The Harbaugh Factor

Most mock drafts have the 49ers selecting QB Blaine Gabbert with the number seven pick in tonight’s 2011 NFL Draft. Most 49er fans aren’t thrilled with this mock scenario, preferring the team goes defense with its first pick.

If this draft were entirely Trent Baalke’s call, Gabbert might be the likely choice. It would resoundingly signal the end of the Mike Nolan/Scot McCloughan/Alex Smith era, and the beginning of Baalke’s very own era. But, while most of the draft belongs entirely to Baalke, choosing a QB does not. That belongs to Jim Harbaugh.

It’s not known which of the current crop of draftable QBs Harbaugh favors. If Gabbert is selected tonight, it would mean Harbaugh is really sold on him. Otherwise, Harbaugh would advise Baalke to go defense first, QB later. Though the mocks all think SF will go with Gabbert, none of the mockers have a clue what Harbaugh thinks.

The fan attitude against picking Gabbert is a bit strange. For the past few years, many fans have been clamoring to get rid of Alex Smith. Nothing would more strongly intimate that Smith was history, and would stay history, than picking Gabbert tonight. But fans seem more content with dumping Smith than caring who exactly will replace him. Like picking up some second or third round QB talent is perfectly fine, whether he’s an improvement or not. These are the same fans who point out endlessly that the QB is the most important position on the team. Yet in this draft, the attitude seems to be that a CB or OLB pass rusher is most important, and the QB is a secondary concern.

Part of the explanation for this puzzler is Harbaugh, himself. He’s viewed as a sort of QB miracle worker, who can take any sort of huddle conductor and turn him into a champion. Any sort but Alex Smith, that is. It would be ironic if Gabbert were chosen and the first reaction he hears from the Niner fan base is a chorus of boos. Somewhere a certain probably-ex-49er would be muttering ruefully, “Welcome to the Niners, Blaine. Bring your alligator skin.”

Factoring into the puzzlement are the unknown plans the team has regarding Free Agents (like Nnamdi Asomugha) or trades (like Josh Johnson, who currently wears #11 for Tampa Bay and that number is available here, too — perhaps). We won’t know about those plans until the NFL decides to comply with Judge Jensen’s recent ruling ending the lockout. If indeed the NFL complies. Presumably, any trade agreements are already in place and could happen quite quickly upon this anticipated compliance, shedding more light on whatever actions we see occur in the draft room over the next three days.

At any rate, the first non-legal action of the 2011 off season is at last upon us. And the first indication of the direction of the Baalke/Harbaugh era and the makeup of this year’s team will occur tonight. It’s a long awaited moment.

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16 comments on “The Harbaugh Factor
  1. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    This year’s mocks have been more polymorphous at the top than I can remember.
    I have no problem taking Gabbert at #7 if Peterson and Dareus are off the board. He has the potential to be a great QB, but he also has some bust factor. He is a bit of a gun slinger and I typically don’t care for that in a QB, but if we draft him I will root for him.

  2. Unca ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    Gabbert, on paper, looks EXACTLY like Alex Smith. Came out as a junior, scored high on the Wonderlich, spread/gimmick offense QB in college, needs to adjust to the pro game, blah blah blah.
    I can’t see The 49ers drafting him. It is all smoke and mirrors. They very well might trade out of 7 for someone who wants him. Say Washington or Jax . . . that is if Peterson and Dareus are gone.
    All this hinges on AZ. If AZ takes Gabbert, then our prayers will have been answered. If not, that means the Niners need to trade up in front of AZ in the 2nd round to get a Dalton type guy.

  3. Del Mar DennisNo Gravatar says:

    We drafted Alex Smith once, please don’t draft him (Blaine Gabbert) again. I beseech you.

  4. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    I’m wondering if the Niners don’t trade down and pick Cam Jordan, who already knows Fangio’s defense, giving him a good shot at immediate production.

  5. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    Skeebs- If Peterson and Dareus are gone I would actually like that. I would do that with Jordon or Watt, or stay put and take Fairly. I also like Tony’s idea of trading this year’s #1 for Cincy’s 1st next year to get into the Luck sweepstakes.

  6. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    Actually, I forgot one more scenario. The farther we trade down the more/higher picks we get. I wouldn’t mind trading back to the 12-20 range and draft Ponder. There is a decent possibility Ponder goes 15-20, so working a deal with Minnesota at 12 would make me more comfortable. If not for Ponder’s injuries he would probably be a top 10 QB.

