The San Francisco 49ers selected a Missouri Tigers star in the 2011 NFL Draft, but their pick wasn’t quarterback Blaine Gabbert—it’s star quarterback hawk Aldon Smith, who could play at defensive end or outside linebacker for a rebuilding 49ers squad. Smith, a Missouri sophomore, is just 22, and has a lot of room to grow, and a few positions at which to try it.
The San Francisco 49ers didn’t expect to have a Top 10 draft pick this year, with beleaguered No. 1 quarterback Alex Smith losing time to Troy Smith in an offense that at times neared total collapse. Smith might have another year to prove himself if he can stay healthy, because the 49ers decided to spend their first-rounder on defense.
The 49ers went for potential here—Smith isn’t the most polished defensive force in the draft, and was expected, at times, to fall into the middle of the draft, toward the St. Louis Rams, but few players have more obvious upside.