The San Francisco 49ers could do almost anything in next Thursday's NFL Draft. They probably won't trade down, but anything else seems feasible right now. Whether they get aggressive and move up as high as into the top 10, just jump a few spots or stay where they are now and look for a good late-round value remains to be seen.
They could even blow us away by taking a player that none of us have considered. That's the fun thing -- and sometimes heartburn inducing thing -- about the draft, especially for a team with an 18 wheeler full of selections.
As we get closer to the big day, we figured we'd take a round-by-round look at what the team has done over the past decade.
All of the Rounds:
|2011||LB||Aldon Smith||1||1||Franchise season sack record|
|2008||DE||Kentwan Balmer||0||0||So anyways|
|2006||LB||Manny Lawson||0||0||Left via free agency|
|2004||WR||Rashaun Woods||0||0||Oh wow|
People often times point to the busted draft picks a front office makes without giving equal credit for the all-stars that were plucked. This is, of course, magnified in the first round.
Yeah, Kentwan Balmer, Rashuan Woods and A.J. Jenkins were big time busts considering the lofty position with which they were selected. But when you look at that list, it's hard to stop looking at the names Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Joe Staley.
For the current regime in charge of next week's picks, they have caught some flak for their selections. Jenkins is a popular choice for the detractors, but Aldon Smith and Eric Reid should put to rest the notion that the team can't identify and develop rookie talent in the first round.
I'm not sure how they compare to other teams in this regard, and this particular accolade isn't the end-all-be-all, but 11 all-pro selections from 13 picks seems like a pretty decent outcome. Obviously, a couple guys are carrying that list, but you also have a guy like Michael Crabtree -- clearly a player with top talent -- not even recognized.
I don't think this is a horribly difficult decision to make. Patrick Willis has been perhaps the heart and soul of this team since he arrived back in 2007. From the days when he was our only hope to tackle someone to his leadership as the team marched toward the Super Bowl, he's been an all-universe player that every fan would love to have on their team.
He's racked up the stats on the field and been a tremendous human being off of it. Hands down, the best first round selection of the past decade has been Willis.
I don't know that I am qualified to assign a letter grade to what the team has done in the first round, but if I'm picking emoticons to share my feeling with you all, I think I would have to pick this one:
I'll let you all assign the grade using the below poll.