A.J. Jenkins

Grading the 49ers’ draft

I am a qualified grader. No, really, I have a credential, which unabashedly confirms my exulted position as “grader.” This entitles me to grade the 49ers’ draft, obviously. Disclaimer: I am a difficult grader, as confirmed by RateMyProfessor.com.

Certainly the 49ers did a lot of things well in this draft, the least of which is getting their picks in on time. They addressed a few positions of need, including slot receiver, running back, the 2013 draft, and special teams gunner. And, most importantly, they didn’t fail to entertain. For these, kudos are in order for Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh.

Because of this, I give the 49ers an “Incomplete”.

Call me crazy (especially if you want to hurt my feelings), but the grading process is arbitrary — almost as arbitrary as mock drafting. This is no profound statement, I know.

Still, there are those who are given to knee-jerk reactions. You know, those who fancy themselves as Henry the fifths, but who prove to be the Lears. Those who are blinded by delusions of “knowing.”

In 2011, Tim Kawakami was no fan of Baalke’s nor of Aldon Smith’s pass rush ability. “And they do have to tell us why they took Aldon Smith,” Kawakami demanded. “[Smith] just doesn’t seem like an edge rusher.”

In 2010, Drew Kerr, formerly of NinersNation, did not hold back his enthusiasm, crowning the 49ers with a “B+” for their acquisitions in the draft and in undrafted free agency. The highest of plaudits of given to the 49ers for their pick of Taylor Mays, whom Kerr thought had the potential to be “great,” and to their signing of Jarrett Brown, whom Kerr believed to possess “gargantuan upside.”

In 2009, Lowell Cohn asked us to consider Jerry Rice when contemplating Michael Crabtree’s lack of speed. “Be clear about this,” Cohn asserted. The 49ers “drafted someone who can be a flat-out star in, say, three years and after that he might be a superstar.”

All of them were, inevitably, wrong. This of course is not meant to slight the grader. But it is to point out the ridiculousness of the endeavor.

Nothing comes from nothing, as Lear tells us. As such, with out experience, with out proof, we won’t know how to grade this year’s draft until we are ready to grade next year’s.

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