49ers Get Physical
Remember all the hard-nosed talk from San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary about smash-mouth football, power running and stout defense? Well in the 2010 NFL draft, Singletary's plan was put into action.
The 49ers came in with offensive line woes, a mediocre defensive secondary, and less than adequate depth at LB for a 3-4 defense. Who did they select in order to take the next step in their progression?
Let's discuss each pick.
Round 1, Pick 11 (11): OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers
San Francisco moved up from No. 13 to No. 11 in order to select OT Anthony Davis. Davis gives the 49ers some possible flexibility at the offensive tackle position. He could develop into either a LT or RT and when you pair him with current LT Joe Staley, the 49ers have a pair of first-round studs protecting their backfield.
Davis has tremendous athletic ability, great footwork and a very real potential to become an All-Pro offensive tackle. There are concerns about his consistency, but if there's any head coach you want motivating your player, it's Mike Singletary.
Round 1, Pick 17 (17): OG Mike Iupati, Idaho
If you want to run a smash-mouth offense, you need an interior lineman who can move the pile. OG Mike Iupati is thrust into this role. Coming out of the WAC conference, Idaho's Iupati was the clear-cut top interior lineman graded in the 2010 draft. The one-two punch of Davis-Iupati turn the 49ers' offensive line from a weakness into a team strength.
Round 2, Pick 17 (49): S Taylor Mays, USC
Most draft gurus considered safety to be an position of need for the 49ers. It looks like the 49ers' organization agreed. Taylor Mays provides first-round athleticism at a second-round cost. Although he may be more inclined as a safety who will contribute in run support, the 49ers addressed a position with serious depth concerns.
Round 3, Pick 27 (91): LB Navorro Bowman, Penn State
They say that in a 3-4 defense, you can never have too many linebackers.
Bowman fills a much-needed depth role at either ILB or OLB. Penn State utilized him at both positions depending upon the matchup, and it goes without saying that the coaching staff noticed this flexibility. Bowman likely will not step in immediately and start for the 49ers, but he gives them a flexible backup who they can groom into a position over the next couple years.
Round 6 & 7
Round 6, Pick 4 (173): RB Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State
Round 6, Pick 13 (182): TE Nate Byham, Pittsburgh
Round 6, Pick 37 (206): WR Kyle Williams, Arizona State
Round 7, Pick 17 (224): CB Phillip Adams, South Carolina State
When Frank Gore went down last season, former Alabama standout Glen Coffee got his shot in the starting lineup. He did little to impress. The 49ers went back to the well and drafted another power back from the SEC in Anthony Dixon. He's got great size and adequate speed. He's not the answer if Gore is gone for an extended period of time, but he will do just fine in short-yardage situations.
Nate Byham will not even come close to pressuring current TE Vernon Davis for playing time, what he will do is come in on jumbo sets where there are two or three TEs blocking on the edges and he will be relied upon to seal the edge and make some big blocks. Widely considered one of the drafts best pure blocking TEs, Byham has a chance to make the roster if he lives up to his draft grade.
The 49ers definitely have depth concerns at WR and CB, but there's only so much you can do very late in the draft. From Arizona State, Kyle Williams provides speed to stretch the defense. The 49ers unfortunately have a number of possession WRs but lack a true burner to stretch the field and keep defenses honest.
And at CB, Phillip Adams went mostly under the radar but plays the game physical and does well in jamming receivers. If you've got to face Larry Fitzgerald twice a year, you need to be able to throw off his timing on his routes.
Draft Overview and Grade
San Francisco successfully checked off all their boxes. They fortified their offensive line for years to come, they got an athletic safety to take care of the back end and got much-needed depth at positions which are key to their style of play.
While to the casual NFL observer, it might appear the 49ers had a solid, but not great draft. I feel most die-hard 49ers fans are more than satisfied with their 2010 draft class, because you have to build the foundation at some point.
The 49ers still have room for improvement at a few spots on defense and likely need speedy playmaker on offense, that will have to wait another year. For now, they've got a few more pieces in place and there are no excuses if they cannot achieve a smash-mouth style of offense in the next few seasons.
2010 Draft Grade: B