Friday, April 23, 2010

Niners Go Big in First Round

It was no secret that the 49ers were likely going to take a offensive lineman with one of their two first round picks, but I think they kind of took most people by surprise when they ended up taking two big powerful lineman within the draft's top 20 selections.

The first guy the Niners took at 11 was Rutgers' talented right tackle Anthony Davis. With their second pick, number 17 overall, they selected Iowa guard Mike Iupoti. According to the National Football Post, the Niners ended up with the draft's 2nd best tackle and top guard and they have really taken a step in rebuilding their offensive line. I think that if Florida corner Joe Haden would have lasted until 17, the Niners would have taken him. They had a chance to get Kyle Wilson, but they obviously felt Iupati was a better value at pick 17. If you followed the Niners closely in 2009, you noticed how the O-Line struggled to consistently open holes for Frank Gore and were very spotty in pass protection as well. It seemed like every week the commentator doing the Niners' games mentioned how effective star running back Frank Gore would be if he had a solid O-Line in front of him, and it looks like we're finally going to get that answer. Coach Singletarry expects both Davis and Iupati to compete in camp for the starting right tackle and left guard spots, respectively.

Davis does come with some question marks though. He has arguably the most upside as any other tackle in the draft, including Russel Okung, but he's had commitment and conditioning issues and has a reputation as a bit of an under-achiever. The Niners have allowed an NFL-worst 150 sacks over the past 3 seasons, so some added talent up front will certainly help. One thing that I think it will do is give QB Alex Smith a sense of confidence, knowing that he has a better line in front of him and knowing that he probably won't have to rush things and can let plays and routes develop. Both Iupati and Davis are 6'6" and each are right around 330 pounds and will bring some girth as well as athleticism to the Niners front line. The only question I have regarding the Niners and their first day was why they felt they had to trade up in order to get Davis? They lost their 4th rounder because they felt the need to move up 2 spots to get Davis, but most people think he would have been there at 13 for them anyway as the two teams ahead of the Niners likely wouldn't have taken a lineman.

As the Niners enter day 2, they have a number of different ways they can go. They hold the 17th pick in the 2nd round (49th overall) and the 15th pick in the 3rd (76th overall), then they don't have any picks until the middle of round 6. So essentially, these next two picks for them are going to be very important, and I think they're going to go defense. There are some people still thinking that the Niners could pull the trigger on QB's Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy. There is still a bunch of value left on the board, so here are a few guys to keep an eye on for the Niners selections on Friday, I'd love for the Niners to get Taylor Mays, Chad Jones or Sergio Kindle if they're there when they pick in round 2:

QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
T Bruce Campbell, Maryland
S Chad Jones, LSU
WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame
LB Sergio Kindle, Texas
S Taylor Mays, USC
G Roger Saffold, Indiana
DT Brian Price, UCLA
DE Carlos Dunlap, Florida
2nd Round Update: With their second round pick (49 overall) the Niners selected Taylor Mays, the freakish safety out of USC (pictured above). I really like this pick, as Mays had high-first round potential, but has some questions about his instincts. Much, much more to come on this pick and the Niners third rounder coming!!!

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