  7. Del Mar DennisNo Gravatar says:

    I hope the 49ers come outta this with a change-of-pace RB. Taiwan Jones would be my choice, but I’m not sure the Niners are willing to go that hight on a RB. The hot name is Roy Helu from Nebraska. Word is he impressed at the 49er Pro Day. 4th round?

  8. Unca ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    NJ, try setting up a google email. It takes about 10 seconds to do, and you can sign up with that.

    I entered you into the imaginary contest on my blog . . .

  9. Unca ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    Come on over, Skeebs . . .

  10. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    Aldon Smith does not get me excited. I just don’t know enough about him. Having said that, I always like taking D-line, even if the D-lineman is an OLB in name. In my book, a pass rushing OLB is a D-lineman.

  11. Grumpy GuyNo Gravatar says:

    The problem, Berger, is you know D-Line. And Aldon doesn’t get you excited. Right there, taking a blah guy at 7, We Have a Problem, Houston.

    Even Fairly or Quinn, I could have understood. But Aldon Smith? At 7? Really? Maybe at 15… or 20… but 7?

    You cannot judge a draft for five years… but I am less than fully optimistic here.

  12. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    The biggest problem is this guy looks like somebody who will take at lest one year to develop into an impact player. I was hoping more for somebody who could make an impact this year, or Ponder.
    The irony is this morning I was pining if Peterson is gone to trade down to 12 to take Ponder. Then Minnesota takes Ponder at 12. Oh well.

  13. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    Wow! I just watched Aldon Smith as a freshman eat 1st round pick Nate Solder up for lunch. I picked this game at random and he looks like the 2nd coming of Charles Haley. His club move is effortless. His strength is deceptive but definite. He’s also got a little bit of a bull rush which is unusual for a freshman. I think we drafted for upside because after watching this highlight we might have the overall best pass rusher from this draft after 3 years. But then again, as good as he looks, he is very raw. We did take a chance but it looks well calculated after watching him go against Solder. The reason I say he reminds me a bit of Haley is he is lanky with impressive upper body strength. This could be his best game. I’ll watch some more to see if this game was an anomaly, but this was impressive. He is 263 lbs and looks like adding another 10 to 20 would actually make him quicker. If this guy develops according to expectations he could dominate in 2 to 3 years.
    I just looked at 5 mocks and 4 of them had Smith going at 11. This tells me #7 was not such a reach as some have said it was. BTW, DeMarcus Ware went #11 in 2005.

  14. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    Hwere is the game vs CU and Nate Solder I mentioned in the above post.

  15. FranchiseNo Gravatar says:

    Two bookends now on d-line – both from Mizzou and named Smith. Love it.

  16. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    On SFGate guest is saying there were multiple rumors that NE was trying to trade into the top 10. When the 49ers took Smith the negotiations stopped. Sounds like Belichick wanted this guy pretty badly.

2021 Schedules
09/12: W 49ers 41, Lions 33
09/19: W 49ers 17, Eagles 11
09/26: L Packers 30, 49ers 28
10/03: L Seahawks 28, 49ers 21
10/10: L Cardinals 17, 49ers 10
10/17 BYE
10/24: L Colts 30, 49ers 18
10/31: W 49ers 33, Bears 22
11/07: L Cardinals 31, 49ers 17
11/15: W 49ers 31, Rams 10L
11/21: W 49ers 30, Jaguars 10
11/28: W 49ers 34, Vikings 26
12/05: L Seahawks 30, 49ers 23 12/12 · 10:00 AMCIN
12/19 · 1:05 PM v ATL
12/23 · 5:20 PM v TEN
01/02 · 1:05 PM v HOU
01/09 · 1:25 PM @ LAR

2021 Draft Class
1. QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
2. OG Aaron Banks, Notre Dame
3. RB Trey Sermon, Ohio State
3. CB Ambry Thomas, Michigan
5. OG/OT Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan
5. CB Deommodore Lenoir, Oregon
5. S Talanoa Hufanga, USC
6. RB Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana
2021 Prognostications
Bullit: 12-5
Grumpy: 13-4
NJ49er: 11-6
Skeebers: 14-3
Winder: 12-5
Rob: 17-0
Spitblood: 0-17