After allowing the league-worst 150 sacks over the past three seasons, the San Francisco 49ers finally addressed their biggest need. Before yesterday, the highest the 49ers have ever drafted a guard post-merger, was David Baas as the 33rd pick in the second round. In their entire history as a franchise, they’ve only drafted an offensive lineman in the first round four times. When considering Kwame Harris was the last of that group, it’s easy to understand why they’d be so hesitant to go that direction.
By now, you’ve read all about new acquisitions Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati. I’m sure the majority of fans love the selections, as it speaks volumes about what the front office thinks about the current team. It’s not every year a team with two first rounders chose to focus solely on one aspect of the offense. The time time I can remember a team dedicating the draft to shoring up the offensive line is the Jets in 2006, when they took Tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Center Nick Mangold. How’d that turn out for them? Well they finished fourth in the NFL in rushing last season, after finishing ninth the year before. I’d say they’re pretty happy with the results.
The selections of Davis and Iupati was a message. Not just the support Alex Smith receives for the first time in his career, but the real direction the team wants to go. With two 6’5”, 320+ pounders, the o-line is looking to be the over-powering force a running game needs to be. Frank Gore should be the happiest about the new guys because he’ll no longer have guys in his face right after he takes the hand-off. Ideally, we won’t see many plays like this:
1st and 10: Frank Gore rushes up the middle for no gain.
2nd and 10: Frank Gore rushes to the right for a 2 yard loss.
3rd and 12: Alex Smith is sacked for a 5 yard loss.
4th and 17: Andy Lee punts.
The defense is already the best in the division. Now with the power running game Mike Singletary covets, and a pass attack headlined by Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, the 49ers are evolving into the team that can conquer a weak division that got weaker when Kurt Warner retired.
For those wondering why the 49ers traded up two spots to get a tackle who probably would have been on the board at thirteen, sources have reported that they were paranoid that other teams, most notably, the Dallas Cowboys, would sneak in and snake the guy they wanted. For us fans who dream about being general managers, and run our fantasy teams like they matter, you know when you really want a guy, you have to do what is necessary to get him. Even if it’s questioned, the end result is you got the player you wanted.
The draft continues tonight, and for those that wanted Jimmy Clausen, well there’s still hope for you. But I think a pass rusher and a corner back are higher on the list of needs. There’s already three quarterbacks on the roster, and those that want to draft a quarterback are probably the same ones that wanted Nate Davis to get a shot last season. I think Davis is a fine third stringer, and he is the reason a quarterback doesn’t need to be drafted. Quite honestly, I think the team just needs depth at some spots like all teams, and they’re ready to win the west with the squad they have now. Shawntae Spencer covered his guys like a true cover corner. If Nate Clements can rebound from a horrid year, the top two corners should be fine. Also, if Walt Harris can make a comeback, they’ll be good at the nickel as well. Harris is older, but he’s been getting by on smarts and technique over athleticism for the past few seasons now.
Isn’t this three day draft extravaganza great? After one day, there’s still six more rounds to watch. What’s even more exciting is there is still, what people thought to be first round talent still available. If Trent Baalke and the front office continue to make smart decisions, we’ll be looking at the first winning season in eight years.
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