Mike Iupati

NFL Draft: which guards are Trent Baalke’s type?

As Draftmas draws closer, our anticipation doesn’t just swell; it festers. Countless hours are spent hazarding guesses as to what Baalke-claus will leave in our collective stocking? Perhaps, if we’ve been good, he will bring us a carbine-action, one hundred catch range model wide receiver with a high stock and this thing which tells time. Or, perhaps the danger of Alex Smith shooting his eye out would be too great, and instead, we are left with a membership to the lineman of the month club — a gift that keeps on giving, to be sure.

This metaphor/allusion isn’t the only thing that is clumsy and awkward; we are too when trying to justify our time spent “mock drafting.” But in the end, when Roger Goodell reads Aldon Smith’s name off the card, we are left feeling like cotton-headed ninny mugginses (or is it muggi?).

In any case, this obsession is real — or real enough for the NFL to exploit. And I am of the obsessed, scouring for clues everywhere imaginable: under the bed, in the closet, on National Football Post. I’ve even retraced past drafts, which is what I’ve done on here.

Since Baalke has been with the organization, the 49ers have selected seven guards. It would be impossible to know which of these seven offensive linemen were Baalke endorsed. In any case, the goal of this exercise will be to see if anything can be learned from Baalke’s immediate history. In other words, does Baalke have a type? Well, he just might:

Year Rd Pk HT WT 40 Y/D Bench Shuttle Broad Jump 3-Cone Drill
D. Baas 2005 2 1 6-4 319 5.06 29 4.48 08’09” 7.52
A. Snyder 2005 3 31 6-5 316 5.34 21 4.86 07’09” 7.85
C. Rachal 2008 2 8 6-5 315 5.16 28 5.14 09’00” 8.01
C. Wallace 2008 4 8 6-4 298 5.30 26 4.55 09’05” 7.45
M. Iupati 2010 1 17 6-5 331 5.24 27 4.93 07’08” 7.85
D. Kilgore 2011 5 32 6-3 308 5.28 23 4.68 08’09” 7.59
M. Person 2011 7 38 6-5 299 5.07 21 4.50 09’00” 7.44

It would appear as though Baalke and the 49ers covet lineman that fit a certain mold. Daniel Kilgore aside, every guard selected has been 6-5 (David Baas and Cody Wallace are/were centers). The largest, of course, is Mike Iupati, who appears to be an outlier. Iupati’s shuttle and broad jump are the worst of the bunch. Iupati, along with Anthony Davis, is widely regarded as a Mike Singletary pick, but he still belongs in this grouping. Anyways, here is a breakdown of the picks:

Attribute Range Average
Height 6-3 – 6-5 6-4
Weight 298 – 331 317
40 Y/D 5.06 – 5.34 5.21
Bench 21 – 29 25
Shuttle 4.48 – 5.14 4.73
Broad Jump 07’08” – 09’05” 08’02”
3-Cone Drill 7.44 – 8.01 7.67

To determine interest by focusing on physical attributes is an over-simplification. But it doesn’t make the analysis any less valid than any other’s. Draft punditry is, after all, equivalent to the blind leading the blind.

With that in mind, given these physical attributes, as well as a rudimentary knowledge of 49ers blocking schemes and trends, here is a list of players Baalke would and would not be interested in:

Round 1-3:

Most Likely: Kevin Zeitler 

Projection HT WT 40 Y/D Bench Shuttle Broad Jump 3-Cone Drill
1-2 6-3 314 5.39 32 4.61 08’05” 7.77

Not only are Zeitler’s physical attributes consistent with other 49er lineman, be he is also a high character guy. He won the Badger Power Award for his dedication in the weight room, much like Person did. He’s also versatile, having worked as center during Badger practices. As Chad Reuter of CBSSports.com points out, Zeitler is adept at pulling, which is featured heavily in the 49ers system.

