This year’s 49er draft class is kind of boring. Nothing is expected from first round pick AJ Jenkins — this year. Fourth rounder, Joe Looney, is on the PUP list recovering from a foot injury. Fifth rounder, Darius Fleming, is out for the year and rehabbing on IR. The two sixth rounders, Trenton Robinson and Jason Slowey, and the seventh round pick, Cam Johnson, are, you know, late round special teams backup sort of guys.
That leaves second round pick LaMichael James as the sole member of the class who might actually get some significant playing time this year and have an impact. It’s probably safe to say that Trent Baalke will not be getting Executive of the Year in 2012. We can only hope that by 2015 his roster stocking this year will seem commendable longsight.
As for James, we have yet to see him play or practice. Not that we actually see anybody play or practice, except through the eyes of the beat writers, who don’t see them play or practice, either. Aside from an occasional Instagram pic from Maiocco, the only way we know that the players have even showed up is through the occasional photo slides put out by the 49ers official website, which are anything but revelatory.
A couple of years ago, Mike Singletary complained about a “rat” in the building, who kept leaking unflattering news to the media. The new regime seems to have addressed this issue with total overkill. NOBODY gets to watch practices. It’s bad enough that notoriously milquetoast beat writer Matt Maiocco put up a practice photo this week of a football in the air wafting toward goal posts with only the top half of the posts visible on the other side of a fence that blotted out Maiocco’s view of the field. Whimsical sarcasm from Maiocco. A rare event of borderline disapproval.
Baalke has now drafted six offensive linemen in the past three drafts — two in each draft. Proponents of the theory that games are won or lost in the trenches are no doubt applauding this diligence. John Madden would, anyway, if he was still big old guy boom booming into our living rooms each week.
The same diligence has not gone toward the defensive line, though there are only three of them, compared to five O-linemen. The backup D-line guys are a seventh round pick from 2009, two UDFAs from 2011, and a UDFA from 2010, originally signed by Seattle and subsequently picked up by the Niners. Not exactly shopping in the prime meat section.
It could be argued that O-line guys need to be smart and D-line guys just need to be tough and mean. But I’m not going to argue it, and it might not prove anything anyway, except that Ricky Jean-Francois was a steal in the seventh round in 2009. Let’s hope we can say the same about Ian Williams and Demarcus Dobbs in a year or two.
At least Dashon Goldson flagged down his brain in the nick of time to sign his tender and report for duty. The full squad is now present and accounted for, and ready to go hunting for Super Bowl number 6. Let’s hope six months from now we aren’t looking back at this optimism and wondering WTF were we thinking!