The San Francisco 49ers won only two games last year beating the same team, the Arizona Cardinals twice, earning the number one overall draft pick for the first time in the franchises history. Although the Niners drafted some quality players, they are still far away from competing and could end up with the number one overall draft pick in next years draft.In what was generally thought of as a weak talent pool, the San Francisco 49ers drafted players that seal their fate as the leagues worst.
Although Alex Smith was the best Quarterback available in the draft, he is not going to make a difference for at least two years.
Of course, it is hard to identify the most pressing needs for a team that only won two games last year, but the most obvious deficiencies were at offensive line, wide receiver and defensive secondary.
The Niners did address their offensive line problems by selecting David Baas from Michigan, a versatile center/guard, as their second round pick, then Oregon Guard, Adam Snyder with their second third round pick. Baas and Snyder are big, physical and could anchor the new look offensive line for years to come, but will unlikely see much playing time this year.
One of the most surprising picks of the draft was Frank Gore, the first player selected in the third round by the 49ers. Gore was a star at the University of Miami until he got hurt, and Willis McGahee, now the starting running back for the Buffalo Bills, stole the show.
Last year, the 49ers signed Kevin Barlow to a five-year, $20 million contract after he gained 1,024 yards while splitting carries with Garrison Hearst in 2003. Gore has the best chance among the new rookies to make a difference this year, but the best thing he can do is put pressure on Barlow to steal his position so Barlow does not have another disappointing season like last year where he scored seven touchdowns and gained only 822 yards.
The most glaring weakness for the 49ers last year was their passing game, offensively and defensively. They were ranked 26 of 32 teams in total offense while throwing 21 interceptions. The defense was ranked 24, but only had nine interceptions all year.
The 49ers waited until the fifth round to draft a wide receiver, Rasheed Marshall from West Virginia, who they are hoping to convert to wide receiver from quarterback.
The Niners used their next two picks to take cornerbacks derrick Johnson from Washington and Daven Holley from Cincinnati. Johnson is an aggressive player but is not a solid tackler or leaper, making him no help against the run and ineffective when covering bigger receivers.
Holley has great speed but has yet to control it, making him slow out of breaks and back pedals. Holley uses his time as a receiver to help him read routes, but can jump them too aggressively, making him susceptible to double moves.
With the three remaining seventh round picks, the Niners took another receiver and two tight ends. At 6’3″, Marcus Maxwell is a tall, fast receiver who uses his hands well but does not ave the mental focus to be an every down receiver.
Picking two tight ends, Patrick Estes and Billy Bajema, does not make any sense since their starting tight end, Eric Johnson, was one of the best tight ends last year leading the team with 82 catches and 825 yards.
Although the Niners’ management is headed in the right direction, they have too many holes to fix.
The 49ers drafted many football players that will need time to develop, especially Alex Smith, quarterback and number one overall selection.
Another (2-14) season would be disappointing, but not surprising. This draft was the first time the 49ers had ever had the number one overall selection and they are favorites to end the season with the worst record and selected at the top of the 2006 draft.