Likely: Kelechi Osemele

Projection HT WT 40 Y/D Bench Shuttle Broad Jump 3-Cone Drill
2-3 6-6 333 5.36 32 4.87 08’08” 7.91

Osemele (pronounced oh-sem-AH-lee) has a lot of the attributes coveted by the 49ers. Not only does he fit the physical prerequisites, but he also possesses great awareness and intelligence. What’s more, like Zeitler, he is a high character player, evidenced in his many awards. Most importantly, though, he can pull and block in space. As Wes Bunting notes, Osemele “moves well and looks coordinated on the move for his size, can drop his pad level and chop down defenders at the second level with the initial quickness to get out of his stance and reach blocks.”

Maybe: Amini Silatolu

Projection HT WT 40 Y/D Bench Shuttle Broad Jump 3-Cone Drill
1-2 6-4 311 5.43 28 4.87 08’11” 7.95

There is a lot to like about Silatolu. As Tre9er alludes to at NinersNation.com, there are shades of Iupati in Silatolu. Strength aside, Silatolu also possesses great quickness. According to Chad Reuter, Silatolu is “nimble and quick enough to trap inside or even pull around to the strong-side of the formation from his left tackle spot.” It was this combination of size and speed that allowed Silatolu to absolutely dominate the competition at Midwestern State. But we should not forget why Silatolu played in a Division II school.

After two-years at San Joaquin Delta Community College, Silatolu signed with Nevada, but he was deemed academically ineligible. Therein lies the rub. As noted by ESPN Insider, Silatolu lacks awareness, causing him to be consistently “late picking up some blitzes in pass protection and as a run blocker [to struggle] to adjust on the fly when defensive front shifts at the snap of the ball.”

Unlikely: Jeff Allen

Projection HT WT 40 Y/D Bench Shuttle Broad Jump 3-Cone Drill
2-3 6-3 307 5.28 26 4.90 08’06” 8.01

While Allen certainly fits the size requirements, he falls short in speed. His shuttle and 3-Cone Drill would be the slowest of any guard the 49ers have selected in the last seven years. Further, as Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com notes, Allen is a “finesse blocker [who] lacks an aggressive, physical nature — lack of strength exposed in the run game (not a mauler).” ESPN Insider notes that Allen struggles to sustain blocks and “takes too many false steps.”

Definitely Not: Cordy Glenn

Projection HT WT 40 Y/D Bench Shuttle Broad Jump 3-Cone Drill
1 6-5 345 5.15 31 5.00 07’09” 8.13

Glenn is considered a lock for the first round (will likely be taken prior to pick 30), and it is easy to see why. Glenn is big and strong. The problem is that he just not terribly athletic. Sure, he ran a relatively fast 40-yard dash, but outside of that, Glenn’s numbers would rank as the lowest ever drafted by the team. It is this lack of athleticism that makes him ill fit for the 49ers. Wes Bunting notes that Glenn “struggles to keep his base down, doubles over at the waist and pops upright initially off the ball in the run game [and] Struggles to create leverage for himself consistently at the point.” His superior strength allows Glenn to compensate for his limitations, but I don’t think this can be sustained in the NFL.

Rounds 4-7:

I’m only going to give you the “likelies” here because it is the most relevant.

Tony Bergstrom

Projection HT WT 40 Y/D Bench Shuttle Broad Jump 3-Cone Drill
4-5 6-5 313 5.27 32 4.84 08’05” 7.95

Bergstrom is the quintessential character guy. At one point, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham even called Utah “Bergstrom’s team.” Bergstrom has a ton of experience and is considered to have a “killer instinct,” as ESPN Insider asserts. Bergstrom is also thought to be an underrated athlete who possess solid “agility, balance and even straight-line speed to contribute.”

Joe Looney 

Projection HT WT 40 Y/D Bench Shuttle Broad Jump 3-Cone Drill
5-FA 6-3 309 5.03 26 N/A N/A N/A

Looney has been unable to go through pre-draft workouts because of an ankle injury. Still, 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.”

Jason Slowey

Projection HT WT 40 Y/D Bench Shuttle Broad Jump 3-Cone Drill
7-FA 6-3 303 5.06 28 4.87 09’02” 7.72

Slowey is thought of as something of a sleeper. Having already visited the 49ers, it is clear there is some interest. Sports Illustrated described Slowey as being having great quickness, which allows him to “[jolt] opponents at the point of attack and [play] with a nasty attitude.

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