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Harbaugh loves Fleener, but not enough to draft him

Coby Fleener, Andrew Luck AP

Two years ago, former USC safety Taylor Mays was dismayed (“I see what you did there”) when his former college coach didn’t select Mays with one of the Seattle Seahawks’ two first-round picks.

Now, the arch-rival of Pete Carroll may be dealing with a similar issue.

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh passed on former Stanford tight end Coby Fleener, opting instead for Illinois receiver A.J. Jenkins, whom Harbaugh said was chosen to be the pick before the draft began.  While the 49ers have tight end Vernon Davis under contract, the use of two pass-catching tight ends has become fashionable in the NFL.  Moreover, the 49ers arguably had an even lesser need at the receiver position, given a depth chart that has been bolstered by the offseason additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham.

Coby Fleener won us games,” Harbaugh said in February.  “I probably tend to be — I mean, I love these guys.  Maybe I am the over-evaluator.  My point was it probably takes us some checks and balances with those guys that I know so well.”

Apparently, the checks and balances won out in the end.  The real question is whether and to what extent Harbaugh led Fleener to believe he’d be the pick.  Before the 49ers’ failed pursuit of Peyton Manning, which came after Harbaugh repeatedly expressed his commitment to Alex Smith, we would have said there’s no chance Harbaugh would have said anything to get Fleener’s hopes up.  In the wake of a fairly tangible piece of evidence that Harbaugh has the capacity to behave like the many other say-one-thing-do-another football coaches, it’s hardly a stretch to think that Fleener was thinking he’d be getting a call from the 415 area code when the Niners were on the clock.

The good news for Fleener is that he could end up being reunited not with the man who recruited him to Palo Alto, but with the guy who threw him all those passes.  The Colts hold the second pick in round two; unless the Rams take Fleener with the 33rd selection — or use the 18-hour gap between round one and two to find someone who will trade up for the ability to do so — Fleener and Andrew Luck could be the new Dallas Clark and Peyton Manning in Indy.

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24 Responses to “Harbaugh loves Fleener, but not enough to draft him”
  1. qcsfinest704 says: Apr 27, 2012 8:07 AM

    We didnt need him. Delanie Walker is an underrated player. There were several scouts who said Fleener was way overrated.

    Welcome home AJ. 49ers baby!

  2. p31squared says: Apr 27, 2012 8:20 AM

    Welcome to the Colts, Coby.

  3. forthelove says: Apr 27, 2012 8:26 AM

    Nothing to see here…. There was ‘dismay’ because Pete Carroll took a DIFFERENT safety (Earl Thomas at 14). The 49ers took a WR. They also already have a top tier TE and don’t need a side kick for him. Only 1 team in the league has two top tier TEs so I don’t agree that it’s become “fashionable”.

  4. fin72 says: Apr 27, 2012 8:29 AM

    Just one problem… Harbaugh doesn’t make the picks… Trent Baalke does.

  5. tv426 says: Apr 27, 2012 8:32 AM

    Virtually no one had this guy with a first round grade. So he can’t be surprised.

  6. kyleman80 says: Apr 27, 2012 10:01 AM

    Harbaugh is not the GM, you guys

  7. jvibottomline says: Apr 27, 2012 10:15 AM

    Crabtree will be cut if Moss can run

  8. jeffharwell3 says: Apr 27, 2012 10:40 AM

    crabtree will not get cut. crabtree is what he is 500-700 yards and 5-7 td’s. on a team with Davis moss and now manningham those numbers are going to look nice when 4 guys have them. 49ers get #6 this year…. trade up for Jenkins

  9. willcoop62 says: Apr 27, 2012 10:41 AM

    Fleener is probably the worst blocking TE in the draft. He did not rate as a first rounder, was highly overrated and will probably go in rounds 4 or 5. Hope he is not still sitting in the green room!

  10. jeffharwell3 says: Apr 27, 2012 10:41 AM

    janoris Jenkins

  11. 49erstim says: Apr 27, 2012 10:42 AM

    Delanie Walker! I know that the “facts” often get in the way, but the 49ers have a potent combo already. WR is a NEED. Hopefully this pick cured that.

  12. franknunley57 says: Apr 27, 2012 12:44 PM

    Athletic, speedy, good hands. Experienced kick returner. Four year college player. An Academic All Big-Ten honoree WR .

  13. ninerz4life says: Apr 27, 2012 1:03 PM

    Umm is everyone forgetting about Delanie Walker? He is severely underrated and incredibly strong and fast NINERS DO NOT NEED A TIGHT END.

