The 49ers had a busy second day of the draft as they made a pair of picks and also managed to pick up some additional picks. Things got exciting early on as the 2nd round unfolded in a rather bizarre fashion leading up to the 49ers pick. A few oddball selections left the 49ers with a whole host of options at the 17th pick, and they took advantage, snagging USC safety Taylor Mays.
As the third round rolled around, players were popping off the board, and the 49ers appeared quite busy on the phones in their war room. The phone calls paid off as they were able to trade the 79th overall pick to the San Diego Chargers, in exchange for the Chargers 91st overall pick, 173rd overall pick (from Chiefs), and the Chargers 2011 4th round pick. The 49ers used the 91st pick on Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman, a move that brings in talent, but also raises some questions.
I've posted a poll to grade the team's moves just on day 2 (so Mays, Bowman, and the trades). After the jump, we go into Mays and Bowman, and look ahead to tomorrow.
S Taylor Mays: 2nd round, 17th pick, 49th overall
LB Navorro Bowman: 3rd round, 27th pick, 91st overall
2010 pick: 6th round, (4th pick, 173rd overall - from Chargers)
2011 pick: 4th round pick (from Chargers)
Taylor Mays is a guy that was high on many draft boards heading into the 2009 college football season. Over the course of the regular season, and then even more so in the pre-draft review season, Mays saw his stock take numerous hits. He has been perceived as a guy who only looks for the big-hit and isn't really much of a playmaker. While that's certainly cause for concern, one would imagine that is something that could change given the new role he'll like be playing. Coach Singletary said the following in his post-draft press conference (courtesy of MM's Twitter):
49ers coach Mike Singletary says S Taylor Mays didn't make a whole lot of plays because he lined up 20 yards deep in the USC scheme.
Now, a playmaker can make plays where ever he lines up on the field. At the same time, if things go as likely planned, Mays will be much closer to the line of scrimmage in more of a strong safety role. As he gains playing time, he'll be looked to in run support, much like we see with Michael Lewis. At the same time, I'm sure the team would like to see improved pass support from the strong safety role. When you have to write off one of your two safeties in pass defense, that's just not a good thing.
I'm very curious to see what kind of role and how much playing time we see from Mays early on. At this point, Michael Lewis, if healthy, is the 49ers starting strong safety. I'd imagine Mays will get time at SS in the preseason, but come the regular season, I'd suspect Mays will see a lot of playing time on special teams. If there's a place for a rookie that loves to hit, it's special teams.
As for Navorro Bowman, his role is a little more intriguing. It appears as though Bowman played a lot of outside linebacker in college, but it sounds like he's expecting to line up inside in the 49ers 3-4. If this is the case, then he'll be starting out on special teams seeing as Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes are manning the middle. Given all this, it should make for a really interesting training camp battle between Bowman, Scott McKillop and Matt Wilhelm. Wilhelm has the starting experience, McKillop has a year in the system, and Bowman brings some great athleticism. So each has a strength in their favor. It's a matter of seeing who emerges. Will we see all three linebackers on the 49ers 53-man roster come September?
The thing I wonder about Bowman is his final role long-term. I know everybody is suggesting Ted and Mike roles. At the same time, didn't Ahmad Brooks start as an inside linebacker before moving outside? I'm not suggesting the 49ers are planning on moving Bowman outside, but versatility would certainly be a big plus. Any thoughts on this?
As we head into day 3 of the draft, the 49ers have a bit of a wait ahead of them. They dealt away their 4th and 5th round picks, and barring any trade, will have to wait 74 picks before they draft in the 6th round. Of course, once the sixth round arrives, the 49ers have three picks, so they could be active there. Furthermore, given the additional picks in the 6th and next year's additional 4th, maybe the 49ers move up into the 4th or 5th round. There are some very intriguing names on the board, but many of them would figure to be gone come the 6th round. It's an early start to the draft tomorrow (7am pacific start), but maybe the 49ers brain trust will get things going early.