Remember when your parents got down on you for your report card being mostly C’s in grade school? And you couldn’t understand why they wanted you to get B’s and A’s when a C was satisfactory. Or maybe it was just me? Anyway, I now know how my parents felt when I came home with my mediocre report cards. I had high hopes for the Niner’s to receive B’s and A’s in the 2008 draft, but all I got was satisfactory. General Manager Scot McCloughan chose to ignore my advice about drafting a speedy receiver with the first pick. I don’t think he read my 2008 mock draft and heeded the advice of drafting DeSean Jackson who ended up in Philly. Instead with the first pick McCloughan went with Kentwan Balmer of North Carolina. Balmer was a nose tackle while at Chapel Hill who will probably be a nose tackle or defensive end in the Niner’s 3-4 alignment. At 6’-5” 300 pounds Balmer will clog up the middle and blockers to free up the freakish talents of Patrick Willis’ tackling ability and the speed of Manny Lawson allowing them to make more plays. If Balmer does not start or back-up the nose tackle position he could be a good replacement for recently retired Bryant Young at defensive end.
With the second pick (38th of Round Two) on the first day of the draft the Niner’s drafted Chilo Rachal an offensive line from USC. Presumably Rachal will challenge Larry Allen who seems to be on the down side of his career. Either way Rachal looks to learn a lot from Allen and the other veteran lineman protecting the QB. Although he was taken earlier than expected at least the Niner’s helped fill the holes on offense and the O-line. As long as he can pick-up or at least get a hand on rushing defender, think Allen and Rocky Bernard, the Seahawks’ 308-pound defensive tackle that crushed Alex Smith and his ego last season, he should develop into a starter and be effective.
The Niner’s did pick a WR, their only one of the draft, Josh Morgan of Virginia Tech. Morgan had a descent senior year with 46 receptions, 552 yards and 5 touchdowns and will compete to get on the depth chart. Morgan will help with the return game which is where he will most likely get the bulk of his playing time this season. Morgan is not Jackson, Limas Seed, nor James Hardey, all players still available to the Niner’s when they had their first and second picks of the draft and players I hoped the Niner’s would pick up. This was McCloughan’s first draft as the GM of the Niner’s, so I bet he got scared because no team picked a WR with the first 28 picks and he didn’t want to look like he doesn’t know what he is doing. Nevertheless McCloughan, Mike Nolan, and especially Mike Martz have to know it will take more than Morgan, Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson, Ashley Lelie, Arnaz Battle and Jason Hill to transform Smith from the current track of another number 1 QB bust to a legitimate franchise QB.
This draft was baby steps, satisfactory, mediocre, below average for a franchise that needed to be making huge leaps, be above average, not mediocre to return the team to the playoffs and satisfy the 49er Faithful. The Niner’s seem to take two steps backwards for every one step forward and this draft was no different. Not drafting a WR higher will hurt the Niner’s this year as they rely on a shattered ego at QB, average WR’s for Martz’s pass happy offense, and a TE whose production I wish was as big as his biceps. Going into the off-season workouts and training camp it seems more than likely Nolan will be gone by mid-season with Martz presumably taking over.
Niner Draft Picks:
First Round: Kentwan Balmer
Second Round: Chilo Rachal
Third Round: Reggie Smith, Corner Back, Oklahoma
Fourth Round: Cody Wallace, Center, Texas A&M
Sixth Round: Josh Morgan, Wide Receiver, Virginia Tech
Seventh Round: Larry Grant, Inside Linebacker, Ohio State