Ah, the 2005 Draft. This is one of the most famous drafts in 49er history. And all because of one guy: Alex Smith. This draft also hauled in David Baas, Frank Gore, and Adam Snyder, but it was the selection of Smith at Numero Uno that defined and immortalized this draft.
First, those other guys.
I have a very slow Submit button when it comes to calling guys BUSTs. Maybe it’s because this term was applied to me in grade school, high school, college, and at regular intervals in the Real World. Just a guess. But my finger is about a centimeter away from Gonging David Baas. It appears Baalke/Singletary, with the drafting of Iupati, have beat me to it anyway. I haven’t tossed Baas under the buus because the ghost of Jesse Sapolu visits me regularly. Sapolu battled IR and injuries for three or four years before he finally stayed healthy and turned into a solid Oline guy. And Baas has had the same injury bug, in all five seasons he’s been on the team, with two years stuck behind Larry Allen. A regular violin dirge of a career. Then again, he might just be a bust. He could be useful as a backup to all three interior line positions, but more likely this is his last year with the 49ers.
Frank Gore has been such a 3rd round steal he qualifies as being a 1st round steal. Total home run on this guy. Not a murmur of dissent from Niner fans anywhere about Frank. He and Willis are the franchise heroes.
Adam Snyder could be called a low 3rd round bust, but he’s been too valuable as a depth Oline guy to earn the thumbs down. His 2009 season appears to have erased any notions that he will ever be a starter, but he can ably back up every position on the line except center. A guy like that is pretty valuable in the violent game of football.
The rest of the draft was fairly much a washout. Fifth round pick Ron Fields hung around for a few years, contributed a little, but never demonstrated much will to succeed, and was let go a year ago. Billy Bajema was a 7th rounder and a serviceable blocking TE till he hit the “too expensive” veterans money level and was also let go last year. WR Rasheed Marshall, CB Derrick Johnson, CB Daven Holly, WR Marcus Maxwell, and OT Patrick Estes were all pretty much immediate nothings and stayed that way.
I don’t really need to say anything about Alex Smith. More ink and blood has been spilled on this fellow than anyone in the 49er blogosphere. We’re talking blog hits mega-star here. If ill will had monetary value, Smith could buy half of South America. And if praise had monetary value, he could buy a chicken coop. Say what you will about him as a QB, you have to admire him as a man. He’s pretty much soldiered stoically and resolutely forward through one crisis after another without giving in or giving up.
And it is this guy that will ultimately determine the value of the 2005 draft class. Amazingly, due to two years on IR, he has only used up 2.5 years of his draft “judgment cycle” time, which will make the final grade on him come due by the eighth game of the 2010 season. By then, he will either have become the franchise QB that validates the 2005 draft – or planted himself face first in the cool, cruel turf of Candlestick Park, setting the franchise back yet another few years, and most horrifically, perhaps costing the 49ers a playoff spot that seems there for the taking.
The stakes are high, so pull up your seats, ladies and gentlemen, and get ready for the thrill packed, throat clutching, heart pounding conclusion to the long running mega-series “The Alex Smith Saga” in the first half of the 2010 season. The fate of the franchise, as well as the reputations of a host of bloggers, and perhaps 49er coaches, hangs in the balance.