49ers Blog and Q&A

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

April 26, 2012
And with the 30th pick in the 2012 NFL draft ...

Draftmas finally has arrived. Before you go to bed tonight, the 49ers will have a shiny new toy under the tree. (Unless they trade down). So who are the likeliest to land in San Francisco today? I used a very complicated computer model - you probably wouldn't understand if I told you how it worked -- to come up with the following percentages. Margin of error, +/- 100 percent.

1. OLB Bruce Irvin, West Virginia. Why he fits: I'll give you five words why Irvin makes sense: Brady, Brees, Manning, Rodgers, Stafford. The 49ers play the five most prolific passers from 2011 this season. The NFL is increasingly a passing league and the 49ers were merely ok against the pass last year, finishing 16th in yards allowed through the air. The 49ers could be eying Irvin as a pass-rush specialist, a position that in today's NFL could be on the field almost 50 percent of the time. On NFL Network Wednesday, Mike Lombardi said there was one team in the first round that was in love with Irvin. Lombardi is good friends with Jim Harbaugh and was the first (only?) prognosticator last year to link the 49ers with Aldon Smith. Why he doesn't fit: Irvin played in the low 240-pound range and Baalke usually likes bigger-bodied guys on defense. Irvin, who got into a lot of trouble as a younger man, will not have many "gold helmets" next to his name. 19 percent.

2. TE Coby Fleener, Stanford. Why he fits: Jim Harbaugh loves tight ends, and Fleener was the best one he had at Stanford. He could be a possible replacement for soon-to-be free agent Delanie Walker, and he already knows the offense. He also gives the 49ers a red-zone threat they don't have right now. Why he doesn't fit: He's not an aggressive blocker, he has some injury history and there's a real possibility he gets picked before No. 30, perhaps by Houston. 16 percent.

3. WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech. Why he fits: Hill is a physical, big-bodied wide receiver who averaged nearly 30 yards (not a typo) a catch last year for the Yellow Jackets. He'd get to learn his craft from Randy Moss, perhaps the best downfield receiver of the last quarter century. Why he doesn't fit: Evaluators love to reassure themselves about a prospect with game film, and Hill (he just turned 21 this week) doesn't have a lot of film. He'd be a bit of a gamble and it's quite possible he wouldn't play a lot in Year 1. Hill might be gone before the 49ers pick. 17 percent.

4. G Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State. Why he fits: The 49ers would love a physical, athletic guard on the right side that could pair with Mike Iupati on the left. Silatolu has a big upside, and he's local. Why he doesn't fit: Silatolu's level of competition in the Lone Star Conference was, to put it politely, light. He also did not take an official visit like Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati and Aldon Smith did in previous years. Instead he was visited in Tracy by the team's offensive line coaches. 22 percent.


5. WR Kendall Wright, Baylor. Why he fits: He had a phenomenal year at Baylor, catching more than 100 passes for 1,663 yards and 14 touchdowns. Wright has excellent body control, plays fast and would give the 49ers a downfield threat for the future. He appears to be sliding down the draft, which would give the 49ers a shot at taking him. Why he doesn't fit: He's not a big-bodied player, and more than that, his preparation and conditioning for the pre-draft workouts raised red flags. Some teams don't see him as anything but a slot receiver, a position that doesn't see a lot of action on the tight-end-loving 49ers. It's hard to see Wright getting past Cincinnati at pick 21 and Houston at pick 26. 13 percent

6. G Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin. Why he fits: Zeitler played in a pro-style offense against excellent competition and might be the most ready of all these prospects as a rookie. That's not a minor point considering these guys only sign four-year deals. He would seem to be a great fit in the 49ers' pound-it-out offense. Why he doesn't fit: How much better is he than Daniel Kilgore, whom Baalke picked last year and who he is very high on? 8 percent

7. Others: C/G Peter Konz, Wisconsin, WR Rueben Randle, LSU, CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama, RB Doug Martin, Boise State. 5 percent.

-- 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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