Written by: Barry Lewis on April 23, 2011
Last year was suppose to be the year when the San Francisco 49’ers, in the two brief years under the leadership of former head coach Mike Singletary, were expected to return to the top of the NFC West.
Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell Singletary and the rotating juggernaut that was the position of starting quarterback. We saw Alex Smith, Troy Smith and even saw David Carr make an appearance. Combined the 49’ers had a quarterback rating of 79.4 while opponents had a rating of 90.
Therefore, two things can be derived from this simple information. Improve the passing game, the pass rush and pass coverage.
The Niners drafted Blaine Gabbert, also known as, Quarterback #3 who will have been drafted in the top 5 in the last 10 years (David Carr was drafted #1 by the Houston Texans in 2002) and are now in this organization.
New Head Coach Jim Harbaugh will have an opportunity to make a decision here. Will Gabbert learn under Alex Smith or will he be getting a chance to win the job? We’ll see. What we do know is this. Gabbert can make all of the throws and athletic enough to get out of trouble. The only question that needs to be answered is if he will be able to handle the pressure that is known as the NFL.
The Niners also added RB Dion Lewis, who is nice insurance for Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon, while adding OG Andrew Jackson to the fray of which could end up competing for a starting job right away. His draft slot was inline with his projection (5th round).
The same for Jackson can be said for OLB KJ Wright, Mississippi State, and he will battle veterans Manny Lawson, Ahmad Brooks, and Parys Haralson for playing time and in need of a second outside linebacker on the side of DE Justin Smith who can get after the quarterback and set the edge in a 3-4 scheme.
In the 2nd and 3rd rounds, the Niners drafted CB/S Aaron Williams, Texas and CB Curtis Marsh. It will be interesting to see how the Niners decide to utilize Williams because of his skill and versatility and whether or not they bring back CB Nate Clements who is due $7.25 and $9 million in 2011 and 2012. If Clements comes back, then Williams could either become the #2 corner or replace FS Dashon Goldson as starter. Marsh should serve as a fine nickle back during his career even though there were better values at the position when he was drafted.
The Niners did well with the picks that they had as long as Gabbert makes it. I think that he will but will it be in 2011 or in a season or two? I still think that the Niners need to find that one outside linebacker who can set the edge and get the quarterback because of Lawson’s inability to become the player that many expected him to be out of college.
The Niners deserve a draft grade of B pending a further review at a later date.