The draft wrap: Covering the 49ers from A to Z
A is for Alex: As in Alex Smith, of course, the 20-year-old gunslinger the 49ers made the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. He's the player the team now will build around, something that became obvious when the three selections after Alex on Day 1 of the draft also were offensive players. B is for Baas: As in David Baas, the hulking 320-pound guard/center from Michigan that the Niners selected with the No. 33 overall pick in the second round to essentially serve as Smith's bodyguard during the foreseeable future as both young players develop with the team. C is for California Connection: Three members of the 49ers' Draft Class of 2005 will continue to make California their home when they report to the team later this month. Smith is from La Mesa, third-round offensive lineman Adam Snyder is from Fullerton and seventh-round receiver Marcus Maxwell comes from Berkeley, just a 20-minute drive across the San Francisco Bay Bridge from Monster Park. D is for Ducks: As in Oregon Ducks, who produced two of the 11 players drafted by the Niners, third-rounder Snyder and seventh-rounder Maxwell. E is for Estes: As in Patrick Estes, who – at 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds – is the biggest player at the tight end position ever drafted by the 49ers. F is for Flop: Which is what the last quarterback selected by the 49ers in the first round turned out to be. Jim Druckenmiller, selected with the No. 26 overall pick by San Francisco in 1997, was a failure in his two seasons with team before he was virtually given away to the Miami Dolphins for a seventh-round draft choice before the 1999 season began. G is for Gore: As in Frank Gore, the University of Miami product who the Niners selected in the third round. In this case, G also stands for Ground Game, which should be improved considerably for the 49ers this year with Gore around to add punch and push Kevan Barlow at tailback. H is for Hotseat: Which is something at least a dozen 49ers veterans at seven different positions will be sitting on this spring and summer now that the team's new regime has drafted fresh talent to compete for their jobs on the team's 2005 roster. H also stands for Holly, as in Daven Holly, the first of the team's four seventh-round selections, who also can be regarded as the Niners' new Hotfoot, since he runs the 40-yard dash in a sizzling 4.39 seconds. I is for Interceptions: Smith threw just eight interceptions in 587 attempts during his three seasons at Utah while also throwing 47 touchdown passes. He finished with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 6.1:1 during his career at Utah, the best among any quarterback that played college football in 2004. J is for Johnson: As in Derrick Johnson, the three-year starter from the University of Washington who will be given an opportunity to break into the playing rotation at cornerback after the Niners selected him with the No. 205 pick in the sixth round. K is for Knockdown: As in Knockdown blocks, something that Baas did an impressive 88 times while blowing away opponents in 2004. Twelve of those plays – in which Baas overpowers defenders into the ground – produced Michigan touchdowns. L is for Lizzie: As in Lizzie Gore, mother of Frank, who currently undergoes dialysis three times a week and is in need of a kidney transplant. Her condition, and Frank's commitment to aiding her health needs, played heavily into Gore's decision to forego his senior season at Miami and enter the draft a year early. M is for Michigan: As in the University of Michigan, the Big 10 school that now has had 13 players selected by the 49ers since the NFL Draft began in 1950, with Baas being lucky No. 13. The list includes quarterback Elvis Grbac (1993), offensive tackle Bubba Paris (1982), receiver Tai Streets (1999), linebacker Frank Nunley (1967) and halfback Jim Pace, who was the team's No. 1 pick in 1958. N is for Noseguard: Which is a vital position in the Niners' new 3-4 defensive scheme that fifth-rounder Ronald Fields is being brought in specifically to play. Fields comes to the 49ers perhaps better prepared to play noseguard than any other holdover veteran on the team's roster. O is for Outland Trophy: An award for which Baas was a finalist last year. The Big 10 Offensive Lineman of the Year last season, Baas also was a finalist for the Lombardi Trophy, becoming the only player in the nation who was named a finalist for two of the three national awards presented to college lineman in 2004. P is for Parks: As in Dave Parks, the last 49er to hold the distinction as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft until Smith came along this year. Parks, a three-time Pro Bowler with the Niners, was selected No. 1 overall by San Francisco in 1964. Q is for Quota: As in Quota of tight ends, which is what the 49ers filled by taking Estes and Billy Bajema on consecutive picks with the Nos. 248 and 249 selections late in the seventh round. It's the first time since 1975 the 49ers have drafted two tight ends in the same year. R is for Records: As in school records, which Smith set at Utah in completion percentage, passing efficiency and yards gained per completion during his career with the Utes. He also set a school record with 42 total touchdowns (32 passing, 10 rushing) in 2004. S is for Slash: Which is something the 49ers envision versatile fifth-round pick Rasheed Marshall becoming for them as a multi-purpose player. Marshall, a star quarterback at West Virginia, will be converted to receiver with the 49ers, but the team also will try him at kick returner and won't hesitate to write him into the playbook at quarterback for a few special diagrams to take advantage of his unique skills. T is for Trading up: Which the 49ers did early Saturday evening as Day 1 of the draft was coming to a close. To grab Oregon offensive lineman Adam Snyder, who the Niners didn't feel would last until the first pick of the fourth round when the draft resumed Sunday, the 49ers traded that fourth rounder and the first pick of the sixth round to Philadelphia to snatch Snyder with the No. 94 overall pick in the third round. U is for Undefeated: As in Undefeated Utah Utes, who were led to a perfect 12-0 record last season by Smith. On his way to becoming a Heisman Trophy finalist, Smith led the Utes to a No. 4 national ranking, the highest ever in 110 years of Utah football. V is for Valley Forge: As in Valley Forge Junior College in Wayne, Pennsylvania, which produced fifth-rounder Marshall, not to mention 2000 first-round linebacker Julian Peterson. Both players spent one star-struck season at Valley Forge before moving on to big-time college careers at West Virginia and Michigan State, respectively. W is for Weight: As in 322 pounds, the sturdy weight at which fifth-rounder Fields weighed in at the NFL Combine in February. That makes Fields the biggest-ever draft pick in 49ers history, going by weight. Fields earns the distinction by just one pound over 2004 fourth-rounder Isaac Sopoaga, who weighed in at 321 pounds when he was selected last year. Coincidentally, Fields and Sopoaga will battle for playing time at the same noseguard position in 2005. X is for X-receiver: Which is the split end position in the San Francisco offense, where fifth-rounder Marshall and seventh-rounder Maxwell will be putting the heat on incumbent veterans Brandon Lloyd and Rashaun Woods. Y is for Youngest: As in Youngest quarterback ever drafted by the 49ers, which Smith was at 20 years, 11 months and 16 days of age when he was selected Saturday. Smith is the third-youngest No. 1 draft pick in team history. Z is for Z-receiver: Which is the flanker position in the San Francisco offense, where fifth-rounder Marshall and seventh-rounder Maxwell will be putting the heat on incumbent veterans Arnaz Battle, P.J. Fleck and Derrick Hamilton, a third-round pick last year who barely stepped on the field in 2004 and never caught a pass.
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