1 (11) Patrick Willis, lb, Mississippi.
1 (28) Joe Staley, ot, Central Michigan.
3 (76) Jason Hill, wr, Washington St.
3 (97) Ray McDonald, de, Florida.
4 (104) Jay Moore, lb, Nebraska.
4 (126) Dashon Goldson, db, Washington.
4 (135) Joe Cohen, dt, Florida
5 (147) Tarell Brown, db, Texas.
6 (186) Thomas Clayton, rb, Kansas St.
NFC West teams get it about as often as the CHFF crew got it in high school. But San Francisco is bucking the trend – like the roly-poly little fat-faced geek who worked on the student newspaper, yet somehow nailed the hot cheerleader.
The up-and-coming 49ers might have made the playoffs last year if not for the single worst defense in the NFL. San Fran pulled off a rather remarkable feat. Not only were they dead last in scoring defense (25.8 PPG), they were dead last in the CHFF Bendability Index
, our measure of defensive efficiency. Opponents needed an average of just 80.2 yards to score a TD (compare that with the top-rated Ravens, who forced opponents to march an average of 126.1 yards to score a TD).
So San Francisco has gone out and done what should be obvious to most organizations but, as the CHFF Fillability Index proves, so often is not obvious: they've attacked their glaring weakness with great vengeance and furious anger.
In free agency, they grabbed fireplug DT Aubrayo Franklin (6-1, 320), who helped anchor the league's top-ranked defense last year (Baltimore). They also plucked CB Nate Clements out of Buffalo. He was one of the big prizes in the free-agent market, though it will prove virtually impossible for him to provide value at such an incredible price tag: his reported eight-year, $80 million deal, with as much as $22 million guaranteed, is believed to make him the highest paid defensive player in history.
Great player. Yes? Best ever? No. That makes it a bad deal from a value perspective and, eventually, the 49ers will find it a bad move and be forced to dump him. But, for the short term, Clements may provide a much-needed boost to the defense.
Still, though, it represents a move in the right direction and, for the short term, Clements may provide a much-needed boost to the defense. So, too, did the decision to take LB Patrick Willis with the 11th overall pick in the draft. The 49ers stockpiled plenty of other defensive players later in the draft and also in free-agency, including some potential impact players (LB Tully Banta-Cain, S Michael Lewis).
They also rid themselves of many of last year's defensive free agents. Hey, when you're dead last in the league, a little blood-letting can't hurt.
Expect a much improved defense for San Francisco. And, in the pathetic NFC West, that should result in a playoff appearance.
Fillability grade: B