So I'd have to agree that the 49ers losing Manny Lawson for the season sucks BIG TIME. Manny was really stepping up and looking like he would fulfill all that first round potential. Of course he is young and will hopefully bounce back better than ever. However, for the 2007 season, we have to forget about him and move on. Steelers fans who recognize the talent of Manny Lawson have to be giddy at the thought of not having to face him. Barring a signing off the street, Lawson's replacement will be either Hannibal Navies or Parys Haralson. Everyone has seen Navies and Haralson on the field, but we've never done an in depth look. For now let's check out the Scouts Inc scouting reports on each player via the World Wide Leader:
As an eight-year veteran, Navies seems to be the logical choice initially. According to Scouts Inc:
Navies is an eight-year veteran who has been a starter in the past and signed with the 49ers in Week 12 due to numerous injuries sustained on the 49ers' defense. He is a backup player at linebacker who contributes on special teams. He has decent athletic ability, a little undersized, but is adequate in his play and has good initial quickness. He has good lateral movement, change-of-direction skills and he takes good angles to the ball. He can run and move in space. Navies does a fair job of covering tight ends, but is better suited as a weak side linebacker. He gets adequate depth on his drops when he is in zone coverage. He is a physical and aggressive player at the point of attack. Navies can avoid players and wade through trash. He has a quick start, good closing speed and he has the ability to chase plays down from behind. Navies' lack of size hinders his overall effectiveness. He does not have good lower-body strength, he plays too high and he does not use his hands effectively to shed blocker. Linemen are able to get into his body and engulf him at the point of attack. He lacks good ball skills and he does not make a lot of plays in coverage. His injury status is a big issue, as he is often banged and knicked causing him to miss time and is prone to become a liability at this stage of his career. Navies is a decent late season backup, as he was for the 49ers this past season, and will primarily contribute on special teams.
I think it's safe to say that Haralson has more upside than Navies and is an intriguing option outside. According to Scouts Inc:
Haralson is quick and agile. He shows a good first step and anticipation skills. He is smart and plays with a great motor. He has the acceleration and body control to turn the corner as an edge rusher. He is a fluid and balanced pass rusher. He redirects inside without losing much in transition. He shows good closing burst and can be an explosive tackler. He flashes some upper-body power and has enough quickness and strength in his arms and hands to maintain separation from blockers. He finds the ball quickly and chases hard. He takes solid pursuit angles and is a wrap-up tackler in space. But Haralson is a converted college end who lacks ideal experience and speed at linebacker. He struggles against power, plays with a narrow base and gets washed out as a take-on player. He has trouble getting off blocks. He lacks an array of pass-rush moves and isn't experienced in coverage.
As I mentioned before, I think I'm in the Parys Haralson camp because of the upside. Navies would definitely be the safe play in this situation because of his experience. However, even though Haralson does not have the talent of Lawson (that we know), I'd love to see him get a crack at the spot. He's a converted end so the coverage skills could be lacking, but we won't know anything for sure until he gets on the field.
I'll throw up a poll to get people's thoughts on who should start. There was an interesting suggestion of rolling Brandon Moore out to the OLB spot. Any other unorthodox suggestion?