The first day of the NFL Draft was an absolute tour de force by the San Francisco 49ers, who lucked into Michael Crabtree with pick No. 10 and followed that up by trading their second round pick (No. 43 overall) and their fourth rounder (No. 111) for Carolina’s first round pick next year. Wow. I know it sounds impossible, but this franchise seems to have fully shed the stench of the Mike Nolan era in one day.
I’m not the only one feeling gratitude for the owner who seems to be working in a glass bubble in Alameda, from the comfort of a Craftmatic Adjustable Bed.
Shaun Hill: He had to be wondering if the 49ers would end up with Mark Sanchez, since quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Brady Quinn have fallen past the No. 10 position in recent drafts. Instead, Hill gets the best weapon available today not named Anquan Boldin. Actually, considering Boldin’s injury history and the fact that the Cardinals are sick of him, Hill would probably rather have Crabtree.
Frank Gore: Could the days of seeing eight, nine or ten men in the box be over? The best receiver Gore ever played with was Antonio Bryant…until now.
Isaac Bruce, Josh Morgan and Vernon Davis: Crabtree’s going to take up a lot of attention, making it easier for these guys to find openings in opposing secondaries (unfortunately for Arnaz Battle, Jason Hill and Dominique Ziegler, playing time just got pretty scarce).
Scot McCloughan: The 49ers were raked over the coals a year ago for choosing Chilo Rachal over DeSean Jackson in the second round, and Jackson’s success with the Eagles made those complaints even louder. Rachal scored some points as Mike Singletary’s most public project and should start next season, but the fans’ point was clear: get a top-level receiver, and quickly. Then Larry Fitzgerald became Superman in the playoffs for a Cardinals team that finished only two games ahead of the 49ers in the standings, and it became even more obvious that McCloughan might be able to end the team’s playoff drought fairly quickly with an elite wideout. McCloughan lucked into the pick thanks to Al, but at least this should keep the pressure off him for the rest of the off-season.
Darrius Heyward-Bey’s agent: DHB’s agent got a fat six-figure bonus today, thanks to Al. Maybe Heyward-Bey himself was just overwhelmed by the moment after getting the call that he’d been drafted with the seventh overall pick, but he sure didn’t look happy. All of his family and friends were celebrating as if they’d just won the lottery (which if you think about it, isn’t far from the truth), but DHB himself looked like he just found out that he got to the NFL, but first he had to take 10 units of Summer School and finish with a 3.5 GPA to be allowed to play.
Michael Mitchell: For those who didn’t watch the second round, this safety out of Ohio was the Raiders’ second round pick (No. 47 overall). No big deal, right? Except this pick caused a collective ESPN freakout that dwarfed the reaction to the DHB selection. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay were beside themselves, calling Mitchell a 7th-rounder/free-agent. WalterFootball.com has him as the 22nd safety on the board, with his info written up like this:
Michael Mitchell, SS, Ohio
Height: 6-0. Weight: 221.
Projected 40 Time: 4.48.
Pro Day 40 Time: 4.43.
Benchx225: 21. Vertical: 37.5.
Projected Round (2009): 7-FA.
Draft Countdown doesn’t even have Mitchell in their list of the top 21 safeties, but Al had to have him five rounds too early because he ran a 4.4 40. I’m sure Mitchell’s agent (if he even has one) will thank Al, too.