It’s not often you get to hear a high-ranking NFL front office member break down the game tape of his team’s draft picks, but that’s exactly what happened on Thursday at 49ers headquarters.
Trent Baalke, the 49ers Director of Player Personnel, welcomed in local reporters for an informative film study session on the team’s eight draft picks inside the team’s meeting room. Baalke rolled tape of 7-10 plays on every draft pick and explained some of the encouraging positives and fixable negatives of each player. He also answered questions from reporters along the way.
Since we were inside a meeting room with chairs similar to what you’d fine in a college lecture hall, I’ll keep this blog entry just like my notes from my college days. Here’s some of the important details I scribbled on my notepad on each player from today’s film session with Baalke.
First-round pick (No. 11 overall) tackle Anthony Davis
“One of the things that intrigued us about Anthony was his quickness off the ball,” Baalke said in his opening comments.
(Quickness, in particular foot quickness, was a common topic among all members of the 49ers 2010 draft class by the way…)
“Davis has great foot quickness. He’s a big man with strength – that’s what we’re looking for,” Baalke said of the 6-foot-5, 323-pound tackle. “He can move people off the block… you don’t see that from a lot of people.”
Baalke was impressed with Davis’ foot speed on a run play saying, “Lesser athletes, they’re leaning. You can see here he’s square, has good balance and out the point of contact, he’s ready to take it on.”
Baalke noted that Davis is going to have to play lower and use more leverage in the NFL, but noted that it’s correctable with Davis. “You can see he has it in him.”
Asked about the concerns of Davis’ inconsistent play at Rutgers, Baalke responded: “There’s no film on him that’s bad. There are plays he can do better. But there’s no film that says this guy can’t play football.”
On the last play of Davis’ highlights, Baalke hit on the foot quickness one more time. “Watch the foot energy. It’s nice to see that from a big guy.”
First-round pick (No. 17 overall) guard Mike Iupati
Like Davis, Baalke raved about Iupati’s foot speed.
“Watch the quickness in his feet and the quickness in how he gets off the block,” Baalke noted of the 6-foot-5, 331-pound mauler. “He plays with violence, he can move people and he’s also very athletic for a big guy.”
After seeing Iupati throw an opposing defensive lineman down with just one arm, Baalke pointed out, “That’s still a 270-pound man he’s throwing down with one hand.”
Baalke pointed out that although Iupati played at lesser competition at the University of Idaho, he still dominated in the games he played. That’s very important to the 49ers according to Baalke.
“You don’t see 330-pound guys come off the ball like this often. Not in college and not in the National Football League” said Baalke of a play in which Iupati made a combo block on two opposing players.
Second-round pick (No. 49 overall) safety Taylor Mays
While it might have been slightly more difficult to find “highlight-worthy” plays from non-glamorous offensive line positions, the 49ers second-round pick provided Baalke with plenty of material.
“This guy’s not hard to put a highlight tape together on,” Baalke joked before cuing Mays’ goal line interception at Cal. “Pretty much every game you find plays like this.”
Baalke said he wasn’t concerned with Mays’ lack of interceptions at USC. “He has no problem catching the football.” The 6-foot-3, 230-pound safety proved his ball skills for the 49ers coaching staff in a pre-draft workout.
In San Francisco, Baalke envisions Mays before more aggressive towards the football and less towards the man he’s guarding. “Taylor has a tendency to play the man – that’s a coachable trait.”
Baalke did point out that Mays needs to be a better “wrap tackler” and not depend on tackling with just his shoulder. “In the NFL, if you’re not wrapping, they’re still running,” Baalke said.
Baalke also said Mays’ 4.3, 40-yard dash speed will make the rookie an asset in covering tight ends.
Third-round pick (No. 91 overall) linebacker Navorro Bowman
The important thing to note with Bowman is the position he’ll play, which according to Baalke will initially be as a backup at both inside linebacker positions in the 49ers 3-4 defensive scheme. Bowman has a lot of qualities that excite the 49ers personnel and coaching staffs.
“We like his instincts. We like his feet. We like his speed, Baalke said. “He flies around and makes plays. Plays physical and plays with passion.”
Baalke also noted that Bowman’s “not afraid” on a football field and has a knack for defeating blockers and finding the ball.
Baalke repeatedly rewound a play in which Bowman was able to demonstrate excellent balance in the open field. With great balance, Bowman was able to not fall for a fake from an opposing quarterback. Instead, he readjusted his balance and made the tackle. “(Balance) is a trait that the good ones have,” Baalke said.
Sixth-round pick (No. 173 overall) running back Anthony Dixon
Baalke noted that Dixon’s burst through the line of scrimmage is what sets the former Mississippi State Bulldog apart from other big-body backs in this year’s draft.
He also raved about Dixon’s hands, saying, “Big backs who can catch the ball create problems.”
On one particular play, Dixon showcased his burst by outrunning the opposing defense to the outside, even with Dixon weighing in at close to 240 pounds at the time. That sight alone certainly impressed Baalke as evident by his comments when watching the play. “That’s a 240-pound back pulling away from a defense in the SEC.”
Baalke said he was not concerned with the amount of Dixon’s workload in college. Dixon’s production and durability proved to Baalke he’s a promising talent. “He never stops his feet and he’s always moving forward.”
Sixth-round pick (No. 182 overall) tight end Nate Byham
Baalke opened up his comments on the Pittsburgh tight end by explaining the evaluation process on blocking tight ends in the league. “It’s very difficult to project these guys in the NFL. They’re not asked to block as much, so it’s hard to find these guys.”
With Byham, Baalke is confident they have the right type of player to compete for the role they’re looking to fill.
“This guys likes to block. He has the mentality to do it,” Baalke said.
Baalke also noted that Byham will have a role on special teams, primarily on the kickoff return team as one of the wedge blockers.
Sixth-round pick (No. 206 overall) wide receiver Kyle Williams
Having a receiver like Williams with sub 4.4 speed and a shorter frame is a huge plus according to Baalke. “He’s a different kind of receiver than what we currently have.”
But Baalke noted his newest wideout does share a common quality with the 49ers wideouts on the roster.
“He’s very competitive.”
As the son of Chicago White Sox General Manager Ken Williams, Kyle was raised around a professional environment for most of his life. Baalke made that point in explaining Williams’ ability to make big plays in big games.
He also went into detail about Williams’ overall quickness.
“He has the quickness you’re looking for in an undersized player,” Baalke said of the 5-foot-10, 188-pound wideout. “Slot receivers have to have quick hands and this guy can snatch it.”
Baalke was also impressed with Williams’ return ability while playing at Arizona State and noted that Williams will be in the competition at both punt and kick return spots.
Seventh-round pick (No. 224 overall) cornerback Phillip Adams
As a prospect coming out of South Carolina State, it was obvious to all of us in the room that the film quality on Phillip Adams wasn’t the same as the earlier prospects. The video quality really shows the amount of work put in by NFL scouts.
On Adams’ highlights, Baalke was certainly pleased with the 5-foot-10, 190-pound defensive back’s overall game. “He’s a physical football player. He’s not afraid to mix it up.”
Baalke said he liked Adams’ awareness as demonstrated on a highlight in which Adams keyed in on the quarterback’s eyes and intercepted an errant pass instead of sticking with the man he was responsible for covering.
For more highlights on the 49ers first three selections in 2010, check out this TV49 highlight video by clicking HERE.
Tags: Mike, Trent Baalke
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