Analysis of 49ers Pick Aldon Smith

The 49ers seventh pick in the draft was not a stunner selection if you had them picking a player out of Missouri.  Problem is you probably had quarterback Blaine Gabbert penciled in as the selection and not defensive lineman Aldon Smith.  Even though I was against the 49ers picking a quarterback that high I thought general manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh would go with Gabbert.  It is a good thing the 49ers brass decided against selecting a quarterback but was Smith the best defensive player they could have drafted?

All along I thought the 49ers had cornerback Patrick Peterson as their top priority and while this may have been true Peterson was at the top of the list of many teams including the Cardinals who selected him at the fifth spot.  Smith is a good fit for the 49ers with his ability to get after quarterbacks with an outside rush which likely means he will play outside linebacker in the 49ers 3-4 defense instead of defensive end where he played in college.  An added pass rusher will take pressure off of the secondary but the 49ers still need to address the cornerback position in the draft.

Two words to describe Smith are young and tough.  At 21 years old Smith will be somewhat of a project and not a quick fix solution but with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and learning from fellow linebacker Patrick Willis Smith should develop into a great pass rushing linebacker.  I have to admit I did not have much knowledge of Smith when he was selected.  After the pick I scrambled to look up his stats and profile to get a better reading of Smith.  But with Harbaugh’s great eye for college talent you have to give Harbaugh the benefit of the doubt that Smith will turn out to be a Pro Bowl linebacker.

Smith broke his right fibula in the middle of last season and instead of sitting out the usual four to eight weeks to let the broken bone heal he was back three games later.

“That struck a chord with me,” Harbaugh said. “I know bones usually take 4-to-6 weeks to heal. There’s a toughness aspect there that I was impressed with.”

Smith played many games with a limp but that did not slow him down.

At first I hesitated in getting excited about the 49ers drafting Smith but looking back at the outside linebackers the 49ers had last year, Manny Lawson, Ahmad Brooks, Travis LaBoy, Parys Haraslon, none of them had more than five sacks last season.  Smith had 17 sacks the last two seasons at Missouri.  In 2009 Smith broke Missouri’s single-season sack record with 11.5 sacks, a record previously held by new teammate Justin Smith.  Smith has speed to get around offensive linemen whether through the outside or inside pass rush and the power to make sure tackles.

The conventional wisdom with the 49ers selecting at #7 was that they would select a defensive end with Robert Quinn and Nick Fairley still available.  Quinn went to the Rams with Fairley joining the Lions.  Smith was valuable in Baalke and Harbaugh’s eyes because not only of his athletic ability but because of his great character.  There will be a lot of pressure on Smith to excel in the NFL not only because he was selected seventh overall but because he is Harbaugh’s first draft pick as an NFL head coach.

Aldon Smith’s reaction to being drafted by the 49ers:

“I had no idea.  Amazing, amazing, amazing.  I visited them … went to dinner with them. It was a good visit.”


What do you think of the 49ers 1st round selection?

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Tags: Analysis Of 49ers Pick Aldon Smith NFL Draft 2011 San Francisco 49ers

  • Nick Posteraro

    I wasn’t a fan of the pick at first especially after I thought they could have traded down to select him. I’m finding I’m liking the pick more and more now as I read into Smith more. I believe he will be a great pass rusher for the 49ers and will bring that consistent pressure they’ve been lacking all these years. Great pick

  • cgun

    B- to C+ draft so far. Here’s why.

    Its disappointing they couldn’t find a way to get Peterson, but hard to criticize without knowing the cost for moving to no. 4. No score on this.

    With that off the board, they absolutely made the right choice going after a DE in the 1st round. Depth of talent available and need. Move this decision to an A for resisting taking a QB here.

    Among the DE options, I have to admit not knowing much on Aldon. It will LIKELY be that 1 or more others have a better career — also that some of them flame out for their character flaws. Aldon should help near term, and can’t be highly critical of this choice given the options.

    The criticism is that the Front Office should have pulled off a trade to get Smith lower in the draft. He wasn’t a 7. Give them a C- on this. Total first round grade — not better than a B. Definitely not a D (idiot).

    Second and third round pick look similar, except the decision to go for a QB in second round is a bad one if Harbaugh is not 90% sold on this kid. I don’t think he is. The 3rd pick looks like a nickle back at best. So they may have wasted both of these picks. Give them a C-. Maybe even a D.

    Overall, B- at best and maybe a C for first 3 rounds.

    The A draft required a Front Office with 2-3 options lined up on all picks. As in every other business, this requires actual work (not just a fantasy draft day), relationship skills, intelligence (the kind based on information, not ego). It has to be done before the draft.

    One good hire in the front office and everything changes. Until then you get more mediocre sandwiches for lunch.

  • Matt Hamm

    cgun how can u rate the draft right now? I’ll admit I’m disappointed that we didn’t see Peterson drop to us or another top tier CB picked but we got some real quality players at need positions all throughout this draft. finally a scat back, another quality WR, an OG to put pressure on Chilo Rachal etc.

    IMO we need to support the new coaching staff here 100%. We have never seen Harbaugh make any bad decisions yet. He deserves 2 years before real judgement as do all these rookies.