The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners

The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners
A review and commentary on the history & lastest events surrounding the 17 time NFC Western Division & 5 -Time World Champion San Francisco 49ers. From 1946 and the All America Football Conference to 2009 and the road to a 6th Super Bowl title - For true fans of the scarlet and gold! Enjoy!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Smith, Rodgers, Campbell or (Insert Name Here)... Who Would You Have Picked?

When the 49ers selected Alex Smith with the first pick in the '05 draft, most people were anamoured with the young signal caller, a finalist for the heisman the year previous, and a product of a solid Utah - Urban Meyer offense. No one was questioning the pick then, particularily in such a weak quarterback draft, as only Smith, and Cal's Aaron Rodgers were even considered legitimate first rounders, (Jason Campbell was considered a "project", risky for the first round and totally overlooked by experts such as Mel Kiper Jr.).

At a news conference to introduce the No. 1 pick of the 2005 draft, 49ers Coach Mike Nolan opened with a few questions of his own. "How many in this room thought we were going to take Braylon Edwards?" he asked. "And how many thought Aaron Rodgers?" "And how many thought Alex Smith?" Nolan was just having fun. The only vote in the room that mattered was the 49ers' and they selected Smith as their franchise quarterback.

Three years later, can we get another show of hands? Maybe we can ask the crowd one more question: "How many think we paniced when Matt Leinart went back to school?"Each passing week - that is, each poor passing week - shows with more certainty that the 49ers made a $24 million mistake. Sunday's debacle against the Atlanta Falcons leaves Smith with 19 touchdown passes against 31 interceptions. He has reached 200 passing yards, yes, I did say 200, not 300, just six times in 29 career starts. Smith has been hampered by injuries, a suspect offensive line, overmatched receivers and revolving offensive coordinators (three in three seasons). But that can't explain away everything. As Nolan, a Smith supporter, said Monday: "It's getting down to an execution factor. I think Alex recognizes that."

The No. 1 spot is supposed to be where John Elway, Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer come from, not players whose 57.6 passer rating ranks last this season among qualifying quarterbacks. There is still time, of course, for Smith to prove worthy. He is just 23, which makes him among the youngest quarterbacks in the NFL. And it is still so soon after draft day that another potential No. 1 - Rodgers, the former Cal standout - has yet to make even one career start. But going back to that franchise-altering day of April 23, '05, would Smith still be the top choice?

That famously dicey draft had no clear-cut No. 1, which meant the top choice was virtually untradeable. The top 10 alone has already yielded two epic busts: cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones (No. 6), whose behavior got him suspended from the NFL, and Mike Williams (No. 10), who is out of work after being cut by the Raiders. Other players have been haunted by injuries, including running backs Carnell "Cadillac" Williams and Ronnie Brown and linebacker David Pollack. With help from our 20-20 Hindsight Crystal Ball (and several national football writers), we've revisited the 2005 draft to reconstruct the top 10. This is based on considering just players in the top 25 picks. No one could fairly argue that a G.M. would have been courageous enough to use the No. 1 pick on, say, risky Frank Gore (the 49ers got him in the third round) or unheralded Derek Anderson (sixth round), the red-hot quarterback now with the Cleveland Browns. Our pool of candidates runs 25 players deep because Rodgers (24th overall) was a 49ers finalist that year; that means any player within Rodgers' range should also be considered a potential No. 1.

With that, here's how the first round should have gone down...

1. T Jammal Brown, Oklahoma (originally No. 13): Few commodities are as valuable as a stalwart left tackle, and Brown has all the makings of a mainstay for the New Orleans Saints. He made the transition from right to left last season and promptly made the Associated Press All-Pro team and started in the Pro Bowl. The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder has anchored a line that has allowed just five sacks this season, fewest in the NFL.

