Niners draft review
The marquee player in the 49ers' draft, obviously, was Alex Smith. But the 49ers also invested a lot to make sure that Smith has a good chance to succeed with the remainder of the draft class. Coach Mike Nolan said they tried to complement Smith with the players they selected after him. The 49ers spent all of their first-day resources on offensive players to stack around Smith. The team took Michigan guard/center David Baas with its second-round selection. The team expects Baas to earn the starting job at right guard, unseating Eric Heitmann, who played every snap last season. "My goal is for nobody to touch (Smith), so I am going to do whatever it takes for that goal to be complete and let him develop and help the team win," Baas said. The 49ers' other picks on Day 1 were running back Frank Gore of Miami (Fla.) and guard/tackle Adam Snyder of Oregon. Both Gore and Snyder are expected to be backups who will be able to step into starting roles, if needed. "He's a very good choice for us as far as complementing our other two choices," Nolan said of Gore. "When you take a running back you strengthen your quarterback's position and you also strengthen the guard's position. All three of these players will make each other and the team better from an intangible standpoint." The 49ers spent their second day trying to add some depth at positions of need, especially receiver and cornerback. With their first pick of the fifth round, the 49ers went after a player who should fit into their new 3-4 scheme. Nose tackle Ronald Fields of Mississippi State is the only defensive lineman on the roster chosen with the scheme in mind. Fields is a two-gap tackle and should be able to challenge Anthony Adams and Isaac Sopoaga for playing time. He can also move to defensive end when the 49ers play against teams with solid running attacks. Two of the 49ers' thinnest positions are receiver and cornerback. The 49ers took converted quarterback Rasheed Marshall in the fifth round. He will play receiver for the 49ers, though offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy also wants the flexibility to install some plays in which Marshall can take snaps as a quarterback. He was the Big East Offensive Player of the Year at West Virginia, where he threw for 1,886 yards and rushed for 861 yards and four touchdowns. Another intriguing draft choice is receiver Marcus Maxwell, a 6-4, 205-pounder, who ran a time of 4.42 in the 40. Maxwell caught just 25 passes as a senior at Oregon. The 49ers went for cornerbacks in the sixth and seventh rounds, selecting Derrick Johnson of Washington and Daven Holly of Cincinnati. BEST PICK: QB Alex Smith of Utah. The 49ers were toying with drafting Aaron Rodgers of Cal or Braylon Edwards of Michigan. It was clear that they had focused on a quarterback and they went with Smith. Obviously, the 49ers' thinking was in step with the rest of the NFL. Several teams wanted to nab Smith, but the 49ers kept the No. 1 selection. Although there was pressure in the San Francisco Bay Area to select Rodgers, a local product, the team went with the best player. Rodgers tumbled to the No. 24 pick in the draft, where the Packers selected him. COULD SURPRISE: WR Rasheed Marshall of West Virginia. The 49ers lack playmakers on offense, and they selected a player who creates excitement. Marshall was a very good college quarterback, but he will make the transition to receiver in the NFL. He might even become the 49ers' version of "Slash." He will learn the receiver position, be a factor in the return game, and might even line up at quarterback to keep opposing defenses on their toes. A closer look at each of the 49ers' picks: Round 1/1 -- Alex Smith, QB, 6-4, 217, Utah: This was the player the 49ers settled on as their No. 1 pick, but coach Mike Nolan tried to keep the pick a secret to increase its trade value. Sure, the 49ers might have preferred to work a trade to stockpile more picks, but they love Smith's decision-making, athleticism, anticipation and accuracy. Nolan said he expects Smith to earn the starting position and earn his money. Round 2/33 -- David Baas, G/C, 6-5, 319, Michigan: A tough, feisty and intelligent player, Nolan envisions Baas winning the starting job at right guard over three-year veteran Eric Heitmann. He's the kind of power player the 49ers want at that position to be a stalwart in the run game. Baas also can serve as the team's backup center, in case Jeremy Newberry goes down with another injury. Round 3/65 -- Frank Gore, RB, 5-9, 210, Miami (Fla.): Sustained serious injuries to both knees during college, which derailed a promising career with the Hurricanes. He tore his left ACL in 2001 and his right ACL in 2003. Finished 2004 with career highs in yards rushing (945), carries (197) and touchdowns (eight), and he should be even stronger this year. Will compete with Kevan Barlow for the starting job, and should share some carries and push Barlow to perform with more urgency. Round 3/94 -- Adam Snyder, T/G, 6-5, 316, Oregon: A big offensive lineman that fits the mold of what new offensive line coach George Warhop wants his group to look like. The 49ers traded their first pick of the fourth round and the top choice of the sixth round to move up eight spots to secure Snyder. He is a true swing player, so he can serve as a backup at the four guard and tackle spots. In that sense, he takes the spot of Kyle Kosier, whom the 49ers allowed to leave as a restricted free agent to Detroit. But Snyder is bigger and more powerful than Kosier. Round 5/137 -- Ronald Fields, NT, 6-2, 315, Mississippi State: A true nose tackle who has a chance to play immediate in a 3-4 scheme. He will compete with Anthony Adams and Isaac Sopoaga for playing time. He is the team's biggest defensive lineman and should be a two-gap player who can plug up the middle. Round 5/174 -- Rasheed Marshall, WR, 6-1, 190, West Virginia: He was a quarterback in college, completing 144 of 242 passes for 1,886 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior. Also rushed for 5.1 yards per carry. But will work under receivers coach Jerry Sullivan with the 49ers. Marshall is also being looked at a force in the return game, and can also be used for a few snaps a game under center. Round 6/205 -- Derrick Johnson, CB, 5-11, 197, Washington: Aggressive player that supports the run and is particular effective in zone coverage. He earned honorable-mention All-Pac-10 honors as a senior, starting 10 games and finishing with four interceptions. Also has value as a return specialist. Round 7/215 -- Daven Holly, CB, 5-10, 192, Cincinnati: Played wide receiver before converting to defense in 2002. Started all 12 games at cornerback last season, recording 45 tackles and two interceptions. Has tremendous speed, clocking a 4.39 in the 40. The 49ers selected Johnson with their previous pick, and they want to see if they can develop one of these corners to help the team at some point. Round 7/223 -- Marcus Maxwell, WR, 6-3, 205, Oregon: Has great size and speed but did not have great production at the collegiate level. He caught 25 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns as a senior. He has the physical tools to be a factor for the 49ers at this position. Round 7/248 -- Patrick Estes, TE, 6-6, 280, Virginia: The 49ers lack good blocking from the tight end position, which should enable Estes to compete for a roster spot and complement starter Eric Johnson. Is no factor whatsoever in the passing game, but could be valuable in short-yardage situations as a blocker. Round 7/249 -- Billy Bajema, TE, 6-5, 261, Oklahoma State: Fits the same profile as Estes, the player taken ahead of him in the draft. Has very good size and if he learns how to use his leverage better, he should be able to compete for a roster spot as a blocking tight end.
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