Posted: 04/22/2010 10:00:08 PM PDT
The 49ers built a wall on Thursday — 650 pounds of NFL brick and mortar that, if all goes well, should patch up and hold up their offense for years to come.They got stronger, bigger, hardier.
Simpler, steelier, better.
In about 30 minutes of selection time, they didn't change who they were, but they dramatically upgraded how far they could go while being who they are.
"I think we have an identity," acting general manager Trent Baalke said.
Yes, and now that identity has a new foundation: Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati.
So the 49ers didn't get fancy in the first round of the draft. With two picks, they didn't trick themselves or outsmart themselves or veer from the bone-rattling basics.
At some point in the future, we will know if they erred by skipping over Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen multiple times.
But the 49ers — in Baalke's first run as the main man — kept to their blue-collar script: big, brawny, physical.
Drafting for identity. Drafting to fix their pressing weakness on offense.
The 49ers sacrificed a fourth-round pick to move up two slots and take Davis, a raw and supremely talented Rutgers product. He will compete with Adam Snyder at right tackle right away.
Then, six picks later, they doubled up on the muscle by taking Iupati, the definition of a smash-mouth guard out of Idaho who probably will get the left-guard spot over David Baas.These are the guys they wanted if they couldn't get Oklahoma tackle Trent Williams, who went fourth to Washington. This is the power upgrade that coach Mike Singletary was seeking all along.
"To me, this guy is a devastating physical blocker," Singletary said of Iupati. "Both those guys are. But Iupati is a little bit of a different style. Extremely physical."
Get the point? It was impossible to miss amid the adjectives and intensity emanating from the 49ers' draft room.
They weren't going pretty in this draft, not like last year, when they took receiver Michael Crabtree. They were going big, and Singletary was reveling in it.
Davis' reputation is that he can get lazy, but that fits Singletary's belief that he and his staff can get the most out of anybody.
Iupati is a pure guard, not one of the NFL's most prized positions, but Singletary doesn't care as long as Iupati pile-drives anybody standing in front of him.
"They fit the identity and the type of players we want on this football team," Baalke said.
"Everyone here knows how Coach wants this program to run and how this organization wants to be looked at," Baalke said. "These are two guys that can play physical football."
In fact, Iupati seems to have gotten exactly that feeling during his pre-draft visit with the 49ers and Singletary.
"It felt like home," Iupati said. "Old-school style."
Though Singletary demurred when asked if this was the end of last year's move to a spread offense, it's clear that his devotion to running the ball remains.
Not much more of the shotgun, much more of Frank Gore and running to daylight.
"When we want to run the ball, when we need to run the ball, we're going to run the ball," Singletary said. "But we want to have a balanced attack. "...
"We want to play good, solid football. We feel we have good personnel to do that. We can pass the ball. "... We want to be a versatile offense that can do what we need to do to win the ballgame."
And the largest beneficiary of this, without question, is Alex Smith, who presumably will not have to throw as much or under as much pressure.
The 49ers built a wall around him, too.
"Anytime that you can help protect a quarterback, it gives him that much more confidence in what he's doing," Singletary said.
"Gives him a little more time to think about, 'Where do I go with the ball?' Rather than, 'Where do I run?' "
Smith will throw it when the 49ers want to throw it, and he will hand it off when they want to run. And Singletary believes there will be balance and success.
It's who the 49ers want to be. It's their ideal identity. Now they have two large linemen to help make it come true.