If the San Francisco 49ers Draft a QB, It's Not Luck or Locker—It's Mallett

Steven ResnickSenior Writer ISeptember 17, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Quarterback Ryan Mallett #15 of the Arkansas Razorbacks drops back to pass against the Texas A&M Aggies at Cowboys Stadium on October 3, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Blaine Spence goes into great depth about the San Francisco 49ers with his article on the 2011 draft and if Jake Locker or Andrew Luck would be a better fit for the 49ers. Though Locker and Luck are tremendous talents, neither are the right fit for the 49ers. 

For one, they both are athletic quarterbacks that can use their legs as well as their arms to keep defenses honest. Yet, six years ago the 49ers took Alex Smith as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft for those same reasons.

While Locker and Luck may be better quarterbacks at the college level than Smith was, both Locker and Luck have their issues as well. With Locker it has been injuries and for Luck, inconsistency. 

Coming into the season, the best season for Locker has been his 2009 season: 230-395, 2,800 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Not exactly eye-popping numbers through the air. But this season should be his best if he can stay healthy and among the Heisman hopefuls.

Also, on the ground he was a little more grounded due to injury concerns. He had 112 carries for 388 yards, a 3.5 yard-per-carry average, and seven touchdowns. 

One problem for the 49ers with Locker is that he'll more than likely not be available when the draft is because he'll easily be a top-10 pick and with the 49ers projected to win the NFC West and be in the playoffs, it's not very likely they will have a pick that high unless they make a trade. 

Luck, like Locker, had the best season of his career in 2009. He went 162-288, 2,575 yards, 13 touchdowns, with four interceptions. He also had 61 carries for 354 yards, a 5.8 yards-per-carry average, and two touchdowns. 

Like Locker, Luck could go high in the draft and if the 49ers make the playoffs, he may not be available. 

What also faces these athletic quarterbacks is the fact that NFL defense are much faster than those in college, so the runs that opened up that got Locker and Luck yards aren't necessarily available at the NFL level. It may work once in a while to keep defenses honest, but in the NFL very few teams like to put their quarterbacks in jeopardy of being hit or lost for the season. 

Young quarterbacks also benefit more from spending a year or two learning the team's offense and eventually taking over as starter, rather than being thrown to the wolves as a quarterback where their confidence could take a beating if there's no success right away. 

Two perfect examples of this are Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers who spent a season or two as a backup to Drew Brees and Brett Favre, but when their opportunity came neither have disappointed. 

A quarterback the 49ers who should be looked at over both Locker and Luck would be Ryan Mallett from the University of Arkansas. The reason being is that he can make all the throws and though he's not going to take off, his arm strength is outstanding, his size (6'6", 240) would be a huge benefit in the NFL, and he's also put up huge numbers in the SEC. 

His best season dwarfs those of Locker and Luck. That also was in 2009, when he put up these numbers: 225-403, 3,627 yards, and 30 touchdowns to seven interceptions. Mallet, like Luck and Locker, will also have his best season of his carer at Arkansas this year.

But, like before, he may not be available to the 49ers unless a trade is made, and in my opinion Mallett is the best option for the 49ers. The problem is there are some teams that need a quarterback—Kansas City, Chicago, Minnesota if Favre retires, and Buffalo, for example.

Then, that would mean the 49ers would be looking at a quarterback possibly in the third round or later. This list would include, according to CBS, Jerrod Johnson, Nathan Enderle, and Andy Dalton. With those quarterbacks being projected to go, it's not likely the 49ers would draft any of them.

Yet, for the 49ers the quarterback position is not the weakest position the team has. Drafting a quarterback in the first round probably will not happen for the 49ers unless one of these three quaterbacks really falls in the draft, which may not happen. 

Of the two weakest positions the 49ers have on the defensive side of the ball, one is at outside linebacker as the 49ers have no pass rush. The other is cornerback. Nate Clements has not lived up to his expectations after signing the big contract from Buffalo. 

While Shawntae Spencer is decent, he also has had some injury concerns throughout his career with the 49ers. So, the best option in the first and second rounds would be to take an outside linebacker and a cornerback. 

Here's a look at some of the outside linebackers, again according to CBS, that could be looked at: Bruce Carter, Von Miller, Jeremy Beal, Mark Herzlich, and Dontay Mooch. 

Defensive ends: Adrian Clayborn, Cameron Heyward, Allen Bailey, Pernell McPhee, and Ryan Kerrigan. 

Cornerbacks: Prince Amukamara, Ras-I Dowling, Curtis Brown, Jimmy Smith, and Davon House. 

It's still a little too early to speculate of exactly how the 49ers will draft in 2011; all that depends on how the rest of the season plays out. If Smith plays well, a quarterback may not even be drafted. If Smith regresses, then the 49ers may make a trade to move up in the first round to grab a quarterback. 

The reality is the main weaknesses for the 49ers are all on the defensive side, so it makes much more sense to see the 49ers after those weaknesses rather than go after a quarterback in the first or second round.