Johnny Manziel is not a franchise QB — he is the next Matt Leinart

This is my Monday column on Johnny Manziel.

One week before the NFL Scouting Combine, Johnny Manziel – bless his heart – said he wanted to be the first rookie quarterback to win the Super Bowl.

Don’t count on it.

Manziel has a better chance to be the next Matt Leinart. Remember him? Won the Heisman Trophy at USC in 2004. The Arizona Cardinals drafted him with the 10th pick in 2006. Now, he’s out of the league.

Before he got drafted, his agent told NFL teams that Leinart would be the first quarterback in NFL history to “cross over.” No, not by communicating with the dead. The agent meant Leinart would become an elite NFL starting quarterback as well as a matinee idol, appearing in magazines, movies and television advertisements.

There is no way you can be both. Leinart became neither. He wasn’t even a decent backup quarterback, let alone a starter.

That brings us back to Manziel. He has a persona he calls, “Johnny Football.” He turned 21 three months ago and already he has appeared in a country music video, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after a 2012 bar fight, attended alcohol and anger counseling and shoved a graduate assistant after throwing an interception during a spring practice.

Even Manziel’s father, Paul, is concerned. “I don’t know where the anger comes from,” he told ESPN the Magazine. “I don’t think he knows. If it comes from his drinking, or if he’s mad at himself for not being a better person when he fails. If it makes him angry that he’s got demons in him.”

Some people can’t handle failure. Some people can’t handle success. Manziel can’t seem to handle either one.

Manziel mostly has had success. He was a college phenom, a precocious talent who won the Heisman as redshirt freshman mostly playing recess football – running and scrambling, removing structure from the offense. Coaches stayed away from coaching him and let him do his thing because it worked. But Manziel never became a disciplined player.

Manziel’s fans like to compare him to Russell Wilson – another short quarterback who can scramble. But that’s a bad comparison. Wilson is disciplined, has terrific footwork, throws accurately from inside the pocket, has a stronger arm and is a faster runner than Manziel.

Manziel almost never steps up in the pocket – he twists and dances out the back of it, even when there is no pressure. Sometimes, he sacks himself by dancing into blocked defensive ends.

In college, he could be undisciplined because he was one of the fastest players on the field, and he had outstanding teammates – left tackle Jake Matthews and No. 1 wide receiver Mike Evans in particular. They will be top picks in the upcoming draft.

When Manziel played a defense that had fast pass rushers, like LSU, Manziel was awful. He played them twice, lost both games, completed just 46.4 percent of his passes and threw one touchdown and five interceptions. Why would Manziel do better in the NFL against defenses that are faster than LSU?

Manziel believes he should be the top pick in the upcoming draft, believes the Houston Texans would be nuts to pass on him with that pick. “It would be the worst decision they’ve ever made,” Manziel told the Houston Chronicle.

Manziel has it backward. The worst decision they’ve ever made would be taking him with the No. 1 pick. He is the mistake they must avoid making. There are better players in this draft, players more worthy of the top pick, like defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Manziel is not a franchise quarterback. The only reason the Texans or the Jaguars or the Browns or the Raiders might consider drafting him with a top-five pick is because those teams are desperate for a franchise quarterback, and there are no franchise quarterbacks in this draft.

No Andrew Lucks, no RGIII’s, not even any RG 2.5’s.

At best, Manziel is RG 1.7.

At worst, he’s Leinart 2.0.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for the Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at

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    1. This is a very compelling column but on the other hand, many so called experts thinks Johnny be good is the second coming of Joe Montana, actually Jerry Rice said that.

    1. actually, he kind of reminds me of Troy Smith. Another guy with decent legs that used them to extend and make big plays.

      1. OHHH…NO DOUBT!
        The Faiders are so concerned with giving the fan base something to get excited about, that Manziel is a shoe-in draft pick in Oakland…..this is a perfectr script, Manzeil has already had run-ins with the police, has anger issues, and a personna that dwarfs his abilities…..can anyone remember Jamarcus Russell? He’s a perfect fit for ‘da Raiduhs’……Al Davis may be gone, but the Chokeland Faider spirit lives on in Faider HQ..

      2. If Oakland takes him then little Davis isn’t any different than big Davis This draft and offseason will show if the Raiders are going to be a good franchise again. I wouldn’t count on it, but maybe little Davis is like a little York. Changing the horrible mistakes his Daddy made.

  1. …Or he kills it. The real joy of football isn’t the W’s or the L’s, but showing up the pundits who just knew that he would be a bust.
    Razor, I think that you’re the closest with a Flutie….except that he’s a big Flutie with 4.68 speed. Also, Doug Flutie put in about 7 years of pretty good football in the NFL. He’ll be gone in the second round.

    1. When Washington traded 3 first rounders to St. Louis for RG3, he became the Rams franchise quarterback.

      …which leads to the possibility of Looney blocking Clowney. Always a silver lining.

