2011 NFL Draft – San Francisco 49ers

Round 1, Pick 7 (7) Aldon Smith DE 6’4″ 263 Missouri

Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers brass can only hope that this A. Smith will bring more to the field than the A. Smith that was drafted first overall just a few years ago by San Francisco. With LSU corner Patrick Peterson taken off the board early, it was a surprise to many that they selected defensive end Aldon Smith with their first-round pick.

“We took the guy we liked the most as a football player, as a person. We think he has tremendous upside,” Harbaugh said. “The way he rushes the passer. The way he plays the run. His ability to play on his feet–that he has done and we project him to be able to do to be an outside linebacker in our 3-4 scheme.”

Smith, a defensive end at Mizzou, will be moved back beside Patrick Willis. This transition may take some time, but playing under guys like Willis and Takeo Spikes, will only make that transition smoother. In a draft that was filled with talented defensive lineman, the 49ers chose to take the first defensive end off the board; a lineman many saw going later in the first round.

Harbaugh was oozing with confidence in Smith, proud of his first pick as the 49ers new head coach.

“I’m really impressed with him as a person. He’s an All-American young man. Has great wiring, many blessings from mom, dad and God, and we just feel like he’s going to be someone who’s obviously going to add to our football team and make us a better football team.”

Round 2, Pick 4 (36) (From Broncos) Colin KaepernickQB 6’5″ 233 Nevada

Although the consensus among the experts had San Francisco taking Blaine Gabbert in the first-round, the 49ers decided to trade up in order to get Nevada quarter back, Colin Kaepernick in the second round Friday.

The Nevada alum has the size, athletic ability and numbers that warrant him being a top-five quarterback in the draft. There are questions as to whether he can transition from a Pistol offense in Nevada to an NFL offense, as well as questions about the quickness of his delivery. Kaepernick spoke with Harbaugh during a workout weeks before the draft and was told by the former quarterback that it has his stamp of approval.

Here is a stat that gets me excited as a 49er fan:

Kaepernick did one thing no other player has done in NCAA history. Throwing for over 10,000 yards and running for over 4,000 yards in college. Yeah, let that one soak for a minute…Alright, on to the next pick.

Round 3, Pick 16 (80) (From Jaguars) Chris CulliverDB 6’0″ 199 South Carolina

As much as I would have liked to add Peterson or Prince Amukamara, it just wasn’t in the cards. Peterson was taken by the Cards, forcing the 49ers to wait until later rounds to add to their sorry secondary. Chris Culliver may not be the big name defensive-back that the 49ers were looking for, but the 6-0, 200 lb. corner adds speed and ball skills San Francisco needs. I wouldn’t expect to see him play much outside of nickel packages early on in the season.

Round 4, Pick 18 (115) (From Chargers) Kendall HunterRB 5’7″ 199 Oklahoma St.

Hunter may be small but he is a tough runner that has the quickness and agility to get through and around his fare share of defenders.

Round 5, Pick 32 (163) (From Packers) Daniel KilgoreOL 6’3″ 308 Appalachian St.

The 49ers also traded up to get this small-school standout Daniel Kilgore. He is expected to play guard at the pro level but I wouldn’t expect to see much of him early.

Round 6, Pick 17 (182) (From Jaguars) Ronald JohnsonWR 5’11” 199 USC

Ronald Johnson is a small receiver with big play ability. He is definitely worth a look on YouTube.

Round 6, Pick 25 (190) (From Seahawks) Colin JonesDB 6’0” 200 TCU

Round 7, Pick 8 (211) Bruce MillerDL 6’1″ 254 Central Florida

Round 7, Pick 36 (239) (Compensatory Selection) Michael PersonOL 6’5″ 299 Montana St.

Round 7, Pick 47 (250) (Compensatory Selection) Curtis Holcomb DB 5’10” 190 Florida A&M

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Jed York

If you haven’t heard, Jed York, the owner and president of the San Francisco 49ers still believes that his team is going to take the NFC West.

“We’re going to win the division,” York vowed Monday morning in a text to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

York also indicated that Mike Singletary would remain head coach of the 49ers…at least for another week.

The 0-5 start by Singletary is the worst start for a San Francisco football team since Bill Walsh’s first season as the 49ers head coach in 1979.  That ’79 49ers team went 7 straight games without a win.

