San Francisco 49ers 2012 NFL Draft Picks: Grades, Results and Analysis
This article will provide the information you need for the San Francisco 49ers.
Pages will be added for every pick and move made by Jed York and Trent Baalke. Check back often for updates, including player information and analysis on every drafted player.
Don't forget to look at the final slide. Draft grades will be assigned for every selection and move, along with an overall grade for the 49ers' 2012 draft.
49ers Draft Plans
While the 49ers have the luxury of going best player available at most every spot in the draft, they do need to add a quality offensive guard and a playmaker at wide receiver.
They opted to pass on several offensive line options at the end of Round 1 in favor of A.J. Jenkins.
San Francisco could still look for a future impact player at linebacker.
Regardless of the direction the front office takes, the fans should enjoy watching a draft where the team can think about building the future of the team, not plugging holes.
I thought the 49ers should have considered moving up to snag offensive linemen that were dropping. They opted against it, giving pause to consider what their plans are for blockers.
Grades and analysis will operate with the following team needs in mind:
Right Guard or Right Tackle
Offensive Line Depth
Future Starters on Defense, Nose Tackle and Outside Linebacker
Running Back Depth, Future Starter
Round 1, Pick 30: 49ers Select A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois
With all due respect to the San Francisco front office, their reach came up short compared to the initial reaction to Seattle's effort.
A.J. Jenkins is a solid receiving prospect and should blend well with the 49ers. However, with Alshon Jeffery, Stephen Hill and Rueben Randall still on the board this pick seems a bit odd.
Cordy Glenn is hardly a sexy selection, but he would have added some needed versatility to the 49ers' offensive line. He and Anthony Davis could have competed to determine who was a better option at right tackle and right guard, potentially solidifying the offensive line.
One could also argue that Coby Fleener made more sense with this pick.
Jenkins has great speed and good hands, filling a need in San Francisco. While not a flashy pick, he should be a solid performer and certainly fills a need.
As it turns out, the 49ers could have taken Reuben Randall in the second round and added a solid blocker or a potentially elite tight end in the first round. There is also reason to believe Jenkins would have been on the board at pick 61.
Round 2, Pick 61: LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
Despite all of my clamoring that the 49ers needed to think about moving up to get help on the offensive line or on defense, the 49ers stayed put. In doing so, they watched Peter Konz, Mike Adams, Kelechi Osemele and Lavonte David fall off the board in the prior six picks.
While center isn't a pressing need, Konz should be able to bump out and play guard.
Moving up to get Cordy Glenn or Jonathan Martin may have been too expensive, likely equating to third- and fourth-round pick. But a fourth-round selection may have been enough to entice a trade with the Lions to get Adams, Konz or Osemele.
We'll see what their fourth-round pick ends up being, but this all depends on one's perception of LaMichael James.
There is no doubt that James is an exciting change-of-pace option for Frank Gore. The 49ers need to boost their offense, and James could do that.
James was seen as a third-round talent. This could be a bit early, but trading down could have meant missing out on him with the Green Bay Packers sitting behind them.
Expect Jim Harbaugh to use James out of the backfield, in the slot, and possibly spread out on occasion. His speed and quickness will create matchup concerns for opposing defenses.
I'm not in love with this pick given Lamar Miller and Chris Polk are still on the board, but it appears the 49ers aren't concerned with an eventual replacement for Gore; that, or they don't care about having a similar back in case Gore is injured.
Hindsight may not be fair, but sound off, 49er fans. Would you rather have A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James, Doug Martin and Reuben Randall, or Coby Fleener with Randall?
Round 3: 49ers Trade Pick 92 to the Colts for Pick 97 and a Round 5 Selection
The 49ers will be able to look for quality depth in Round 5 by virtue of this trade.
I had Brandon Thompson (DT, Clemson) on my radar for the 49ers but he is now off the board. So long as they don't miss out on a player this was a good move.
Update: Bergstrom was taken by the Oakland Raiders.
