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Thursday, March 31, 2011
Chat wrap: A.J. Green and the 49ers

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

One of our regular NFC West chat contributors fears need and value will not align for the San Francisco 49ers at the seventh overall selection.

What if Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green were available and stood alone as clearly the highest-rated player on the 49ers' draft board? What it they could not find a suitable trade partner for the seventh pick and could not justify reaching to fill a need?

Adam from Gettysburg raised the subject in the latest NFC West chat Thursday. Transcript here. Highlights below:
Jerry (Folsom, CA): Sam Bradford needs help. Upgrading the middle of the offensive line gives Steven Jackson more room to run (read: helps Bradford). A top notch WR (either via draft or FA) helps Bradford. A first round defensive tackle helps stop the run, thereby lowering opposing team points (helps Bradford) ... I could go on. In your opinion (not guessing what the Rams will do), what helps Bradford the most? I still have nightmares about dropped passes and WRs not getting open, but that's just me maybe.

Mike Sando: Offensive playmakers help Bradford the most at this point. The team has enough building blocks on its line to move forward without addressing that position in the first round. However, the Rams could stand to add a veteran guard with some nastiness -- Richie Incognito without the headaches. But I have no problem with the Rams drafting for defense early, either. The team cannot reach just to say it's finding weapons for the QB.

Austin (USA): The Seahawks are going to be a zone blocking scheme used by Tom Cable from what I read. My question is are blocking schemes interchangeable within a given offense? Or are they directly linked somehow? To put it another way, does what Cable does with the line really affect what Carroll and Bevell do with the offense? Or is what Cable does dictated by the offense scheme?

Mike Sando: There's room to run a zone blocking scheme within the framework of a West Coast offense, but that blocking scheme does lend itself to some pretty significant overall alternations. Green Bay and Philadelphia both run West Coast systems, but the Packers favor zone blocking and the Eagles do not. It remains to be seen just how Seattle's offense will evolve with Darrell Bevell as coordinator and Tom Cable overseeing the offensive line. I think we'll see Cable handle the running game, just as Russ Grimm does for Arizona, with Bevell calling plays and handling the passing game. But I'm not sure even the Seahawks can say exactly how the offense will evolve. It's a key variable that could be influenced, as well, by which quarterback emerges as the likely starter.

Manny (Phoenix): Do you think the Cardinals will lose credibility if they fail to land a quarterback who is able to win some games? Do you think the Cardinals are willing to give Larry Fitzgerald the highest contract in NFL history in terms of the wide reciever position?

Mike Sando: The Cardinals have already given Larry Fitzgerald such a contract. I see no reason why they would not do so again. Fitzgerald should be even more valuable to the team now that Anquan Boldin is playing for Baltimore. As to your first question, I think the Cardinals will lose credibility if they do not have a coherent plan for the quarterback position. Last year, Matt Leinart went from starter to expendable in a very short period of time. That was not part of a long-term plan. I would expect the Cardinals to have a clearer direction at the position.

Adam (Gettysburg): Mike, I see a very bad situation shaping up for the 49ers at pick 7. It is a growing likelihood that Patrick Peterson, Blaine Gabbert, Marcell Dareus and Von Miller will be gone. If that is the case, who do they look at or do they try and trade down?

Mike Sando: Prince Amukamara would be there if they were set on taking a cornerback. How fun would it be if they selected A.J. Green? Imagine trying to keep Green, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Frank Gore happy.

As I told Adam in a followup response, I would much rather add the most talented player, particularly a perceived game-changer, than try to target a perceived greater need. Needs tend to change. Teams rarely if ever have too many playmakers. Crabtree is not yet established.

The 49ers' thinking was solid when they selected Crabtree with the 10th pick in 2009. They would be on firm ground taking a receiver with even more talent under similar circumstances this year. Ideally, however, the 49ers would match need and value more cleanly.