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

April 9, 2009
Smith v. Oher: Niners would love to choose

If you were putting odds on whom the 49ers would draft in the first round on April 25, the heavy favorites - pun intended - would have to be Andre Smith and Michael Oher. Both fill a need for the 49ers. Yes, the team signed Marvel Smith last month but they still have no long-term answer at right tackle. Perhaps most importantly, they both have a nasty streak that has to get Mike Singletary excited. Singletary is looking as much for mentality as he is talent, and both players seem to fit that "impose our will" attitude Singletary has talked about so much. Both also will be stopping in for visits. Here's a closer look:

Michael Oher
6-4, 309
arms: 33 ¼
bench: 24
40: 5.22

Oher and Cal center Alex Mack were far and away the best offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl. I remember watching Oher during one-on-one blocking drills. In three straight drills, Oher not only defeated his opponent - a different guy each time - he knocked him to the ground and then plopped on top of him for good measure. That's a nastiness the 49ers just haven't had on offense and one that Singletary is looking for.

The downsides for Oher are that he needs to get stronger and he seems aloof at times. There has been a lot of ink spilled about his intelligence. Oher had almost no schooling as a child and was way behind when he enrolled at a well-to-do high school in Memphis. But that doesn't mean he's unintelligent. Oher reportedly scored a 19 on his Wonderlic intelligence test. Ideally, evaluators want to see offensive linemen score in the mid to upper 20s. But 19 is by no means a deal breaker. Smith, by comparison, scored a 17 while legend has it Dan Marino scored a 16. I seem to recall Marino having a nice career.

Andre Smith
6-4, 332
arms: 35 3/8
bench: 19
40: 5.28

Smith was rated as the top offensive lineman in the draft before he mysteriously bolted from the scouting combine. His best attribute is his combination of size and quickness. He's incredibly agile for someone who weighs 330 pounds and he was good at hitting moving targets at Alabama. His run-blocking ability has to be attractive to a team that wants to re-dedicate itself to the run in 2009, and pairing Smith with second-round pick Chilo Rachal would give the 49ers a wicked right hook for years to come.

Underclassmen like Smith always bring maturity concerns, and his action in Indianapolis only heightens those concerns. Smith also was suspended before the most important game at Alabama, the Sugar Bowl. His replacement was thrashed by Utah defensive ends Paul Kruger and Koa Misi, a big reason why Alabama lost the game. Like Oher, Smith also needs to spend more time in the weight room as his jiggly pro day performance attests. However, his 19 reps of 225 pounds aren't as poor as they seem when you consider his arms are nearly three feet long.

-- 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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