I'm not sure how many people noticed it, but earlier today Maiocco did a day-long live-blog with little nuggets every 15 minutes. There wasn't anything major going on, but since he's heading to Las Vegas for the West Coast Conference Tournament for the weekend, he wanted to get some blogging in.
I bring it up now because of something interesting I noticed in it. The day was filled with a mix of facts, analysis and random filler. One particular bit of fact and analysis was about new 49ers defensive end Demetric Evans:
12:30 p.m.: The 49ers' free-agent agreement with defensive end Demetric Evans (Redskins) can only mean one thing: The 49ers will move Isaac Sopoaga back to nose tackle. Remember, when Sopoaga signed his big contract, the comparable that was used in agreeing on the deal was the Cowboys' Jay Ratliff. The 49ers will shift Sopoaga back to the nose, where starter Aubrayo Franklin has just one year remaining on his deal. Then, Evans - known as a hard-worker and a great teammate - will compete at left defensive end with Kentwan Balmer. The 49ers expect Evans to provide a great example for Balmer. The plan is, eventually, Balmer will take over as the main man at that spot.
I'm curious what people think this will mean for the upcoming draft and particularly one B.J. Raji. His name has been thrown around just as much as anybody. A lot of folks think the 49ers will go with one of the big offensive lineman at #10, but Raji still gets mentioned on occasion. The best 3-4 defenses have a big hoss lined up at nose tackle and Raji would certainly fill that role.
However, the impact of signing Evans certainly might have some bearing on the draft day decision. Coming into the offseason I thought the future of Aubrayo Franklin left a potential question mark in the middle of the defense. He really came into his own this past season and became an asset on the defensive line. However, he has shown some inconsistencies. Can a guy like Isaac Sopoaga take over the nose tackle role well enough to hold off the need for a nose tackle for a few years? According to his scouting report:
He is extremely powerfully built with explosive hips and lower body. He is quick off the ball and can hit gaps quickly and penetrate, but he is not a top athlete and struggles changing directions and flowing to the ball when he has to flatten down the line of scrimmage or adjust in space . . .
He is not real instinctive and does not read blocks great or understand blocking schemes. He tends to get surprised by blocks coming from angles and does not do a great job of protecting his legs and ends up going to the ground more than you'd like. He is pretty much a bull in a china shop type of nose tackle who can spell the starter with short spurts of energy, but not the type you'd want to be on the field for extended periods of time.
Not exactly a glowing endorsement, although I think some of the comments could be turned into positives as a nose tackle instead of end. If he's a nose tackle just trying to occupy bodies, does he need to worry a lot about changing directions and flowing to the ball? Maybe somebody with a little more expertise on the 3-4 could answer that question for me.
One possible option is working to re-sign Franklin and using them in some kind of rotation over the next few years. I'm not sure how that would affect chemistry, but maybe it could work. Any thoughts on how they see this playing out?