Brent Jones makes case for 49ers to select Stanford's Ertz

Brent Jones makes case for 49ers to select Stanford's Ertz
April 26, 2013, 12:15 pm
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Brent Jones scored 33 touchdowns over 10 years for the 49ers; Zach Ertz caught 15 touchdown passes in three years at Stanford. (AP/USA TODAY IMAGES)

The greatest tight end in 49ers history admits he is biased. But Brent Jones also says he would much rather be honest when assessing Stanford's Zach Ertz.

The 49ers own the No. 34 pick in the draft. They are scheduled to pick second Friday behind the Jacksonville Jaguars when the draft resumes with the second and third rounds, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

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Jones believes the 49ers should not trade out of No. 34 and take any chance of losing Ertz, who led all tight ends in NCAA Division I college football with 69 receptions for 898 yards and six touchdowns last season.

"That would be a tremendous, A-graded draft because you're getting the best tight end and arguably the best safety," Jones said, referring to the 49ers' first-round selection of LSU safety Eric Reid.

"Those are two of your major concerns that you've filled with two guys you can insert now and play right away. For a team that was in the Super Bowl, that's a helluva draft."

Jones has known Ertz since he coached him in spring football before Ertz's junior season at Monte Vista High in Danville. Jones saw the best college fit for Ertz at Stanford, so he got in contact with Jim Harbaugh. Although Ertz sustained a broken wrist after just six games of his junior season, Stanford offered him a scholarship. After red-shirting as a freshman, Ertz enjoyed a solid career. He turned pro after his junior season.

"He was big and had a lot of athleticism," Jones said. "He thought he was a basketball player. After the first month, I told him, 'You have what the NFL is looking for. If you put in the time and effort you can play at the pro level.'

"When he was out there running drills in high school, I told him, 'I'm teaching things you learn at the NFL level.' I taught him moves and tricks of the trade and route-running that would benefit him at the highest level. I'm not messing around here."

Ertz measured at 6 foot 5, 249 pounds at the NFL scouting combine in February. He ran the 40-yard dash in an official time of 4.76 seconds.

The tight end position ranks as a need for the 49ers based on the fact that Delanie Walker signed a four-year, $17.5 million contract with the Tennessee Titans this offseason. Walker played nearly 60 percent of the 49ers' offensive snaps last season while starting tight end Vernon Davis played more than 91 percent of the plays. Walker was sixth on the team with 21 catches for 344 yards and three touchdowns.

"I think Delanie brought a lot of great things to the tight end position," Jones said. "I think Zach would even be more significant from the standpoint that he can be that guy that goes over the middle on third and 7 and gets you the first down. He can run a crossing route.

"I think his hands are better than Delanie's and I think his route-running is better than Delanie's. Now Delanie might be a half-step quicker, but the functionality that you can have with Zach is more significant that you can have with Delanie. Zach spent half of his time split out at Stanford. They can split him and Vernon out as wide receivers. How are you going to cover that in the red zone with two 5-9 corners?"

Jones compares a potential combination of Davis and Ertz to the New England Patriots' tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

Defenses would be forced to account for quarterback Colin Kaepernick, as well as running back Frank Gore, wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin, and the two tight ends.

"They got plenty of weapons right now. But adding one more to the mix, I don't know how you account for that," Jones said. "You're going to have a great mismatch on any given play. Eventually, you're going to win."

And Jones is convinced the 49ers will be in a better position to continue winning with the selection of Ertz. If the 49ers make a selection at No. 34, Jones is quick to point out, the team still has plenty of options with 10 more draft picks to move up in the second round to select a player at another need position, such as defensive line.

"Certainly tight end is in the top two or three positions of need at this point," Jones said. "And there's not a better guy. I know somebody is going to get a great tight end and a potential Pro Bowl player. It would be most spectacular to see him go back to Jim and stay home."

Jones' career with the 49ers ranged from 1987 to '97, during which time he was selected to four NFC Pro Bowl teams. Jones caught 417 passes for 5,195 yards and 33 touchdowns in his career. He played on three Super Bowl-winning teams.


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