Singletary is safe for now but it isn’t because he deserves to keep his job.  He hasn’t been fired yet because there is nobody on the staff with the capability to turn the team around and there is nobody on the market that would be willing to take such a job.

The remainder of the schedule is soft but even if the team won 8 of the next 11 games they would only be .500.

Either York knows something we don’t or York had such a rough Sunday night that it spilled into Monday morning.  Either York is confident, and knows something that nobody else in San Francisco is aware of, or he is simply crazy.  And I, like most I would assume, take the latter.

While Singletary’s job may be in place right now, you can only go so long without winning games before you starting making moves and this week the 49ers will need to do something sooner rather than later.

As much as I have tried to defend the guy, Alex Smith’s time in San Francisco is running out.  Singletary stated that Smith would be the starting quarterback come Sunday but if it gets ugly early on in the game expect Carr to take his spot.

On Sunday night against the Eagles, Singletary and Smith got into on the sideline; to the point where other players and staff got between the two of them.  An altercation like this is something you would expect from a quarterback and disgruntled receiver, not a quarterback and a head coach.  After the public displays of affection, Smith undermines Singletary by sending himself in after back-up David Carr was told by the coaches to get on the field.  Down by ten, Smith would then drive down the field and bring the 49ers within 3 points, before a last minute interception that would end up being the fifth and latest loss of the 49ers.

Smith, now in his 6th season, is yet to put a complete game together.  At times he looks like Steve Young or Joe Montana showing flashes of brilliance when the team needs it, but unfortunately his flashes of brilliance have come at a minimum.  Smith has failed to put 60 minutes of productive football together.

If Smith would like to keep his job, the quarterback that came out for that short while post-altercation will need to play that hungry and inspired football that drove him down the field on Sunday night against the Eagles.  That same quarterback that drove his team eighty yards for a score in 52 seconds against the Saints a couple weeks ago on Monday night.  Not the quarterback that holds onto the ball for far too long while in the pocket and throws forced balls on a continual basis.

If Smith can come out on Sunday and put together a flash of productive football he may make it into week seven.  But if Smith is unable to do so, expect Carr to take his spot early and Singletary not to look back.

49ers start season on bad note

I don’t know which was worse; listening to the game on the radio while I was at work or watching the recorded game already knowing what had happened.

The strong preseason by the San Francisco 49ers was no indicator of how they would start the season.  Despite an interception by Nate Clements to start the game, the 49ers failed to live up to the lofty expectations that have been granted to them by analysts and fans in the football world.

I don’t know what I feel worse about; the 49ers scoring an NFL low 6 points in week one, the fact that they allowed the Seahawks to score a bold 31 points, former USC coach, Pete Carroll, winning his first game in the NFL against the 49ers, or just knowing that the Oakland Raiders already have one more touchdown than San Francisco.

The 49ers were able to put the first 6 points on the board, but those 6 points would be spread over two quarters and would be the only 6 points of the game.  Seattle scored 28 straight thanks to poor secondary play by the highly touted 49ers defense and ugly offensive play by the 49ers.

The most obvious blemish on Sunday was the offensive-line play by the 49ers.  Rookies , Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati weren’t the only reasons the offense couldn’t get anything going, but they were a major factor in the 31-6 loss.

Frank Gore was unable to find any holes and Alex Smith found himself rushing a handful of throws because of the poor pass blocking.  Gore rushed for only 38 yards on 17 carries while Smith passed for 225 yards and two picks. The two interceptions by Smith were on throws to Michael Crabtree and it was obvious that the two could have used some more time in the offseason getting some familiarity with one another.

Here is where I would go over the bright spots of the game, but unfortunately for the 49ers the Seahawks took all those up.

The 49ers will have a lot of work to do as they prepare for the New Orleans Saints; a much stronger offense, capable of 31 points in a half.

Patrick Willis, who had ten tackles Sunday, summed up to loss pretty well with his most recent tweet:

“Yesterday was a tough loss, really embarrassing for us as players, for the organization period.”

San Francisco 49ers Preview

The San Francisco 49ers’ draft wasn’t sexy but they were able focus on an area that warranted attention.  Quarterback protection has been a struggle for the 49ers recently and with additions of Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati, the 49ers will be able to get a better idea of what Alex Smith can or can’t do.  (The following words may not be suitable for viewers under eighteen.)

“With the first pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select Alex Smith.”

