49ers Blog and Q&A

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

May 1, 2011
Ultimate draft grade? It hinges on one player

Some post-draft thoughts ....

* Post-draft report cards are pretty silly, but newspapers do them anyway because readers love them. (For a while this morning, the 49ers post-draft grade was the most-read item on Sacbee.com.) The truth, however, is that the 49ers' 2011 draft ultimately will hinge on one player, and it's not first-round pick Aldon Smith. It's second-round pick Colin Kaepernick. If Jim Harbaugh taps Kaepernick's potential, the rest of the draft class is gravy.

* Another way to make that point: Who are James Owens and Tom Seabron? They are the players the 49ers selected immediately before and immediately after third rounder Joe Montana in 1979. Yes, the team also took a guy named Dwight Clark in the 10th round, but the other nine names taken that year have been forgotten. Lesson: a hit on a quarterback will trump misses in other spots. (Of course, the converse also is true).

* Speaking of Kaepernick ... you have to read this nicely-done story, which ran in The Turlock Journal on July 30. In addition to having a rifle for an arm and running skills like a gazelle, the guy also might be clairvoyant.

* Speaking of clairvoyance ... Yes, I accurately predicted the 49ers would trade up to get Colin Kaepernick a month and a half before it actually happened and stuck to my guns in ensuing mock drafts. (Cue the Twilight Zone music). I'll try not to pull a trapezius patting myself on the back. To me, it was logical. Every time Jim Harbaugh talked about his quarterback criteria - athletic, the kind of guy who was good at all sports in high school - I thought about Kaepernick, a basketball star in Turlock who also was drafted by the Cubs. Harbaugh wants to mold a quarterback. The biggest lump of clay in the draft was Kaepernick.

* With one of his patented Harbaugh-isms, the coach called GM Trent Baalke a "steely-eyed missile man" for how he managed the draft. "Some of the things that happened in this draft, a lot of people would have buckled," Harbaugh said. One of those disappointments was not landing fullback Owen Marecic, who was taken nine picks after the 49ers got running back Kendall Hunter in the fourth round. "We did everything we could to get him here and we came up short on that one," Harbaugh said. "Cleveland got an outstanding football player in Owen Marecic."

* I'm guessing the 49ers also had a disappointment in the third round. They originally had the 76th pick in that round. When the Seahawks, at pick No. 75, took Wisconsin G/C John Moffitt at No. 75, the 49ers traded down with Jacksonville. The 49ers obviously targeted interior linemen in the draft, and my sense is that they liked Moffitt and saw him swiped by a division rival one pick before they could get him. They later traded up into the fifth round to select C/G Daniel Kilgore from Appalachian State.

* The 49ers took safety Colin Jones in the sixth round. While they are eying Jones as a special teams standout -"There's a guy that I cannot wait to watch run down on a kickoff, full throttle, running his 4.3," Harbaugh said -- it also gives them seven safeties. (Teams typically carry four). It should be noted that third-round pick Chris Culliver, whom the 49ers see as a cornerback and whom am not including in the safety tally, played more safety at South Carolina than he did cornerback.

* Congratulations to 7th-round pick Mike Person. When we spoke to Person on Saturday, he was in the Crowne Plaza hotel in Billings, Mt waiting to attend an awards banquet that evening. A few hours after being drafted into the NFL, Person won the Little Sullivan Award, which is given to the state's top amateur athlete.

-- 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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