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2011 NFL Draft: Patriots' Eyes on Ricky Stanzi, but the 49ers Must Grab Him

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2011 NFL Draft: Patriots' Eyes on Ricky Stanzi, but the 49ers Must Grab Him
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Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi compares to future Hall of Famer Tom Brady and is the passer the 49ers need.

Spend enough time studying players entering the 2011 NFL draft and you will actually find yourself thinking about them while you're lying in bed at night.

If you've focused on the San Francisco 49ers and the frightening thought that they only have one quarterback under quarterback and that it's David Carr, you might find yourself sitting in the dark and suddenly mumbling, "Ricky Stanzi!"

This space has been devoted to considering every veteran free-agent quarterback, every available third quarterback in the NFL and all the passers entering this year's draft.

No reason to draft Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Mallet or Cam Newton with the seventh pick in the first round. None. Zero.

While mock drafts indicate that trendy pick Andy Dalton could go to the 49ers with the 45th pick overall, he'll probably go sooner and will be a reach whenever he's selected. TCU's offense didn't look anything like what Jim Harbaugh's offense will look like.

Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor is a superior athlete and an intriguing pick for 49ers' fans like me who really like what Taylor can do. He's projected to be available in the sixth or seventh round, so my fascination with the guy probably doesn't indicate his actual ability to fill the 49ers' needs.

Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi, however, fits the 49ers's quarterbacking needs exactly.

Perfectly.

Well, I thought Stanzi was actually just worth considering. I didn't decide that Stanzi would solve the 49ers' quarterback problem, as a mid-round pick, until I jumped online and realized that the New England Patriots covet Stanzi.

The Patriots have a pretty good track record drafting quarterbacks. Head coach Bill Belichick was the guy who thought it would be worthwhile to take Michigan quarterback Tom Brady in the sixth round of the draft some years back. Brady's worked out pretty well for Belichick's bunch.

Belichick's Patriots latter drafted an unheralded, backup quarterback from USC. Matt Cassel played so well when Brady was injured that he signed a rich free-agent contract and wound up leading the Kansas City Chiefs to the playoffs last year.

Belichick's Patriots have their sight set on Stanzi in the 2011 draft. Brady won't play forever, so the organizational thinking is that the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Iowa passer could be the guy to eventually replace the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Brady.

I know, I know...Stanzi's not the really mobile, athletic quarterback that Harbaugh prefers. Sure, I read that Comcast Bay Area 49ers beat writer Matt Maiocco believes that Florida State's Christian Ponder is the best fit for the 49ers.

NFL types thought Brady wasn't athletic enough to succeed in the NFL. So, maybe sheer athleticism isn't as important as we've been led to believe. Hall of Famer Dan Marino wasn't considered a good enough athlete when the Miami Dolphins drafted him either.

Maiocco knows everything about the 49ers. He has good reason to think Ponder fits the 49ers, but if Stanzi's the guy the Patriots want...then, Stanzi's the guy the 49ers need.

Boston Globe writer Karen Guregian wrote about how insiders have so often compared Stanzi to Brady. She mentioned that Stanzi has been tutored the last six months by Brady's longtime personal QB coach Tom Martinez.

“I’ve been very impressed with (Stanzi),” Martinez told Guregian. “He really idolizes Brady, the way he throws and plays. He’s been studying Tom’s mechanics. Now, he’s actually throwing the ball somewhat similarly, with an understanding of why he’s doing it.

“I don’t think Ricky really understood why Tom did what he did in terms of mechanics. Now he does. Now he’s committed to practicing with a real set of standards, a given set of techniques. He’s all fired up. He now understands what he’s trying to do, and he’s been very serious and very committed to implementing those techniques.”

Stanzi was a three-year starter in Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz' pro-type offense. He completed 64 percent of his passes and threw for 25 touchdowns in 2010. He was intercepted just six times. Stanzi improved dramatically from 2009. There's much to be said for consistent improvement.

The 49ers desperately need a young quarterback who has experience in successfully running a pro style offense. That passer could be the quarterback when the 2011 season begins. There are no assurances the 49ers will sign a suitable veteran free agent.

More importantly, the 49ers want to get that young quarterback without having to use either the seventh or 45th overall pick in the draft.

Dalton is projected to be a potential late first-round pick.

Ponder is projected as a possible first-round pick who'll more likely go in the early second round.

Stanzi? NFL analysts have him going in the third or fourth round—somewhere between picks 80 and 100 in most cases. And, the 49ers have 12 draft picks in this draft where the labor dispute means that future draft picks can't be used in trade. So, if the 49ers want to move up into the late third round to get Stanzi, they have draft picks to deal.

Oh, heck...if the Patriots think Stanzi's a second-round pick, the 49ers should maneuver to draft him in the second round. You can't argue with doing what the Patriots plan to do, can you?

You've read that Stanzi has only average arm strength? Well, the same was said of a guy who came out of Notre Dame and wound up being drafted in the third round—Joe Montana.

Stanzi worked out for the 49ers. He was actually considered the QB the club most coveted early but has since become an afterthought to those analyzing the draft and a mediocre crop of passers.

Stanzi is comparable to Tom Brady.

The same guy who drafted Brady and Cassel is angling to draft Stanzi now.

You go with Mel Kiper Jr. and Gil Brandt and Charlie Casserly. I'm going with the quarterback Bill Belichick likes.

Ricky Stanzi's the quarterback most likely to be able to do what the 49ers will need done when the labor dispute ends and training camp begins. He's smart enough to learn a pro offense, and he has the talent to run it.

(Ted Sillanpaa can be reached at tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com)

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