49ers Blog and Q&A

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

May 1, 2008
Woofing about the 49ers' draft

By day he is a mild-mannered high school teacher named Jeff Matracia. After hours, he is MadDog49er, NFL draft junkie. MadDog, an ardent 49er fan, has a reputation for on-the-money draft predictions and this year is no exception. He predicted 202 out of the 252 players taken over the weekend. Other draft experts, such as ESPN’s Todd McShay, didn’t crack 200. Here’s what MadDog had to say about what he described as an underwhelming 49ers draft class …

· I have no issue with the Kentwan Balmer pick, although they do not seem to have a specific position for him, which was the common thread on almost every selection in this draft. I'm not a big fan of the "let's get a guy who is versatile". I'd rather take a guy who is very good at one position, than a guy who is pretty good at multiple positions. My prediction is that Sopoaga will not be quick enough at defensive end, so Balmer will play on the edge, not NT. The Niners obviously liked Balmer a lot, since they seem to submit their card in about 15 seconds, which is also a mistake. Wait to see if other offers come in. Overall assessment: An OK pick.

* The next three picks were the ones that perplexed me the most. Chilo Rachal at 39 was not good value, and once again, are they planning to play him at guard or tackle? Nobody seems to know, although it seems the strategy is for him to play guard. So, what does that mean for David Baas and Adam Snyder? These guys were targeted to be the guards of the future. If the plan is to move Snyder back out to RT, then it makes sense. Likewise, if the strategy is for Baas to take over the center position, it makes sense. Do the Niners have a plan? I'm not sure. I hope they do.

* As for Reggie Smith, he was a terrific college player, and could be a nice pro, but once again, where will he play? I see him as a Cover-2 CB, so he is not going to beat out Harris, nor Spencer, in my opinion. At best, he will be a dime CB. If he can win the free safety position, then there will be value. The supposed plan is to see if he can play CB, and if not, shift him. Not a good strategy with the 75th overall. You want a CB, get a cover corner. You want a safety, get a safety. We have enough of these CB/Safety tweeners (Hudson, Goldson).

* The Cody Wallace pick was the worst of the draft. Way too early for good value, and many more talented guys still on the board. Wallace was eaten alive at the Senior Bowl, and I think he'll be eaten alive at the pro level. The speedy interior guys in the league have to be licking their chops. I liked the comment that he was surprised how early he went in the draft. Uh, so is everyone else.

* It is hard to criticize late-round picks. Josh Morgan is probably a practice squad player, and nothing more. He'll give them special teams play. The best pick by the Niners was the last pick. I watched Larry Grant play a lot this season, since OSU is about 8 miles from my place. The kid just got better and better as the season went along. I'll lay money he makes the 53 man. He's quick, strong, and likes to make contact. A really nice value pick late in the draft.

So, in the end, the Niners did not address their biggest issue (pass-rush LB), picked up a talented DT who is unsure where he will play, a very young, and immature (he's not a man yet) offensive guard, a tweener CB/S, and a center/guard that probably was a mid-late 5th rounder, at best. Overall, a C- grade.

-- MadDog

The undrafted free agents that the 49ers assembled are at the team’s facility today for physicals. The team plans to release the full list this evening. Stay tuned.

-- 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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