49ers Blog and Q&A

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

April 10, 2008
Merling, Harvey, Kelly to visit 49ers

The 49ers just released a partial list of the college players who will be visiting before the draft. There are a couple of interesting names on the list, including a pair of defensive ends, Florida's Derrick Harvey and Clemson's Phillip Merling. In addition, Oklahoma receiver Malcolm Kelly will visit Monday, according to his agent Chad Speck.

Here's the list:
Shane Simmons – Western Washington – LB
Ryan Wendell – Fresno St. – OL
Quentin Groves – Auburn – LB
Dwight Lowery – San Jose – CB
Phillip Merling – Clemson – DE
DeSean Jackson – CAL – WR
Derrick Harvey – Florida – DE

Teams can bring in 30 prospects before the draft, and the 49ers sometimes bring in players they have no intention of drafting. Harvey, for example, is expected to be drafted well before the 49ers are on the clock at pick No. 29. In fact, some believe the Patriots could choose Harvey with the No. 7 pick the 49ers traded away last April. Why would the 49ers interview him then? If they fell in love with Harvey, it's possible they could trade up to get him if he slipped farther than expected. The 49ers also file away their interview results and look them up again when players hit the free-agent market several years from now. Other players are brought in who could be signed as undrafted free agents as soon as the draft is over.

Many of you probably are somewhat familiar with Groves, Jackson, Harvey, Merling and Kelly. Here's some info on the other guys the 49ers are interviewing.

* Guard Ryan Wendell, Fresno State
6-2 1/2, 287 pounds
The Sporting News ranks him as the 24th best guard in the draft. Bottom line: Wendell is a good all-around lineman who can help a team at guard or center. His NFL coaches must be patient because it will take time for Wendell to add the necessary bulk to compete. He could develop into a starter down the road, though.

* Dwight Lowery, San Jose State
5-11 3/8, 198
The Sporting News ranks him as the 20th-best cornerback. Bottom line: Lowery thought about leaving school for the '07 draft but made the wise decision to stay for his senior season. That said, his performance as a senior didn't improve his draft stock much. Lowery allows way too many catches to inferior receivers; in games we graded on film, he allowed five catches for every pass he broke up. He was one of the more athletic cornerbacks at the East-West Shrine Game, but Lowery is not a playmaker worthy of a high draft choice. Barrows' note: I covered the UC Davis-San Jose State game this year and the Aggies went after Lowery -- successfully -- early in the game. Read into that what you will ...

* Linebacker Shane Simmons, Western Washington
6-1 1/4, 239 pounds
The Sporting News ranks him as the 44th-best outside linebacker. They do not have an evaluation on him at this point.

-- Matt 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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