Round 4: 49ers Trade Pick 97 for Pick 103 and a Round 6 Selection in '12 and '13
It is difficult to determine what the 49ers have in mind here. They still have a few areas to address but they continue to slide down the board in exchange for late-round picks.
If this was the Rams or the Seahawks it would make sense. They need to add improved depth in several areas. However, quality is more important to a fairly well-stocked San Francisco roster. The odds of sixth-round picks making their roster are low.
So what is the goal? The let a high-value defensive tackle and a quality blocker fall off the board, and now risk losing even more players.
Final judgement will be reserved until the actual pick comes in but for now it isn't logical.
Round 4: 49ers Trade Pick 97 for Pick 180 and a Round 3 Selection in 2013
The explanation finally comes on what the 49ers are doing. They were biding time to secure a draft pick in 2013.
Evidently, the 49ers are more comfortable with their offensive line and their depth than most outsiders. Adding a high pick next season should offer them a solid player at a time when they are looking to replace free agents.
The move makes sense from that angle and will work...so long as Daniel Kilgore can be a quality blocker and they stay healthy again in 2012.
In the end, though, they turned a third-round pick in 2012 into a third-round pick in 2013 and a few late-round picks in 2012. Unless the Round 6 picks can make the roster it seems suspect.
Round 4: 49ers Trade Pick 125 and a Round 6 Selection for Pick 117
Just when we thing the 49ers aren't interested in drafting a guard, they give up some of their newly-acquired draft capital to move back up in Round 4 and draft one.
It might be time to check oxygen levels in the war room...but I'll reserve final judgement while I digest all of the transactions.
Summary of 49er Trades Made in Rounds 3 and 4
The 49ers started Round 3 with a perceived need for an offensive guard and a defensive tackle. In the end, they acquire a third-round pick in 2013,
What the 49ers received:
2013 fifth-round selection
Pick 196 in the sixth round
2013 sixth-round selection
2013 third-round selection
What the 49ers gave up:
Pick 92 in the third round
Pick 196 in the sixth round
The 49ers traded their 2012 third-round pick for picks in Round 3, 5 and 6 in 2013, Their third-round pick in 2013 is coming from the Indianapolis Colts. If they struggle next season this trade will be a neutral value on the Draft Value Chart.
However, if the Colts are able to rebound and make the playoffs, this move falls well short for the 49ers.
For fans that are curious of the numbers behind this, they can visit the link above or follow the math below:
Pick 92: Value = 132 Points
Early 3 in '13 = 100 Points (value drops by one round per year)
Round 5 pick in '13 = 22 Points
Round 6 pick in '13 - 10 points
Net: The 49ers gave up 132 points in value to secure 132 points next year. This could work in the 49ers' favor as they could be facing several lost players in free agency next season.
However, if the Colts finish better than 28th in 2013, the value turns against San Francisco.
Round 4, Pick 117: Joe Looney, G, Wake Forest
On second thought, perhaps the 49ers do see a need at guard. They now have moved up in Round 4 to draft a player with a Round 6 grade.
In the process, they passed on players with third- and fourth-round grades in Brandon Washington (Miami), Lucas Nix (Pitt) and Senio Kelemete (Washington). They also could have used a later pick on David Molk (C, Michigan).
It is difficult to imagine what is happening in the 49er war room at the moment. They acquire a sixth-round pick to move down and lose players. Then they give up that sixth-round pick to move back up and select a player that wasn't likely on other boards in Round 4.
Round 5, Pick 165: Darius Fleming, OLB, Notre Dame
The 49ers grabbed one of the most under-rated linebackers in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Darius Fleming has decent size 6'2", 245 lbs. However, he ran a disappointing 40 at the combine, posting a 4.72. However, he improved this mark to a 4.45 at his pro day.
This is a player I had repeatedly mentioned as a sixth-round steal given many other analysts listing him as a seventh-round option. He was certainly worthy of fifth-round consideration, if not higher.
In a "Dream Draft" scenario, I had Fleming listed as an option in Round 5 or 6.
