By Tim Kawakami Mercury News
Sometimes, you have to close your eyes, put a cell-phone block on the murmuring NFL muckrakers and draft with your gut.
Hey, 49ers brain trust: Be brave. Be simple. Draft Aaron Rodgers.
OK, selecting Rodgers with Saturday's No. 1 overall pick -- or trading down just enough to still get the ultra-productive Cal quarterback -- might not be the trendy, ``SportsCenter''-sanctioned move.
But picking Rodgers, a red-hot commodity a week ago but now almost forgotten in the Alex Smith/Braylon Edwards hype parade, is the right move for today and especially for the next decade.
Because sometimes, all the latest gossip is wrong and you're right. (Akili Smith was a hot-gossip pick. So was Tony Mandarich.)
Sometimes, the choice immediately in front of you, the local kid dying to play for you, is the perfect choice.
Sometimes, you don't have to prove that you're as smart as everybody else; you shouldn't worry that Jon Gruden loves Smith or that SportsIllustrated.com has downgraded Rodgers 11 times in the past three minutes; sometimes, being wise means remembering how dumb everybody else can be.
Sometimes, yes, even Mark Purdy gets it wrong, especially now that he's distracted by his advanced film study for the upcoming 2006-07 NHL replacement-player allocation draft.
(His quasi-beloved, strike-breaking Los Tiburones de Substitucion?)
The Purd Man, whom I trust for restaurant recommendations and South Bay driving directions but not necessarily with $20 million draft decisions, says the 49ers should take Edwards, the Michigan receiver, or move down for some other non-quarterback.
But the 49ers desperately need a QB. You can't win unless you have something serviceable at QB, which the 49ers do not.
Now is the time to get one, when they have No. 1, and they'd better pray they're never on top of the draft board like this again soon. They can get a game-breaking receiver any old year, even this year in the second round.
So, in the QB market, you have Smith, who wants huge money and probably will stage a long holdout. You have everybody flocking to the lesser-armed Smith, who played in a gimmick offense at Utah and, despite his obvious brain power, will take at least a year to adapt to the NFL game.
If I thought Smith were the next Peyton Manning, or even Eli Manning, fine, take him, then hold tight. But Smith is more like the next Chad Pennington (high side) or Matt Hasselbeck (low side).
On the other hand, you have Rodgers, who won't hold out, who has an NFL arm and who, in my opinion, is a superior product to any of the previous Jeff Tedford pupils who have been drafted high and then produced low.
Don't get cute. Draft Rodgers.
Rodgers is like the Drew Brees of 2004 (high side) or the Drew Brees of 2003 (low side).
Sure, Rodgers' stock has fallen the past few days, but based on . . . what? Because his agent doesn't have NFL insiders on his speed-dial? Because Smith has had ESPN cameras following him this week? (In that case, maybe Barry Bonds reporter Pedro Gomez deserves a second-day look.)
Because Rodgers is cocky? (I thought that was good for a QB.) Because Rodgers is signable? (This is one time I will not accuse the 49ers of doing something just because it's cheaper.)
According to the rumors, Rodgers has dropped out of the top three; no, top five; no, maybe he'll plummet all the way out of the top 15, top 20, top 25; heck, is the World League supplemental draft still available?
No, no, no, no, I say. Stop the silliness. I know this is Mike Nolan and Scot McCloughan's first draft -- and a nervous one it must be.
But the path is clear: Draft Rodgers.
OK, now that it's late in the column and probably only M.P. and John York have read this far, I can add my 49ers Ultimate First-round Draft Plan:
1. Go ahead, do what Purdy says, and draft Edwards No. 1.
2. Wait to see how far Rodgers drops; if he gets past No. 10, swoop in and trade next year's Nos. 1 and 2 picks for the slot that gets you Rodgers. Take him.
3. Trade this year's pick at the top of Round 2 for some desperate team's No. 1 next year.
Voilà, Edwards and Rodgers and a No. 1 next year, easy as can be.
And the only big question left is to find a power player to settle the NHL labor horrors.
My obvious answer: