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With the 36th overall pick in the draft, the San Francisco 49ers drafted the player that they have pegged as their quarterback of the future. Colin Kaepernick is not 'settling,' he is not being brought in for lack of any better options. The 49ers moved out of their spot at the 45, giving up fourth and fifth round picks to the Denver Broncos for the right to land Kaepernick and have him sport the red and gold in 2011. But will he actually see the field under center in 2011, or will Alex Smith come back and get the starting nod, as many consider the likeliest scenario? Certainly, most feel as though the best course of action is to sit Kaepernick from the onset.
But Kaepernick has made it abundantly clear that he's ready to compete, at least in his mind, from day one. Whether it be against Alex Smith, an undrafted rookie free agent, David Carr, or any other kind of outside signal caller, Kaepernick wants to battle them and win the starting nod. It is very clearly an uphill battle at this point though, against anybody with NFL experience. With the lockout and potential for a shortened training camp, Kaepernick's chances go down lower and lower.
As it stands, Alex Smith is confirmed to have one of Jim Harbaugh's playbooks, and one can assume that Kaepernick has some sort of understanding of what the book looks like at this point. It may very well hinge on what he can do on his own and with Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck at this point. He'd need to come into training camp already with an understanding of the offense to some degree, because it's clear that Smith is a very intelligent guy who is no stranger to picking up new playbooks on the fly.
It's an uphill battle for Kaepernick to earn the starting role, but Harbaugh is an inventive guy, so don't rule out Kaepernick getting some plays out of a pistol-esque offense at the NFL level to try and catch a defense off guard. One has to feel as though he'll get the backup nod at the very least, considering this is not a team floundering at the bottom of the barrel like it was when Smith was thrust into the starting role when he was so young.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reported that San Francisco 49rs quaterback Colin Kaepernick had minor leg surgery just after the 2011 NFL Draft. Apparently, it was a non-invasive procedure and Kaepernick will be at 100% whenever the team needs him. This is the first the general public are hearing about any kind of injury, which Kaepernick says that he sustained in his final NCAA season, and that he played his final four games with it. It certainly didn't seem to affect his level of play, nor did it stop him from impressing at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine, so the 49ers don't really have anything to worry about.
According to Kaepernick, all teams knew about the injury prior to the draft and it's assumed that they knew that he was going to correct it shortly after he was picked. The 49ers released a statement on the matter:
The 49ers are aware that Colin Kaepernick underwent a procedure to address a pre-existing injury and were fully aware of the injury at the time of the draft. The 49ers have no concerns regarding his health and are confident that he will be ready for the 2011 NFL season.
Kaepernick got the surgery done at Stanford Hospital, which means the 49ers probably recommended it to him when they still had a window of opportunity to talk with him. Kaepernick will most likely be battling Alex Smith for the starting quarterback job, providing Smith returns to the team in 2011.
Well, business is going as usual ... except for the part where tangible football is being planned and played. This means that we get hope here and there, for something like a preseason schedule or now, jersey numbers being issued to rookies. Almost all of the players have went ahead and picked their's, but the San Francisco 49ers' first round pick, Aldon Smith, has yet to make a decision regarding his. Either he's indecisive, or he's got his eyes on a number that a potentially departing free agent currently has. Still, the other picks have their's, so we'll list them below.
LB Aldon Smith - ?
QB Colin Kaepernick - #7
CB Chris Culliver - #29
RB Kendall Hunter - #32
OL Daniel Kilgore - #67
WR Ronald Johnson - #88
DB Colin Jones - #43
FB Bruce Miller - #49
OL Michael Person - #78
DB Curtis Holcomb - #41
The NFL instituted a jersey numbering system in 1973 based on the position at which a player played. The breakdown of each range of numbers is as follows:
1-9 Quarterbacks and Kickers/Punters
10-19 Quarterbacks, Receivers, Tight Ends, and Kickers/Punters
20-49 Running Backs and Defensive Backs
50-59 Centers and Linebackers
60-79 Defensive Linemen and Offensive Linemen
80-89 Receivers and Tight Ends (or 40-49 if those ranges are taken)
90-99 Defensive Linemen and Linebackers
The San Francisco 49ers two top draft picks, linebacker Aldon Smith and quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have been with the team for a little over a week now, and still trying to get adjusted to life in the NFL. Despite the lockout and all the speculation that surrounds it these guys are still doing everything that they can to get ready for the 2011 NFL season, whenever that may or may not happen. Here is a video montage of both Smith and Kaepernick making their first visits to the 49ers team headquarters in Santa Clara.
Smith enjoyed the draft from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, while Kaepernick was kicking it at home with his family, extremely different experiences for both players. But all that really matteres is that they ended up in the same place, wearing the Red & Gold for the San Francisco 49ers.
Both players reflect on the process of getting to the NFL, and how it feels like to actually be a part of it. Walking through the lobby, looking at the 5 Super Bowl trophies, meeting with public relations officials and other staff, you can see the excitement they have on their faces and can only imagine how awesome it must be to have finally made it. The video does a great job of showing how they got from draft day to being a part of the 49ers faithful, definitely worth a look see.
The 49ers made Aldon Smith the seventh overall pick in the draft, and on top of that, a huge future piece in their 3-4 defense. Smith has the hurdle that most defensive lineman drafted to be a 3-4 OLB have: you know, actually learning the position. At pick number seven, it's not a matter of whether or not he will become a starter, it's just a matter of when. Smith will spend the offseason doing whatever he can to learn all of the facets of being a stand-up outside linebacker, with hopes of starting from day one.
