The San Francisco 49ers' First-Round Draft Grades and the "Big Uglies"

Blaine SpenceSenior Writer IApril 23, 2010

Prior to the draft Trent Baalke had said that the 49ers expected to find at least three to four starters in this year’s draft.

They may have found two of those starters in last night’s first round.

The team addressed arguably its biggest need in selecting Rutgers’ offensive tackle Anthony Davis.

However, they didn’t stop there with their attention to the offensive line as they grabbed the masher (sorry, had to do it) from Idaho, guard Mike Iupati.

Neither pick came without a bit of controversy.

The team traded with the Denver Broncos to move up a mere two spots to select Davis.

Some fans were outraged that we gave up a fourth-round pick for Davis when both Bulaga and Davis were still on the board, and neither the Broncos nor the Miami Dolphins were poised to take a tackle.

The trade tells me two things:

  1. The team had no absolutely no interest in Bulaga, and Davis was their man all along.
  2. The team was worried about another team, such as the Dallas Cowboys, trading up ahead of them to grab Davis.

When you think back now, the week Singletary met with, and had dinner with Davis, wasn’t it just a bit quiet afterwards?

Obviously Singletary believes Davis’ “character issues” are behind him and that he can develop Davis’ enormous potential.

Also a good sign is what reported Davis saying after he was selected by the team:

"I wanted to go to the 49ers and I wanted to play for Coach Singletary."

"I love this game. They'll see a guy who's ready to work and ready to learn."

That works for me.

As far as the fourth-round selection is concerned, yeah, I am a bit bummed about giving it up. Especially since the team had already traded away their fifth-found selection to the Dolphins in the Ted Ginn Jr. trade.

However, that is more about me “jonesing” during Saturday’s rounds when—barring another trade, I have to wait for the team to select again until round-six.

Maybe I am the eternal optimist, but let’s be realistic here, name the 49ers’ fourth-round pick for the last four years.


Last year the team traded it away, in 2008 it was Cody Wallace, in 2007 Jay Moore, and in 2006 Michael Robinson.

Sure it is a deep draft this year...just saying...

OK, on to Mike Iupati.

The sexy picks were off the board (i.e. Spiller, Haden,) as well as several other players the team might have been interested in like Brandon Graham, Derrick Morgan, and Earl Thomas.

The only real controversy here is taking Iupati over a corner back, specifically Kyle Wilson.

With questions about Wilson’s top end speed and his lack of physical play, not only was Iupati the safer pick, it was the smarter pick in my opinion.

Davis and Iupati could immediately improve and offensive line that has struggled in the last few years—and please don't tell me you have stats to prove that the offensive line hasn't been that bad—stats never tell the whole story.

Again, this may not be sexy, but it could be the foundation for a strong offensive line for a long, long time. Nobody will remember the nobody that we didn't pick in the fourth- round when this O-line is tearing open holes for the running game and finally protecting our QB.

If you don't buy that from me, how about Roger Craig? I borrowed this qoute from Joseph Burkery's recent interview, 2010 NFL Draft: 49ers Legend Roger Craig Talks Niners, Draft, and Fishing.

"I've been hearing talk that Spiller looks like he might be a guy they're going to go after, but I think they should get a lineman. You can never have enough linemen, offensively or defensively. You need guys up front that win battles for you, especially to protect our quarterback...Alex Smith...and open up holes for Frank to run through."

I give the first round and A-. The minus for making me wait on Saturday!




OK, so how did the rest of you feel about our selections?


Andrew Dahitman: “I don't know why the Niners traded up. The dolphins have Jake Long and would not have taken the Davis. I like the pick, but question the trade.”


Brian Winett: “First Pick: F There was no need to throw away a fourth-rounder for this pick. With Bulaga and Davis there the 49ers could have gotten one of those guys at 13. Davis will be good but the war room gets an F for pre-mature eDraftulation.”


“Okay. Now that I have settled down about the trade and coined a phrase that may never be used again in premature eDraftulation, I give the 49ers an A-. It would have been an A+ if they wouldn't have kept their fourth round pick, but I have to give them the benefit of the doubt that they knew something we didn't. Everyone knew that the niners were going to pick an OT with Haden and Spiller off the board and there were potentially people who would have traded up to get Davis. With Bulaga out there until 23 however, the 49ers had a hedged bet with two elite OT draft prospects on the board and only two picks in front of them. They must have really wanted Davis and I like that they felt so strongly about someone. I like the strategy of taking two OL, a tackle and a guard and have been saying it just feels like the right thing to do for some time now. Iupati is a mauler and contrary to public opinion, I don't see the man having much success as a tackle. He'll be a hell of a guard though. That being said, Iupati would have been a wasted pick if the niners didn't fill the hole at tackle first. The selection of both the tackle and the guard in this draft will have a synnergistic effect upon the other. These picks work as interdependant parts of a whole that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.”


Steven Resnick: “Grade: B, Davis was a fine pick. Iupati questions about his pass blocking abilities. Hopefully he can improve those. Would have preferred Kyle Wilson of Boise State at 17.”


Willie Mowry (A Cowboy’s fan no less!): “Fix the trenches and allow Gore to do his thing! Grade: A”


Robert Wayerski: “Here are my grades and breakdown Robert Anthony Davis OT (Rutgers) B- This pick gets a B- from me because it seems like the Niners unnecessarily moved up when both Davis and Bulaga were still on the board and neither team ahead of them looking for a tackle. This is a good move for the running game. Davis is a huge run blocking tackle and will fit perfectly on the right side where he will be able to set in right away. He does have some weight issues and his desire has been questioned but that should be able to be fixed with a weight clause in the contract and Singletary's coaching. Mike Iupati OG (Idaho) B+ Another great move to help the running game. Iupati has the ability to become a Alan Faneca type guard who can instantly improve a teams running game. The only reason this pick gets a B+ instead of an A is they passed on Kyle Wilson and Devin McCourty at corner which was a bigger need. Does this move signal that the Niners are going to look to move David Baas before tomorrow? Or will they just go for broke this year and let Baas walk next year?”


Leroy Watson: "I think Anthony Davis is a good and bad pick. Good because I have thought all along that he was first round material. He was my number one priority at tackle all along (because I thought he was good value at 17), though people would tell me 'He's not as good as Bulaga or Iupati.' Niner brass seems to be sold on him, however.


"The bad part is giving up the fourth round pick to trade up and takes Denver's number 11 choice. Davis would have been available to San Fran at 13, I am certain of that. They could have gotten some good depth in the fourth round.


"Davis is just a raw, athletic brute. A mauler and a road-grader, with a nasty streak the size of Texas. I love his upside.


"Then, with Bulaga and Iupati still on the board at 17, the Niners took Iupati, whom I wanted to take at 13. Getting both of those guys is great. The Niners will now have some trading material along the o-line, if they choose to go that route. Or they will have some quality depth.


"So far, so good."




OK guys, that is it for now! But please feel free to add your comments and if you would like to participate in the next “round robin” just shoot me a private message through Bleacher Report.

Look for the 49ers to add a cornerback tonight, perhaps Chris Cook or Myron Lewis.

They might still be looking to add another pass rusher as well.

Could Sergio Kindle fall to them at 49? Should they trade up again?

And just to hedge my bets, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take a defensive tackle (Cam Thomas?), or a running back (Joe McKnight?), or even a running back/wide receiver (Dexter McCluster?).

We will find out in a few hours!


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