When I saw that San Francisco’s General Manager Trent Baalke traded up to pick number 18, I was left thinking wow... This team is about to get a stud. I was positive the pick would either be defensive tackle Shariff Floyd (5thoverall player on my big board) or tight end Tyler Eifert (number 6 on my board). Eifert and Vernon Davis on the team together would have been unfair. Defenses would have been as exposed as a Playboy centerfold. Floyd would have become the heir apparent for the aging Justin Smith, who's coming off triceps surgery.
The team needed a TE and another defensive tackle. So I was left thinking... yeah Floyd or Eifert. Eifert or Floyd. Baalke, nice job. This is going to be a great pick. Boy was I wrong. For the second straight year Baalke took his first round pick, dropped it in the toilet and pushed flush.
Baalke had a lot of options in the first round of the 2012 draft. He could have traded up for a talented pass rusher like Whitney Mercilus or Nick Perry stood pat and taken Courtney Upshaw who forced a key fumble in the Super Bowl. Drafting a pass rusher would have been huge because Aldon Smith ran out of gas by the time playoffs rolled around. Speaking of which, Baalke could have taken Kendell Reyes or Jerel Worthy, both of whom would have provided sorely needed depth at the 5-technique spot on the defensive line for San Francisco. Justin Smith was overworked and Baalke and company paid for it in the end.
But none of those players with viable talent were selected. It was AJ Jenkins, a weak and skinny wide receiver who failed to make a single catch during his rookie season. Baalke actually sealed his draft envelope the night before the draft, after writing the name A.J. Jenkins on the card. True story. So, if say a guy like Quinton Coples or Michael Brockers, who are both building blocks for their NFL teams, fell to number 30, it wouldn't have mattered.
The Niners could still have taken a wide out but one who could havehelped them last season. After Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham went down for the season, they turned to Jenkins to provide some explosiveness and give the Niners a much needed deep threat at receiver. The Niners might as well have played with ten players at times when Jenkins was on the field. Jenkins was so bad the team was forced to sign fringe player Chad Hall going into the playoffs. Meanwhile, rookies Chris Givens, T.Y. Hilton and even the undrafted Rod Streater provided their pro squads with a deep threat last season. I truly believe if the Niners had a guy like the ones I just mentioned, they would have won the Super Bowl. I say that because they wouldn't have had to trudge an over the hill Randy Moss onto the field and have him test future Hall Of Fame safety Ed Reed. And with a deep threat opposite Michael Crabtree, the Baltimore safeties would have to back up and the Ravens would have had a tougher time against the run, which they pretty much shut down in that game.
I didn't have Jenkins near the first round on my 2012 big board. The same goes for Reid in 2013. Reid wasn't even among my top three safeties. He plays the exact way the Niner defense did in Super Bowl 48. He plays not to lose. That's far from a comfort if you're a 49er fan.
Reid is not without viable skill, but he just gives the Niners another safety who excels in the box but lacks playmaking skills in coverage. Reid had less combined interceptions during his three seasons at LSU (6) than 2ndround pick Manti Te'o did the entire 2012 season (7). After letting elite safety Dashon Goldson walk in free agency, San Francisco was left with Donte Whitner. Whitner is strictly an in the box safety. The Niners needed a safety who can cover deep and make plays in the back end. Rookie Jonathan Cyprien or um... Dashon Goldson would have provided the Niners that. Cyprien was by far the best deep safety on tape in this draft class.
Every time the subject of Eric Reid came up before the draft, I would say just watch the Chick-fil-A Bowl game versus Clemson. Eric Reid had plenty of opportunities to show off some play-making ability in coverage, and failed each and every time. Fellow first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins made a number of big plays going up against Reid. Reid had his shots at the football to knock it down or pick it off and Reid just could not deliver. Reid looked nearly as bad as 49er cornerback Chris Culliver did versus Jacoby Jones, during the Super Bowl.
Thankfully for the Niners they still have the uber talented Colin Kaepernick leading their offense and what seems like 100 time pro bowler Patrick Willis leading their defense, but the secondary is certainly a weakness for this Niners squad.