Jed York didn’t have much of a poker face when the 49ers made their second-round selection on Friday night. Holed up in the team war room, the 49ers CEO pumped his fist in delight as LaMichael James became the newest member of the storied franchise.
With James, the 49ers now have a backfield brimming with talent, as he joins Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs, Kendall Hunter, Anthony Dixon and Rock Cartwright.
“It’s a full house,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said. “It’s a good hand, right? In poker, a full house is a good hand.”
In a span of less than 24 hours, the 49ers drastically changed the makeup of their offense through the draft, adding the explosive play-makers James and first-round pick wideout A.J. Jenkins.
For offensive coordinator Greg Roman, it means a world of new possibilities when it comes to creative play-calling. It also means there will be a heavy dose of competition for carries once training camp comes around in August.
“It’s going to be a highly-competitive environment,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said. “It’s going to get real real. And it’s going to get real real, real fast.”
With James and Jenkins, the 49ers have added a pair of players with sub-4.4 speed. But they bring more to the table than just that, as both players were also deemed worthy of a gold helmet sticker on the draft board, meaning they have great character.
“They definitely have great ability,” Harbaugh said. “Speed and a lot more to their game than just speed, both of those youngsters that we’ve added in this draft. They’ll get opportunity and they’ll have the license to go out and compete and find their role. Whether that’s a contributor, starter, how much of a contributor if they are a starter. That will unfold.”
Baalke and his staff were also slated to make the No. 92 overall selection in the third round on Friday, but elected to trade down with Indianapolis to claim the Colts No. 97 pick in fourth round and their 2013 fifth-rounder.
It’s a strategy that has paid dividends before. In 2010, Baalke moved back in the third round of draft and the 49ers still selected NaVorro Bowman, who blossomed into an All-Pro in 2011, his first season as a starter. Baalke and the 49ers traded down in the third round again in 2011, but were still able to draft Chris Culliver, who became a key contributor to the team’s vaunted defense in his rookie year.
With five more picks on the board in 2012 draft, including a pair of fourth-rounders, the 49ers looked poised to add to their impressive collection of talent on Saturday. San Francisco holds the second pick of the draft’s final day, which begins at 9 a.m. PT.
“Trent Baalke’s doing a great job,” Harbaugh said. “He runs a great draft room. The process has been outstanding. We all have great confidence in him. And it’s going well for us, two good days so far. I thought we made a good trade there at the end of the round and we’ll see what unfolds tomorrow. But very enthusiastic about our chances tomorrow to keep improving.”
Tags: A.J. Jenkins, Jim Harbaugh, LaMichael James, Trent Baalke
Posted in Announcements | 13 Comments »