At least I showed a little restraint in that headline. I could’ve called LaMichael James “daffy.” Yes, the 49ers made several people really, really happy by moving up in the fourth round by drafting an offensive guard from Wake Forest: Joe Looney. Scott Warfe is happy because he predicted the Niners would nab Looney, albeit one round later. Regardless, any time you get a mid-round selection correct it’s cause for celebration.
Everyone wondering why the 49ers weren’t more aggressive in terms of adding depth at right guard to replace Adam Snyder and Chilo “Please” Rachal has to be happy because, well, Looney is a guard who can compete for time with Daniel Kilgore and Mike Person. (Side note: am I the only one who worries about the karmic implications of having Frank Gore run through holes supplied by a guy named Kilgore? Probably.)
Then there are the jersey heads out there, and many looking to purchase a 49ers jersey may buy their first one representing an offensive lineman. “LOONEY” is a word one could use to describe many of the jersey-wearing patrons at Candlestick Park, and now we can marry the literal with the figurative. Looney wore No. 78 in college, but that’s Person’s number in San Francisco. Imagine if he goes with No. 69 — that’d be enough to drive people insane.
C’mon people, grow up…
And yes, by “people,” I’m referring to myself.
Football wise, the 49ers have made some interesting moves over the past couple days. They traded their third round pick (No. 92) to Indianapolis for the Colts’ fourth round pick (No. 97) and a fifth rounder in 2013. Then they took that fourth-rounder from the Colts and moved it to Miami for their fourth round selection (No. 103) as well as a sixth round pick this year and another sixth round pick in 2013. Then, they moved the No. 103 pick for Carolina’s sixth round pick and a third-rounder next year.
After all that, the 49ers traded up in the fourth round, using their original fourth-rounder (No. 125) and one of their sixth round picks (No. 196) to move up to No. 117 and take Looney. Here’s what Warfe said about Looney on April 18:
Looney is often praised for his athleticism. As a junior, he ran the 40-yard dash in 5.03 seconds. National Football Post found Looney to posses “’plus’ shuffle-and-slide ability … good short area quickness and balance for his size.”
NFP’s report on Looney had this conclusion:
Impression: Exhibits good short area quickness and balance for his size in pass protection. He has the ability to mature into a good run blocker as well and warrants a pick as a potential starting guard down the line.
A Lisfranc fracture kept the 6’3″, 320-lb Looney from running at the NFL Combine. According to Matt Barrows, “Looney is a four-year starter at left guard at Wake Forest, who likely is another “gold helmet guy” for a 49ers squad looking for high-character players.
Speaking of gold helmets, the 49ers took an outside linebacker from Notre Dame in the fifth round, Darius Fleming. Scouting reports on Fleming aren’t necessarily glowing at first glance. Here’s what NFP had to say about him:
Impression: A tweener with experience both from a two and three point stance, he just isn’t real dynamic in any area of the game. Possesses a natural burst and pop on contact, but doesn’t warrant much more than a late round/free agent grade. Wouldn’t be on my draft board.
A couple last notes on LaMichael
Joey McMurry did a nice job on his post on the James pick, which makes sense since McMurry is currently a student at Oregon. My thoughts? The guy averaged 1,694 yards and 18 touchdowns per season over three years, and was easily the best player on the field when the Ducks came to Stanford and routed the Cardinal in November. People are over-thinking this size thing with James — he’s an amazing running back, comparable to Jahvid Best without the concussion worries.
What does this mean for the RB rotation? I don’t think you can count Rock Cartwright in this discussion, because for the Niners he’ll be as much of a running back as Blake Costanzo was a linebacker in 2011. Cartwright’s job is to wreak havoc on punts and kicks, period. Anthony Dixon’s as good as gone, sealing his fate when he was stopped for no gain on 3rd-and-1 in the 4th quarter of the NFC Championship Game.
The 49ers may keep four running backs, especially if Brandon Jacobs shows a willingness to chip in at fullback from time to time. Frank Gore had 20+ carries in seven games last season. That shouldn’t happen once in 2012. Now that the 49ers have drafted a rich man’s version of Kendall Hunter, it’ll be interesting to see how Hunter’s role changes next season, if at all.