As the 49ers Faithful anticipates a 2010 draft, preferably full of 300-pound-plus talent at offensive line, Barry Sims quietly returns. Sims, who played at an acceptable level in replacement for an injured Joe Staley last year, brings a mature attitude with him. He'll be willing to mentor the fresh crop of rookie linemen expected to come in to camp this summer, and I couldn't be happier about it.
The "short" list of rookie offensive linemen I'd like to see in the trenches after this year's draft includes the following:
Russell Okung - Oklahoma State - who will be gone by pick 13
Bryan Bulaga - Iowa - Who should also not be available
Anthony Davis - Rutgers - who may or may not be gone
Trent Williams - Oklahoma - who may be available
Charles Brown - USC - Who could slip to the second round
Mike Iupati - Idaho - A second-round option
John Jerry - Ole' Miss - A real 'road paver'
Brandon Carter - Texas Tech - The Monster
Bruce Campbell - Maryland - The words 'Boom Stick' come to mind
Maurkice Pouncey - Florida - Center of attention
Vladamir Ducasse - Massachusetts - Another big guy
Mike Johnson - Alabama - A Champion
(I'll be happy if at least two of these guys end up in SF.)
Sims, 35, is another symptom of a flourishing (re-emerging?) football culture around the 49ers team. "If they do draft a lineman, I'd like to try to mentor him, like some of the older guys did for me when I got into the league..." Not guaranteed any starting spot, as Chester Pitts has also been a name mentioned, Simms will add depth to a line that has suffered from injuries in recent years.
The veteran decided to stay in the area, opting not to move across the nation to Washington, where the Redskins (whom Chris Foerster, last year's 49ers offensive-line coach, is now employed by) had courted Sims this off-season. "When you go away, it's a real eye-opening experience," Sims said. "You have to re-establish relationships with everybody. I'd really miss the guys in San Francisco, because we have such a great group of guys."
This is the type of continuity and chemistry that has the 49ers Faithful feeling optimistic these days, and (admitting personal bias after so many win-starved seasons) I feel like said optimism is justified.
F.Y.I. I cropped an awesome photo for this article, but Getty Images is a crack-smoking Nazi.