Should the 49ers target Ponder?

Some draft analysts have the 49ers picking Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert with the No. 7 pick, but they're spread quarterbacks who won't fit well into a West Coast offense. A better choice: Christian Ponder of FSU, who can probably be had in the late first or early second round. Here's why he's a better choice.

We've got nothing against mock drafts, but the more we see of them, the more confused we get.

This year, analysts are all over map. Depending on the source, the No. 1 overall pick is going to be Cam Newton, Nick Fairley, Da'Quan Bowers or Blaine Gabbert. Unlike past years, there is no consensus top pick.

Same goes for the San Francisco 49ers. No two draft analysts are alike when it comes to predicting the player they'll take at No. 7. We've seen one mock draft with Newton, another with Gabbert and still another with Von Miller, the outside linebacker from Texas A&M.

Which brings up an interesting question: What about quarterbacks? It's clearly one of the 49ers' most pressing needs, but is there a QB in the draft who's worth a No. 7 pick and who would fit into coach Jim Harbaugh's plans to run a West Coast offense?

Probably not.

"Honestly, I don't think there are any good fits," said draft guru Wes Bunting of the National Football Post. "You have to be balanced and mechanically sound from center in order to be effective in a West Coast offense. It's all about timing an anticipation."

That's probably why the 49ers will stay away from Newton or Gabbert, or even Ryan Mallett of Arkansas. Newton and Gabbert are spread offense QBs, and we all know what happened the last time San Francisco grabbed one of those: He turned out to be Alex Smith. Jake Locker of Washington might be a good fit, but is he really worth a No. 7?

"Newton, Gabbert and Mallett are too lethargic in their footwork," Bunting said. "Locker makes more sense, but he isn't worth the pick."

A better choice: Christian Ponder of Florida State. Bunting has him at the top of his list of quarterbacks and believes Ponder will be available in the late first or early second round. The 49ers have the 13th pick in the second round, so they'd have to trade up in order to make sure he's still on the board.

Ponder endured a series of injuries this season, so his numbers weren't spectacular. But he throws a tight, clean ball, is very accurate and gets into a good rhythm in the short passing game – all necessary attributes in the West Coast offense.

Does this mean the 49ers will take him when it's their turn? No, but if he's there when they pick in Round 2, don't be surprised if they do.

"He'd be the guy I'd target in the second round or late first if I were the Niners," Bunting said. "I think he's a great fit."

And if he's gone? Locker will probably still be there, and so will Mallett and Andy Dalton of TCU. The 49ers will have plenty of choices.


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