person who played LT in college. Teams were not only looking at him as a G but possibly RT also. I like the youth movement on the OL hopefully this signals the end of Wraage/Snyder/Sims older OL on the downside of their careers. I really like Hunter! Harbaugh's not going to be scared of a RB rotation like Nolan/Singletary did. I think Gore will have his best years for JH due to not being run into the ground. Colin has to be the best pick of the draft if our team is going to go anywhere in the near future. In JH I trust when it comes to QBs, now he just needs to get a vet and take that playbook back from Alex Smith!
    Apr 30, 2011 at 7:11 PM
    Response: I hope I'm wrong about Person, I'll say that much.

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