49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

April 27, 2008
49ers draft, part deux

5:37 p.m. Scot McCloughan just held his end-of-draft press conference. Perhaps the most interesting thing he said was how closely the 49ers' board matched that of the rest of the league. You might think that happens all the time. In fact, McCloughan said, it hardly ever happens. The team that seemed to be mirroring the 49ers the closest was the Kansas City Chiefs. To give you an indication of which other players the 49ers valued, the Chiefs chose the following players:
1st Glenn Dorsey, DT
1st Branden Albert, G
2nd Branden Flowers, CB
3rd Jamaal Charles, RB
3rd DaJuan Morgan, S
3rd Brad Cottam, TE
4th Will Franklin, WR
5th Brandon Carr, CB
6th Barry Richardson, OT
6th Kevin Robinson, WR
7th Brian Johnson, DE
7th Mike Merritt, TE

McCloughan also said the 49ers had plenty of chances to move back in the draft, especially in the fourth, sixth and seventh rounds. Each time, however, the player they wanted most was available to them.

As far as Takeo Spikes, McCloughan said the team probably would touch base with Spikes "soon" but that the 49ers wouldn't force the issue.

McCloughan spoke a lot about Kentwan Balmer. I asked him whether Balmer had the right shape to play nose tackle. To me the position calls for a more squat, low-to-the-ground type of player. Balmer, at 6-5, 295 pounds, is more angular. But McCloughan insisted Balmer can play the point. "He's a thick-hipped, thick-legged guy. He's built like a nose. If we want him to be big, he can do it." McCloughan said he was very impressed with Balmer's use of leverage. You could tell he was very excited about the pick.

Oh, one more thing. I asked McCloughan why Carl Nicks (know in the media trailer as "Barrows' guy Carl Nicks") fell. The essense is that Nicks had first-to-second round talent but late fifth-round character issues.

3:19 p.m. Here are some odds and ends from Nolan. Asked about the draft in general, Nolan said he has yet to give it a really detailed analysis. But his gut reaction is that the Chiefs had a very strong draft. Sorry, Raiders fans.

Despite the Larry Grant selection, Nolan said that Takeo Spikes wasn't "out of the picture" but that nothing would be done imminently.

Now that the draft is over, the 49ers will concentrate on signing undrafted free agents. Nolan said the team has 71 players right now and probably will add six or so before the May 2 minicamp. Look for them to add two offensive tackles and two receivers.

Nolan said he didn't know Chris Long would line up in the St. Louis defense. He said Long reminded him of Justin Smith "because they have very good motors."

Kentwan Balmer's first press conference with the team was supposed to be at 3 p.m. Balmer, however, missed his flight when some members of his travel party didn't show up on time. Now the presser is at 7 p.m. Thanks, Kentwan.

3:07 p.m. We have another Sacto guy on the roster! It turns out that Larry Grant grew up in Sactown and played two years at Foothill High School where he lettered as a running back and a safety.
Grant played two seasons at City College of San Francisco where he was the California junior college player of the year in 2005. He then transferred to Ohio State where he played outside linebacker.
The 49ers selected Grant in the seventh round, 214th overall, to compete at inside linebacker with Jeff Ulbrich and Dontarrious Thomas. Mike Nolan said that Brandon Moore, who once was part of the mix at "ted," instead will back up Patrick Willis at "mike" linebacker.
“We talked about (drafting) an inside linebacker at some point,” Nolan said. “Hopefully Larry Grant gives us a player that can compete at the position.”
Grant was born in Santa Rosa but moved to the Sacramento a few years later. He spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at Foothill before moving to Georgia to live with his older brother. He returned to graduate from Foothill.
“There was a certain family situation that wasn’t the best for me,” Grant said on a conference call.

2:06 p.m. According to Ohio State's web site, Grant was the JUCO player of the year in 2005 after finishing with 175 in two years at Community College of San Francisco. Grant is listed as 6-1, 235 pounds. As a Buckeye senior in 2007, he started all 13 games and had 51 tackles (9.5 for losses), five sacks, a forced fumble, an interception and five pass breakups. Perhaps more significantly for his future role with the 49ers, he blocked three kicks at Ohio State last year and had six blocks in 2005 at CCSF.

2:05 p.m. The 49ers round out their draft with LARRY GRANT, OLB from Ohio State.

