FOOCH'S NOTE: While I know folks will disagree, I thought this was a well thought out FanPost and thought it was worth moving to the front page. After all, the offseason consists of the draft AND free agency. Still some questions, but there are answers out there. And don't forget to check out our San Francisco 49ers 2009 NFL Draft Grades.
Everybody seems very down on this draft, and a few people have railed against the team leadership for not doing enough to improve this offseason.
But I want to point something out:
At the end of the season, our weakest areas were RT, WR, QB, and PR (and on this team, the pash-rush is a combination of DL and OLB play). That was the team's checklist.
Well, look at what we did:
RT was upgraded with Marvel Smith. If his back is healthy, he's a significant improvement at that position.
WR was improved by drafting the best player available. Heck, Crabtree might have been BPA if we drafted fourth. Think about that: we improved arguably our weakest position by drafting one of the best players in the draft. You can't ask for more than that.
A young quaterback for the future? The team made a low-risk play to add that player to the roster, and can play is smart: stash him on the bench for a year or two, let him learn properly, do everything right that they did wrong with Alex Smith. If they don't like what they see, they can cut him at little cost. He may not be the solution, but he's an fascinating possibility. This is a smart way to approach the QB position.
In other words: in three of our four positions of greatest need, the team addressed the problem by adding an appropriate player. In half of the positions of need, we improved by adding a player who's expected to be an above-average NFL player.
And we did all that without making huge salary cap commitments, and while picking up an extra first rounder for next year.
The team still has pass-rush concerns, but there's actually hope for improvement there as well: by getting away from the hybrid system, we should put our existing players in a better position to succeed. Balmer, when drafted, was clearly a year or two away, so we can expect to start seeing contributions from him. And the new scheme should give us a chance to see what we have in Lawson, who, thanks to injuries and misuse, is really still a question mark.
(The pass rush situation isn't just about getting the right OLB, remember. Improved D-line play should help free up our existing OLBs to be more effective.)
So not only did we improve in 3 of 4 areas of need, it's not totally unreasonable to think that fourth area of need will be improved this year, too. Plus we have two first-round picks next year to fix whatever doesn't work.
The team still needs impact defensive players. Sack-machine pack rushers are very expensive in the free agent market, and you tend not to find them in the second round. If the team likes what it sees out of Davis, maybe it's not a QB we go for with those first rounders, maybe we can try to trade up for a sack machine next year. We'll certainly have a much better sense of what we still need after having our team spend a full year under the new coach.
What the team didn't do is pick up a defensive player who we can all get excited about. I thing that's were the whining about Brown is coming from. Whether or not he ends up being that good, he's a player who we could all get excited talking about. See past year's fan enthusiasm about Jay Moore or Joe Cohen.
But this team was more than a year away from a championship at the end of the season, and we took good steps forward since then. I don't see what everyone is complaining about.