Alex Smith

49ers re-draft 2007: let’s erase Jason Hill from our memories

The results of last week’s re-draft results are in. As always, you chose to build the offensive side of the ball, a commentary on the current state of the 49ers passing attack. I tried to make a (sound) case for drafting Tamba Hali, but you made your loyalty to Davis apparent.

Round 1, Pick 6

Round 1, Pick 22

Recap: I am really surprised that Cutler did not get a single vote. Considering the carousel of inept quarterback play that you’ve witnessed between 2006 and 2010, I thought he might garner some interest. Nevertheless, the Jennings pick was an obvious one, though Maurice Jones-Drew had a commanding lead early.

The 2006 Season

On Dec. 14, Smith would engineer his best game of the season, as well as a 4th quarter comeback against the division-leading Seahawks. In victory, the 49ers would not just prevent the Seahawks from clinching, but they would also, as Smith noted, “grow up a little bit.”

After the game, Gore would caper over to Smith and proclaim to the surrounding cameras that Smith had “just became a grown man today, baby.”

Gore’s proclamation was nothing startling; rather, it merely echoed the sentiment of 49er fans everywhere. Fans had just seen Smith absorb a Kelly Herndon hit, roll to the left (the LEFT!!!), and find Gore for the go-ahead touchdown. They then saw him execute a play-action bootleg with such perfection that Smith was able to sashay for 20 yards until a Seattle defender got wise.

As he left Smith to the post game mayhem, Gore barked, “There’s a lot more to come.”

And we believed him because we had no reason not to believe him. In 2006, Alex Smith would grow exponentially under Turner. In fact, Smith would enjoy a season that he would not equal until 2011.

Antonio Bryant was emerging as a dynamic receiver. Gore too was proving to be a factor in the running game. With Turner orchestrating the offense and Nolan perfecting the defense, 2006 was believed to be the beginning of a 49ers renaissance. And then the off-season happened.

The Off-season

A myriad of incidents derailed the 49ers during the off-season, but the most damaging was the loss of Norv Turner. Turner would agree to become the head coach of San Diego. Like the McCarthy hire, Turner’s promotion would incite a symphony of knee jerk, “How the F…?”

Nolan too would leave fans scratching their heads, as he would choose to fill the vacuity of the offensive coordinator position with an in house candidate, choosing between WR coach Jerry Sullivan, OL coach George Warhop, TE coach Pete Hoener, and QB coach Jim Hostler.

Nolan, of course, chose the least qualified assistant for the position. In choosing Hostler, Nolan eschewed the 18 years of combined experience in coordinating offenses that Sullivan, Hoener, and Warhop shared. A shrewd decision, no doubt.

“He brought out the game plans that he had been putting together every week.” Nolan recalled of the interview process. “I never saw them, because all I wanted to see the last two years was our actual coordinator’s game plan, but Jim brought his to me.”

The deciding factor, according to Nolan, was Hostler’s plasticity. Or, perhaps more apropos, the deciding factor was the plasticity of Hostler’s game plans. Literally.

“They were laminated,” Nolan emphasized. (Author’s note: I have used a laminator before, and at the time, I was surprised at how easy it was. I wonder if Nolan’s wonderment would have been lessened had he used a laminator.)

Unfortunately, as fans would learn, such plasticity would not transfer to game days.

To make matters worse, Nolan would decide to end his relationship with the mercurial Bryant, releasing the receiver after he was arrested on suspicion of reckless driving and resisting arrest.

The 49ers would try to hemorrhage the bleeding by shoring up the defense. McNolan would sign cornerback Nate Clements to the richest contract for a defender at $80 million contract ($22 million guaranteed) over eight years.  They would then sign safety Michael Lewis. Then, in an attempt to replace Bryant’s presence on offense, McNolan would send a 4th round pick to Seattle in exchange of receiver Darrell Jackson.

The 2006 Draft

The 49ers would identify defensive line as an area of need prior to the draft, as Bryant Young was expected to retire following the 2007 season. Because of that, the selection of Willis was not a give in. Many thought that Michigan’s Alan Branch or Nebraska’s Adam Carriker was going to be the selection.

Wide receiver was the other position of immediate need. Ohio State’s Ted Ginn Jr., Tennessee’s Robert Meachem, and LSU’s Dwayne Bowe were all thought to be possibilities.

In all, though they would fail to draft a capable receiver, this might be the best draft the 49ers have had since 80s. Willis, Staley, and Goldson are all Pro Bowlers, and McDonald and Brown are not far behind.

Unfortunately, for the 49ers, Jason Hill happened. Sure, every draft is going to have it’s Jason Hill, but yours doesn’t have to. Click here to eradicate Jason Hill from the 49ers lexicon.

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