A couple of guys the 49ers had their collective eyes on at the Senior Bowl – Texas receiver Limas Sweed and Notre Dame defensive lineman Trevor Laws – had their pro days today. Sweed, who is one of the more physically impressive receivers in the draft, ran the 40 between 4.40 and 4.42, according to the school’s sports information staff. If you’ll recall, Sweed looked good early at the Senior Bowl but was bothered by the wrist injury that plagued him in college and eventually dropped out of the competition. I got the impression that Mike Nolan thought Sweed was a bit soft for going home early. In case you haven’t noticed, Nolan doesn’t care for players who can’t grin and bear their injuries. The Texas pro day typically is one that GM Scot McCloughan attends in person. I don’t know whether he went this year.
As for Laws, he rested on the numbers he turned in at last month’s pro day and mostly did position work at South Bend this afternoon. It seems that some of you disagree (to put it mildly) with my assertion that the 49ers could take Laws with their No. 29 pick. The argument against that, as far as I can tell, is that most “experts” have Laws as a second- or third-round pick and that Laws is too small to qualify as a first rounder. It should be noted, however, that Laws has almost the exact same dimensions of two would-be Top 10 picks, USC’s Sedrick Ellis and LSU’s Glenn Dorsey. Laws is actually a shade taller than Ellis and a shade shorter than Dorsey. All three men are about 300 pounds. Dorsey, of course, has yet to go through the combine drills. But Laws had better numbers than Ellis in the 40 (5.08 vs. 5.24) and in the bench press (35 reps vs. 34). Am I saying that Laws is better than Ellis? No. I thought Ellis was the best player at the Senior Bowl. But I am saying that perhaps the difference isn’t as big as some believe.
Thanks to the Notre Dame sports information staff for sending me the pool report from their pro day. I found these quotes from coach Charlie Weis particularly interesting:
(Do scouts or teams ask you what round you think a player should go?)
"No, but because I know a lot of these guys they'll tell me where they have them -- which I'm not at liberty to say -- and I'll tell them, either, 'That's where I see him,' or, 'I think he's better than that.' Like Trevor Laws, somebody might say 'I see him in the third round.' And I'll say, 'Maybe that's where he was, but that's not where he is now.' I'll say it's past tense."
"But a guy like Laws, where the arrow is pointing up, his stock goes up every single day and he doesn't have to do anything. Because everyone else has holes in them and he doesn't have any holes in him other than he's not 6-4. If he was 6-4, he might be the first player taken in the draft based on how he played."
(when you were a coach, did you ever see a player do poorly on Pro Day and turn out to be a good player)
"Terrell Owens. He was a third-round draft choice. I was at his workout at Tennessee-Chattanooga he looked like a great athlete who couldn't run routes. And look at him now. He obviously learned to run routes."
Nolan flew to L.A. today to do a live show with NFL Network. He’ll be on between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. If you can’t watch, don’t worry – I’ll take notes and report back what he said. I’m guessing he’ll be wearing a suit …
... ok, Nolan was just on and, as predicted, made a big splash with his suit. In fact, the entire NFL Network staff -- even the women -- were wearing ties. Said host Rich Eisen: "I've got to be honest with you -- not even the commissioner makes us dress this way."
* Nolan was asked about the quarterback position and reiterated that Alex Smith wouldn't be handed the top slot as he has been in previous years. Instead, it will be an open competition between Smith and Shaun Hill. Nolan said on two occassions that it was important to remember that Smith was 7-5 as the 49ers' starter. Funny -- by my count, he's 11-19 as the 49ers' starter. What he meant to say (I'm told) is that Smith is 7-5 in his last 12 starts when he is healthy. (Note to coach: Those qualifiers are sort of important).
* Nolan did not mention J.T. O'Sullivan as being part of that competition for starter. I asked Mike Martz specifically about O'Sillivan last week and he said the former UC Davis star definitely had a shot.
* Nolan also talked about Mike Martz and said the team's new offensive coordinator has been typecast as a pass-happy coordinator. "His biggest strength is utilizing talent," Nolan said. He said Frank Gore and the 49ers constantly faced eight-men in the box and press coverages last year until Hill entered the mix. "That was one of the things that happened late in the year for us that really helped Shaun Hill," Nolan said. "When he was delivering the ball to the outside, all of a sudden it was a seven-man box. ... The pass helps the run and the run helps the pass."
* There was plenty of talk about the comparison between Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis. Regarding Lewis, Nolan shared something I'd never heard before. When he was the D-coordinator in Baltimore, he would call two plays and give Lewis the option of picking the play he thought was best. So Nolan would call one play and Lewis could shake it off like a pitcher does a catcher. Lewis is the only player Nolan has trusted enough to be extended that courtesy.
* Former Redskins and Texans GM Charley Casserley was asked who he thought the 49ers should take with pick no. 29. He listed two offensive tackles, Pitt's Jeff Otah and BC's Gosder Cherilus. Afterward, Nolan remarked that the draft is deep in offensive tackles and defensive backs.
-- Matt Barrows