2. LB Shawne Merriman, Maryland (No. 12): Earned defensive rookie of the year honors with the San Diego Chargers, then followed that up with an NFL-high 17 sacks last year. He has made the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons. Merriman would rank No. 1 if not for the four-game suspension he earned by testing positive for a banned substance. Merriman's lawyer, David Cornwell, said Merriman unwittingly ingested nandrolone, which was present in one of his supplements.

3. LB DeMarcus Ware, Troy. (No. 11): Earned his first Pro Bowl start last season after registering 11 1/2 sacks, a Dallas Cowboys record for linebackers. He is also the first player in team history to have (or share) the team sackslead in each of his first two seasons. In all, he has 26 1/2 sacks and nine forced fumbles in 40 career games.

4. WR Braylon Edwards, Michigan (No. 3): While the 49ers struggle for every offensive yard, Edwards racks up huge totals for the Browns on a weekly basis. His 736 receiving yards trail only Randy Moss, Chad Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald this season. Edwards is a big-play threat (17.5-yard average) who racked up 146 yards and two TDs in Week 2. The highest total by a 49ers receiver this year is 77 yards by tight end Vernon Davis.

5. LB Derrick Johnson, Texas (No. 15): Has quickly matured into one of the Kansas City Chiefs' most consistent defensive players. Johnson's sideline-to-sideline speed helped him rack up 110 tackles in '05, according to the Chiefs. That's the most by a Kansas City rookie linebacker since Dino Hackett (140) in 1986.

6. RB Ronnie Brown, Auburn (No. 2): Before going on the injured-reserve list Oct. 23, the running back had emerged as the dual threat the Miami Dolphins envisioned. Brown led the NFL with 991 yards from scrimmage - a total that still leads the AFC. Playing for a woeful, winless team, Brown nevertheless managed four consecutive 100-yard rushing games, one short of Ricky Williams' team record.

7. QB Jason Campbell, Auburn (No. 25): With Smith struggling and Rodgers stalled behind Brett Favre, Campbell has emerged as the most productive quarterback from 2005's first round. He trails Smith in TD passes (19 to 16) but has less than half his interceptions (31 to 13). Campbell has held up well this season against a tough schedule.

8. CB Carlos Rogers, Auburn (No. 9): Like so many others from the '05 first round, Rogers has struggled with injuries. But he demonstrated excellent cover skills last season in leading the Washington Redskins with 17 pass deflections and finishing among the team leaders with 79 tackles (67 solo). Rogers is out for the season because of a torn ACL and MCL.

9. Cadillac Williams, Auburn (No. 5): The 2005 offensive rookie of the year had six 100-yard games in his first season with Tampa Bay. But he is out for the remainder of this season after suffering a knee injury Sept. 30. When healthy, Williams is an elusive runner who relishes the workhorse role.

10. WR Mark Clayton, Oklahoma (No. 22): Trapped in an inept Baltimore offense, the dynamic playmaker nonetheless managed 939 yards receiving and five touchdowns last season. A year earlier, he set Ravens rookie records with 44 catches for 471 yards.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping that whoever wrote or contributed to this post is not involved, professionally, in an occupation or role which depends on the ability to analyze and review data or events with a deep and honest enough perspective on the matter at hand. Your denigration of Alex Smith was done with a sheen of objectivity, but as with most sports fans, you failed to give the proper weight to those factors which control the young man's development as an NFL QB. If my tutoring was subject to so many poor decisions and inexperienced coaching (from Mr. Nolan and Mr. Hostler) and terrible execution from my offensive teammates, I'm sure any type of rating on my performance would be dismal.

Why do so many armchair 'players' offer hit-and-largely-miss comments on their teams and players? When was the last time a modern day QB or skilled position player free-lanced his way to fame? When you ignore or dismiss coaching, teamwork and motivations, you might as well move away from the keyboard, because your not adding much to the discussion. Pray that Mr. Smith and other talented men on this team find their best roles, even if their skills and talents take them prematurely off-field, and stop wasting time and energy playing a childish game of what if with the 2005 Draft.

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