Thursday, May 7, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Grades: San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers have not won more than seven games since 2002, when went 10-6 and won the NFC West. Before the gloomy days that started in 2003, the 49ers had won 10 or more games during 18 of the 20 seasons between 1981 and 2002. What happened? Turnover in the coaching ranks and mismanagement of the salary cap have ripped this once proud franchise to threads. The team has shown little progression and without a capable QB San Francisco may stay in mediocrity for some time.

The 49ers were slightly below average on both sides of the ball in 2008, and that was mirrored perfectly in their 7-9 record. The defense performed a little better than the offense, ranking 13th in total yards allowed per game and 14th in rushing yards allowed per game. The offense was the 13th in passing yards per game. They ranked 20th or below in the other major categories. The problem with the 49ers was consistency. They just couldn't get both sides of the ball clicking in the same game more often than not. Keeping the offense together starts and ends with the rushing attack, which struggled mightily in 2008. They were 27th in the NFL in yards per game last season for the second straight year. What happened to the 6th-ranked unit from 2006? For San Francisco to be a contender they need that style of play back. Unfortunately for them they didn't attempt to revamp the o-line.

Mike Singletary became the interim coach during the 2008 season and was then hired as head coach later in the year. Singletary is a defensive mind and will need assistance in fixing what ails the 'O'. Shaun Hill has showed some flashes and is a capable starter for another season until a young gun is brought in. There won't be much turnover in terms of schemes since Singletary was already on staff.

1/10/10 - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
3/10/74 - Glen Coffee, RB, Alabama
5/10/146 - Scott McKillop, ILB, Pittsburgh
5/35/171 - Nate Davis, QB, Ball State
6/11/184 - Bear Pascoe, TE, Fresno State
7/10/219 - Curtis Taylor, FS, LSU
7/35/244 - Ricky Jean-Francois, DT/DE, LSU

  • QB - Check!
  • OL - Try again.
  • S - Check!
  • LB - Check!
  • RB - Check!
The 49ers were without second and fourth round picks which made it difficult to find instant impact players. They were able to add an extra pick in the fifth and seventh rounds meaning they still selected the default seven players. They were four for five when it cam to needs, according to They got a developmental QB that could be poised to take over in 2010 and some defensive depth on all three levels. Though WR wasn't a huge need there is no way they get docked for taking Crabtree at 10. No offensive lineman is a bit concerning though given that they appeared poised to possibly grab Michael Oher at 10 if Crabtree weren't there.

GRADE: 85/100

Pick 1 - The best WR in the draft, one who has 49ers fans remembering the good ol' days of Jerry Rice. While Rice and Crabtree aren't exactly the same person, Crabtree is the best prospect they've had since Rice's playing days. Did anyone really expect T.O. to play like he did? Perfect pick. Grade: 10

Pick 2 - After trading their second round pick the 49ers sat around until the third round. With that pick they went with Glen Coffee? Andre Brown would have been better here but was a backup RB a huge need. I know it was listed as one but they could have gotten someone of comparable skills later. I guess Michael Robinson just isn't cutting it? Any of a number of o-lineman, such as Kraig Urbik, Antoine Caldwell, and T.J. Lang would have been more wiser choices. Grade: 5

Pick 3 - Now this was a good pick. While it doesn't rate up there with Crabtree, McKillop is most likely the heir to Takeo Spikes next to Patrick Willis. He has the size and ability; he just needs some refinement. Spikes could be done in the next two years and by then McKillop will be ready. He will be a special teams beast to start. Grade: 9

Pick 4 - Ah, a QB of the future? There's a commonly held belief that teams should draft a QB in the mid to late rounds every other year. This is usually for insurance reasons, in case your top starter gets Tom Bradyed. But it has also helped teams transition from QB to QB or get better pick in a trade than what was spent to draft him. Well the 49ers didn't exactly employ this idea to a 'T' (they still need a long term starter) but this is as close to a low risk, high reward as you can get. QB was a need and they only spent a fifth to get a guy who some thought was the fourth best QB available. If Davis can sit and learn for two years while refining his throwing motion then the 49ers may have their future now. Or they'll take a guy early next year. Whatever. Grade: 8

Pick 5 - The 49ers wasted an early pick on a bust of a TE a few years ago. Really, Vernon Davis has done nothing of note. I know, I take him in fantasy football every year because I hope it's "his year to shine". Still waiting, Vernon. Pascoe is a great pick because its late and he fills a position that could use another body. I like the Bear better than Joe Jon Finley, signed as UDFA last season. Pascoe has the chance to be the 49ers back up TE immediately and could even push Davis for some PT. Grade: 8

Pick 6 - While Michael Lewis and Mark Roman fight for the SS spot the FS spot remains completely barren. I'm not saying Curtis Taylor will start immediately but I like what I've seen of him. He definitely should have been selected before the seventh round so the 49ers got a steal. Special teams will be his battleground at first but I wouldn't be surprised to see him emerge as a solid nickel or dime guy and maybe even become the starter at FS by 2010. Grade: 8

Pick 7 - Taylor's teammate probably made the wrong decision to enter the draft. Jean-Francois was seen as Glenn Dorsey Lite. You'd expect that to get you selected in round two or three at worst. Well he was sitting around this year in the seventh. His size makes him the prototypical 3-4 DE and now overloads the 49ers at that position. I think Jean-Francois was undervalued and San Fran got a good player that they can bring up to speed slowly. Grade: 7

GRADE: 55/70

Not bad, San Francisco, not bad. The biggest knock on this draft is the dearth of lineman. As in none selected. Peculiar since that was such a big need they were said to be thinking about Andre Smith if he fell to them or taking Michael Oher. Didn't happen. They definitely need an OT or OG so that is a deduction. However the value at the rest of their picks was pretty high, with only the selection of Coffee hurting them much.


WHY: I wanted to rate this draft an A but their giant need at o-line trumps getting Crabtree and some developmental depth. Taking an OT or OG anywhere would have made this at least an A-. It is what it is. This is still a good draft that can help San Francisco become a 9-10 win team in a year or two.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick: Crabtree
Worst Pick: Coffee
Sleeper: McKillop
Instant Impact: Crabtree
Developmental: Davis

OTHER DRAFT GRADES - San Francisco 49ers
CBS Sports (Prisco): C-
CBS Sports (Rang): A+
ESPN (Kiper): B+ (Brooks): B- (Fan's): B
Walter: A-



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