To immediately answer the question in the title before some folks go overboard: no, the 49ers did not find themselves making "big reaches," in the 2011 NFL Draft. The key word here is "big," because they were certainly not the worst offenders when it came to reaching, but it is definitely worth considering, but should it affect their grade when taking a look at the draft as a whole? Let's list the picks, first, and then we'll get to our official SB Nation Bay Area grade.
San Francisco 49ers 2011 NFL Draft Selections
Round 1: Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri (7th overall)
Round 2: Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada (36th overall)
Round 3: Chris Culliver, CB, South Carolina (80th overall)
Round 4: Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma St. (115th overall)
Round 5: Daniel Kilgore, G/C, Appalachian St. (163rd overall)
Round 6: Ronald Johnson, WR, USC (182nd overall)
Round 6: Colin Jones, DB, TCU (190th overall)
Round 7: Bruce Miller, FB, Central Florida (211th overall)
Round 7: Michael Person, G, Montana St. (239th overall)
Round 7: Curtis Holcomb, DB, Florida A&M (250th overall)
The 49ers addressed a ton of needs in this draft ... in fact, they addressed them almost perfectly in order of what the perception was regarding strength of need. They managed to address four of their top five needs in the first five rounds, and appear to have drafted capable players at all of the positions. Some would consider Aldon Smith a reach at seven in the first round, but it's a moot point because he was likely gone within another five picks, and he fills the team's biggest need.
They then moved up draft Colin Kaepernick, filling another need at the quarterback position (with only David Carr under contract as it stands) and his value was in line with the pick. It was even rumored that other teams were trying to move into the back-end of the first round and top-end of the second to get Kaepernick for themselves (looking at you, Oakland Raiders). Daniel Kilgore in the fifth addresses a need for either a center or a right guard, and he had a third-to-fourth round grade from most scouts pre-draft. Kendall Hunter came in the fourth round after being talked up a lot pre-draft as being a second round talent, but his size concerns caused him to fall. The 49ers didn't think twice about adding him as a potential feature back in the future.
Chris Culliver is the only player who qualifies as a substantial reach, being taken in the third round, but he does fill the team's third biggest need (really the top three are 1a, 1b and 1c) at the cornerback position, and has value as a safety if that doesn't work out, where the 49ers also have a slightly less-pressing need. As it stands the team actually managed to get good value in the middle rounds, while potentially making small reaches early on to address needs, which evens out in our book.
Value: B-, Need: A, Overall: B+