49ers Blog and Q&A

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

April 5, 2011
Uncharted waters, and the 49ers are rudderless at QB

Dumbfounding fact of the day: The 49ers have an extra sixth-round pick in the upcoming draft that they received for perennial underachiever Kentwan Balmer and an extra seventh rounder they received for perennial overachiever Shaun Hill. The compensation for Balmer is 41 slots better than the compensation for Hill. Sigh.

With 12 total picks, the 49ers will head into the draft with more selections than any other team. And, yes, the picks they received in exchange for Hill and Balmer potentially could be packaged with others so that the 49ers can move up and target specific players.

Still, the 49ers would have been much better off if they had kept Hill.

They shipped him to Detroit for a seventh-round selection, and for far more money signed David Carr as the team's primary backup. Carr, of course, ended up being leapfrogged by Mike Singletary-favorite Troy Smith and falling to No. 3 in the quarterback pecking order. The new regime has opted to move on from Smith and may not be too enamored of Carr, either. As previously reported, Harbaugh gave Carr a low grade when Carr, the eventual No. 1 pick, was entering the draft in 2002.

Hill, meanwhile, showed the same kind of leadership and moxie in Detroit when starter Matthew Stafford suffered a separated shoulder last year as he did in San Francisco when Alex Smith dealt with shoulder injuries in 2007 and 2008. It's a safe guess that Hill is one of the veteran Lions players organizing workouts and practices during the lockout especially since Stafford is still recovering from his injury.

The 49ers, meanwhile, could use such a player. There's a modest contingent working out together in the South Bay, but it's an offensive lineman, Joe Staley, and a defensive lineman, Justin Smith, who are the primary organizers. Hill might not have the physical attributes Harbaugh is seeking in a future starter, but he is everything a head coach wants in a locker-room leader and he would have been an ideal "bridge" quarterback for 2011 while Harbaugh developed a youngster.

Speaking of late-round selections ... I recently spoke to a prominent agent who speculated that teams might be more apt to use those picks this year than to trade them. The reason: Unless the lockout is lifted or resolved soon, teams won't be able to signed undrafted players - A.K.A. priority free agents - like they have in previous years as soon as the draft has ended.

If the impasse drags on, the agent said, there potentially could be a short free-agency period in mid- to-late summer. Team resources would be better spent during that span re-signing their own veteran free agents and targeting other ones than scooping up undrafted rookies. The 49ers, meanwhile, will take or have taken close looks at a number of players, including Yale tight end Chris Blohm, who fall into the sixth- or seventh-round (or undrafted) category. For the list of 49ers visits, click here.

Blohm was not invited to the combine, but his 30 bench-press reps at his pro day were better than any of the combine tight ends. To watch Blohm's workout at Yale, click here.

-- 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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