San Francisco 49ers: 5 Best, 5 Worst Draft Picks in the Trent Baalke Era
Second-Best: Mike Iupati, G, Idaho
2010 first-round selection, No. 17 overall
Yes, the best pick board is all about value, so you would think a first-round selection would have trouble making the final rankings. Iupati’s the second-best player Baalke has ever drafted, however, and at a certain point, someone that talented is a great pick no matter where in the draft you take them.
You can argue about how much credit Baalke deserves for the 2010 draft. Much of the scouting process was handled by then-general manager Scot McCloughan, but he left the team in March to combat his own personal demons. That left Baalke, the vice president of player personnel, at the helm of a draft with multiple first-round selections.
Baalke set the tone for his tenure with a pair of offensive linemen. His first pick, Anthony Davis, was fine, though considering he sat out last year, a re-draft might see him fall to the top of the second round instead. Iupati has been brilliant—the best run-blocking guard in all of football during his time in the NFL. Yes, his pass protection has ranged from adequate to terrible, but there’s no one in the game better at opening up lanes inside, and it was his play alongside Joe Staley which really drove the 49ers’ offense forward during his time with the team.
If we were to re-draft the 2010 draft today, Iupati is easily the first lineman off the board, passing the likes of Trent Williams, Russell Okung and Anthony Davis who went before him. He’s a top-10 selection with the 17th pick in the draft, and for that, you have to give Baalke significant credit.
What could have been: The 49ers could have easily decided to go elsewhere with this pick—who picks an interior lineman in the first round? Sean Weatherspoon was projected to be a very solid inside linebacker to back up Patrick Willis, but injuries have prevented him from really taking off, and it would have kept the 49ers from taking a linebacker in the third round who turned out alright.
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