Mike Singletary is one tough, scary dude, and it is only fitting that he wants his team to reflect that. Both Singletary and Mccloughan have stated that they want a big bruising back that can churn out the tough yards, and can get those crucial inches on a fourth down play. Unfortunately though this year's draft class is very shallow at running back, especially power running backs.
Their is a slim possibility that the 49ers could take a running back with the tenth pick overall, and most experts agree that it would be a reach, and the 49ers have higher priority positions to fill with that pick. So barring a trade, the next opportunity to take a running back will be with the 43rd overall pick. Could that pick be Shonn Greene?
While it is certainly possible that Greene could fall to third, or perhaps even the fourth, it still hasn't stopped him from being listed no lower than seventh (no higher than third) for the best running backs in this year's drafts class on almost all draft sites. At the combine he weighed in at 235 lbs, he stood at 5'11", ran a 4.63 - 40 yard dash, did 19 reps, and had a vertical of 37. At his Pro-Day he did improve his 40 time to 4.50 and he did 23 reps.
Greene has had the misfortune of being labeled as a one year wonder. In his first year at Iowa in 2005 in his very first game he rushed for 116 yards and one touchdown in a win against Ball State, but he saw little action the rest of the year. Sadly the following year he saw little action once again, despite his 6.4 yard rushing average for 205 yards, on just 32 attempts for the season. In 2007 he sat out the season to raise money for his tuition by going to community college and working at a furniture store.
Finally in 2008 he had his breakout season. Greene rushed for an amazing 1,850 yards, averaged 6.0 yards a carry, and had an incredible 20 touchdowns in 13 games of action.
While his competition for most of the year was pretty bad, he didn't dim when it came to playing against big name teams. Against former #3 Penn State's vaunted defense he rushed for 117 yards, had a 4.2 avg, and had two touchdowns, he also produced against two 9-4 teams finishing with 152 yards per game and an average of 5.8 yards a carry.
The Hawkeye junior rushed for over a hundred yards in every game last season (impressive at any level), he led Iowa to a very surprising 9-4 record, and he was the main reason they won the Outback Bowl.
Now that his college days are behind him, scouts are looking at him with a fine tooth comb. Here are two draft sites, MockingTheDraft.com and DraftCountdown.com, where they break down his strengths and weaknesses:
After Chris Wells of Ohio State, Greene is probably the most powerful running back in this class. Unlike a lot of backs in this year's class, he can get the tough yards and be relied on near the goal line. Shakes off poor tacklers. Real trouble if he gets in the open field to get up to top speed. Good lean. Possesses the lateral quickness to work outside the tackles. Solid blocker due to his strength.
Excellent size and bulk...Very physical runner...Powerful with a strong lower body...A load to bring down and breaks a lot of tackles...Patient with good vision and instincts...A terrific inside runner...Has nimble feet...Finishes runs and always falls forward...Gets stronger as the game progresses...Takes care of the ball...Doesn't have a lot of mileage on his tires...Great determination...Team player...Superb production.
Only average speed. Unless he gets into the open field, Greene has some trouble getting up to top speed. Sat out the 2007 season and will have to answer a lot of questions about it during the interview process. Weight has fluctuated. Mostly an unknown as a receiver. Only had 11 career receptions for 72 yards. Had just one outstanding season. Will be a 24-year-old rookie.
Does not have good speed, quickness or a burst...Will struggle to get outside and turn the corner...Won't run away from anyone...Not much of a threat as a receiver out of the backfield...Lacks great balance...A little stiff...Should be a better blocker than he is...Too indecisive...Has had some trouble with his weight and conditioning...Intelligence is an issue...Is older than most prospects...Durability?...A one-year wonder.
Both sites seem to be in agreement in both virtues, and while I do agree with their analysis I do have some comments. My friend is a Physics major and he broke down the video of Greene's 40 yard time, as well as Devin Moore's 4.40 and compared the two. He said that both topped out at close to 20mph, but that Moore reached his top speed about 6.5 yards earlier than Greene. What this means is that Greene is plenty fast, he just needs to work on his burst.
Another point of interest is the question of his durability. He has never had really any injury issues and he has played in all honestly only about one season out of the last four years, so the real concern is just about his age. He is 24 and I think him being more mature with a clean record out weighs one extra year.
Also most of his negatives, beside his speed, are easily correctable. With Singletary coaching you better believe he will be in excellent shape, and his blocking and indecisiveness will improve with more playing time. Also most running backs come into the league as exceptional receivers and I am sure Greene will improve, and even if he doesn't Gore is already plenty good at receiving for both of them.
One thing that makes me really angry is having a players intelligence questioned, especially when it's not a quarterback. I don't know how many people know this but our very own Frank Gore did not do very will in his Wonderlic Exam and he is dyslexic, but neither of those things have stopped him from having a productive career in the NFL.
I personally think that taking him in the second round may be a little high, just because of the talent in other positions that are available, but I think he will be a great pick with our third round pick. He has great upside, he is productive, and he is a team player who could definitely improve the Niners.
If you don't like swearing, I suggest you watch with the sound muted:
What round should the 49ers first address a running back?
Round 1 (16 votes)
Round 2 (114 votes)
Round 3 (342 votes)
Round 4 (152 votes)
Round 5 (41 votes)
Round 6 and On (7 votes)
Never! Release Clayton! (38 votes)
710 total votes