Draft Spotlight: Jahvid Best

Will the 49ers miss out on return man CJ Spiller in the first, or opt not to draft him and focus on other areas. If the 49ers go that route there is a strong chance that when pick No. 49 rolls around the 49ers may pick Jahvid Best out of California. Granted Spiller is most likely ever 49er fans choice, but if they can get two huge needs at 13 and 17 and then grab the local product Best at 49, I’m not sure to many 49er fans would be upset.

Weight:199 lbs
40 time: 4.35

Best is an explosive ball carrier that has the speed to turn a missed tackle into a long touchdown run. He has been productive as a runner as well as a return specialist. He missed the final four games of the 2009 season after sustaining a concussion and sore lower back in the game against Oregon State (11/7/2009). He is a patient runner that does a good job of setting up his blocks and squeezing through small run lanes. He has an explosive burst through the hole and has enough power and leg strength to run through arm tackles but is not big, or powerful enough to move piles. He shows good balance on contact and will fight for yards.

Inside: Lacks the size and strength to consistently be effective in this area, though he isn’t intimidated by the big bodies inside and is a threat to break off a big run due to his burst to and through the hole. Prefers to attack the gap and squirt through, but has learned to run with patience and will take advantage of cutback lanes.

Outside: His most impressive area. Good speed to beat the linebacker to the edge and is dazzling in the open field. Rare lateral agility and balance to elude in tight quarters and when running at full speed in the open field. Very quick to accelerate out of line and has rare top-end speed to pull away. Good vision for the cutback. Legitimate start-stop-accelerate move to allow his pursuers to fly past him. Switches the ball to his outside arm when he gets into the open field.

Breaking tackles: Spins and dances his way out of more tackles than his size would indicate. Keeps his feet moving after contact and flashes a decent stiff-arm to push free. Doesn’t have the leg drive, however, to consistently break NFL caliber tackles.

Blocking: An area of concern due to his lack of bulk and strength. Supplies a marginal pop to the oncoming defender, but more often relies on the cut-block.

Receiving: Soft, reliable hands out of the backfield. Has the burst out of his cuts to line up out wide, but was typically used on underneath dumpoffs, screens and an occasional wheel route. Tracks the ball and catches it cleanly. Can adjust his body to catch poorly thrown passes due to good body control and hand-eye coordination for the position.

Intangibles: Has missed time due to a variety of ailments over his three years at Cal. Standout special teams player, earning first-team all-Pac-10 honors as a true freshman, as well as the J. Scott Duncan Award (Most Valuable Special Teams’ Player) by finishing second in the conference in kick return average (27.0) and posting 12 tackles and a fumble recovery as a gunner. Led the conference with 26.3 yards per kickoff return as a sophomore. Only used on one kickoff (in the opener against Maryland) in 2009.

Best’s game is all about speed, quickness, acceleration and elusiveness making him a home run threat from the running back position. Is a high-character guy, who will compete and fight for extra yards despite size. Does a good job reading his blocks, shows patience and can find the cutback lane. Very dangerous open field runner. Exhibits solid receiving skills.

Best lacks the prototypical size of an every down NFL running back. Does not have the strength to consistently break tackles or push the pile. Durability is a real concern after missing time due to various ailments throughout career. Is not a power runner. Will need to improve his blocking ability in the passing game.

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