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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

NFL Draft Preview: San Francisco 49ers

Wild on Sports
2013 NFL Draft Capsules:
San Francisco 49ers
 By Wild on Sports NFL Analyst Davis McGregor

On the Clock: San Francisco 49ers

Team Overview:
Coming off a very hot season with quite a few twists, Jim Harbaugh and company look to add the finishing touches to a Super Bowl contending team. Seeing as the 49ers possess the most pick in this upcoming draft, it shouldn’t be too hard to beef up this team.

14 is the magic number for this San Fran team. An off-season choc-full of trades has left the 9ers with that many picks. Not bad considering they made it to the Super Bowl this year.

This leaves Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke with a few options. Keep their picks and fill up the roster with a steady supply of picks in rounds 1-7. Or trade up with those 3rd and 4th round picks to try and grab a few more in the first two rounds.

Regardless of what they go with, they’ll still be in much better shape than NFC West rival Seattle, with only 7 picks.

Team Needs:
1. Defensive back
2. Quarterback
3. Kicker

Losing Dashon Goldson was a big hit to the already shallow secondary of San Francisco. Bringing in some depth to this secondary is first on the to-do list. Not only with the first pick, but most.

Another pick that needs to be addressed is at quarterback. With Alex Smith over in Kansas City that leaves Scott Tolzien as the backup. You know the guy that no one has ever heard of? If Kap goes down, San Fran will need a new signal caller than has a lot more talent than Mr. Tolzien. If the 9ers do not elect to trade up for a higher first rounder, taking a quarterback such as E.J. Manuel in the second round could be a great choice.

Likely Fits:
One great weakness for this defense that presented itself this year was the lack of a big cornerback. Thanks to Julio Jones that became quite clear in the AFC Championship game racking up 135 yards and a pair of TD’s. All this damage was done over Tarell Brown who’s sitting at about 5’9 on a good day. If San Fran can’t cover Julio at 6’3, 220lbs; what are they gonna do against Detroit’s Calvin Johnson standing at nearly 6’6?

Work needs to be done in this secondary and the best match for SF is Xavier Rhodes. Coming out of Florida State the 6’1, 210lbs corner is the big-bodied man they need to help defend the bigger receivers around the league.

While Rhodes has dominant size, he also runs 4.43 40-yard dash allowing him to keep up with the smaller, speedier guys too. With Dee Millner being the top recruit, Rhodes should drop down the board a little bit, but probably not all the way to 31. Trading that 31st pick and the 72nd overall pick too, could move them up far enough to draft Rhodes.

Miami has a need in the secondary as well, but with a wide spread of issues for the Dolphins, bringing in another 3rd round pick could do wonders for this team. With the benefits Rhodes would add to this team, this trade would easily be worth it.

Trading away Alex Smith was a debatable move but one thing they was looked over when the original trade was announced is who his replacement would be? One big part of that trade was due to the play style San Fran is shifting to. With Kaepernick’s mobility the team has become much used to playing with a quarterback who gets out of the pocket and makes plays with his feet. This is why with the 34th overall pick in the 2013 draft, the 49ers should select E.J. Manuel.

Quarterbacks with a running threat too tend to have much shorter careers due to injury. Don’t believe it just ask RGIII after his last playoff game. Having Kap go down and Tolzien taking over probably isn’t a chance Coach Jim Harbaugh is willing to take, a likely pick for the 49ers would be to pick up Manuel with their 2nd pick of the 2nd round which came over in the Alex Smith trade.

Manuel possesses many of the same qualities as Kaepernick, a quarterback that can make strong passes from inside the pocket but will burn you if allowed space outside of the pocket. Bringing him in to work under Kaepernick should also greatly influences his performance. Who knows, E.J. could be the next Kaepernick coming in after an injury and helping to lead his team to the Super Bowl.

Bring up kicker problems to any fan and no one will have a worse reaction than the San Francisco fan. David Akers was a nightmare, making only 69% of his kicks; he was let go this past off-season only to be taken by the Lions. Phil Dawson was the new guy brought into The Bay to take the kicks. With a much more respectable 93.5% make of his kicks last year, San Fran should have much better results that year. Probably not much longer after that though.

Dawson’s at the ripe old age of 38 right now, which means he’s got one, two more years, tops in the league. To put away the kicking woes for good, a kicker should definitely be in the mix for this draft.

Best name available this year is Dustin Hopkins, E.J. Manuel’s former teammate. With more picks than they will probably know what to do with, SF’s front office would do well to snag Hopkins. Especially considering his combine results.

If you want to know how many reps Hopkins had at the combine, just ask Damontre Moore. The top 3 DE in the draft was beat out by Hopkins by a single rep. Hard to believe considering Moore’s got 60lbs on the guy. But Hopkins smaller size came in handy in another aspect of the combine. This time embarrassing “dual-threat” quarterback Collin Klein and Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor. But it doesn’t end here, USC’s Robert Woods got a taste of it too by tying Hopkins in the vertical jump.

While it’s great for Hopkins that he can do all these things, that isnt what he is being drafted to do. He is being drafted to kick and it’s a damn good thing he can do that too. Hopkins put in 83.3% of his attempts including one at 56 yards. The kids got a nice leg that can ease the minds of San Fran fans when the FG team runs out on the field. Plus the D-line takes a few too many injuries, it doesn’t hurt to have an extra guy “stronger” than Damontre Moore.


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