Mailbag: Whether to take Blaine Gabbert

Baron from Sacramento wonders whether the San Francisco 49ers would really pass on quarterback Blaine Gabbert at No. 7 if he were available. Baron would rather see the team select Jimmy Smith or Jake Locker after trading down than see them select receiver Julio Jones or the second-best cornerback.

Mike Sando: Trent Baalke, the 49ers' general manager, asks himself a question every time he considers paying a high price for a quarterback. That question is, "Can we win a championship with this guy?" I suspect the 49ers would see enough potential in Gabbert to select him, particularly when lining up the value with their obvious need at the position.

I'll pass along the thoughts Baalke shared on the top quarterbacks in this draft during a news conference Wednesday:

  • On Cam Newton: "From a spread offense, has a lot of physical talent. He has arm strength, he has athleticism, he has Ben Roethlisberger-type stature in the pocket. He is a piece of clay that needs to be molded. The mental part of the game, because of the system he is in, No. 1, and the fact that he hasn't played at that level for a long time, that is going to be a work in progress. He should get it."

  • On Gabbert: "He comes from a spread-style system as well. Has rare passing talent. Very good arm strength, accuracy, but he has been in a spread system and he is coming out early. He is another junior that has decided to come out early."

  • On Locker: "More of a pro-style quarterback in the system, but has functioned much better outside the pocket, running, scrambling throughout his career, making plays like that than he has from actually working inside the pocket. So there is going to be an adjustment for him to get comfortable in the pocket."

  • On Ryan Mallett: "He might have the best arm talent in the draft. More of a pocket passer. He has admittedly said he isn't going to win any 40-yard dash or any relay race, but a pure pocket passer that probably mentally, along with Locker, has played in this system more closely related to the pro game."

Baalke wasn't going to tell us how the 49ers valued these quarterbacks, but reading between the lines, I could see the team valuing Gabbert based on that "rare passing talent" and the athleticism coach Jim Harbaugh likes in his quarterbacks. The book on Gabbert says he's smart, works hard and moves well. The 49ers value those traits in combination.

Conventional wisdom says Gabbert will not be available at No. 7. The truth is that we do not know how teams will value him.

Jeremy from Everett, Wash., wonders what the Seattle Seahawks could get in return for the 25th overall choice in the draft. Is there any way the team could get a 2012 first-round choice from a team that wanted to select a quarterback with Seattle's choice?

Mike Sando: Precedent says there's a chance. In 2005, the Washington Redskins acquired the 25th pick from Denver so they could select quarterback Jason Campbell. The Broncos received a 2005 third-rounder (76th overall), plus first- and fourth-round choices the following year.

I suspect Seattle would like to make a deal along those lines. The team has no third-rounder this year. Going without a first-rounder this year would hurt, but there could be ways around that as well. In 2006, the Pittsburgh Steelers sent the 32nd, 96th and 129th choices to the New York Giants for the 25th overall choice. That type of deal would definitely appeal to Seattle this year.

Last year, the draft was about glitz and excitement for Seattle. The team had a new head coach, plus two high first-round choices. This year, the draft is more likely about rolling up sleeves and acknowledging there's a lot of dirty work remaining before Seattle can become a legitimate contending team.

I see general manager John Schneider trying to amass more picks in an effort to rebuild with younger players.

Bill from Virginia Beach, Va., is on deployment for the Navy and seeking some information on his San Francisco 49ers. He thinks defensive coordinator Vic Fangio must be "licking his chops" over the defensive prospects the team might consider with the seventh overall choice. He wonders whether I would select LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson or Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller if given the choice.

Mike Sando: I would lean toward the pass-rusher when both are highly rated. Teams can cover for deficiencies in their secondary more easily than they can manufacture a pass rush. Plus, if you have the pass rush, the guys in the secondary will have an easier time.

Jesper from Denmark wonders what the St. Louis Rams would do with the 14th overall choice if Aldon Smith, Corey Liuget, Nick Fairley and the top two receivers unavailable. He sees Da'Quan Bowers as too much of a risk and sees two other defensive linemen, Cam Jordan and J.J. Watt, as better suited for 3-4 defenses.

Mike Sando: The scouting reports on Watt makes him sound like a welcome addition to any defensive front. I'd probably take him because he could play multiple positions while instantly upgrading the depth and versatility of the defensive front.

I'll have more thoughts on this Monday. It's something I've considered recently as part of a mock draft we're putting together.

Brent from Phoenix was shocked to see Peter King sending receiver A.J. Green to the Arizona Cardinals in a mock draft recently. He thinks such a move would provide great insurance for losing Larry Fitzgerald, but without a good quarterback, why would it matter? Brent wonders whether King is trying to be clever or if anyone else has considered such a possibility.

Mike Sando: Peter is not alone on this one. I had that thought in the back of my mind when answering questions about the Cardinals in a mailbag last month. A related question led off a chat session this month.

The Cardinals should select Green if he is clearly the best prospect available to them. Otherwise, they should consider addressing quarterback or upgrading their defensive front seven, specifically the pass-rush.

Selecting Green that early might push Fitzgerald out the door from a resources standpoint. Green would be commanding millions in guarantees. The team would have a hard time paying huge money to two wide receivers.

Anquan Boldin became expendable largely because the Cardinals paid so much for Fitzgerald. But if Green is clearly the best talent available and the Cardinals aren't all that optimistic about keeping Fitzgerald, anyway, selecting Green would make more sense.

I don't think that is the most likely scenario, but neither would I rule it out.