Darius Fleming has not been getting the same attention as some of the high-profile linebackers heading into the 2012 NFL draft. Given his great blend of size, speed and instincts, that could change.
Fleming was originally a defensive end for the Irish. However, at 255 lbs he wasn't the ideal size as a run-stopper. He had the speed (projected 4.65 40) to drop back and play Notre Dame's "Cat" linebacker position.
He's been a disruptive force in the Irish pass defense, something the Seahawks desperately need.
This is a great move by San Francisco, as they needed to add youth and a playmaker in the outside linebacker group.
Round 6, Pick 180: Trenton Robinson, S, Michigan State
The 49ers grab a great prospect at free safety in Trenton Robinson. He was rated with a third-round grade, but San Francisco gets him in the sixth-round.
Robinson has the size and speed to play corner, but lacks the athleticism. He played free safety in college, but is physical enough to play on the strong side in the NFL. He can play in some dime packages as well, but should not be relied on to cover small speedsters.
NFL.com doesn't have him rated quite as high as I do, but their rankings aren't updated after the combine. They still speak well of him:
Robinson has been a reliable three-year starter for Michigan State who really came on strong in his senior year. He was the leader for a highly athletic and productive defensive backfield. He is a solid all-around player who has good change of direction to cover players deep and can also come up physically to make plays in run support. He has fourth- or fifth-round value to a team that wants a reliable backup and special teamer early on.
Should the 49ers have contract issues with Dashon Goldson, Robinson should be ready to step in and start next season.
This pick is a great value in Round 6 and provides needed depth in the secondary. It also plugs in a player that can develop into a starter in 2013.
Round 6, Pick 199: Jason Slowey, C, Western Oregon
In a move based clearly on a need for a backup to Jonathan Goodwin, the 49ers take a risk on a small-school player with NFL size (6'3", 303 lbs).
Jason Slowey has an unfortunate name for a big man, but will challenge to make the 49er roster. They may have some knowledge of him that trumps other boards, but Lucas Nix and Brandon Washington were both on the board.
Slowey was the 10th-rated center in this draft class. He was projected as a seventh-round option or an undrafted player and seems like an odd choice here.
San Francisco has Chase Beeler on the roster and there were better options on the board.
Round 7, Pick 237: Cam Johnson, DE, Virginia
When preparing for the seventh round selection of another NFC West team, I noticed Cam Johnson was still on the board. A bit surprised, I saw him as a good prospect for the NFL.
The Seahawks chose two defensive ends earlier in the round, but were kind enough to leave Cam Johnson on the board for the 49ers.
Defensive line depth was an important area for San Francisco to address and they finally get around to it in the seventh round. Johnson was expected to be taken possibly by the end of Day 2. He is a great value for the 49ers in Round 7.
Johnson doesn't have the speed some defenses look for, but he is a physical player. At 6'4" and 268 lbs it will be interesting to see how the 49ers intend on using him.
San Francisco 49ers 2012 NFL Draft Report Card
Bleacher Report will be providing a grade for each pick and draft move.
The 49ers were judged in the first round on their ability to either move up and grab a high-profile player or find solid value with the 30th pick. They failed here, but they got the player they want at a position of need. They deserve some benefit of the doubt until he gets on the field.
San Francisco had very little else they "needed" to do in this draft. I would have liked to see them take a chance on a cornerback in Round 3 or grab a defensive tackle or a guard. They missed out on at least a few good options with their trade.
I also expected them to find a running back later in the draft that could back up, and eventually replace, Frank Gore. Instead they opted for a fast complement. This is another pick I can't endorse but benefit of the doubt...
Round 1: A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois
Round 2: LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
Round 4: 49ers select Joe Looney, G, Wake Forest
Round 5: 49ers select Darius Fleming, OLB, Notre Dame
Round 6: 49ers select Trenton Robinson, S, Michigan State
Round 6: 49ers select Jason Slowey, C, Western Oregon
Round 7: Cam Johnson, DE, Virginia
Overall Grade: B