This post was written by Matt Hamm
Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis were taken by the 49ers with the 11th and 17th picks in the 2010 NFL Draft. With gaping holes in the offensive line at left guard and right tackle that severely limited the offense during the 2009 season offensive line was the clear priority in the 2010 draft.
The 49ers traded up to the 11th pick to secure the mammoth 6-5 323 lb Anthony Davis out of Rutgers. Davis was seen as maybe the rawest of the 1st round offensive tackle. At age 20 he also possessed possibly the biggest upside and this was what the 49ers were counting on when they selected him. Davis who projects as a left tackle in the future has the luxury of breaking into the NFL at right tackle viewed as the less difficult tackle position with veteran Joe Staley firmly entrenched at left tackle.
Davis who was thrust into the starting lineup immediately (despite well documented conditioning problems) struggled early and often during his rookie campaign. Davis’ league leading 12 total sacks allowed is more reflective of his early season problems. By week five Davis had given up seven of those sacks and was among the league’s most penalized linemen. The 49ers coaching staff choose to stay with Davis in the starting lineup and it seemed to pay off as the season progressed Davis looked to be more comfortable and his sacks and penalties drastically reduced as the season went on. While Davis’ season statistically was awful his progress was undeniable. Davis is said to be in great shape during “Camp Alex”. Conditioning and attitude were the main reasons Davis slipped out of the top 10 in the draft when he was seen early on as a potential top five pick. Yet his attitude and work ethic have yet to come into question as a 49er if he’s keeping in great shape during the lockout you can bet he will come to training camp in even better shape. I see big things in Anthony Davis’ future, he’s still young and probably won’t be a dominate Pro-Bowl type of tackle yet but the 2011 season should be one of solid development and improved play as Davis takes the next step in his NFL career.
With the 17th pick the 49ers selected another giant in Idaho offensive guard Mike Iupati (6-5 331 lb). Iupati was seen as more polished than Davis and was viewed by many as the best offensive guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson. Iupati also was thrust right into the starting lineup at left guard during training camp. However he had a much smoother transition to the NFL than the younger less polished Davis.
Iupati was immediately one of the best 49er offensive linemen forming a nice left side with Joe Staley. Iupati had a strong start to the 2010 season, not committing a penalty, or allowing a sack until week five. Iupati looked like a seasoned veteran and only got better and better at all aspects of the game throughout the season. Despite the teams poor 6-10 record and inept offense Iupati’s contributions could not be ignored as he was named to the NFL’s all rookie team and also to ESPN’s Mike Sando’s All NFC West team. As good as his rookie season was the future only seems brighter for Mike Iupati. Already one of the league’s best guards soon Iupati could stand alone among interior linemen in the NFL. Iupati is one player 49er fans can count on to be an anchor for this franchise for a long time.