April 17 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
Terry Donahue came to the 49ers to be the successor to Bill Walsh. Donahue began to work and learn under Walsh, and as he was groomed he began putting his own name on the 49ers organization. Where Bill Walsh brought in a "no fail" offensive system, in the West Coast Offense, Donahue began to form what he hopes to be a "no fail" drafting process.
Donahue will be hoping that the intricate system of evaluation and data analysis will bring the team another successful draft. Donahue's system involves removing as many 'chance' aspects of the draft as possible. He works on a consensus basis with positional coaches and assistants in order to get the best possible view of players who he analyzes. The process begins nearly a year in advance and involves medical reports, the measurables, tape, and personal workout reviews along with much more.
Donahue seems quite confident in his systematic approach to the draft. He believes that the team will once again "hit the target". However, he does believe - as we all have realized that the 49ers of 2002-3 will be a much harder team for draft picks to make - and thus the draft may not 'appear' as successful as the past couple of years.
"Over the course of the years, we've improved and tweaked our draft system," Donahue said. "It involves some technology. We've improved a couple of computer programs. It involves some the process or the system itself of how we arrive at a final grade and final ranking.
Donahue also compares the system to an offensive or defensive scheme, that needs constant tweaking but relies on certain constants at the base that keep it successful. It's this system that is largely responsible for the success the 49ers have had in recent seasons.
Donahue's determination to turn the draft into a systematic process is good news for the 49ers. Other team's "War Rooms" are said to be in complete disarray on draft day, but with Donahue's complex system in place, the 49ers should be ready to score big once again in the draft. Donahue is working towards leaving a system with the 49ers that will bring them success long after he's gone from the team. Continued success in the draft will provide him with the information on how to tweak his system to do that. In the mean time, its good to know that the organizations future is in such capable hands.