Most will tell you that a realistic expectation is for Smith to not technically be a "starter", but rather a player who comes in on third downs to solely rush the passer. Actually, that's next to a guarantee that he'll be doing that as a "bare minimum." But Aldon Smith didn't get drafted to come in on third downs, he got drafted to be what Ahmad Brooks and Manny Lawson were supposed to, give or take a small quality or expectation.
So, if he were to progress and be a capable starting outside linebacker in the NFL, he still has to make sure he's more capable than the other players on the roster (duh, science!). Fortunately for him, the landscape of the 49ers outside linebackers is in a sorry, sorry state. Basically, Aldon Smith can start on either side, but he's more likely to be on the right side, where Parys Haralson is currently penciled in as the starter.
Not only that, but Ahmad Brooks and Travis LaBoy, despite uncertain futures with the team, could be in on things. Unfortunately for them, neither really seem like they're picking up any steam regarding a future starting job. Brooks has done nothing in the NFL other than perennially one step away from being a breakout outside linebacker, while Travis LaBoy really should be playing on the defensive line in a 4-3 alignment.
So, it really is down to Aldon Smith versus Parys Haralson. In regards to Haralson, he did look good in 2008 and 2009, but 2010 ... he really disappeared. His pass-rush arsenal consisted of only one or two moves that offenses keyed in on as he was the only real pass-rushing threat. There's just not much for him to offer in that regard, so he'll likely be outmatched from the get-go.
Fortunately for Haralson, he's decent in coverage. At the very least, you don't hear his name often, which means he's being trusted to cover and he's able to do so. That's the hurdle Aldon Smith needs to overcome. Can he do it? He's gifted enough athletically, and has showed a lot of ability to turn and rotate his hips effectively ... the tools are there, but smart money really is on him being slowly worked into it. The only sure thing here is the fact that, if Haralson does not perform, Smith will get playing time. It really is as simple as that.
Now that the 2011 NFL Draft is all wrapped up, we can start to try and assess which players will step up for their respective team early on. While most NFL Draft picks will take some time to get used to the speed of the NFL, it’s likely that at least a handful of draft picks will find their footing right away. The right combination of technical precision and athleticism can get a player right in the thick of things for any team. For the San Francisco 49ers, the best recent example of that would have to be Patrick Willis.
Over the past week, Mel Kiper took a look at each day of the NFL draft and put together a rundown of the players he thought could make a significant impact in their rookie seasons.
The impact: It’s a different position, but this pick reminds me a little of the Raiders’ taking Rolando McClain at No. 7 in last year’s draft. Although McClain might have been available a little later, the Raiders knew they had a guy they could use right away. So even as a slight reach, when you get immediate help, it offsets any ounce of lost-pick value. Smith goes to a team that could use him right away at outside linebacker, and although his football ability needs refining, he’s physically ready to make plays at a position of need.
The hurdle: Smith is gifted athletically, but his game has a lot of growth left. Jim Harbaugh clearly sees him as a fit, but Smith won’t be asked simply to pin his ears back and rush the passer; he’ll also need to read the NFL game.
49ers 2011 draft pick Aldon Smith is a guy who will get a solid chance to make an early contribution. The 49ers had a rotation of four players at their two outside linebacker positions: Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson, Ahmad Brooks, and Travis LaBoy. Lawson and LaBoy are free agents and I have to image the addition of Smith means at least LaBoy will walk.
Aldon Smith has a sizable learning curve as he makes the switch from defensive end to outside linebacker. However, his athleticism and what appears to be a solid coaching stuff under Jim Harbaugh would seem to set him up for some level of success. He has a lot to prove but he’ll be given every opportunity to succeed.
The San Francisco 49ers used last weekend's 2011 NFL Draft to address various areas of need on their roster. One of the 49ers biggest question marks was last year's inconsistent pass rush. The team addressed that right off the bat with Missouri pass rusher Aldon Smith. The team has been trying to figure out its quarterback position for close to a decade. They moved up in the second round to acquire Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. They needed depth in the secondary so they grabbed Chris Culliver, Colin Jones and Curtis Holcomb.
San Francisco 49ers
1. Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
2. Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
3. Chris Culliver, CB, South Carolina
4. Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State
5. Daniel Kilgore, OL, Appalachian State
6. Ronald Johnson, WR, USC
7. Colin Jones, S, TCU
8. Bruce Miller, DL/FB, Central Florida
9. Michael Person, OL, Montana State
10. Curtis Holcomb, CB, Florida A&M
The decisions the 49ers made raised some eyebrows as few people expected the team to go with Smith at the seventh pick. The team brought in some highly talented football players with their draft picks, but the question for the 49ers is how long it will take to develop these players. For now, the media isn't exactly giving the 49ers the benefit of the doubt. While they're getting some B grades, it's mostly lower Bs and high Cs in the NFL Draft grades. I guess maybe that could qualify as the benefit of the doubt then.
We'll be here with a variety of updates on the 49ers 2011 NFL Draft selections. We'll take a look at scouting reports on each player, first year projections, and other assorted details. For more on the NFL Draft, join Mocking The Draft and browse SB Nation's 2011 NFL Draft hub. And of course, check out live discussion of 49ers picks at Niners Nation.