COMMENTARY | The scene at San Francisco 49ers headquarters, as I imagine it: Two coaches and an executive sitting at an oval table in a conference room, watching film of USC wide receiver Robert Woods.
The coaches are Jim Harbaugh and John Morton, the 49ers' wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. The executive is the general manager, Trent Baalke.
They're watching the USC-Stanford game from October 9, 2010, the last time Harbaugh faced USC. Stanford won 37-35, but Woods caught 12 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns against Stanford's top cornerback, Richard Sherman.
Morton was USC's wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator that season. He's holding a remote control and fast forwarding to each of Woods' catches. "See what I did with him there?" Morton asks Harbaugh, pointing to the television screen. "I can use him the same way here." Harbaugh nods emphatically.
Trent Baalke stays quiet. He's not sold on Robert Woods. The last wide receiver the coaches and scouting department sold to him -- A.J. Jenkins -- didn't catch a pass his rookie season. If Jenkins ends up a bust, that's on Baalke.
Baalke also is remembering 2011 when he first hired John Morton, and they drafted USC wide receiver Ronald Johnson. Johnson didn't make the final cut in training camp, never made the final roster.
Remember, this is all how I imagine it. If this scenario is anywhere close to reality, Trent, follow your gut. Veto this pick. Avoid Woods at all costs.
He is not the same player who torched Sherman in 2010. That year, Woods looked like he could develop into a Marvin Harrison-type of receiver. Woods wasn't the biggest or fastest receiver, but he was quick and a good route runner.
Near the end of his sophomore season he injured his ankle. He had surgery in the offseason, but the ankle bothered him all of next season when he often hobbled back to the huddle after plays.
He lost his spot as the Trojans' No. 1 receiver. Once he hurt his ankle, Marqise Lee became Matt Barkley's favorite target. Woods faced No. 2 cornerbacks the rest of his college career.
Woods is not what the 49ers need. They need a deep-threat receiver and a punt returner. Woods is neither. He's a possession receiver (11.7 yards per catch in his college career), and his recurring ankle problem prevents him from returning kicks.
We don't know if his ankle issue will go away. It's been bothering him for almost two years, and ankle issues have a tendency to linger. It's never ideal to draft damaged goods when there are so many healthy rookies to choose from.
Rumors say Woods will be drafted either in the late first round or the early second round because he performed well at his Pro Day, running a 4.38 40-yard dash. The 49ers own a late first-round pick -- No. 31 -- and an early second-round pick -- No.34.
Trent, do not use either pick on Woods. Let another team make the mistake.
Grant Cohn covers the 49ers daily. He writes the "Inside the 49ers" blog for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and has written columns and features for CSNBayArea.com. Follow him on Twitter @grantcohn.
- Sports & Recreation
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- Trent Baalke