49ers Blog and Q&A

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

April 17, 2009
Wanted: blue-collar OLBs

"It's outstanding. Parys is only going to get better. He is the ultimate 'blue-collar' guy. He'll give you all he has day in and day out. You give me 10 others just like Parys and we could win championships. I am very happy for him."

Mike Singletary said that yesterday after the 49ers signed Parys Haralson, their pass-rushing linebacker, to a four-year contract extension. It was sent out to all the reporters, and it's sort of a throw-away quote. I mean, of course the head coach is going to praise the player he just committed to for another four years.

But I think it's also telling in that it's another example that Singletary is searching more for mentality than he is for talent. He doesn't praise Haralson's skills or his pass-rushing ability. He praises his attitude and his work ethic. Which is why I think that if the 49ers take an OLB in the draft, they'll shy away from taking one in the first round.

You might use the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers as a template for what the 49ers are trying to build at outside linebacker. Of the six OLBs on that squad, the highest draft pick was LaMarr Woodley, a second rounder in 2007. Three of the other OLBs were undrafted free agents, including James Harrison.

Having said all that, I just conducted a mock draft with other beatwriters across the country. When it came time for pick No. 10, I was prepared to snag Ole Miss OT Michael Oher. But for some reason, Texas DE/OLB Brian Orakpo was still on the board. I took Orakpo, who, unlike Penn State's Aaron Maybin and Florida State's Everette Brown, is stout enough to be a three-down linebacker from Day 1.

But I doubt Orakpo will be sitting there on April 25. If he isn't, here are some other guys that might fit Singletary's blue-collar mold later in the draft:

2nd round:
Connor Barwin, Cincinnati
Larry English, No. Illinois
Lawrence Sidbury, Richmond

3rd round:
Paul Kruger, Utah
David Veikune, Hawaii

Matt Shaughnessy, Wisconsin

Sulak Stryker, Missouri

-- 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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