Andy Lee

49ers 2003 re-draft is done – now it’s time for a 2004 do-over

The results of last week’s re-draft are in. Hindsight (brought to you by Dr. Scott Hyver Lasik Eye Surgery Center; the same person who brings you Gary Radnich) obviously made these choices very easy. In fact, there was not much in the way of a contest:

Round 1

This competition was a bit unfair. That is, pre-2011, Nnamdi Asomugha had proven to be one of the greatest cornerbacks in game, if not in the history of the NFL.

In regards to the “blank” answer: if you find none of the candidates to be worthwhile, there is actually an easier way to show this: refrain from voting. It will, quite literally, make the same statement.

Round 2

Interesting to note that the 49ers have pursued Lance Briggs and Cory Redding in some way or another. I thought that, given the need to for offensive playmakers, you would have chosen Jason Witten.

Round 3

Recap: In all, there is no denying that the 49ers would be much improved. Well, that is to say, the 49ers’ defense would be much improved. Their offense? Not so much. Their offensive tackle platoon would consist of Derrick Deese, Kyle Kosier, and Scott Gragg. Certainly, Harris wouldn’t remedy this, but Stinchcomb might. Also, Zack Bronson, Dwaine Carpenter, Ronnie Heard, and John Keith would all start at free safety during the season. Granted, there were not real options at FS present in this Draft, but I have to find fault somewhere, don’t I?

The 2004 Season

Regardless of how the 49ers drafted, the 2003 season probably wouldn’t have ended all that differently. The utter ineptitude of management and coaches alike sunk this team like the Titanic. Somehow, Terrell Owen’s antics would go unchecked. Perhaps nothing is more indicative of unbridled disruption than Owen’s outburst during and after week four’s matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.

During the 3rd quarter, the 49ers were down 28-0, and the strain of losing in such a fashion was more than Owens could bear. And so, a frustrated Owens took to the sidelines to voice his displeasure. He marched up and down the bench, while screaming in a manner reminiscent of Veruca Salt. Ever the spoiled the preteen girl, Owens went so far as to evoke Salt’s “I Want it Now” number, except Owens had no desire for a golden egg laying goose. No, Owens wanted the ball. He wouldn’t get it.

When the game ended, Owens made a formal announcement regarding his concerns about the team (the consummate teammate, he was). “We’ve got no heart,” Owens revealed, sending shockwaves through cardiologists everywhere.

In response to Owens, Erickson had this to say: “…”

Though the offense wouldn’t wholly regress, the 49ers would. They finished the season with seven victories, three fewer than the season prior. It was clear to everyone, save Dennis Erickson and Terry Donahue, that the wheels were falling off.

The Off-season

Following the season, Erickson would have to completely remake his staff, as both DC Jim Mora Jr and OC Greg Knapp would flee to Atlanta. In response to the drastic changes that lay ahead, Erickson was incredulous, saying, “this is a very good system, “ but that “we are going to tweak it to things that I really believe in.”

True to form, Erickson would promote Ted Tollner to offensive coordinator, thereby installing offensive system he so “believed in.” Tollner runs the spread offense, right? Tollner’s experience notwithstanding, Erickson would alter 20 percent of the playbook, thus initiating what would effectively be the end of the West Coast Offense in San Francisco.

He would also hire Pittsburgh defensive backs coach Willy Robinson to coordinate the defense. Immediately, Willy (who, despite what his name suggests, was not a 10-year-old boy) put his stamp on things by assertively installing both a 3-4 and a 4-3.

To make matters worse, due to a crippling cap situation, the 49ers would be forced to waive Jeff Garcia, a 3-time Pro Bowl selection, offensive linemen Deese and Ron Stone, and running back Garrison Hearst. In all, the 49ers would field 11 new full-time starters in 2004.

They would also send Terrell Owens packing, shipping him to the mid-East — or is Philadelphia the mid-West?

What consortium of players and picks did the 49ers receive in return for Owens, you ask?

Well, they got Santa Rosa’s own Brandon Whiting. This Berkeley Grad had accrued 16.5 sacks over 59 games with the Eagles. Impressive.

The Draft

Team Needs: QB, RB, WR, OT, OG, C, DT, DE, CB, and S

I don’t mean to be short in this section, but they literally needed starters at every position, especially on offense. Here are the pre-draft starting lineups.

On offense, prior to the 2004 season, Brandon Lloyd and Cedrick Wilson had made a combined three starts, while Tim Rattay had attempted 46 passes. Kevan Barlow, for the first time in his career, would take on the role of lead back, after a season in which his conditioning was seriously questioned.

On defense, the prospects were equally as bad. Jamie Winborn’s previous two seasons had ended prematurely as a result of injuries. Adams, meanwhile, had only made one start the year before. Whiting was only able to achieve a 3.24 while attending Cal. Oh! And, Dwaine Carpenter and Ronnie Heard were so bad that Uncle Rico could have probably completed passes against them (so long as Brandon Lloyd circa 2004 and Cedrick Wilson weren’t his receivers).

The 49ers would desperately need the draft to bear not just talent, but starters. Here is what they got instead:

In all, like the previous years draft, this isn’t horrible. Justin Smiley, Shawntae Spencer, Isaac Sopoaga, and Andy Lee would all become key contributors at different points in their careers. That said, the draft failed to secure any true difference makers. That is, history will show that none of these players are indispensible, though I’d take Smiley over Chilo Rachal any day of the week.

After absolutely dominating the competition at Oklahoma State, Rashaun Woods would become one of the biggest busts in 49ers history, rivaling the likes of Jim Druckenmiller, Reggie McGrew, and Kwame Harris. Although he was described as a “natural football player who competes to win and works to get better” prior to the draft, Woods, according to Craig Massei, would become “overwhelmed” by the professional football and would subsequently fail to “grasp” the commitment needed to succeed. He would be jettisoned by Nolan after only two seasons with the team.

Unfortunately, the 49ers would be one of the few teams to err in the first round, as fifteen first round selections would become Pro Bowlers at some point in their respective careers, while others (such as Dunta Robinson, D.J. Williams, and Chris Gamble) would prove to be adequate players.

To see if you can do better than Terry Donahue by voting for whom you think the 49ers should have drafted in 2004, click here.

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