2000 Draft Wrap Up- 04/16/2000
The 49ers entered this years draft with a few missions to accomplish. After evaluating this years crop of 49ers draftees it's safe to say that under the guidance of Bill Walsh, Steve Mariucci and Terry Donahue, the team accomplished it's mission. Naturally with every draft evaluation, one can only evaluate under the impression that there will not be any extenuating circumstances. That being said, the 49ers did a very nice job on draft day, orchestrating trades and picking the right players that should combine with last season's draftees to really improve a 49er squad that finished the 1999 season with only 4 wins.
In order to follow this draft evaluation, it is important to know when the 49ers picked and what trades they made. That being said, the 49ers had two picks in the first, second and third rounds, one pick in the fourth, two picks in the fifth, zero picks in the sixth and two picks in the seventh, after all the trades were made. Prior to the draft, the 49ers traded down from the number 3 overall spot to the 12 and 24th spots in the draft as well as a pick in the 4th and 5th rounds of the draft with Washington. The 49ers then traded the 12th pick overall for the Jets' 16th pick and second round pick. The 49ers then acquired a third round pick from the Seahawks in trade for the 49ers 4th and 5th round picks. The 49ers then obtained a 4th round pick by swapping their fourth rounder with Green Bay, and receiving something else in return. The 49ers then attained Chicago's fifth round pick in exchange for a 4th round pick and what is believed to be future considerations. The 49ers then traded with New England to get a 7th round pick for what is believed to be future considerations. Finally, the 49ers had Miami's seventh round pick from the Jim Drukenmiller trade last season. (This is the best I could make of the trading situation given the information I have - I will post more information as I learn of it - sorry for any confusion), and thus the 49ers were left with 11 picks in this draft.
With the defense being the greatest concern for the 49ers after last season, the 49ers used 7 of their picks on defensive players, while also choosing 4 defensive players to begin the draft. With the 49ers first selection in the draft, they chose Julian Peterson, an outside linebacker that is currently penciled in to start. With the loss of Lee Woodall, the 49ers needed an immediate starter that could make an impact. Peterson was a great pick that dropped slightly lower than anticipated. Julian is fast and hard hitting, he should solidify the defensive middle.
With the 49ers second pick in the first round they selected corner back Ahmed Plummer. Plummer was one of the top three corner backs heading into the draft. He will likely start opposite last season's draftee Anthony Parker. Plummer has good size and speed, and most importantly good coverage skills. He should help a defensive backfield that gave up 36 touchdown passes last season.
In the second round, the 49ers continued to go defense, selecting John Engelberger a fast defensive end. With the anticipated departure of Gabe Wilkins, Engelberger has a good chance of starting. His closing speed will be an asset to him and the team, as they attempt to put much more pressure on the quarterback than they did last season.
With the 49ers final pick of the second round they chose Jason Webster. Webster is a short corner back at only 5'9", and though the 49ers were planning not to choose a corner back this small, Webster caught their eye with his quick speed and hard hitting. Webster plays bigger than he is, and with his special team capabilities may put pressure on current corner back and kick returnee R.W. McQuarters.
It wasn't until the third round when the 49ers selected an offensive player, and in so doing, they may have chosen the quarterback of their future. Giovanni Carmazzi, a mobile, strong armed, smart, and all around good quarterback became only the second quarterback in this years draft to be picked. Carmazzi will likely enter the season as the number three quarterback. If QB Steve Young retires, Carmazzi will likely be promoted to the number two position. He will compete with QB Jeff Garcia for either the second or third position (Steve Young pending), but will likely need a year or two to fully grasp the offense. Garcia's extra year of playing time with the 49ers will greatly help him in the competition. Interestingly enough, as 49ers Paradise predicted earlier this off-season, Carmazzi was not the only quarterback picked in the draft. With the 49ers second to last pick (round seven), the 49ers selected Tim Ratty. Ratty is another good decision making QB, that does not quite have the build or arm strength Carmazzi has but will provide competition at the back up quarterback spot. Ratty is mobile, smart and can throw the intermediate passes well. The decision to draft two quarterbacks in the same year was a good move by the organization, as Carmazzi and Ratty will really push each other to become better players.
The 49ers second pick in the third round was again a defensive player. Inside linebacker, Jeff Ulbrich was a good pick at this spot. Ulrbich will likely take a year or two to learn from LB Ken Norton Jr. and succeed him when the time comes, however; if Ulbrich has a strong pre-season performance, he may give LB Winfred Tubbs a run for the starting position. In any case, the addition of Ulbrich brings much needed depth to a linebacking group that now only has five potential players (Ken Norton Jr, Winfred Tubbs, Julian Peterson, Anthony Peterson and Jeff Ulbrich).
It was back to the defensive backfield in the fourth round where the 49ers chose John Keith a 6'0", 210 lbs, defensive back that spent most of his time playing both safety positions in college. The 49ers may or may not move him over to corner back, but he will help on special teams and add competition the defensive back crew that needs so much help after last season.
The fifth round saw the 49ers return to offensive picking, where they selected running back Paul Smith. Smith is a fast player with good vision. He explodes through holes and has the ability to play full back. With recent news that RB Garisson Hearst needs to undergo surgery again, Smith adds some depth to a backfield that may need an extra back come opening day.
With the 49ers second selection in the fifth round they chose John Milem, a 300-pound defensive end that can play inside too. Milem is regarded as a pass rusher, but his size will help him against the run. Milem will add depth to a very shallow position on the roster. He will likely be rotated in throughout the season to keep the defensive line feeling fresh.
As previously alluded to the seventh round had the 49ers select quarterback Tim Ratty. With their final pick though, the 49ers chose Brian Jennings a tight end. The 49ers needed to add depth to the tight end position and Jennings will be helpful in doing that. Jennings is known as a good blocker. He should develop more as he sees more action.
The 49ers did a very good job in addressing team needs in this years draft. They also managed to increase team speed. If all the drafted players make the squad, the team should look much more explosive than last season. Only one player drafted this year runs over a 4.6 in the 40 yards dash, and he weighs in at about 300 pounds. The 49ers likely did a good job in building for the future. The selection of two quarterbacks was a wise one. This groups of draftees should mesh well with last years group (that was injured for most of last season) and will likely combine to be a faster, better 49ers team. The 49ers are still likely to sign undrafted free agents; chances are they will try to sign as many fast players as possible to really change the pace of last season's team. The 49ers managed to get value for every pick and should get help from player on every side of the ball, offense, defense and special teams.
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