  2. Looked at an image of 49ers offense vs the Seahawks. It was first and ten, but Seattle had 10 players near the line of scrimmage, like a goal line stand. They were daring the 49ers to throw deep.

    Then I saw a re-run of the 88 NFC championship. The Bears 46 seemed to be working as usual. Then Rice gouged them for a TD. More long gains followed. By the 3rd qtr the defense loosened. Then Rathman and Craig started to grind away. It was a 49er blowout.

    When evaluating my wide receiver draft crushes, I ask myself “does this player have a realistic chance of punishing Seattle’s tight defensive alignment?”

    I’m not for selling the store to get Watkins, but the Draft Watkins people have a compelling point. Until the 49ers can punish these 10 in the box alignments, Seattle will stick with it.

          1. I agree with Midwest, Watkins looks the better prospect overall. I was a little surprised with his workout at the combine to be honest, I expected higher numbers in the vertical and broad jumps in particular. But he plays fast. Great acceleration, playing speed, body control.

      1. I have no idea. I work in a rose nursery. Watkins highlights look better then Evans. Media reports say Watkins is ahead of the pack. I also like some of Watkins highlights were he blows past grabby DBs. If press coverage fails, he’s a dagger in the belly of the defense.

        What I like about players like Evans (and Moncrief) is that he is only 20 years old. If Evans is a physical stud now, imagine what he will be like when he matures into his frame and gets a few years of top level coaching.

        1. In 2011 I was hoping to for Peterson and Von Miller. They were off the board in a flash, and the 49ers drafted this guy Aldon Smith. I shrugged and hurried home. Saw highlights of him dominating an O-linemen (that now plays for the Pats). What stuck me was this was his first year in college. He was only 19 or 20 in that game. Age matters.

        1. Evans’ height and catching radius puts added pressure on DBs to maintain that tight coverage or they won’t have a play on the ball, and with his size he should have the strength to hold up against tight, physical coverage, get into his route, and out-muscle a DB. Leaving him one-on-one would be a risk.

          He certainly wouldn’t win every one-on-one battle, but he only needs to win one or two for defences to start giving extra help over the top.

    1. I posted it earlier, but in order for the Niners to even have a shot at Watkins, he would have to fall to the Falcons who have the sixth pick and trade one of these options:

      A) The 30th, 56th, 61st, 77th, and 94th picks
      B) This and next year’s first round pick plus the 56th pick

      1. Some drafts (like last year) its cheap to trade up. Other drafts (like when the Falcons traded up for Julio Jones) is super expensive. Watkins will likely be super-expensive.

          1. another cheap possibility is OldCoach mentioned is Jeff Janis.
            6-3, 219lbs ran a 4.42. The amazing part is his 1.47 split. The best of any WR no matter what size. And he has a basketball background.

            When I get into town tomorrow (bandwidth) I’m going to hunt down some highlights. (if any exist)

        1. Brodie,yes I recently mentioned Janis. Saw him mentioned a few months back on the 49erswebzone and started researching the small school standout. The more I see the more intrigued I get. The term sleeper comes to mind.Thought he looked pretty darn good at the Combine.

    2. Your basic point is well taken. Ryan Grant mentioned it the other day; the Niners need to threaten deep, not just against the Seahawks, to loosen up coverages.

  3. is it actually possible that Mister Harbaw
    will not be present to occupy the HC office
    in the new Santa Clara facility…? OUCH.

    Mr. York sez: it is just business, nothing personal.

    1. Looks like Ricardo Lockette with a better camera. With the roster set up the way it is, they don’t have to unearth a diamond in the rough and spend two years hoping he can develop into a legit deep threat. Just try to get a guy who has proven himself that he has done it and will continue to do it at the next level. I don’t have a lot of confidence in Baalke’s ability to pick a WR. Don’t swing for the fences, a single or double will do. The kid is only going to get 20 passes throw his way all year.

    1. CollegeFootball 24/7 ‏@NFL_CFB Va. Tech’s Kyle Fuller runs unofficial 4.40 on 1st 40. Mayock says he’s all in on him for the 1st round.

      *Me nodding my head in agreement*

  4. I don’t feel safe in trying to predict whether Manziel will do well in the NFL; I just don’t have a feel for him. Grant’s piece about Johnny Hype makes some good points, but I resist the comparison to Leinart as a player. Matt was a stationary lobber, totally different game. Johnny reminds me of Jake Plummer in style and skillset, and if I HAVE to guess I’d say he might have the same type career. RG3 has such a good arm and throws the deep ball so well that he represented less risk.

    1. Leinart couldn’t run, that is true. He was a similar passer to Manziel, though. And Leinart never played a single game in college that was as bad as the two games Manziel played against LSU. Manziel also did not look like an NFL QB when he played Missouri in 2013.

