Iupati earns rookie honor; Davis earns Baalke’s praise

After starting all 16 games as a rookie, 49ers left guard Mike Iupati was selected to the NFL’s all-rookie team today. The team is selected by Pro Football Weekly and the Pro Football Writers Association.

Iupati, the No. 17 overall pick from Idaho, made a rather seamless jump from the Western Athletic Conference to the NFL.

General manager Trent Baalke praised the 6-foot-5, 331-pound Iupati’s performance last week during a KNBR interview with Bob Fitzgerald and Rod Brooks.

“I think when you look at Iupati fitting in at left guard, I think he did a real nice job as a young player in this league that really had played in a lower level of Division I football and makes the jump and becomes an instant starter in the National Football League,” Baalke said. “That’s tough duty.”

Iupati was the only 49er named to the all-rookie team. Here’s a look at the rookie roster:

OFFENSE
QB Sam Bradford , Rams
RB LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers
RB Chris Ivory, Saints
WR Mike Williams, Buccaneers
WR Dez Bryant, Cowboys
TE Rob Gronkowski,  Patriots
C Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers
OG Mike Iupati, 49ers
OG John Jerry, Dolphins
OT Rodger Saffold, Rams
OT Bryan Bulaga, Packers

DEFENSE
DL Ndamukong Suh, Lions
DL Carlos Dunlap, Bengals
DL Lamarr Houston, Raiders
DL Tyson Alualu, Jaguars
LB Rolando McClain, Raiders
LB Koa Misi, Dolphins*
LB Pat Angerer, Colts
CB Devin McCourty, Patriots
CB Joe Haden, Browns
S Eric Berry, Chiefs
S T.J. Ward, Browns

SPECIALISTS
PK Clint Stitser, Bengals
P Zoltan Mesko, Patriots
PR Marc Mariani, Titans
KR Jacoby Ford, Raiders
ST T.J. Ward, Browns

* Misi, a former star at Santa Rosa’s Montgomery High and Santa Rosa Junior College, had 41 tackles, 4.5 sacks and recovered two fumbles – one for a touchdown – after Miami selected him the second-round in the 2010 draft.

• Anthony Davis did not make the all-rookie team, but Baalke was effusive in his praise of the right tackle during last week’s KNBR interview.

Baalke traded a fourth-round pick to Denver to move up two spots to select Davis with the No. 11 overall pick in the draft.

Davis, who started all 16 games, struggled at times in pass protection, perhaps most notably against St. Louis’ Chris Long, who got around Davis for a game-deciding strip of quarterback Alex Smith in the Niners’ 25-17 loss on Dec. 26. In the teams’ first meeting, Long beat Davis for a sack and Davis also had a holding penalty that negated a touchdown.

But Baalke pointed to Davis’ late-season performance against a slew of Pro Bowlers – Green Bay’s Clay Matthews, Arizona’s Darnell Dockett and San Diego’s Shaun Phillips – in giving him high overall marks.

In four games, Dockett (who faced Davis twice), Phillips and Mathews combined for 15 tackles and two sacks against the rookie.

“As far as Anthony, I’m going to get on the bandwagon,” Baalke said. “I’m going to point out some things that I think the fans really need to know. First of all, he’s 21 years old. He’s rookie and there’s going to be mistakes that are made. But if you look at the times that he went up against Pro-Bowl caliber players — for instance, Green Bay, going up against Clay Matthews. The two games he faced Dockett from Arizona. And then I think the other one was down in San Diego. Going up against four Pro Bowl players and really playing well. And playing at a high level.”

Baalke suggested Davis’ pass-protection issues overshadowed his stellar run-blocking.

“If you look at his run blocking, I think he stacks up as one of the best run-blocking right tackles right now as we speak,” Baalke said. “And I’ll be glad to sit down and watch film with anybody on that. The guy has done a very nice job in the run game.”

• In addition to Iupati and Davis, Baalke discussed the other three starters on the offensive line:

Left tackle Joe Staley, who has missed 14 games with a knee injury and fractured fibula the past two seasons: “As far as Joe staying healthy, both of the injuries that happened the last two years were fluke injuries. I don’t think there’s any question he’s a durable player and will remain durable moving forward.”

Center Davis Baas, who filled in for Eric Heitmann at center, a position he hadn’t played since his senior year at Michigan at 2004: “David made a nice jump. He stepped into a tough situation and grew with each game.”

Right guard Chilo Rachal? Take this for what it’s worth, but Rachal, 24, was the only lineman Baalke didn’t mention by name. His concise assessment was also devoid of praise: “The right guard’s still a young guy,” Baalke said.

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