49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

April 29, 2007
Final thoughts

The draft is over and my typing fingers are still working fine, so here are my final thoughts:

I think the 49ers had a fantastic draft from the standpoint of adding exciting players - Patrick Willis, Jason Hill and Ray McDonald chief among them - but those last two picks leave an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Why, with all the current scrutiny on character issues, would the 49ers go after two players who were arrested in college?

Nolan said there's a difference between bad character and making bad choices. I guess I'm still grappling with what that difference is. It seems to me every bad seed in the NFL can claim to have made bad choices. That's what people with bad character do. Still, if Tarrell Brown and Thomas Clayton stay out of trouble, the issues they had in college soon will be forgotten.

Best pick? It's three years too early to say, but Willis and Hill would be my guesses. Willis has the combination of speed and instincts to make tackles three yards behind the line of scrimmage, not five yards beyond it, which was the 49ers' problem last season. As for Hill, you could almost feel his excitement through the phone line Saturday. This guy badly wanted to play in San Francisco and now he gets his wish.

Leaguewide, I was surprised how far a lot of people's first-round choice for the 49ers, Alan Branch, fell. The Cardinals ended up taking him with the first pick in the second round. Arizona, in fact, got a lot of big-name players, including tackle Levi Brown, linebacker Buster Davis and Michigan receiver Steve Breaston. It only bolsters the opinion that they will be a team to be reckoned with in the NFC West.

Other surprises included a couple of Bay Area players I followed at the combine, receiver James Jones of San Jose State and linebacker Michael Okwo of Stanford. When I spoke to scouts about these guys, they said both would be Day 2 picks and that Jones could go undrafted. That's not how it turned out. Jones was picked by Green Bay two slots after Hill in the third round while Okwo also went in the third round to Chicago. Maybe he's Lance Briggs' replacement.

- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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