Huge mistake by the 49ers trading next year's first-round pick, right? As of this moment, it's looking like a sure-fire Top 5 selection, and to add insult to injury, they sent it to Foxboro, Mass. Now the Patriots will go undefeated, win the Super Bowl, go into the record books as the Best Team Ever AND get to select Chris Long or Glenn Dorsey or Darren McFadden to boot. The rich get richer. The 49ers get poorer.
The rest of the teams in the AFC East certainly have a complaint. But I'm not sure 49ers' fans do. The player the 49ers traded the pick to obtain - rookie Joe Staley - had an excellent game against the Saints' Charles Grant, and aside from one bad half against Michael Strahan, he has been one of the few offensive bright spots this season. He's smart, tough, quick, and by the end of the season, I'll bet he'll be much better than any offensive lineman the 49ers could have picked up in the first round of the upcoming draft.
The 49ers, of course, have the first-round pick that belongs to the Colts. That pick, I'm predicting, will be pick No. 30 - perfect for a guard or a 'tweener linebacker the 49ers' desperately need.
Some other thoughts from Sunday's game ....
* Mike Nolan complains the 49ers "play young." Two such culprits on Sunday were Larry Allen and Walt Harris, 30-somethings who made the Pro Bowl in February. Allen allowed defensive tackle Brian Young to get by him and force Alex Smith to fumble in the second quarter. While Smith was on the ground, defensive end Will Smith hit him in the back, forcing the QB's shoulder into the ground. That hit seemed to the one that really put Smith out of sorts on Sunday.
* The 49ers get nothing on screen passes and short passes. There always seems to be a linebacker or safety immediately on the receiver with nary a blocker in sight. Their inability in that area contrasted sharply with the Saints' ability to spring Reggie Bush on nearly every short pass they threw his way.
* I thought Michael Robinson gave the 49ers a nice lift when he substituted for injured Frank Gore in the third quarter. On one play, Robinson spun away from five New Orleans tacklers, one of the best runs the 49ers have had this season. The play seemed to really fire up the offensive line. How did the 49ers use that momentum? Well, they killed it by calling timeout before the next play.
* On the same drive, the 49ers were within sight of the end zone when they called a play in which defensive end Will Smith came unblocked and hit Alex Smith just as he threw. It was very reminiscent of the Osi Umenyiora play from a week before. It seems to me that only bad things happen when they call that play. I suggest Jim Hostler makes like Robin Williams in "Dead Poets Society" and rips that page right out of the book. I want to hear ripping, gentlemen!
-- Matt Barrows