      1. It is interesting that Manziel will probably go Top 10, while CK lasted into Round 2. Both being unconventional and therefore risky. Johnny faced tougher competition, but as you say, didn’t always show well against it.

        1. Maybe all the QBs will go later than the prevailing wisdom is now saying, but QBs are Crack to GMs; somebody will start the run too soon.

      2. Grant when you say Manziel is a similar passer to Leinart what do you mean exactly? Leinart did’nt have an NFL arm i was shocked that Leinart was drafted in the 1st rd. Does Manziel lack arm strength? he could be as big a bust as Leinart, evaluating college QB’s is way over my head but if he is a bust i think it will be for a whole different set of reasons.

      3. how is Manziel a passer like Leinert? I’ve not seen much of Manziel’s game. But from what I understand, Manziel ran around in and out of the pocket until his receivers got open for a big play. Leinert was purely a system pocket QB with superior athletes at receiver who got open.

  5. Jeff Garcia on Johnny Manziel:

    “I don’t care who the @HoustonTexans draft 2 B honest. I would never draft a QB w/ my first pick unless that kid had the tangibles 2 be great. Manziel is a great college football player, he will not have 4-5 seconds 2 throw nor running lanes at the NFL level that he had in college. Learn to throw on time with anticipation and accuracy within the pocket and then I’ll start believing, until I see that, not my #1 choice.”

      1. I can see the comparison from the standpoint that Garcia moved around a lot, but most of the time he was doing that from within the pocket where Manziel is trying to escape.

      2. why is it a bad comparison? Garcia was a good and efficient passer in his time with the Niners. But coming out of SJSU he had happy feet that extended plays much like Manziel. I just think Manziel has more of a big play mentality/tendency than Garcia did. But both routinely relied on their legs to extend plays to make up for their lack of experience reading defenses and pocket awareness.

        1. I hate the term “happy feet.” It’s called re-setting, and it’s a good thing if done properly. Peyton Manning does it.

          1. Grant its not happy feet when its simply reseting your feet. Its happy feet when its a reaction to pressure thats not there. There is a huge difference i’ve never heard anyone refer to peyton Manning as having happy feet.

    1. Thanks for sharing that, it’s an interesting take from Jeff. The other day I heard Jeff say that he thought Fales could develop into an NFL QB, and he admitted that as a SJSU alum he might be playing favorites but still saw him going Rds 4-5.

      1. CB, it can’t make gore too happy, I wouldn’t think.

        Isn’t MJD pretty used up? Or is jacksonville’s O line that bad?

        Either way, MJD is a shadow of his former self.

  6. Mike Evans is the one to trade for. For two reasons. #1 Grants right…Manziel is like a pale Kordell Stewart…but his scrambling style and connections with Evans were a perfect scrimmage for a good qb in c. Kap. I know he isnt great (kap) but I think hes pretty darn good. He loves to throw deep when plays break down-See his rocket to Boldin in the end zone against Seattle. The problem is our receivers are strong and have great hands but they dont separate. #2 reason? Size and Swag. Evans is physically a beast and comes from a big school and therefore has swag. You need swag to play Seattle which is why crabs and Boldin give Sherman and browner all they can handle.

  7. I have the luxury of living near A&M and knowing several people involved in their program. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that your entire analysis exposes the fact that you’ve done zero analysis and you are lazily relying on reputation, innuendo, and rumor rather than facts. If you’re going to slam a man in a public forum you owe him, at the very least, a little actual research. I watched every Manziel snap on TV or in person for his college career. Manziel often stepped up in the pocket and created space for his passing. He has an uncanny ability to slide to the right space to find time to throw. It’s probably his best asset. He often slid to the edges because the strength of his O-line was on the edges. Manziel did not and does not call himself “Johnny Football.” In fact, he hates the nickname and thinks it causes people to judge him unfairly and dislike him. A&M fans came up with that nickname. His family trademarked the nickname because other people began making obscene amounts of money marketing apparel using his nickname. Here are Manziel’s rankings among QB’s in all of college football last year.

    Total Yards – #1 in the NCAA
    Total Yards per game – #1 in the NCAA
    Passing Yards – #1 in the NCAA
    Passing Yards per game – #2 in the NCAA
    Total Rushing Yards – #1 in the NCAA
    Rushing Yards per game – #1 in the NCAA
    Total TD’s – #1 in the NCAA
    Passing TD’s – #1 in the NCAA
    Rushing TD’s – #2 in the NCAA
    Avg TD’s per game – #1 in the NCAA
    Completion % – #1 in the NCAA
    Interception per pass attempt – #5 in the NCAA

    That resume looks pretty good don’t you think. You question the kids character because it looks like he likes to party. Tell me Grant, do you like to throw a few back with friends? You’re denigrating him for behavior that is totally acceptable to every other young person in America. The inside scoop is that he’s a good kid who likes to have a good time that also has a personality that can rub people the wrong way at times.

