Published April 30, 2012
| Sports Network
1 - A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois (6-0, 190); 2 - LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (5-8, 194); 4 - Joe Looney, OG, Wake Forest (6-3, 309); 5 - Darius Fleming, OLB, Notre Dame (6-2, 245); 6 - Trenton Robinson, S, Michigan State (5-10, 195); 6- Jason Slowey, C, Western Oregon (6-3, 303); 7 - Cam Johnson, OLB, Virginia (6-4, 268)
Top Picks Analysis: The offseason additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham didn't stop the 49ers from further tinkering with their receiving corps, as the 2011 NFC West champions used the No. 30 overall pick on the rapidly ascending Jenkins. Though he went higher than expected, the slightly built wideout is a cognizant player with very good speed and the quickness to be effective in the slot, and wouldn't have been available with the team's late second-round choice. That selection was spent on James, another smallish prospect who can really run and create big plays in the open field. The two- time All American doesn't have the bulk to handle a every-down role at the pro level, but gives a backfield that's more power-based a dangerous change-of- pace alternative. A series of position shuffling in the third and fourth rounds ultimately ended with the choice of Looney, a competitive and agile player whose strength is in pass protection. He'll get a chance to compete for a vacancy at right guard.
Best Value Pick: Johnson is a physically gifted edge rusher whose on-field production at Virginia never matched his athletic prowess because of poor instincts and a hot-and-cold motor. If he can be coached up and motivated, the Niners could get some mileage out of their modest investment as a situational player.
Questionable Calls: San Francisco entered the draft woefully thin on the defensive line and remain so after opting not to address those positions over the three days. The 49ers passed on guard prospects such as Midwestern State's Amini Silatolu and Georgia's Cordy Glenn in the first round in favor of Jenkins, and Looney's ceiling isn't nearly as high as those two.
Summary: The 49ers went with talent over need in this draft, and although Jenkins and James will likely start out as supporting players, both do bring a playmaking element that was noticeably absent from the offense last season as well as a possible rookie starter in Looney. San Francisco did neglect some positions that could have used some fine-tuning, but it did come out a more diverse team.
FINAL GRADE: B-