With the 45th pick of Pride of Detroit's 2011 NFL Mock Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select Arizona linebacker Brooks Reed. JCruize is serving as the 49ers' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
I know, I know. What about a quarterback? The Niners are in desperate need of a quarterback, right? Well, according to what Niners Nation and Jim Harbaugh have said, it is not that desperate of a need.
"According to the Sacramento Bee, free agent Alex Smith already has a one-year offer on the table to re-sign with the 49ers.
Jim Harbaugh believes Smith has the "armadillo skin" to deal with a restless fanbase. Smith has been working out with several 49ers in the Bay area, and Harbaugh's comments have made it clear that he wants the six-year veteran back to compete for the starting job. Smith will get a chance to test the market before making a final decision."
"The San Francisco Chronicle's Vittorio Tafur believes the labor uncertainty is the only reason new 49ers HC Jim Harbaugh has spent so much time talking up free agent Alex Smith this offseason.
Tafur thinks that keeping Smith may end up being the Niners' only real option at quarterback. If he's right, Harbaugh is at least doing a good job of building up Smith's confidence."
"Prior to being locked out, free agent Alex Smith had been working out daily at the 49ers' team facility.
Much evidence has pointed toward Smith ultimately re-signing with the 49ers this offseason, but there have still been no definitive indications that he will be back. If he does end up signing elsewhere, it should be as a backup."
If you look at Alex Smith's numbers from last season, he threw for 2,370 yards with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Not bad considering that former offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye's playbook is the same playbook that was used in Nintendo's original Tecmo Bowl video game. I was at the Niners/Cardinals game, and I actually heard Alex audible to a play called "Up, A."
Anyway, the remaining quarterbacks on the board would be a slight reach here at pick No. 45. There is plenty of opportunity to get a project player later in the draft like T.J. Yates or Pat Devlin. And when a new CBA is signed, the Niners expect to be very active in bringing in another quarterback like Kevin Kolb or even Josh Johnson, who was coached for three years at San Diego by Harbaugh.
Moving on and looking at my big board, I found a player who definitely fits a need and is of very good value to pick at this spot: Brooks Reed, an OLB from Arizona. Reed will help generate an outside pass rush in the Niners' 3-4 base scheme. As a team San Francisco was ranked 15th in the league for sacks, but really they only got consistent play from Justin Smith and Patrick Willis. Playing in a division where the Niners' rivals will likely feature three young starting quarterbacks, generating a persistent pass rush will be a key element in deciding wins and losses.
Other positions and players I considered were Rodney Hudson, a C from Florida, Colin Kaepernick, a QB from Nevada, and Mikel LeShoure, a RB from Illinois.
Here is the skinny on Reed:
Brooks is a 6'3", 263-pound OLB/DE. He was a big part of one of the nation's best pass rushes last season at Arizona. He is a little small to play 4-3 DE, but he fits right in as a pass-rushing linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He shows great hustle and quickness off the snap and uses a bull rush mainly. Reed does have enough speed to get around the outside, as he is fluid in his hips and stays low. He's not a liability against the run but is limited in his pass defense. He's not quite the athlete that Clay Matthews is, but few are. Reed shows great passion for the game and will be one of those guys that is always trying to get better.
Check out the 2011 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.