    Having said all that, I wouldn’t draft the kid in the first round. He’s too small and he will get hurt. I downgraded RG3 for the same reason. RG3 is a phenomenal athlete but he exposes himself to injury too much. That’s the same thing that will happen with Manziel. If he were 4 inches taller, he’d be the unquestioned #1 pick even with the exact same performance in college.

    1. The NFL disagrees with your take about Manziel “often” stepping up in the pocket:

      Being an NFL starting QB is a full-time job. Right now, Manziel strikes me as the football version of Tim Lincecum. A phenom who can dominate for only a short time because of a lack of professionalism.

      A franchise QB shouldn’t play this poorly against college players:

      1. Seriously Grant? Did you even watch the youtube of the LSU game? In the first 10 plays I see him stepping up in the pocket 3 times and then escaping interior rushes to the outside on all 3 occasions. Would you rather him step up in the pocket and then take the sack? He had great pocket awareness and delivered strikes on every pass except one overthrow on a deep pass.

        Did you even know that Manziel played that game with a strained MCL and an injured thumb on his passing hand. He will get no credit from anyone for playing injured but he did. I’m a little shocked that Manziel put up those numbers against that strength of schedule and your pointing to a single game and saying he shouldn’t play that “poorly” against college players. He’s #1 in just about every category that measures QB’s performance. He was a clutch player in big games and your pointing to one game. It makes no sense.

        1. He steps up to run only when he can’t escape out the back. He never steps up to throw.

          What was Manziel’s excuse against LSU in 2012? He completed 29-of-56 passes (51.8 percent) for 276 passing yards (4.93 yards per attempt), rushed 17 times for 27 rushing yards, scored 0 tuchdowns and threw 3 picks

          1. You give Russell Wilson credit for being the best young QB in the NFL. Russell Wilson NEVER steps up in the pocket to throw. He always escapes out the back or runs to the side. You also claim Russell Wilson has better coaching than CK because the Seahawks roll Wilson out for the sole purpose of getting Wilson to the side where he can see the field better. How is that different than Manziel? If stepping up in the pocket is so important to you then why not just keep Wilson in the pocket for all his throws? Seems to me you’re very inconsistent in your criticism.

            I don’t recall Manziel ever making any excuses about any losses. He didn’t play his best in his 8th start as a redshirt freshman. LSU had a great game plan where a very talented NFL quality LB and safety shadowed Manziel on every play. Every great NFL QB in history has college games they wish they had back. Even your beloved Russell Wilson had those kind of games. What was Wilson’s excuse for losing three straight in his freshman year to the football powerhouses of Boston College, Florida State, and Maryland who were all mediocre to bad teams at the time. Why did Wilson have 5 games where he passed for less than 200 yards even though he had more than 20 pass attempts. Against the titan of college football, Wake Forest, he was 16 of 33 for 152 yards. I do recall Kliff Kingsbury stating publicly the LSU loss was on the coaching staff for a bad game plan and because he didn’t realize Manziel’s level of talent. I also read an interview where Kingsbury said,

            “It’s been tough just because I know what type of kid he is. The public perception is a far cry from what he is and what he’s all about. It’s been hard to see him persecuted on a national level. Once he gets out there, we’re all gonna be lucky to watch because he’s one of the most exciting kids ever to play college football.”

            I think that comment was specifically addressed to you.

          2. Russell Wilson didn’t look like an NFL QB when he lost to Va Tech 38-10 in his sophomore year. Why did Wilson play so poorly?

            1. How many first round picks were on the NC State offense? And Wilson’s rating was 138.3 in that game. Manziel’s rating against Missouri was 124.6. Most of his completions were screen passes.

          3. The A&M defense surrendered over 225 yards rushing to Missouri. Manziel carried the Aggies the entire year. Missouri had one of the best defenses in the NCAA last year. Wilson was playing a decent defense but not a great defense.

            I find it odd that your saying Manziel didn’t look good in a game where he had a qb rating of 124.6. If Wilson threw up that stat you’d say he dominated.

            1. Manziel passed for 5.57 yards per attempt against Missouri. NFL defenses are better than Missouri, and Manziel won’t have Mike Evans to bail him out.

              Wilson has a stronger arm and throws with better ball placement.

          4. Re-Watch that Missouri game. Mike Evans had a horrible game. He quit on several routes, gave poor effort on many other plays, and then pouted on the sidelines. If anything, I would say that game was a bigger mark against Mike Evans than Manziel.

          5. Nobody can ever accuse you of sitting on the fence Grant.

            I don’t know what kind of pro Manziel will be, but you are arbitrarily picking a couple of games he didn’t play well in while discounting others he played great in such as against Alabama. You also have to factor in matchups when looking at how A&M played against LSU because that factors in greatly.

