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2011 NFL Mock Drafts: Mel Kiper, Mike Mayock, Rick Gosselin All Projecting Blaine Gabbert To 49ers

The 2011 NFL Draft is under ten hours away and final mock drafts are pouring in as we speak. Some fairly prominent college and NFL analysts have provided mock drafts and for many of them, Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert is suddenly becoming the pick to make for the 49ers. Among others, ESPN’s Mel Kiper,’s Mike Mayock, and Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News all believe the 49ers grab Gabbert.

Mel Kiper

I picked Peterson to fall to this point in my previous mock draft, but I don’t think he gets there this time around. He offers too much trade leverage. This time, I think Gabbert lands here. While Jim Harbaugh has taken the dignified route and stated how much he wants to work with Alex Smith, I think it’s pretty fair to assume the Niners will be looking for a long-term solution for their new coach. Harbaugh’s track record says he should have confidence he can turn Gabbert’s solid skill-set into something at the NFL level. Like Newton, this isn’t a quarterback you want starting games in 2011, but if San Francisco is patient, Gabbert is a player it can build with.

Mike Mayock

I was thinking corner or rush lineman initially, but the quarterback is there in this scenario. There’s a new regime in San Francisco, so the 49ers are going to have to turn things around. Gabbert is my top-rated quarterback. I love the marriage of Gabbert and coach Jim Harbaugh.

Rick Gosselin

Jim Harbaugh is a quarterback maker — first Josh Johnson at the University of San Diego and then Andrew Luck at Stanford. In his first year as head coach of the 49ers, Harbaugh wants a quarterback he can build a team around.

In looking at their rationales, they all think this is the guy for the 49ers long term plans. While some folks (including myself) are not completely sold on that, we also don’t know where Gabbert fits into Jim Harbaugh’s philosophy on quarterbacks.

Coach Harbaugh has discussed his philosophies on the quarterback position, most notably at his introductory press conference. When asked about specific characteristics he looks for in a quarterback he mentioned "Athletic instincts, accuracy, timing, decision making, leadership, intelligence…" These aren’t exactly shocking comments, but they’re still worth considering as we assess the 49ers draft board heading into this afternoon’s first round.

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft starts at 8 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, April 28th and SB Nation has everything you need to prepare for it - NFL mock drafts, draft projections, scouting reports, the full NFL draft schedule and more. Check it all out at SB Nation's NFL Hub and our NFL Draft blog Mocking the Draft. Lastly, for more San Francisco 49ers coverage, check out our team blog Niners Nation.