A week ago I posted a list of the 10 players most likely to be drafted by the 49ers next Thursday (April 22). Over the next week, I'll go into more depth over why these players make sense. The biggest reason, of course, is that there is a reasonable chance they'll be available when the 49ers are on the clock. First up:
Rutgers' tackle Anthony Davis.
Davis' draft stock is falling because of questions about his maturity and commitment. But the 49ers likely feel that they are uniquely set up to deal with a player who has those concerns. Their head coach is Mike Singletary, who prides himself as a motivator and who has been willing (in fact, sees it as his duty) to take on players other teams might dismiss.
Singletary had dinner with Davis earlier this month. It's certainly possible that Singletary found the big tackle aloof and too risky to take at 13th or 17th overall. Or he might have concluded that the concerns surrounding Davis are symptomatic of a young player - Davis is entering the draft as a junior - and that with the proper motivation, Davis will be a steal in the middle of the first round.
Remember, Davis not only will have Singletary to inspire him, he has an ideal mentor in assistant offensive line coach Ray Brown. Brown played for 20 seasons and is as smart and as personable as anyone who ever lined up at the position. In other words, the 49ers must feel they have the ideal environment - part nurturing, part whip-cracking -- for someone like Davis.
If the 49ers convince themselves that they can hammer out Davis' motivation issues, the next question becomes whether he would be a good fit on the offensive line. Last month, acting general manager Trent Baalke said the team ideally would like to spend a first-round pick on a tackle with the potential to play on the left side.
Davis mainly played left tackle at Rutgers. But he also seems to be the big, bruising type of tackle who could pay immediate benefits as a right tackle, the only truly open starting position heading into 2010. Singletary is perhaps the most traditional head coach in the league. He covets a big and powerful offensive line that blows opponents off the line of scrimmage in the running game and can take over games. Singletary wants to be able to gain three yards up the gut whenever he pleases. Whether that philosophy is a wise one can - and should - be debated. But the fact of the matter is that Davis fits that mold perhaps better than any of the first-round offensive tackles.
One potential issue should Davis be the pick - the 49ers would have two young offensive linemen on the right side of the line. The critique of Davis - that he's inconsistent - also applies to right guard Chilo Rachal, someone who got the Singletary treatment last year. In a perfect world, the 49ers would have a veteran guard on the right side who can compensate for the rookie's inevitable mistakes. The 49ers could bring Joe Staley back to right tackle, a position he played in 2007. However, that would mean a rookie, Davis, is protecting Alex Smith's blind side, a risky proposition in a season in which the 49ers expect to win the division.
Hedge: I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Raiders chose Davis at pick No. 8.
-- Matt Barrows