            Personally, I think he’s got a shot to be a good player if he truly buys in to the life of an NFL player. If he works hard and keeps the distractions to a minimum he could succeed, because he has the natural instincts and a good mind for the game.

            That is what teams will have to determine in their interviews with him.

            1. Like Lincecum, Manziel knows one way to play and I doubt he’ll ever change, which does not bode well for him in the NFL.

          6. He knows how he likes to play now; doesn’t mean he can’t be taught how to incorporate other things into his game. He is a two year College starter; there’s a lot of room for his game to grow at the pro level. It all depends on his attitude and desire toward the game. That is what teams have to try and figure out.

            1. Baalke says you should trust your gut and when I watch either of his games against LSU or his 2013 game against Missouri, my gut says, “Not a starting NFL QB.”

    2. I agree Houston..I never thought Russell would do what he did..Thought he just be a backup to Flynn.I was wrong..So why not Manzeil..all that running around and chuck it..worked for Russell..Why not Johnny?..I think he will go to the Raiders which would make my dad happy..

  8. what bothers me about Manziel is that not only do most of his big plays come on scrambles, he seems to purposely pass up the chance to throw to his 1st or 2nd read so that he can bounce around the pocket and scramble. maybe he’s just so ultra-talented that he can toy with college defenders, but he seems to be playing a dangerous game which will come back to haunt him when every defender he faces has the same speed and more size than he does. maybe someone can harness whatever talent he has into competence at the NFL level, but he looks like an extremely risky Round 1 pick to me. when you add in the needy limelight-seeking off-field behavior, i get a picture of a young man who could be a louder disappointment than Ryan Leaf. I hope for his sake that i’m wrong.

  9. He seems to have a lot of things working for him….his mobility, his play-making ability, his quick thinking, etc. But he also has way too much working against him. Too many personal issues and seems lazy and just outright arrogant. He doesn’t seem to want to put the work in to learn his craft and master it. When you watch him play everything he does is on the fly and seemingly unscripted, which can be a plus in this league when plays go wrong, but he just doesn’t seem to want to learn this game as others do.

    I see Leaf written all over this guys forehead. I think the best case scenario for this kid would be to be drafted anywhere in the 4th-6th round and sit behind a real pro, be humbled and learn his craft.

    I could actually see him sitting behind Kap, but would likely cause too many issues.

    On that note, anyone think McCoy comes back for another year rather than or in addition to drafting another QB?

    1. Harbs has no chance of winning even if he was the one that just won the Super Bowl. Carroll doesn’t generate the negative press that Harbaugh does on a national level, those that are indifferent to both teams will pick Carroll simply because they hear less bad things about him.

      1. CB
        Until Old Coach responds:
        My thought is they’re both good on the shorter routes, but Lamrcus is a liability on deeper routes if he gets isolated, while Verrett could more likely stay with most quick slots. Both these kids are football players with terrific attitudes.

        1. Brotha:

          Thanks. Of course, neither guy is the size that Baalke seems to prefer, so I don’t feel like I should pay too much attention to them.

      2. Claude i think Verrett can cover period. I’m not of the school that believes a CB’s size alone predicates where he can line up. If you can cover you can cover.Common sense tells us that a shorter CB’s will occasionally give up the jump ball but over the length of a career, i’ll take the shorter player who can cover over the stiff hipped big corner that so many teams fall in love with at the draft. I remeber clearly many in the local media called for Eric Davis’s job because 3 or 4 times a yr he would give up a jump ball but between those plays he covered. i’ll take E.D. anyday over the Mike Rumphs of the world. So yes i would take Verrett with the 30th pick.

        1. Then again if they resign Boldin , then resign Rogers and Brown on the cheap like i think they might the 9ers wo’nt be drafting a CB or WR in the first rd

          1. He makes lots of plays on the ball. You’d like to see him turn some of those into INTs but I would not say ball skills are a weakness.

            The injuries are the only concern I have with him.

          2. Yes, Carlos Rogers is a very good comparison for Fuller. Same kind of size, speed and fluidity. I think Fuller is stronger when it comes to swatting the ball away or breaking up a play than Rogers though.

          1. Razor:

            I’m never comfortable when an arbitrary parameter trumps on field play. Take it into account, sure, but don’t make it a dealbreaker if the player otherwise provides everything you want.

          2. True, but that would be discounting quite a player based on that one technicality…

            Especially considering that he has a 39″ vertical.

      1. I could see that MidWest – if Verrett falls to the 2nd he’d be a guy worth moving up for despite his size. Good instincts and speed for the position, and he plays bigger than he is – tough and throws himself around.

  10. J.Manziel is a more decorated college QB than was R.Wilson. While Wilson has found great success on the pro level- he also had his detractors coming out of college.

