Monday, May 14, 2012
Be Like Mike: Breakdown of Andrew Iupati, Trying Out for the 49ers
by Dylan DeSimone on May 13, 2012 10:00 AM PDT in 49ers Rookies
Ezra Shaw - Getty Images
The San Francisco 49ers have brought in a plethora of talent and added many new names this offseason between the draft and free agency. Some of the names like LaMichael James and Randy Moss are familiar because of what they've done on the gridiron. But one of the names was familiar for a whole other reason.
Humboldt State University's Andrew Iupati will be working out with San Francisco, trying to make the very same team for which his brother Mike Iupati starts. Some families just mesh with football; take a look at the Matthews family, the Manning family, the Harbaugh family and recently the Pouncey's have gotten in on the action.
Like his brother Mike, Andrew is a big physical guy with a very similar approach to the game of football. In this piece, we will break down defensive tackle Andrew Iupati and where he stands with the San Francisco 49ers.
During his collegiate career, Andrew played the defensive tackle position where his best trait was the use of his hands. Iupati showed the consistent ability to shed blockers with his arms, shift his weight, throw them aside and charge like a bull into the opponent's backfield. He is able to engage and disengage with precision before making the tackle.
What I mean by this was his timing: he would read the play while occupying the offensive lineman, then shed him the moment before he was ready to make the tackle - it showed he was in total control. And in all this mess, it was the work he did with his hands and upper body that really led to his success.
Iupati also has a great motor, and on film, he can be seen chasing guys up field and even making the tackle on a few occasions. He's a player that is full-go until the whistle blows.
For his size (6'1", 310-pounds), Iupati displays athleticism and quickness in his spin move and lateral agility. With this comes great burst off the line, as Iupati is usually the first one off the ball and plowing into the opponent's backfield. He's very good at causing disruption, which is essential for a 3-4 defensive lineman.
He is capable of driving his man backward with his fierce bull rush. He is very strong, and even according to his brother Mike, Andrew is a "way stronger" player - "lower body and upper body, he's way stronger." He has value as both a run stuffer and pass rusher in most defensive systems - he has great potential as a bull rusher, looking unstoppable when he has the proper leverage.
Iupati doesn't miss a lot of tackles either; after disengaging, he typically dives and wraps up the offensive player cleanly. He also has a knack for making tackles for loss. In his senior season he was a constant presence, recording 9 tackles for losses, 5.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery.
And offenses knew he was "the guy," so he was often double-teamed, still bursting through to pressure the quarterback or stop the run. He was one man controlling an entire line of scrimmage - he was the focus and still looked very good.
He does occasionally over pursue, letting his weight get the best of him, but it can be tweaked. Iupati's instincts for the most part are pretty good; and for a small school lineman coming into be a backup and learn from pros, he's got the tools and highlights to earn a spot with DeMarcus Dobbs, Ian Williams and Ricky Jean-Francois.
What we know about young Iupati is that he dominated at a small school, and that 49ers will give him a fair look. In the "Harbaalke era," they've spent draft picks on guys in the trenches from Western Oregon, Appalachian State, Montana State and Wake Forest - they don't discriminate against lower level competition if you handle your business just the same.
Iupati needs to improve his improve footwork, and it would help him get much better push if he adjusted his technique. And sometimes he plays too high, but at only 6'1, it should be less of a problem in the NFL. Coming into the league, he can certainly improve his overall technique, but he is physically capable of assuming the role of an NFL lineman.
Given his intensity and physicality, I've often wondered what Mike Iupati would be like on defense. And because I consider Mike to be one of the toughest interior lineman in the NFL, I think having a chance with his younger brother Andrew on the defensive side of the ball could be an exciting move that yields positive results.
There are also some things Andrew doesn't get credit for: (1) He trains in the offseason with his brother Mike, which is a privilege considering the preparation and conditioning of a pro. (2) He was also recruited to Oregon, so he could have continued to play in the PAC-12 with a big name school but he decided to transfer because he believed it was in his best interest.
I would also bet that coach Harbaugh takes to the dynamic of brothers having an opportunity to play on the same team in the NFL. Harbaugh has been working to cultivate that family environment, and what better way than to have actual family on the same roster. Not that it needs to be mentioned, but he coaches in the same league as his own brother John, so he appreciates that sort of thing.
It's a very interesting situation, and I personally will be monitoring Andrew's progress because I think he's got what it takes to make the 90-man roster. I am very excited for the youngster and hope he takes advantage of this opportunity.