The 49ers have had some wildly successful draft classes in recent years, and Sports On Earth’s Dan Pompei has a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the team’s 2014 draft. The author explains the strategy and thinking that went into each selection.
The team’s first-round pick, safety Jimmie Ward, wasn’t necessarily expected to be an early pick. While some teams focused on his injury and size, the 49ers focused on a strategy used by former Jets’ duo Bill Parcels and Dick Haley. General manager Trent Baalke said he learned that there are “few players who can perform at a high level regardless of system.” As a result, a coach should draft a player who fits nicely into their scheme.
“I learned that a long time ago,” said Baalke. “Coach Parcells was the guy I looked at and learned the most from, he and Dick Haley. That was always the question with them, how do they fit what we are going to ask him to do? For us, it’s critical.”
The author has other interesting insight, including the team’s selection of basketball player Bruce Ellington and trade for Steve Johnson.
Let’s take a look at some more notes from the NFC West…
- The Seahawks are out of the Jermichael Finley sweepstakes, sources tell Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com added that Seattle was the player’s only free agent visit (via Twitter), but agent Blake Baratz said the tight end had a visit scheduled this past Friday with an unknown team.
- The Seahawks handling of Doug Baldwin‘s extension shows that the organization will reward a performing player regardless of how they were acquired, writes Larry Stone of The Seattle Times. The writer says that the receiver is “emblematic of their incredible knack for not only unearthing talent, but for manifesting the Darwinian forces that allow smart, tough, motivated players to thrive.”
- The Rams will likely make an effort to extend Pro Bowl punter Johnny Hekker, writes ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner.
- When looking at adding veterans, a linebacker may be the most likely addition for the Rams, Wagoner says in his chat. He adds that Will Witherspoon could be that guy.
- While evaluating the Rams‘ depth on the offensive line, Wagoner concludes that there are eight players competing for four or five spots. He says the team could also carry fewer lineman due to the versatility of Rodger Saffold, Greg Robinson and Barrett Jones.
- Following the announcement of Daryl Washington‘s season-long suspension, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com opines that the Cardinals need to cut ties with the linebacker. The writer believes that Washington’s priorities are “not in line with those of an elite player” and that he shouldn’t be given a third chance following his other suspension in 2013.