Draft Grader: San Francisco 49ers
As Khaled Elsayed explains, the 49ers' recent rise to dominance in the NFC is linked to some solid drafting - Kentwan Balmer aside.
Draft Grader: San Francisco 49ers
In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been going back over the 2008, 2009, and 2010 draft class of each franchise and assigning each pick a grade. Up next? Well, that’s the San Francisco 49ers.
Each pick between the 2008 and 2010 draft classes has been given a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:
• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors, such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for
Let’s take a look at how the 49ers drafted.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
There have been times when Alex Smith has looked like a sixth-rounder.
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
NaVorro Bowman, LB (91st overall pick in 2010): It was a bit surprising when the 49ers decided to let Takeo Spikes walk in free agency in 2011, but after seeing what Bowman could do it all made sense. Bowman wasn’t quite as good in 2012 as he was a year previously, when he led our inside linebacker rankings, but he’s already one of the best in the business at what he does.
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Mike Iupati, G (17th overall pick in 2010): While some early-round interior linemen step into the league and are handed false praise because of where they are drafted, Iupati has earned his. Our second-ranked left guard last year has already turned his three seasons into a +49.3 grade and is as punishing a blocker as there is.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Josh Morgan, WR (174th overall pick in 2008): This former sixth-rounder has never quite delivered on his potential for the 49ers, but 1,764 yards is good value considering where he was drafted. Always offered something after the catch.
Michael Crabtree, WR (10th overall pick in 2009): The star receiver from the 2009 class, Crabtree held out and failed to make much of an impact as a rookie. Looked like being something of a disappointment until a switch at quarterback saw him start to get the most out of his talents and finish the year fifth in our wide receiver receiving ratings. If he can keep delivering like that he’s going to rise higher.
Ricky Jean-Francois, DT (244th overall pick in 2009): While the 49ers aren’t exactly the biggest rotators of defensive line personnel, Jean-Francois looked like a valuable addition when he has got on the field. After playing just two snaps in 2009, he’s picked up 685 over the past three years with a +10.2 grade that convinced the Colts to pay him big money.
Anthony Davis, T (11th overall pick in 2010): Was worth a negative grade for his first two years in the league, but managed to turn it around with a fantastic 2012 that showed why he was a former first-round pick. If he keeps it up he’ll earn a higher grade next year.
Kyle Williams, WR (206th overall pick in 2010): People will just remember those fumbles, but he showed some real progress as a receiver and when he catches the ball showed glimpses of being a decent returner. Delivered more than you would expect from a sixth-rounder.
0.0: It could have been worse
Reggie Smith, S (75th overall pick in 2008): Smith managed 854 snaps for the 49ers and hasn’t come out to badly in our gradings (+0.9 combined). You’d like to see more playing time from a former third-round pick, but his saving grace is the 21 special teams tackles that prevent his being a negative grade.
Larry Grant, LB (214th overall pick in 2008): The former seventh-round pick finally got on the field for the 49ers in 2011 and looked decent enough (though not a patch on the man he was replacing, Patrick Willis). His journey to getting some starts in San Francisco included a stop in St. Louis after being taken off the 49ers’ practice squad. Has a real chance at being a positive player for the 49ers because of the depth he provides combined with value on special teams.
Scott McKillop, LB (146th overall pick in 2009): Made a positive impact on special teams as a rookie (11 tackles), before missing his sophomore season on injured reserve. Was cut after the lockout.
Nate Davis, QB (171st overall pick in 2009): A project quarterback, was cut after a year and, while he spent some time on the practice squad, never caught on.
Curtis Taylor, S (219th overall pick in 2009): Played 10 snaps on defense as a rookie, missed most of his sophomore season on injured reserve, and was cut a year later.
Anthony Dixon, RB (173rd overall pick in 2010): Hasn’t offered much as a runner or as a complement to Frank Gore, but has at least offered some help on special teams.
Nate Byham, TE (182nd overall pick in 2010): Does offer some variety as a different type of tight end to both Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker, but after spending 2011 on injured reserve lost his spot on the roster.
Phillip Adams, CB (224th overall pick in 2010): Got on the field (76 snaps) as a rookie, but was deemed surplus to requirements soon after.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Chilo Rachal, G (39th overall pick in 2008): Something of a polarizing player, Rachal tends to either look really bad, or really good. Take his 2010, for example — while he had some bad moments, on the whole he was a dominating guard who finished the year second in our run block rankings for guards. Then you look at him in 2011 where he earned his benching and was subsequently let go. Should have delivered more.
Cody Wallace, C (107th overall pick in 2008): Played just three sophomore snaps, but the former fourth-rounder never caught on and was cut before the 2010 season.
Glen Coffee, RB (74th overall pick in 2009): While Coffee took a different path than football, it was still a wasted pick after he looked near useless as a rookie. His 294 snaps resulted in a -11.9 grade.
Bear Pascoe, TE (184th overall pick in 2009): Waived as a rookie and not deemed worth a spot on the practice squad. Caught on in New York, but did nothing for the 49ers.
Taylor Mays, S (49th overall pick in 2010): Wasn’t Mays great value in the second? A new coaching staff didn’t buy into him at all, even if Mays didn’t embarrass himself in 439 snaps as a rookie (-0.2). Sad that they received only a 2013 seventh-round pick. That’s how badly they wanted rid of him.
-1.0: What a waste!
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
Kentwan Balmer, DT (29th overall pick in 2008): Not often a team gives up on a first-round pick after just 365 snaps, but that’s what happened with Balmer. He looked poor on those plays, earning a -8.3 grade and it was no real surprise when he was traded for a sixth-round pick.
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
No Russell/Leaf hybrids in this draft.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled