In early December I wrote a FanPost entitled "A Plea to Jed York: The Case for Jim Harbaugh". I have no illusions that my plea had anything to do with the Niners hiring Harbaugh, but I couldn't possibly be happier with that result. Hey, maybe, just maybe it's possible that I have magical powers. So, since my last plea worked out so well, I thought that I would try again.
Underlying facts and opinions --
1. The Niners need to draft a "Quarterback for the Future".
2. Andrew Luck is far and away the best college quarterback potentially available in the 2011 NFL draft -- in fact, in my opinion, he is the best pro-ready college QB to come along in the last decaded (including Ryan, Stafford, Bradford, etc.).
3. I for one am NOT excited about ANY of the other college QBs who have or will declare for the 2011 draft -- in my opinion each one of them has one or more serious flaws. Harbaugh may be able to fix some of those issues over time, but it's a crap shoot. (Note that since Luck has declined to declare for the draft, none of the major draft services expect to see any QB taken in the top 10 picks.)
4. Andrew Luck is the only college player for whom I would be willing to trade multiple draft choices (and/or possibly players) to obtain the right to draft him.
5. If he had the opportunity to continue to work with Jim Harbaugh as his head coach, continuing to develop using the modified WCO used at Stanford and to be used by the Harbaugh-led Niners, I believe that Andrew Luck could be convinced to reverse his decision about declaring for the 2011 draft.
6. The Carolina Panthers have several positions of significant need to be satisfied either through free agency or the 2011 draft -- Draft Tek and Draft Scout believe that Carolina's greatest needs, in priority sequence, are as follows:
Offense -- QB, TE, WR (all types), OG Defense -- DT43, DE43, OLB43, CB, WILB, FS
7. The Panthers have already traded their second-round pick in the 2011 draft to New England; thus, they have fewer choices to draft more players.
8. As it stands right now, even though Carolina has the #1 pick in the 2011 draft, they will have NO OPPORTUNITY to draft Andrew Luck. This situation provides Carolina with two choices: (a) draft some player other than Luck (probably Nick Fairley) with the first pick and then wait to draft another player in the third round; or, (b) trade down with the #1 pick for the opportunity to acquire more draft picks and perhaps one or more starting-quality players. Since they can't draft Luck, it seems to me that option (b) makes good sense for them.
So, given these facts and opinions, here is my plea to Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh:
1. Go to Andrew Luck to determine whether he would have interest in reversing his decision to return to Stanford IF he had an opportunity to be drafted by the Niners and continue to be coached by Jim Harbaugh.
2. Two possibilities: if Andrew is willing to change his mind, continue below; if he's not, curse, then cry!
3. Contact Marty Hurney (Panthers' GM) and determine whether he might be interested in trading their #1 pick in order to pick up additional draft choices and/or players. (Of note, owner Jerry Richardson's biggest beef is with the QB position; IF Andrew Luck had been available to them, Richardson would 'have demanded that Luck be picked #1.)
4. BEFORE JANUARY 14th, negotiate the trade to acquire the #1 pick in the 2011 draft.
5. On January 15th, have Andrew announce his change of heart and decision to declare for the 2011 draft.
6. In April, draft Andrew Luck with the #1 pick.
If you two can pull this off I will be absolutely convinced that I've got magic. I might even be forced to wear my Merlin the Magician cone hat to a Niner game. Then again, maybe I would ask that both of you wear those hats too. Yes, we would all look silly, but Andrew's worth it!