    My sense is that we don’t know what Manziel will bring to the table as a pro. Sure, he may become a huge disappointment or he my be hugely successful.
    Comparing him to past QB failures is much to early to forecast imo.

    I will give Grant this; he was completely right in his opinion regarding A.J. Jenkins. But I’ll still withhold judgment on Manziel until after he has a season or two under his belt.

  11. For all you guys touting how great Baalke is… This is from an SI article by Doug Farrar,

    “Harbaugh has always had to cede control of personnel to Baalke, and after two sub-par drafts in a row (San Francisco’s 2012 draft hasn’t produced a single functional starter, and 2013 brought only safety Eric Reid), one wonders if Harbaugh is a bit agitated at the lack of new talent coming in the room. In today’s NFL, recovering from two such drafts is very hard to do, especially with the core of your talent base getting up there in age.”

    Don’t forget the draft board assembled in the first Baalke draft was done under the leadership of McCloughan.

    1. It might be too early to write off the 13 Draft. I’m not surprised the SI guy can’t read between the lines. Are Patton and VMac busts? What if Dial, Carradine and Lattimore contribute soon after RedShirting? Optimistic about Lemonier as a role player.
      2012 picks are problematic, though I still have some hope for Looney. LMJ? Don’t know.

      1. yeah much too soon for ’13… i think patton’s and Vmac’s futures’ are bright….love lemonier in the rotation…see him much like P. Harralson type player, good contributor. And I can’t wait to see Tank and Lattimore this year.

        But yes ’12 was a complete fail and its going to be tough to recover…. fortunately we’ve had a plethora of picks the last 2 yrs

    2. I can’t figure out what these guys are thinking when they write this stuff. They clearly don’t know much about the team otherwise the answer is very easy. There were two starting spots available this past season, and minimal backup spots as well. Rookies from the 2013 draft were not going to come in and make a big impact no matter who was selected. Amazing that this guy has deemed it a sub par draft when 4 picks hardly even played or didn’t play at all. This is still a fairly young team overall with many more picks to come this year.

      We keep going back to 2012 which was a terrible draft, but hardly insurmountable in the grand scheme. They made two picks in the first 3 rounds. On a team as deep as this one, later round picks don’t have much of a shot to make the final roster so that draft was not going to be very impactful, at least from a volume of players standpoint. Between 2011 and last year, some good young players have been added to this team, and I’m guessing at least 9 more will be drafted in May. This team is not lacking talent or facing issues due to 2012.

      1. That is going to apply to this draft as well. Niners are a strong and talented team its hard for a rookie to make this team let alone start.

      2. rocket:

        Nope, if Baalke doesn’t draft 4 rookie starters every year, he isn’t doing his job.

        I don’t understand the need for some 49ers fans to discount what Baalke has done.

        1. Claude, what are you talking about? 4 rookie starters? We are not the raiders there bud. This team is stacked.. An exceptional rookie safety was able to crack the line up, that’s it. Balke knew that so he drafted thinking ahead to 2015 with some of the selections.. Tank, marcus, Patton, McDonald. That’s what great GMs do.

          1. LSX: Thank you.

            CK=E: Even if you didn’t recognize the first sentence as obvious sarcasm, the second sentence should have clued you in. Should I assume that you didn’t bother to read the second sentence?

      3. +1 rockert

        How do you judge the whole draft class when your team just finished 4 points from a Super bowl championship? So you’re going to say that the first 5 choice are going to replace Super bowl players who came THIS close to the Lombardi? It sounds to me as though SI has some ‘rookies’ who go by publish or perish.

    3. Doug Farrar needs to get more familiar with the 49ers. They had such a talent packed roster, Baalke deliberately targeted players to go on IR/NFI because they don’t count against the 53 man roster. Tank, Lattimore, Dial and Okoye had little or no roster space impact. Its so slick, the NFL might eventually create limits to stashing rookies on NFI.

      Way too early to write off the 2013 draft. I think its a good one. Reid was all we hoped. McDonald had significant snaps at one of the more complicated positions (SAK) and will make his catches in 2014. Dial and Patton also saw playing time.

    4. That was a strange week. The GM mysteriously quits right before the draft. Who is the blame for Taylor Mays? McCloughan, Baalke or Singletary?

    5. if the niners weren’t fielding an already elite team am pretty sure the drafts would have generated more upfront successes…as is the players chosen (like lattimer) should be being coached up to take over …. just don’t agree the past drafts are poor

      may be this supposed rift between GM and head coach is more of an indictment on coaching then it is on drafting….

      and look at how many picks the niners have for this extra deep draft.

  12. You critique a player with questionable character and give example of another “better” player with another questionable character. Truly logical!

  13. If Clowney was so good, what’s his excuse of only 3 sacks this past season? Coming from your logic of what’s the excuse of Manziel not having good games against LSU and Missouri?

