Monday, May 2, 2011

Saltzman Says...Harbaugh can afford to be patient

2011 Draft Recap: 49ers Edition

The 49ers certainly stunned some fans with their first selection.  When the pick came in, many people felt the 49ers would snag a highly touted prospect out of Missouri.  Well they were right.  However, when the pick turned out to be Aldon Smith instead of Blaine Gabbert, it certainly shocked a lot of fans.

Harbaugh is not in a win or else mode like many other coaches.  Teams who have GM's and Head Coaches on the hot seat pick for now.  Harbaugh can afford to pick for tomorrow.

When a team selects a project in the first or second round, as the 49ers did with Aldon Smith and QB Colin Kaepernick, they are hoping to have a great team in two or three years.  A coach like Harbaugh can afford to make those selections because he should still be here in 2013 and beyond.  His predecessors, Mike Singletary and Mike Nolan drafted with the same philosophy, and now Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Joe Staley and Michael Crabtree are Harbaugh's players.  It's a cutthroat business to draft players knowing someone else might end up coaching them through their prime years.  That will be the case with Staley and Crabtree for Harbaugh.

In time, Smith could become an elite pass rusher, and Kaepernick could become the star QB for the 49ers.  The two biggest questions are will that actually happen and will Harbaugh be around long enough to see it?

It's easy to smile in the first year of a five year contract.  Will Harbaugh be smiling in 2014?

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