Jackson vs. Moss; NFL Draft: Testy Officials
The Niners did have some conversations with the Raiders, personnel chief Scot McCloughan said in a conference call with writers yesterday, “but they didn’t really last long.”
McCloughan, who had worked for the Seattle Seahawks before coming to the 49ers, said that his personal knowledge of Jackson was one of the criteria for the 49ers decision.
"I had five years with Darrell Jackson. I know him as a person and I know him as a player. I know wht he brings during the week of practice and what he brings on Sundays. So, that makes it a lot easier for me. I don't know Randy Moss that way."
McCloughan is generally a straightforward guy, but he was being a bit disingenuous here. He knows very well that 49er coach Mike Nolan wouldn’t touch Moss.
Nolan has talked repeatedly about players “buying into our program” since he was named coach, and it’s obvious that what he means are players who put the team first. Moss never has. Randy decides when he wants to give his full effort – which wasn’t often last season – and speaks out often when he isn’t happy with what’s happening with the team.
In the 2006 season, Nolan went against his principles and signed free agent wide receiver Antonio Bryant. After one season, Nolan cut Bryant and admitted he made a mistake. He won’t make another one like that.
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a no-nonsense guy like Nolan, traded for Moss, giving up a fourth-round pick (which is what it would have cost the 49ers, too). That could work for the Patriots because Moss may be motivated by the chance to play for a team with a good shot at the Super Bowl. If it doesn’t, the Patriots’ risk is minimal. Moss agreed to re-structure his contract, so he will get $3 million instead of the $9.75 million the Raiders would have owed him. If he’s released before the end of the season – my guess - it won’t be terribly costly for the Patriots.
But it would have been absolutely insane for the Niners to sign him. They’re a relatively young team, just learning how to win and positioning themselves for a shot at the postseason. To have a star player taking plays off, shortarming passes and complaining about the team, which has been Moss’s M.O for the last three years, would have destroyed the team.
The Jackson trade was one of two the 49ers made during the draft. The first was in trading their first round pick next year to get New England’s slot at 28th in the first round to get offensive tackle Joe Staley. Though the 49ers had gone into the draft looking primarily for defensive help – their own pick, at 11, was for linebacker Patrick Willis – they also wanted to draft an offensive lineman high. McCloughan said he “hated” to see Arizona grab Penn State offensive tackle Levi Brown, but regarded Staley as a solid choice. “I don’t usually like to trade out of the first round for the next year, but if we had been able to get a player of this quality next year, we’d have been very happy.”
The 49ers did later get Indianapolis’s first-round pick for 2008 but McCloughan said they hadn’t started talking with the Colts about that until they’d made the trade with New England.
McCloughan had been talking to teams before the draft about a trade that would get them that additional first round pick but nothing materialized. On draft day, he re-started negotiations when the draft got to the 17th pick. “We knew there’d be a good player there,” he said. “We almost made a trade with New England at 24 and then finally made it at 28. We felt we had to do that because Baltimore would have picked Staley. They wanted a tackle.”
Staley can play on either side but he’ll probably get his first shot at right tackle because Jonas Jennings can only play on the left side. When Jennings is knocked out by injury, as safe a bet as you can make, either Staley or Adam Snyder could move in at left tackle.
Hopefully, we’ve seen the last of Kwane Harris’s “look out” blocks as a starter.
It’s not certain, though, that Staley will start immediately. “In the first couple of years we were here,” McCloughan said, “it was a given that anybody we drafted high would be a starter because there was nobody good ahead of him. Now, a guy has to prove he belongs because we've got good starters.”
McCloughan stopped short of predicting great success for the 49ers next season. “We have to prove it on the field,” he said, “and we haven’t done that yet. Eleven wins in two seasons doesn’t cut it. We’ve improved to the point of being able to compete on the road, which we haven’t done very well the last two seasons. Now, we need to get to the point where we expect to win on the road.”
NFL DRAFT LEFTOVERS:
--The 49ers are bringing in seven undrafted free agents for physicals and interviews tomorrow, but McCloughan didn’t want to talk about them because they haven’t been signed. Cal’s Mickey Pimental, a fast and very athletic linebacker who could make it in the NFL, was originally supposed to sign with the 49ers but decided to go to Carolina instead. He’ll probably have a better shot with the Panthers, because the Niners are loading up with linebackers.
--Another Golden Bear, cornerback Daymeion Hughes, fell from an earlier first round projection to the third round because of relatively slow 40 times in workouts. Once again, the stopwatch prevailed over the football field, as teams ignored Hughes’ exceptional play in a conference which emphasizes passing.
--You have to love Raiders coach Lane Kiffin explanation for picking collegiate sprint champions instead of improving the offensive line: that they were working on special teams. Once again, the Raiders could field a great 400 meters relay team, but the sport they’re trying to play is football, not track-and-field.
--Brady Quinn got a lot of sympathy as he was spotlighted when he fell from possibly being taken by the Cleveland Browns until the Browns finally took him with the 23rd pick after a trade with the Dallas Cowboys. But, there is this point: Quinn didn’t have to be there. Joe Thomas, who was the Browns’ pick at No. 3, had made earlier plans to go fishing with his dad, and he kept them. Other high draft picks have snubbed the NFL’s Green Room in the past. Quinn, whose confidence borders on arrogance, thought he’d be picked high and wanted the attention. He got the attention, all right, just not what he wanted.
--The KNBR talking heads were saying at one point that the Cleveland Browns hadn’t been in a championship game since 1954. The correct way to phrase that would have been to say a team representing Cleveland hadn’t been there since ’54. The original Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1995 and, re-named the Ravens, won the 2001 Super Bowl.
UNWELCOME TREND: Warriors coach Don Nelson, in fining Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis for being ejected in playoff games, noted that they have to realize how tight NBA officials are calling the games.
Too true, but it highlights an alarming tendency for officials in pro sports to reject any kind of complaints. We’ve seen it for years in baseball. Arguments between umpires and managers or players used to be a colorful part of the game, but now, any kind of disagreement gets the manager tossed. Last night in Boston, Eric Chavez, who almost never disputes calls, asked plate umpire Charlie Reliford to check with third base umpire Tom Hallion on what Chavez thought was a checked swing. It was a reasonable request because home plate umpires do that routinely but Reliford refused. When A’s manager Bob Geren came out to protest, he was ejected.
This kind of autocartic behavior hurts the sports. Umpires and officials are not the stars of the show, and they should realize that.
LETTERS: I’ll update this section Thursday.
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