49ers Blog and Q&A

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

April 28, 2009
Niners draft class: How they fit

WR Michael Crabtree, No. 15. Crabtree lined up at several positions at Texas Tech. The 49ers envision him as the "X" receiver. That's the receiver who lines up on the line of scrimmage. The "Z" receiver lines up behind the line of scrimmage. That means, the "X" needs to be physical enough to run through the jam of the cornerback facing him. The conundrum for the 49ers is that good-looking second-year player Josh Morgan also is a natural "X" receiver. The "Z" receivers as it stands now, are Isaac Bruce and Brandon Jones. The "Y" or slot receivers are Jason Hill and Arnaz Battle. It seems more plausible that an "X" can play "Z" than vice versa. So if Morgan and Crabtree are the two best receivers on the team, it stands to reason that one of them could be moved to "Z." My prediction: The starting receivers in the opening game will be Bruce and Morgan with Crabtree being worked into the lineup until he's comfortable. After that ...????

RB Glen Coffee, No. 29. It's too soon to predict how many carries Coffee will see in a game. That depends on how he looks in training camp and how quickly he picks up the offense. Two things are clear, however: That Frank Gore is still the lead back and that the 49ers want to make sure he is still fresh at the end of the season and ... dare we dream? ... into the playoffs. The addition of Purdue's Kory Sheets also makes things interesting. With Sheets, who can score from anywhere on the field, you begin to wonder whether the 49ers eventually will have a three-headed beast similar to the New York Giants' 2008 triumvirate of Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw. Their carries last year looked like this: Jacobs 219; Ward 182; Bradshaw 67. What does this mean for Michael Robinson and Thomas Clayton? Robinson is now the captain of the special teams who likely will have a role in Wildcat formations. Clayton? If he didn't see any PT in previous seasons, it's very difficult to envision it now ...

ILB Scott McKillop, No. 56. The personnel department was absolutely beaming over this pick. Ideally, McKillop eventually will take over for Takeo Spikes, 32, at "Ted" linebacker. Spikes signed a two-year deal last month. As we've learned over the last two seasons, "Ted" linebacker is a hard position to fill. If McKillop can't do it, he projects to a key special teamer who backs up Patrick Willis at "Mike" linebacker.

QB Nate Davis, No. 7. Who knows, maybe dropping all the way to the bottom of the fifth round will end up being a blessing for Davis. It almost guarantees that Davis will be brought along slowly. For some quarterbacks, being thrown into the fire too quickly can be disastrous for their careers. (See: 11, No.) To hear Mike Singletary tell, it seems as if new quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson was integral in Davis' selection. That is, Johnson's judgment that Davis indeed could pick up the offense and be effective prompted the pick. How soon can Davis be expected to play, Singletary was asked: "I've just got to get him in and see how he responds to the playbook, see how he responds to coaching, particularly how he responds to Mike Johnson. And then it's just a matter of if Mike goes through the process of, 'Here's the technique, here's what we have to do here. Here's the way your feet have to be.' So it just depends how soon and how quickly will he be able to adapt to that."

TE Bear Pascoe, No. 48. The first time this guy catches a touchdown pass - third and goal, fake handoff, quick pass to Pascoe - he will become a fan favorite. How can you not like a tight end named Bear? Pascoe takes over the role of blocking tight end from Billy Bajema. But unlike Bajema, who had as many receptions in the last three seasons as I have ears, Pascoe can block and catch. He caught 112 passes for 1,294 yards at Fresno State. Crabtree, Coffee and Pascoe figure to see the most playing time this season.

S Curtis Taylor, No. 28. The free safety is known as the quarterback of the defense, and like the quarterback it's unreasonable to think a seventh-round free safety can play right away. However, if Taylor shows promise in training camp, it will help add depth to a thin position and might prompt the 49ers to move Reggie Smith back to the position at which they originally considered him, quarterback CORNERback.

DL Ricky Jean-Francois, No. 95. RJF gets TBC's old number. Given his draft position, Jean-Francois could end up being the steal of the 2009 draft. Here's a guy who showed flashes of brilliance on the best college team in the nation over the past few seasons. Jean-Francois projects to right defensive end but he said he can play any of the positions on a 3-4 line. The 49ers will be curious to see if he has any potential as a nose tackle. How many defensive linemen will the 49ers keep? Jean-Francois might have to beat out Ray McDonald to make the squad.

-- 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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