After I read about the San Francisco 49ers selections in this mock draft, I immediately went to CNN to see if there were any reports of hallucinatory drugs being found in the South Florida water supply.
This mock draft incorporated an amazing shift in drafting order due to trades. It’s been known to happen, so I was willing to go along. The Miami Dolphins were the major movers. Fine.
In a trade with the Dolphins, Dallas got to jump from No. 14 to No. 8. The Dolphins, temporarily at No. 14, traded again with AFC East cohort New England, giving the Patriots the right to draft at No. 14 as the Dolphins loaded up on more late-round picks and slid to No. 27, where they selected Ryan Tannehill, the quarterback out of Texas A&M.
First: let’s consider the idea of Bill Belichick of the Patriots trading up in the draft. He loves draft picks, but he doesn’t like having real high ones. Screws up the Patriots' salary balance.
Second: An AFC East team trading with Bill Belichick and allowing the Pats to move up? That happens about…never.
That’s where my laptop got Frisbee’d across the room. But it even slides south from there. What follows is the grade of each round.
Mocks are the time to dream, to conjure. But there also has to be an extension cord plugged into reality to make the ideas at least appear to have life.
The Niners, in this draft, have no first-round selection because the Dolphins then traded some of the picks from the Dallas and New England deals and swapped positions with the 49ers at No. 30, where the Dolphins selected Coby Fleener, the best tight end in the draft.
As Alessandro Miglio put it:
The Stanford product is hands-down the best tight end prospect in the draft. He gives Tannehill a legitimate seam threat to pair with underrated, do-it-all Anthony Fasano. Miami felt the need to move up with the Giants and Colts ahead of them.
First, if the Niners saw Fleener available this late in the draft, they might be doing their own maneuvers to move up to get him. No amount of added second- or third-round selections would be able to pry Trent Baalke off this pick, mainly because Jim Harbaugh would drive a spike into Baalke’s heart if such an opportunity was missed.
Think deeper. First, it was Harbaugh who popularized the multiple tight end sets two years ago at Stanford. And who did he use? Yes, one was Konrad Rueler, who happens to be on the 49ers roster.
The other? Coby Fleener.
Does Miglio know that former Stanford players like Chase Beeler are on the Niners roster? That Harbaugh has an affinity for his former college stars, seen in the recent acquisition of quarterback Josh Johnson? That he admits that they missed on selecting former Stanford star Richard Sherman, who now is an emerging star for the Seahawks?
And Fleener, 6’6” with great speed, provides a two-fer for the Niners in that he could be positioned in either wide receiver or tight end positions and give the team great matchup advantages. Getting this close to Fleener and then missing would never happen with Baalke.
Grade: Time to change the bong water.
With the 48th selection, the Niners pick guard Kevin Zeitler of Wisconsin. That’s a reasonable pick. But here’s something to consider: They could make this pick with their normal second-round pick.
This mock draft lists the Niners as having the 62nd pick, but it’s really one earlier because the Saints were penalized a selection as part of their bounty penalty. There’s a decent chance the Niners could have Zeitler at No. 61 and be happy for it.
That is, if they need a guard. They might not. Since this draft had them losing out on Fleener, there still is a need for a big-play wide receiver, even with Moss and Manningham. But at least the Zeitler selection appears reasonable.
Also, the Niners in this draft added another second-round pick, Mike Martin, a defensive end out of Michigan (pictured). A four-year player for the Wolverines, Martin (6’1”, 306) would be slotted to fill as a backup for either Ray McDonald or Justin Smith in the Niners 3-4 defense.
Think again: By passing up Fleener, the Niners get a possible starter at guard (though they may already have one in Daniel Kilgore) and a backup on the defensive line. They passed on an impact player that’s perfect for their offense for a possible and a backup?
Not gonna happen.
With the 74th pick, the Niners get Chris Polk, the running back out of Washington. The move is, again, possible. But the Niners appear deep enough with Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Anthony Dixon and newly-acquired Brandon Jacobs.
That’s why this is where the Niners try to find great value in an area of lesser need, such as defensive tackle. This is where Mike Martin of Michigan does come in. But the Polk pick is very much within the realm of the possible. Not probable, but at least it’s grounded in logic.
With the No. 94 slot, the pickup of Georgia tight end Orson Charles seems off the books. Now, according to this draft, they passed on an elite tight end with more height and more speed and better hands for a 6’3” player with short arms, and now, an issue with the law.
In 2011, Trent Baalke had about as good a draft as any GM has had in years. And now he’s making selections like this to compensate for passing on Fleener?
Don’t see it.
The cornerback had a decent game against Justin Blackmon in the matchup against Oklahoma State. OK, good to hear. Johnson (23) is also 5’10". For a team praying for a big, strong corner, that’s not going to do it.
There there’s this thing called his combine 40 time: 4.71.
Now, Baalke has said that numbers at the combine don’t necessarily mean all that much. It’s more on the film that determines whether a player can play. Johnson would have to do a lot of showing to overcome a 4.71.
He has standard size (6’0", 190) for a wide receiver, and he has some standard numbers. But then there’s this:
Jenkins isn't a burner or consistent vertical threat, but he plays fast and with a degree of confidence. He is more quick than fast and covers a lot of ground in the short half of the field and is slippery after the catch. He has a lanky frame and will be overmatched physically by most cornerbacks in the NFL, but should be a solid underneath option.
Why would the Niners wait until the fifth round to draft someone who can’t make the team? Here’s where they get another strong safety or inside linebacker, if only to add more depth to their special teams.
A late-round defensive end is a solid selection here. At 6’3” and 283, he seems a little small, but I do like this:
NFL defensive coordinators to like Guyton's mix of strength and hustle, whether they project him as a 4-3 under tackle or 3-4 five-technique. He's more likely to remind scouts of former Golden Bears' third-round pick defensive tackle Brandon Mebane than Cal products Tyson Alualu or Cameron Jordan, both first-round picks, but with minimal technique refinement, he could be a very polished find in the middle rounds.
Sure, why not? But it’s in the later rounds that you round out your special teams. The Niners need some help in the secondary, and Brown (shown getting beat) may be an answer. It’s more about whether he can help in other areas.
That’s why strong safeties and fast linebackers tend to get picked in these rounds—more tacklers/blockers on special teams.
But before we put this puppy to sleep, let’s remember that this mock purports that Trent Baalke forgets everything he knows about what he learned to make the 2011 draft so successful for the 49ers by passing on perhaps the perfect player—Fleener—for this team.
It’s a hard mock to swallow.