  14. usetabe says: Apr 27, 2012 1:24 PM

    The best receivers on the 49ers are already the tight ends. They needed people who could stretch the field, and another tight end, regardless of his quality, wasn’t going to fill that need. And they are unlikely to trade up for him despite their respect for the guy, too big a need in the offensive line.

  15. timj997 says: Apr 27, 2012 1:49 PM

    “While the 49ers have tight end Vernon Davis under contract, the use of two pass-catching tight ends has become fashionable in the NFL.”

    Ummmm, hello — his name is Delanie Walker and he does not approve of his supposed non-existence on PFT. Jeesh, sometimes I wonder if you guys actually watch football.

  16. norcalniner says: Apr 27, 2012 2:34 PM

    I think you mean 408 area code.

  17. norcalniner says: Apr 27, 2012 2:48 PM

    Also, a lot of people here are suggesting that Trent Baalke’s decisions are final. Don’t kid yourself. There’s no way Baalke refuses to take someone Harbaugh REALLY wants. Money talks folks. And last time I checked, Harbaugh’s getting the big bucks courtesy of Jed York.

  18. bleedingredandgold says: Apr 27, 2012 3:10 PM

    Wow florio, three posts erased because I called your journalistic integrity into question? How childish. Maybe one day florio jr will call you out on it, cant erase his statements I suppose.

  19. curlybird99 says: Apr 27, 2012 3:11 PM

    The 49ers apply a team concept throughout their organization. This may seem like a foreign concept to many so-called “analysts” that must justify their very existence by making some of the harebrained comments they do.

    Decisions are made by teamwork as is their success on the field of play. Trent Baalke has the “final say,” but no player would be chosen if anyone in the process expressed strong reservations about them. Jim Harbaugh is the coach and Trent Baalke, the GM for a reason. It is letting experts focus on what they do the best.

    The 49ers already have 2 elite TE’s in Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. D-Walk would be a #1 on many NFL teams.

  20. alldonesmith says: Apr 27, 2012 3:14 PM

    “In the wake of a fairly tangible piece of evidence that Harbaugh has the capacity to behave like the many other say-one-thing-do-another football coaches, it’s hardly a stretch to think that Fleener was thinking he’d be getting a call from the 415 area code when the Niners were on the clock.”

    So do you have any evidence that Harbaugh ever led Fleener to believe he’d be the pick? No? You’re just making crap up as usual to make the 49ers look bad because you don’t like the team or its head coach? And deliberately mischaracterizing the way Harbaugh treated Alex Smith during the 49ers’ no-brainer pursuit of a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback? Oh, ok. Talk about asinine. Maybe you should leave the 49ers posts to someone with a little less obvious bile, Florio.

  21. trabovski says: Apr 27, 2012 4:52 PM

    What a bunch of crap. The 49ers have Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker at Tight End plus Nate Byham who is a pretty solid blocking TE.

    Further, Fleener is probably a stud and Harbaugh may still try to snag him in round 2 with a trade so he’s keeping mum.

    Plus, Pete knew that Mays couldn’t make it in the NFL.

  22. norcalniner says: Apr 27, 2012 4:54 PM

    curlybird99 says: Apr 27, 2012 3:11 PM

    The 49ers apply a team concept throughout their organization. This may seem like a foreign concept to many so-called “analysts” that must justify their very existence by making some of the harebrained comments they do.

    Decisions are made by teamwork as is their success on the field of play. Trent Baalke has the “final say,” but no player would be chosen if anyone in the process expressed strong reservations about them. Jim Harbaugh is the coach and Trent Baalke, the GM for a reason. It is letting experts focus on what they do the best.

    The 49ers already have 2 elite TE’s in Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. D-Walk would be a #1 on many NFL teams.
    —————————————————-

    I generally agree with what you’re saying, although I would add that if any one person has ‘veto power’ throughout the process, it’d be Jim. At the end of the day, his neck is on the line because he’s the one who has to coach these guys to a championship.

  23. 49erlifer says: Apr 27, 2012 6:18 PM

    timj997 says:Apr 27, 2012 1:49 PM

    “While the 49ers have tight end Vernon Davis under contract, the use of two pass-catching tight ends has become fashionable in the NFL.”

    Ummmm, hello — his name is Delanie Walker and he does not approve of his supposed non-existence on PFT. Jeesh, sometimes I wonder if you guys actually watch football.

    Not any football on the WestCoast thats for sure. PFT is no better than ESPN you should know that there to busy following tebow news

  24. stoptrippn says: May 8, 2012 10:20 PM

    Pete is a lying pig

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