San Francisco 49ers: Why Niners Should Take a Flyer on Tyrann Mathieu

Phil G@FuturePhilGCorrespondent IApril 4, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03:  Tyrann Mathieu #7 of the LSU Tigers against the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2011 SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have been quite busy over the last few weeks. With the more recent transactions, involving both quarterback Colt McCoy and cornberback Nnamdi Asomugha, and the other more subtle additions––kicker Phil Dawson and safety Craig Dahl, the 49ers sure made a lot out of nothing. 

Remember, the 49ers came into free agency with limited cap space. With such restraints, general manager Trent Baalke did a tremendous job in filling the Niners needs while also keeping an eye out for the future.

Colin Kaepernick, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati and Michael Crabtree are some of the names that could be in line for contract extensions in the near future. 

Baalke understands how this game works. Free agency, while enticing on the surface, is nothing more than a small piece to the puzzle.

Great teams are built through the draft, while free agency and trades are used as complementary actions.

Luckily for the 49ers, they have the brain trust and ammo to be quite successful in this year's draft. With a boatload of picks, the Niners could fill a desperate need or take the best player available—or even both. 

If the Niners stay pat with their current amount of draft selections, I say take a flyer on the enigmatic but extremely talented defensive back, Tyrann Mathieu. 

Here are a few reasons why:


Elite Ball Skills

You can't teach instincts. Mathieu doesn't have the height/speed ratio you look for in an ideal DB, but man he more than makes up for it with his playmaking ability.

In two years at LSU, Mathieu only came down with four interceptions, but if you look at the tape, the guy was everywhere. 

Despite his short stature, Mathieu can compete with bigger receivers in jump ball situations and is very tenacious in bump and run coverage. 

He'll take some risky angles, but more often than not, Mathieu will make a solid play on the ball. 

While the 49ers possess solid coverage backs, they lack a playmaker in that secondary. Mathieu could help in this department, especially with the loss of Dashon Goldson, who proved to be the Niners' most consistent playmaker. 



The 49ers love versatile players, especially on defense, which could make Mathieu an ideal fit. While some believe the 5'9'' corner will be regulated to only slot duty, I can envision 49ers defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, moving Mathieu around like a chess piece. 

Mathieu, who stands at 5'9'' and 186 pounds, plays far bigger than his physical intangibles show. He is physical enough to play guys on the outside while also quick enough to stay with shifty slot receivers. 

Will he play outside full time? Of course not, however, if the Niners use him correctly, they can give opposing offenses fits. Personally, I would even try Mathieu at safety. 

His keen awareness, quickness, and ball skills would serve him well at safety, though I believe his average down the field speed could give pause to the idea. 

Mathieu was also a very solid blitzed, when asked. The 49ers don't blitz much, but this could be a welcome addition if used correctly. 



Mathieu has garnered some buzz after a very solid pro day and combine effort, however, I still see the former LSU tiger going in the late second or mid third round. 

Teams will look at his off-field issues and just slide to the next player on their big board. However, there are some teams that will take a chance despite his off the field antics. 

Count the Cincinnati Bengals as one of these teams. I also wouldn't be surprised if Mathieu ended up on the Oakland Raiders, though it's fair to say that both teams need help in the secondary.

Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke have played it relatively safe the last two years when it comes to drafting troubling players, however, Mathieu may be the exception. 

With such a strong locker room, mainly with names like Patrick Willis and Justin Smith, Mathieu will have every opportunity to show the world that he has truly changed.

If you can't be a professional both on and off the field with the likes of Jim Harbaugh, Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and Donte Whitner mentoring and guiding you, Mathieu should just give up.

Acquiring Mathieu after the second round would be a steal, and with two second-round selections and two third-round selections, the Niners will have the upper hand if the former LSU product is still on the board. 


    Small-Town Hero to NFL Draft’s Top TE

    San Francisco 49ers logo
    San Francisco 49ers

    Small-Town Hero to NFL Draft’s Top TE

    Mike Tanier
    via Bleacher Report

    How to Avoid Biggest NFL Draft Mistakes

    San Francisco 49ers logo
    San Francisco 49ers

    How to Avoid Biggest NFL Draft Mistakes

    Brad Gagnon
    via Bleacher Report

    What the 49ers Are Seeking on the Offensive Line

    San Francisco 49ers logo
    San Francisco 49ers

    What the 49ers Are Seeking on the Offensive Line

    via sacbee

    Report: Eagles Reward Foles with Restructured Contract

    NFL logo

    Report: Eagles Reward Foles with Restructured Contract

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report