2012 NFL Mock Draft: 5 Draft Day Possibilities to Make 49ers Super Bowl Champs
OK, we’re giddy out here. Not really thinking straight.
For starters, we haven’t even put away the newspaper clippings and web articles from July and August that bemoaned the state of the 49ers. You know, the ones about the lockout preventing new coach Jim Harbaugh from having enough time to get to know his team.
About the bad decision in keeping Alex Smith. About the bad decision of making a 21-year-old newbie out of Missouri named Aldon Smith the seventh player taken in the draft.
About how the only way the Niners could get to the playoffs was through the benefit of playing in the weak NFC West, and at that it had to be 9-7. And that was stretching it, because the first free agent the team signed was an old kicker, David Akers.
Well, as a 13-3 record and the No. 2 seed proves, it worked out while popular preseason Super Bowl favorites like Philly, NY Jets and Cowboys are at home. Other playoff contenders like Tampa Bay, Indy and St. Louis have blown up their coaching staffs and/or front offices.
So, yes, giddy is a good word for 49er fans these days. And from that perspective, here’s looking ahead to the 2012 NFL Draft and five out-of-the-box moves aimed at getting a key player that will propel the 49ers to the team’s sixth Lombardi Trophy.
Dream Move No. 1: A Killer RB
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As the season has progressed, it has become apparent that Frank Gore is either tired, injured or both. His value, however, remains. When he finds a crease he is able to get to the second level and rarely does the first hit bring him down.
Nonetheless, 49er fans know that Kendall Hunter provides greater capability to get to the edge and, with quicker acceleration, provides greater chance for big plays. The downside is that Hunter is not as good as Gore on pass protection.
The solution: Trade the first- and third-round draft selections along with Anthony Dixon to Chicago and take the surprise back hanging in the draft, Trent Richardson of Alabama.
Just like that, the 49ers have fresh legs, inside speed and power. The Bears get a veteran back and two selections to improve their offensive line.
Dream Move No. 2: A Shutdown Corner
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If there is one thing this team needs, it’s a shutdown corner. Of course, the addition of Aldon Smith proved that all DBs are “shutdown” quality when the opposing quarterback is on his back.
Nonetheless, the Niners can package Shawntae Spencer, Tarell Brown and Anthony Dixon to go along with a first- and third-round picks to the Vikings for the third pick in the draft, which they use on Morris Claiborne out of LSU.
Along with a strong front seven, Claiborne’s skills coupled with Carlos Rogers (signed to an extension) provide the Niners D with the ability to take away deep threats like Jermichael Finley of Green Bay, Victor Cruz of the Giants and any receiver on the Patriots, not to mention the twice-a-year matchups against Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals.
Dream Move No. 3: More OL Power
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David DeCastro (52) was a Jim Harbaugh recruit at Stanford. He understands Harbaugh’s penchant for inside running, is wonderful at pulling either direction and can handle inside tackles better than many NFL vets.
Better yet, DeCastro might be so smart he’ll make the scheme calls against blitz packages, helping RT Anthony Davis immensely in pass protection.
The problem is that it makes him a top-15 selection. So the Niners trade backup guard Chilo Rachal and first- and third-round picks for San Diego’s slot at No. 15 and take DeCastro.
DeCastro takes over at right guard for Adam Snyder, who slides over to Boone’s role as next man up in the OL rotation.
Dream Move No. 4: Big WR
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The Chargers in August signed 6’5” Malcom Floyd to a two-year deal, and many believe that despite the play of Vincent Jackson on the other side, Floyd became Philip Rivers’ favorite target. That he missed four games accounts in part of the Chargers’ disappointing season.
San Diego needs major upgrades, and in a trade, the Niners and Chargers can work out a deal. For second- and third-round selections along with RB Anthony Dixon, the Niners get Floyd. The Chargers hold onto their first-round pick, get a good inside runner in Dixon to go along with Ryan Mathews, as well additional picks to add to the offensive and defensive lines.
Someone call A.J. Smith right now.
Dream Move No. 5
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This only happens because the 2011 draft was so successful. Think about it: Few teams, if any, had as much success as the 49ers with their six selections. To wit:
No. 1 DE Aldon Smith is a lock for Defensive ROY.
No. 2 QB Colin Kaepernick is in his development stage.
No. 3 CB Chris Culliver has the potential to develop into a starter in year No. 2.
No. 4 RB Kendall Hunter is everything that’s been expected.
And though OL Daniel Kilgore and S Colin Jones haven’t had big roles, they are slated to take on bigger roles. But the addition of FB Bruce Miller, a former DE in college, makes the 2011 draft one of the best in the NFL over the last five years.
So, there’s the chance that a few Niner fans, perhaps overloaded on Cabernet Sauvignon and giddiness, may wish Trent Baalke might go all Mike Ditka on the NFL next April. What do we mean?
An all-in move—all the Niners selections in 2012—to the Indianapolis Colts for the rights to select Andrew Luck. You could also throw in Kaepernick as a sweetener to the pot.
Just like that, the Colts would have a jump on rebuilding and the Niners would have another quarterback for its heritage that includes Frankie Albert, Y.A. Tittle, John Brodie, Joe Montana and Steve Young.