It seems as though every year is the year where 49ers fans and football minds alike give the former Utah quarterback a chance to prove himself worthy of that number one pick.  A draft in which 28 Pro Bowler’s were drafted or signed after going undrafted behind him.  Smith has shown sparks of potential but sparks are not what will keep you in this league.  With another year under offensive-coordinator Jimmy Raye, it has come time for Smith to prove himself and if he fails to impress this season; his journey with the 49ers may be over before he knows it.  After the departure of J.T O’Sullivan and Shaun Hill, the quarterback depth took a hit, so the 49ers went out and signed well-traveled quarterback, David Carr.

“I think the biggest thing is just the similarities in them both being the first pick, both having a tough time really getting their career started,” said Coach Singletary. “From that standpoint I think there (are) a lot of common issues that they can talk about. In terms of the other, I just think that David Carr is a quiet, confident guy that’s continuing to grow in our system, and I’m sure that Alex can talk to him about some of the bumps along the way that are still in front of him.”

One of those Pro Bowler’s selected behind Smith in 2005 was Frank Gore.

Gore, who was taken with the first pick in the third round and hasn’t slowed down since taking over for Kevan Barlow in the latter part of the 2005 season.  Although he has battled with injuries, Gore has averaged over 4.2 yards per carry, recorded 32 touchdowns, and rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the past four seasons.

Smith and Gore have been the only constant with the 49ers since 2005 and if Smith doesn’t improve, Gore and the 49ers may move on without him.

Last year the 49ers selected Michael Crabtree with their first-round pick.  Although agreeing on a deal wasn’t as easy as they would have hoped.  Crabtree was able to catch 48 balls in just 11 games.  A year under his belt and a full helping of games should lead to a stronger year out of the 49ers offense.

On the other side of the ball the 49ers have shown substantial improvement going from lower tier embarrassment to one of the superior defenses in the league.  Last season they allowed only 17.6 points per game, the fourth best in the league.  That turnaround is thanks to Coach Mike Singletary and the about-face he has willed upon his team.

Defensive anchor, Patrick Willis may have found the Dave Duerson to his Mike Singletary.  The 49ers were able to draft Taylor Mays with their No. 49 selection, a pick nobody with the 49ers expected him to be at.

“I think when you look at the film and you see the guy, he’s back 20 yards, it’s pretty amazing,” Coach Singletary said. “When he came in and we had him for the interview there were just some things that he was just not asked to do. Sometimes, I think as coaches, you assume that they can’t do it. But I’m excited about him. Anytime you find a guy that has the intangibles that he does, just the ability to move and being able to have the range that he has…He wants to be a great football player, and he wants to be a 49er. That’s really huge and I’m very excited about that.”

Singletary and the 49ers were forced to handle some issues recently, with the early retirement of Glen Coffee and the distraction that was Kentwan Balmer, the 49ers look to leave that stuff behind them and focus on the season.  Balmer, who was drafted with a late first-round pick two years ago, was traded within the division to the Seattle Seahawks for a sixth-round pick.  Brian Westbrook has dealt with injuries the last few years but will find himself filling in for the newly retired Coffee.

With a solid defense and the weapons in place, the 49ers should be able to find themselves a playoff spot for the first time in eight years.  If Smith is unable turn those sparks into flames, he may find himself smoking on the sidelines.  Or maybe he’ll be sippin’ on some ‘purple drank’ with JaMarcus.

49ers, Harbaugh reach agreement

Jim Harbaugh has agreed to a five-year, $25 million contract to become the newest head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

This news coming out the day after the consensus No. 1 pick, Andrew Luck, decided to return to school. Once that news came out, some, including myself, expected Harbaugh to follow suit.

It was reported that Denver, Miami, and San Francisco were the NFL teams in contention, but as days passed during the week, Denver and Miami bowed out.

The jump from the NCAA to the NFL won’t be too much of a leap for he and his family, as he will be able to stay close to he and his family. A job in Denver or Miami would have meant a relocation of home-base for him and his family.

Harbaugh has no NFL experience as a coach, but went 58-27 overall as a college coach and 29-21 in four seasons at Stanford.  Harbaugh took over as head coach for Standford in December 2006 and flipped the switch for the school.

Harbaugh was a college star at Michigan but bounced around the NFL as a player in his 15 seasons, playing for the Bears, Colts, Chargers, Panthers, and Ravens. He was a first-round draft pick taken 26th overall by Chicago in 1987, Harbaugh passed for 26,288 yards in his career and completed 129 touchdowns.

