Friday, April 27, 2012

49ers Grab LaMichael James in Round 2

Well, the 49ers obviously had their plan of attack heading into this draft early, and that was getting as much speed as possible onto this team. And not only have they added speedy offensive players, but they've added speedy, polished offensive pieces.

Niners Nab James
After surprising with pick A.J. Jenkins in round 1 last night, going with the Greg Jennings-esque receiver, the 49ers switched their focus to the backfield. We all saw how Frank Gore started to run out of gas towards the end of last season, and it's really any ones guess as to ho much longer he'll continue to be a top, every-down back. James immediately becomes the 2nd back on the depth chart, jumping ahead of Kendal Hunter and Brandon Jacobs, and will provide the 49ers with another unique offensive weapon coming out of the backfield. Based on his college numbers alone, and the competition he did it against, you'd think he'd have gone in the top-10, yet his 5'10", 195 pound frame screams "change of pace" back with little ability to run between the tackles. The thing is, he did just that in college, and did it with success going against powerhouses in the Pac-12, and had a few ridiculous games in which he put up video game numbers. In all, he rushed for over 5,000 yards on the ground at Oregon, including a 1,731 yard/21 TD season in 2010 followed by a 1,807 yard/18 TD season in 2011. Can you say consistency? I know he's small and doesn't project out to be an every-down back, but comes to the league in very much the same mold as success stories such as Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush (and he's a better actual RB than Bush) and Jamaal Charles, all backs under 6' tall and around 200 pounds themselves, so it does happen. Even if he doesn't though, he gives the 49ers an explosive home run threat from any spot on the field and an excellent caddy to Frank Gore. This probably spells 4th string for Kendal Hunter, who did good things in 2011, but Hunter is nowhere near the talent that James is. The 49ers passed up opportunities to get a decent DT in Alamada Ta'amu, who I was expecting to hear called, but I think they'll start their focus on the lines in round 3.

Based on needs alone, the 49ers added two dynamic players to their offense that should play a heavy role for them in 2012. After watching some of the wideouts go early in round 2, I'm starting to believe Baalke's statement that Jenkins may not have been there at 29 Friday for the 49ers, as guys like Brian Quick and some kid named Broyles who I hadn't even heard of, each went ahead of the 49ers selection of James. The one player I did like though was another wideout, Mohamed Sanu, who's lasted a full round longer than expected, and even though the 49ers have stocked themselves with offense this offseason, I wouldn't hesitate to select him should he fall to them in the third. Otherwise, as I said, they'll likely go with a guard they like or a corner like Chase Minnifield or Jamel Flemming. We'll have their 3rd rounder as well as the Raiders first choice of the draft shortly when they're announced!

Update: After landing their two offensive speedsters, the 49ers figured they'd be fine without a third round choice, trading their 29th pick in the third to Indy for Indy's 3rd pick in the 4th and 5th rounds. This looks like a solid move for San Francisco as they obviously feel their targeted player at 29 will fall just 5 more spots to them next round tomorrow. It also gives the 49ers another high-pick in the 5th round as well, which in this draft, could end up being a tremendous value for the the position in the draft. Good move considering there are still a lot of good positional fits for them still out there and likely will remain so until they pick again with their 2 4th rounders. For some reason, I'm getting a strong Brandon Washington vibe, the big guard out of Miami, who was expected to go as high as late-first, early-second. He's a load a 340, and would probably have to shed 20 pounds, but he's about as dominant of O-lineman as there is remaining in this draft.

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