1:04 p.m. Just spoke with Josh Morgan, who met with the 49ers at the Hula Bowl and who also visited the team earlier this month. Morgan said his arrest at Virginia Tech wasn't a big topic of conversation beyond the scouting combine. "That was the only incident I've ever had in my life," he said. "We were over that issue pretty much at the combine." Morgan talked a little bit about being on campus during the shootings last year. Morgan actually was taking a class in the building next to Norris Hall where the shootings took place. When authorities let the students out of their classrooms, Morgan walked across the street to his apartment where he and his teammates watched the events play out on television. "It was surreal," he said. "You don't expect anything like that to happen." As far as the football field, Morgan said he and Eddie Royal handled kickoff duties but that Royal handled all punt-return duties.

12:32 p.m. Here's a little info on Morgan. He's a big guy -- 6-foot, 215 pounds -- with tons of talent who probably was held back by the Virginia Tech offense. He got into trouble in 2006 in Blacksburg when he allegedly punched out the window of a truck in an attempt to get at the driver. He was pepper-sprayed by police and arrested for disorderly conduct. He was suspended for the Georgia Tech game as a result.

In 14 games (11 starts) as a senior, Morgan had 46 receptions for 552 yards (12.0 average) and five touchdowns. For his career, he also had 26 kickoff returns for 450 yards and 14 punt returns for 148 yards, but yielded a lot of the return duties to Eddie Royal. When Limas Sweed and Early Doucet got hurt at the Senior Bowl, the 49ers attempted -- but weren't successful -- to get Morgan to fly into Mobile as a replacement. He seems to be similar to last year's draft pick, Jason Hill, who also is a big guy who timed well in the 40-yard dash but doesn't play quite as fast on the field. Morgan ran a 4.46 at the combine.

12:28 p.m. The 49ers take WR JOSH MORGAN out of Va. Tech. Finally, Barrows gets one right!

12:06 p.m. Nicks just went to the Saints with the 29th pick in the fifth round. Dagger to my heart ...

11:58 a.m. Howard just went to the Colts ...

11:45 a.m. Ok, who are some guys who could be available to the 49ers in the sixth and seventh? How about Georgia Tech OLB Darrell Robertson or Georgia OLB Marcus Howard? If they're looking for an inside linebacker, how about Vandy's Jonathan Goff? Receiver? What about Virginia Tech's Josh Morgan? And guess which offensive tackle is still on the board -- CARL NICKS!!!

11:02 a.m. The hated Bears just picked in the slot that the 49ers had before tamperGate reared its ugly head. The Bears took Zackary Bowman, a cornerback out of Nebraska. Anyone who saw the Cornhuskers play defense this past season might not think that's a very good pick.

10:11 a.m. Lavelle Hawkins goes to the Titans.

10:08 a.m. As for the Cody Wallace selection, Nolan said the pick didn't have anything to do with Eric Heitmann -- "Eric's our starter," he said -- but he did note that Heitmann could move to guard. Nolan said that Wallace would play center but that his presence gives the line more flexibility. Wallace lost both of his parents when he was young and Nolan said that he and his assistants were impressed with Wallace's demeanor at the Senior Bowl. They were also impressed with how Wallace held up against the North squad defensive line, which included Sedrick Ellis, Trevor Laws and Lawrence Jackson. "We thought he performed well from that standpoint," Nolan said. Nolan said that Wallace was very serious and compared his demeanor to that of former 49ers center Jeremy Newberry. "J was a no-nonsense guy when it came to football," Nolan said. "(Wallace) doesn't back down. He's not as big as J, but he's not small."

10:04 a.m. As far as the Reggie Smith pick, Nolan said he was worried about durability at cornerback. He noted that Walt Harris was getting long in the tooth and that Tarell Bown, Marcus Hudson and Shawntae Spencer were hurt at various times last season. In fact, Brown (knee) will be limited in the team's upcoming minicamp. Nolan said he is expected to be at full strength for training camp. Nolan also said that the 49ers want the cornerback who plays opposite Nate Clements to be physical with his receiver because he has safety help and can afford to be more physical. "In our division, I belive that match-up corners are very important," Nolan said.