The quarterback position is what will, as it did for Singletary, determine whether or not Harbaugh will see his contract all the way through. If the 49ers continue to play with mediocre pieces behind center, this team will continue changing coaches as often as one would change their oil.

Smith gets the job done in London

With both teams licking their wounds to kill time on the flight to England, it was anyone’s game Sunday between the 49ers and the Denver Broncos.  The Broncos, coming off their embarrassing 14-59 performance against the Oakland Raiders a week prior and the 49ers losing to the Carolina Panthers.

Last week, David Carr was given an opportunity to take the reins as the quarterback of the quarterback-less 49ers, but failed to meet expectations similar to those of the team at the start of the season.  Although his time under center was forced because of an injury to Alex Smith late in the game against Carolina, it was enough to see that his decision making was too much like Alex and it was time to give plan C a try.

Plan C goes by the name of Smith, Troy Smith, the Heisman winning quarterback that was drafted out of Ohio State in 2007.  The same Troy Smith that had a website made for him by Browns fans urging Cleveland Browns management to take him in the draft.  Browns management failed to listen but the poll is still out to whether or not that decision will be a costly one. Smith would be drafted in Day 2 at the end of the fifth round.

Don’t get me wrong, Troy Smith didn’t have a great game, as he only passed for 197 yards and a score, but he did get the job done, completing 8 of 10 passes for 110 yards with a late touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree that put them ahead.

You couldn’t expect a guy who a week ago was third in line, but to see that he took advantage of his opportunity and kept from making a mistake that those ahead of him would most likely have made gives a little hope to the quarterback situation.

The defense was able to keep Kyle Orton and the Broncos out of the red-zone, allowing them only 16 points on the day despite a 369 yard outing by Orton. Frank Gore made Smith’s job a lot easier as well, carrying the rock for 118 yards and a touchdown.

“Our receivers just told our coaches, ‘you know, let’s play,’” Gore said. “We can’t try to hold stuff back. You know our coaches called it and Troy did a great job … he made big plays when it counted and when we needed it.”

I’m sure the bye week couldn’t have come soon enough for Coach Singletary and his staff.

“We’re going to continue to go forward with Troy Smith right now,” Singletary said. “We’re going into the bye week and as far as Alex Smith is concerned, it’s a week-to-week deal. I’ll wait and talk to our doctors, trainers, whatever. But we’ll make those decisions when we need to.”

New Carr Same Ride

The 49ers beat the Raiders last week, giving them their first win of the season. The most recent game against the Panthers was the same old script-with a new twist-Alex Smith getting injured, allowing for David Carr to get his chance.

With the game 13 all in the fourth quarter, defensive-end, Ray McDonald took an interception from Matt Moore back 31 yards for a score, giving the 49ers a 7 point lead with just under 13 minutes to go in the fourth.

But Moore would make up for his mistake, taking the Panthers down the field in the last minutes of the game with a 23-yard pass to WR David Gettis who finished the day off with 8 catches, 125 yards, and two scores.  Moore would finish with 308 passing yards on the day.

Carr would have his chance to prove his worth with a two-minute drill.   Alex Smith, err, I mean David Carr then through an interception before you could blink putting the Panthers in position for the go ahead field goal.  John Kasay put it through sending the lowly 49ers to the UK.

Vernon Davis, who may be the most consistent 49er this season, is looking forward to the game.

“I can’t wait, I know my teammates can’t as well,” Davis said. “Some of the guys haven’t been over here to see London, period. I know they couldn’t wait to get over here. We’re here now and we’ve got work to do.”

The 49ers touched down in the UK on Monday and will be facing the Broncos who recently allowed the Oakland Raiders to go All-Madden on them and score 59 points.  This could mean one of two things.  The 49ers will put 79 on the Broncos since they beat the Raiders in the previous week.  Or that the Broncos will come out even hungrier than they normally would have, to prove they have a chance at the AFC West.

It isn’t known as of yet who will be starting quarterback when the 49ers suit up in London this Sunday.  If I were the man of empty, yet probably serious, promises, would hope that Smith start this weekend and give the Broncos something they haven’t seen.  And no, not number 11, but the man with the Heisman, Troy Smith.  It may be wishful thinking, but hey, at least it’s thinking…