  14. What is the go with NFL Network, honestly?! Continually cutting away from drills to show some talking heads – is it that hard to just have them talking while the drills are being shown?!!

    1. Yup that’s NFL network for ya’

      Very annoying… I could even watch it with out the commentating…. but i’m with you it would be great to watch the drills with them talking in the background

  15. Would you be satisfied if the draft goes in this way:

    1st round trade with Miami ( sf gets pick 19 & 5th round from dolphins and give them picks 30 &61)
    with pick 19 select justin gilbert cb Okl.state

    2nd round pick 56 deone bucannon ss Wash.state

    3rd round pick 77 martavis bryant wr clemson
    trade pick 94 & 5th round dolphins for eagles pick 86 & select stanley jean-baptiste cb Nebraska
    3rd round comp. Donte moncrief wr ole miss

    4th round bryan stork c fsu

    5th round David fales qb s.jose’ state

    6th round j.c copeland fb lsu

    Other picks for ol depth or 2015

    1. Italian niner-good talent there, not so sure about the tradeup or counting on Donte being there in the third but good talent.

      1. I tend to agree, although the comparison is flawed.

        In addition to being the coach, Jimmy Johnson was also the Cowboys’ de facto GM. He evaluated the talent, ran the drafts and was responsible for the Hershel Walker swindle trade. By getting rid of him, the Cowboys lost a coach and a GM. Plus, they didn’t receive anything of value when Johnson left. Should Harbaugh leave before his contract expires, the 49ers will receive some significant draft capital.

        That said, I hope the 49ers and Harbaugh can finda way to make this arrangement work long term.

    1. That article is preaching’! No matter what anyone thinks about Jim Harbaugh as a person or his ability to work with others, you can’t argue with his ability to coach and win! Lock him up for a long time…NOW!

  16. Of all of the NFL QBs who played in 10 or more games last season, Ryan Tannehill had the best passer rating inside the opponents’ 10 yard line — 110.8. Colin Kaepernick had the worst passer rating inside the opponents’ 10 yard line — 54.2.

  17. No offense Grant, but given your track record over the past about who is good and who is not, I don’t think Manziel has anything to worry about. He will do just fine. He is a competitor.

  18. So Justin Gilbert will be getting a lot of love after blazing a 4.37s 40 time and doing well in most of the other drills too, while measuring 6’0” and 200lbs with long arms. A very impressive combo of size and athleticism.

    What are the thoughts of people here on Gilbert as a prospect? Is he the best CB in the draft?

    For mine he’s confirmed his status as the most athletically gifted CB in the draft, with the highest ceiling. But he’s also a low floor kind of guy for mine. A better athlete than football player at this point. He’s hard to beat deep but he can give up plays in front of him because he can be a tad slow reacting to the play, especially in zone coverage. And despite his size he doesn’t play like a big, physical CB – he doesn’t play much press and doesn’t get much of a jam. That’s more a technique thing though and can be taught, so long as he has the right attitude to want to get physical.

    You can quote the over-used axiom that you can teach technique and mental aspects of the game but you can’t teach speed and size. But I think the mental side of the game is often under-valued when valuing a draft prospect. Yes, you can teach it to some degree, but understanding the game and reading play can be a hard thing to learn. I like guys that show an innate understanding of the game and react with proper football instincts without hesitation. Instincts are hard to teach.

    Guys like Dennard, Fuller and Verrett all play with good instincts for the position. Do you take incredible athletic talent with questionable instincts over natural instincts with good but not great athletic talent? It’s a tough call.

    1. Yep I pretty much agree. The problem with the people saying we should trade up for Gilbert is that he needs a lot of work and will likely get beat consistently by the better wide receivers in the league until he reduces his wasted steps in coverage. Does he have shutdown corner upside? Definitely but it will take some time and there’s a chance we could need corner help week 1. I honestly think as a group the top 5 corners are kind of overrated right now as each have pretty big weaknesses to their games and they are all fringe 1st rounders at best in my opinion. The reason I like Fuller the most, at his draft value at least, for the 49ers is that his weaknesses will be masked and his strengths accentuated in our scheme and so I think he can step in day 1 and have an impact.

        1. Well, first off I think Peterson was (and continues to be) overrated. Not saying he wasn’t worth a first rounder, or that he isn’t good, but he still hasn’t developed the mental side of his game which holds him back from being elite.

          In comparison to Gilbert, Peterson is bigger, more explosive, and more aggressive/ physical (excellent in press). The physical aspect of his game is his biggest strength, coupled with his recovery speed. Gilbert isn’t that physical.

          1. Also remember the talk leading up to that draft that Peterson might have to move to safety because of his size and how that might reduce his stock? It clearly didn’t hurt his stock too much because he went #5 overall but imagine him in this years draft where every team wants size in their corners? I think there might have been a legitimate debate over who should be the first defender chosen, Peterson or Clowney.

