With the 11th pick of the first round, the San Francisco 49ers select...
Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska
There was quite a big of consternation here at Niners Nation, as there was a deep divide between Adam Carriker and Alan Branch and I had actually already written commentary on picking Patrick Willis and then Alan Branch. While many see Branch as having a larger upside, Adam Carriker is viewed as the safer pick in terms of work ethic and character. While Mike Nolan has taken chances on character in the past (see: Bryant, Antonio), they were low-risk decisions that would not hurt the team's cap situation long term. If you were a college athlete with a chance to be a top 10 pick, would you really show up to your Pro Day out of shape? I could understand dogging it during the season and then putting on a great combine and Pro Day performance. However, showing up out of shape will quickly put you in the infamous Mike Nolan doghouse.
As for Carriker, he is certainly no slouch and looks to be an impact player at defensive end that should prove to be a worthy successor to 49er stalwart Bryant Young. The scouting report I received from Corn Nation answered any questions I might have about Carriker's work ethic or character. I had looked into trading down when Patrick Willis was snagged, but a player of Carriker's caliber simply would not be available later in the round or later in the draft. While Marques Douglas is currently slotted in at right defensive end, he recently turned 30 and simply is not the answer for the future of the 49ers. With an eye on a nose tackle later, we feel that we can fill a major weakness with a youth movement.
Feel free to tear this pick apart or praise its glory. I can take the heat!