Alex Smith

With the 30th pick in the NFL Draft, the 49ers should select…

… a wide receiver. That’s the going wisdom, and who are we to go against the going wisdom when it might lead to a season where we aren’t subjected to watching Brett Swain or Joe Hastings? No offense to either player, and if either one goes onto “Jeremy Lin” me by becoming the toast of the NFL for a few weeks next year, I wouldn’t be surprised.

I can see it now, “Brett Swain goes on date with Kim Kardashian!” Because if Lin can’t resist the Kim K. gravitational pull, no one can.

Wait, that’s preposterous. Swain isn’t big or fast, and he has ridiculous hair. I’m not exactly proud of this, but I couldn’t pick Hastings out of a lineup unless he was the only one in a 49ers uniform. As it stands right now, Kyle Williams is the team’s No. 2 receiver in 2012. Yep, the Niners should probably draft a wide receiver with their first round selection, unless they get one of the top tier free agent receivers. Even then, they should at least consider taking a wide receiver with the No. 30 overall pick — if the right one’s available.

Trent Baalke’s “right one” might be different than Jim Harbaugh’s “right one.” It’s hard to know what either man values most in a wide receiver, since the only non-practice squad receiver they added that wasn’t already on the team was Braylon Edwards. I have my suspicions that Harbaugh is more interested in multifaceted receivers than many other coaches and personnel evaluators (translation: receivers who are willing and able blockers), but otherwise both Harbaugh and Baalke probably want what we all do: a wideout who’s better than Michael Crabtree.

It’s hard to know which receivers could realistically be available at the end of the first round. Individual workouts and the NFL combine have yet to commence, and there’s still plenty of video to examine and former coaches to interview. So my “right one” when it comes to college receivers may work his way into the top-15 over the coming weeks, but if Michael Floyd of Notre Dame is available the 49ers should pounce.

Some feel like Floyd is firmly entrenched as one of the top three receivers available alongside Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma St.) and Kendall Wright (Baylor), and will be off the board by the time the Niners choose. However, Floyd (bear with me) has had three legal issues related to alcohol and might have a hard time cracking 4.5 on his 40.

After seeing Floyd run (he has NFL-caliber speed), the alcohol thing’s probably a bigger issue.

Floyd was cited for underage consumption twice, and then was arrested for drunken driving in the March before his senior season. Like Aldon Smith’s recent DUI, this wasn’t just a couple glasses of wine with dinner. Like Smith (whose breathalyzer readings were 0.176 and 0.194), Floyd’s blood alcohol number was up there: 0.19.

That could almost be considered a bonus, if Floyd has learned to clean up his act and concerns over his past discretions cause a huge talent to fall a spot or 15 in the Draft. Or, he could be Charles Rogers.

Why Floyd’s the “right one”

I didn’t see LSU play in person, so maybe that’s why I’m not writing a “why the 49ers should take Reuben Randle” post. Same with Rutgers and Mohamed Sanu, South Carolina and Alshon Jeffery, or Arizona and Juron Criner.

I saw Floyd in person when Notre Dame came to The Farm and lost 28-14 to Stanford, and … wow. If the 49ers want a guy who’ll make Alex Smith look about 99% better when he throws out routes and/or jump balls along the sideline, Floyd’s the guy.

Some might look at the game Floyd had and focus on one stat: yards per catch. 8 reception, 92 yards and a touchdown is a great night, but 11.5 yards per catch (also his 2011 season average) isn’t all that exciting. While Floyd caught 100 passes in 13 games, he didn’t catch a lot of long passes (only once in 2011 did Floyd catch a pass of 40+ yards, a 56-yard TD against Navy). But let’s remember a few things here:

— Notre Dame hasn’t exactly had stellar QB play lately. Tommy Rees got pulled in favor of Andrew Hendrix in the game I covered, and neither one were all that good at, you know, passing.

— Nobody catches 100 passes without mixing in some short ones.

— Floyd’s big (6’3″) and was extremely productive throughout his entire career with the Irish. Consistency shouldn’t be a problem. According to Floyd’s draft profile on ESPN Insider (yeah, I broke down and bought it), Floyd “Has excellent height, long arms and big hands. Also has solid bulk and top-end speed is adequate considering size.”

There’s a long way to go before the 49ers head to the war room (and probably pick an offensive lineman or a cornerback, laughing at all the fans and so-called experts who said they had no choice but to draft a receiver), but my early vote goes to Floyd. Here are some highlights that help make my case.
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