          2. Yeah, to be fair I’m off the mark with Peterson – he was much improved this past season. His play has pretty much caught up to the hype.

        2. Well for one Gilbert has stiffer hips, Peterson was a much better overall athlete than Gilbert. Peterson ran a 4.34 40 and had a 6.58 3 cone(insanity at his size) compared to Gilbert’s 4.37 and 6.92 even though Peterson was at 220 and Gilbert is at ~200 right now. Plus, Peterson dominated some NFL level talent in pretty consistently while Gilbert has been pretty up and down his entire college career. Don’t get me wrong I like Gilbert because hes clearly made strides in his technique while at OKS and it showed in his positional drills at the combine but Peterson was a much better prospect than Gilbert is now.

    2. Scooter…..Instincts and fluid hips are the only things that matter in CB’s. Give me a kid with fluid hips and great instincts and i will give you a star.

      1. How would you rank the CBs old coach? I know you like Verrett and with good reason (if you gave Verrett Justin Gilbert’s body you’d have an all-pro in the making). Who else do you like?

  19. Johnny Manziel is not a franchise QB
    But Tyler Wilson is?

    Don’t take it to personally if I don’t lend much credit to your QB scouting abilities.

      1. You did far more then just call him the best QB in the draft. If you really want me to I can go and find all the things you said about Wilson among which is that he would have a successful NFL career. I might not find an exact quote of you calling him a franchise QB (or I might) but you clearly thought he would be and might even still do.

        I’m not trying to speak from a position of authority I’m like a broken clock, I’m lucky to be right twice a day.

        1. I made it clear I felt he was the best QB in a notoriously weak QB class, and I still feel that way. I still feel Wilson will have a successful career. It was bad luck that he got drafted by the Raiders. They had no plan for him. But he will be working with Ken Whisenhunt now. Tennessee is a good spot for Wilson.

          1. I used the wrong coaching position but the point is the same, the players mentioned were going to be good regardless of the coach.

          2. Yeah, but not so well with Leinart.

            And while I suppose you can blame that all on Leinart, doing so would be somewhat inconsistent with your insistence that Kaepernick’s coaches bear responsibility for his failure to improve his play in the pocket.

          3. Whisenhunt was the top offensive coach on the Steelers, unlike Wyche at the 49ers.
            Wyche was the QB’s coach under Bill Walsh on a team that didn’t have an Offensive Coordinator position, how wasn’t he a top offensive coach?

          4. Coffee and Grant lets all be honest here, evaluating college QB’s and predicting NFL success is the most difficult task in football. The people who really know what their doing [Scouts\GM's] get it wrong far more than they get it right. For Grant and the rest of us here to to believe we have 1\100 of the knowledge it takes to evaluate college QB’s is just ridiculous. I believe that i have a working knowledge of what it takes to evaluate DB’s [my position in HS one year of college and the position i coached for 5 yrs] but i still am wrong about half the time. I am willing to admit publicly that most of my talent evaluation is not alot more than an educated guess and those working at the lowest levels of NFL player evaluation still know 100% more than i do.

          5. Coach I already pointed out that Im never right on these things and I don’t expect people to be but when you post your opinion in a public forum in a strong direction you expose that opinion to the possibility of being not 100% correct and the commentary that comes with it. Besides, we’re all supposed to be just having fun here and when don’t you pick on your buddy when he says something and turns out to be wrong about it?

          6. Grant,

            Who could have done well with Leinart?

            Norm Chow did pretty well with him at SC. Leinart is obviously not a big time talent, but I saw him play pretty well in Houston when he got a shot before injury so in the right system he may have been serviceable. The biggest difference between success and failure at the NFL level is work ethic imo and Guys like Leinart don’t have it. Kap does which is why I believe he will continue to get better.

            1. Kaepernick needs to work smarter and focus on erasing his weaknesses. All I ever see him working on are the things he already does well.

          7. No argument there, but if he isn’t working on what we perceive his weakness’ to be then the Coaching staff either disagrees with that opinion, or works with him outside of the media viewing. I can’t see an entire pro Coaching staff ignoring a players shortcomings if they view them as such.

          8. Grant:

            I don’t know about that. Harbaugh doesn’t ever talk about his players’ weaknesses, either out of loyalty, not wanting to give anything away to opponents, or some combination of the two.

          9. I don’t know about that, but I do know that the youtube video of Harbaugh’s QB coaching clinic (hat tip to hoferfan) showed that Harbaugh pays attention to the mechanics of quarterbacking.

  20. He’s a pedantic, pontificating, pretentious bastardy !

    A belligerent old fart ! A steaming pile of cow dung ! Figuratively speaking.

  21. Well now my Liar Liar quote looks totally out of place without the previous post from whatever he is currently calling himself.

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