9:57 a.m. Mike Nolan just spoke with us about the team's last two picks. Of course, some of us pointed out that the 49ers -- last in offense last season -- have yet to take a playmaker. Nolan, however, noted that team had picked up several in free agency. "I'd rather get the experienced guy right now. That's not to say we're not looking at receivers hard." In fact, the 49ers were contemplating a receiver -- Eddie Royal?? -- in the second round. Nolan said he asked Mike Martz whether he would rather have the receiver than Chilo Rachal, but Martz said he preferred Rachal, according to Nolan. Martz also gave his blessing to Cody Wallace.

9:16 a.m. Ok, here's the poop on Wallace. Again, he's another guy who fits the 49ers' mold. He's a smart and powerful interior lineman who holds the Texas A&M record with a 740-pound squat lift. Wallace is a Senior Bowl alum who worked closely with George Warhop in Mobile. He also is a two-year captain, which likely endeared him to the 49ers. It's notable that the 49ers have spent two picks on the interior of the offensive line, a huge problem last season. It's also notable that the current center, Eric Heitmann, is entering the final season on his contract. Wallace is another guy who was had had little contact with the team since the combine. "This was a little earlier than I expected," Wallace said of his draft slot. "I didn't expect to be called this soon."

9:10 a.m. The 49ers select .... CODY WALLACE ... a 295-pound center out of Texas A&M. You'll have to give me a moment while we talk with Wallace on a conference call..

9:03 a.m. Beau Bell is no longer on the board. The Browns just took him ...

9:02 a.m. Green Bay just took another edge pass rusher -- Jeremy Thompson out of Wake Forest. Thompson has a "meh" Senior Bowl in my opinion. The 49ers soon will be on the clock ....

8:10 a.m. Dang. The Falcons just took my guy, Harry Douglas, with the 84th pick.

7:52 a.m. Just got off a brief conference call with Smith from his home in Edmond, Okla. Here's the funniest part: Smith was sleeping when scout Todd Brunner called to tell him he would be a 49er. "I'm in bed still," he said. "I just rolled out of bed." Like Chilo Rachal, Smith said he had no clue that the 49ers were interested in him. He spoke with the team at the combine but has had no contact since.

7:36 a.m. The 49ers take REGGIE SMITH, a corner (or is he a safety?) from Oklahoma. Smith, a junior, is listed as 6-1, 197 pounds. Smith seems to fit the mold of a 49ers defensive back. He has good size, was durable and productive in college and is a big hitter. But he does not have great timed speed, which is why some people see him as a safety. One bonus is that he's been a productive return man while at Oklahoma.

Here are Smith's stats: In 39 games at Oklahoma, he started 36 times, with 20 of those starts coming at strong safety, 14 at field cornerback and two at boundary cornerback. He recorded 166 tackles (117 solos) with an eight-yard sack and 12.5 stops for losses of 36 yards. He recovered three fumbles, returning two for a total of 69 yards and a touchdown. He deflected 22 passes and intercepted eight others for 156 yards in returns (19.5-yard average) and a score.

7:34 a.m. Panthers take Dan Connor. Don't think the 49ers ever really loved this guy. San Francisco is on the clock.

7:29 a.m. The Ravens take Miami linebacker Tavares Gooden, a guy the 49ers liked. Of course, this means that there's a good chance Gooden winds up in San Francisco at some point.

7:25 a.m. So whom did the Bears select with what used to be the 49ers' pick? Vanderbilt receiver Earl Bennett, one of several shifty, speedy receivers the 49ers could have used as a slot receiver. Of course, we'll have to wait to see what kind of receiver Bennett becomes, but there appear to be several similar receivers still available, including Doucet and another guy I like, Louisville's Harry Douglas.

7:23 a.m. The Chargers just picked LSU fullback/running back Jacob Hester, a guy Nolan and the 49ers liked at the Senior Bowl.

7:10 a.m. The Rams take John Greco, who was The Sporting News' top-rated guard. That gives the 49ers' division opponent Chris Long, WR Donnie Avery -- who was the first receiver taken -- and Greco.

6:55 a.m. So this is what the 6 a.m. hour looks like ... We're back at the media trailer. Today, however, the crowd inside is a bit more sparse. Right now it's just me, Maiocco and John Crumpacker, who just walked in. It seems the Lions are on the clock. Things to watch for in the next hour or so ... Whom the Bears select at what was originally the 49ers' pick and, of course, whom the 49ers get five picks later. My two top-rated guys are Carl Nicks (surprise!) and Early Doucet.



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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