Some teams coach in the Super Bowl. Others coach in the Senior Bowl. For the last three years, the 49ers have fallen into the latter category, which is why I am typing this from just outside the Big Easy. I’m staying at my buddy Mike Triplett’s house in Metairie, La. and then driving the 2 ½ hours to Mobile tomorrow morning so we can make the Senior Bowl weigh in, which apparently is always an intriguing event. That’s where that quarterback who was listed as 6-2 turns out to be 5-11 and where that defensive end who everyone thought was 255 pounds turns out to be a couple Whoppers over 280.
Mike Triplett, as some of you will recall, used to cover the 49ers for The Bee. One day on a road trip in New Orleans, Mike met a young lady whose reputation, standing in society and overall lovliness far surpassed the spot where he first laid eyes on her (Bourbon Street). The two started courting long distance and they fell madly in love. That union produced, well, me. (In a matter of speaking.) Mike moved to New Orleans to cover the Saints for the Times-Picayune, leaving the 49ers’ job open for me. So now that I think about it, I owe Mike and Sarah a lot. Probably a lot more than that crystal dairy creamer I got them as a wedding gift.
Now onto business… Prepare yourself for a lot of BPA (best player available) talk from Scot McCloughan and Mike Nolan this week. But you’ve got to believe that three positions – receiver, defensive line and linebacker – are high on their list. With that in mind, here are some intriguing names as we head into the Senior Bowl:
1. WR Limas Sweed, Texas. He’s big, fast and full of potential. But his senior season was marred by injuries. How will his wrist (and his rust) look this week?
2. The Smurfs. There are several receivers – Houston’s Donnie Avery, Louisville’s Harry Douglas, Virginia Tech’s Eddie Royal and Cal’s Lavelle Hawkins – who are hovering around 6 feet and who are below 200 pounds. Which are tough enough to beat the jams at the line of scrimmage?
3. Kentwan Balmer, UNC, and Dre Moore, UMD. These two guys played on the inside of the defensive line as seniors but might have the right size-quickness ratio to play defensive end in the 49ers’ 3-4 scheme. Maryland’s Moore will play for the South. North Carolina’s Balmer will play for the North. Go figure.
4. The ‘Tweeners. The 49ers will look for an undersized defensive end they can turn into an outside linebacker. And they feel they can do so in the mid rounds. Auburn’s Quentin Groves, Purdue’s Cliff Avril, UCLA’s Bruce Davis and Georgia Tech’s Darrell Robertson all fit that category.
5. The Teds. The 49ers are looking for someone who can play next to linebacker Patrick Willis. That player could arrive via free agency. Or he could be a rookie like UNLV’s Beau Bell, Miami’s Tavares Gooden or South Florida’s Ben Moffitt?
Stay tuned …
- Matt Barrows