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

February 18, 2010
Combine countdown: McClain, Odrick and Spiller

Continuing our look at the first-round picks who are in the 49ers' wheelhouse and what those players need to show at next week's scouting combine. Thanks to NFL Draft Scout's Rob Rang, who helped me with these thoughts ... For previous installments, click here and here.

Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama, 6-4, 256
Like Texas' Sergio Kindle, McClain is another linebacker who promises to light up Indianapolis - both in the drills and in the meeting rooms. He's a big, long-armed linebacker with excellent upper body strength. Some teams think he's fast enough to be an outside linebacker, so scouts will pay close attention to his 40-yard dash time and other indicators of quickness. Rang admits that he isn't as jazzed about McClain as some other evaluators. He said that in game film the linebacker would look very instinctive one moment and not so instinctive the next. What scouts would like to see most from McClain is an ability to fight through blocks, something he would have to do as the 49ers' "Ted" linebacker and something that isn't tested at the combine. There's a sense that McClain was the beneficiary of an NFL-caliber defensive line at Alabama that included 370-pound nose tackle Terrence Cody. "He was so protected," Rang said. "I just feel like he hasn't passed every test that NFL scouts would like to see him pass."

Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State, 6-5, 301
Odrick is a safe pick. There's plenty of tape on him. He played well at the Senior Bowl. And he's consistent. His game film shows he plays with strength in the trenches, but scouts will be curious as to the type of weight he puts up on the bench press. Odrick is the type of guy who, if he dazzled with his athleticism, could climb higher into the first round. He appears to be a very good fit at defensive end in a 3-4 defense. The problem for the 49ers is that they already have six players under contract that play the same position.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson, 5-11, 195.
The C.J. Spiller bandwagon is beginning to rev its engines and it should get even louder at the combine. Why? First, Spiller is expected to run a very fast 40 time (cross your fingers that he doesn't decide to put that off for his pro day) Second, this is a weak year for running backs and Spiller will get a lot of attention. As is the case with most running backs, Spiller's biggest obstacle in Indianapolis may be the battery of medical examinations he'll be subjected to. Teams will want to know whether he has an injury building up like Glenn Dorsey in 2008 or Michael Crabtree in 2009. Spiller had nagging foot and ankle injuries while at Clemson, but he fought through them, never missing a game in four seasons. Spiller is a four-year starter, which usually is a red flag when it comes to running backs. However, he only spent his senior season as the featured back, having split carries with James Davis his first three seasons. Spiller did not attend the Senior Bowl and his weigh in also will draw interest. Teams don't want to see a running back - even a third-down runner - too far below 200 pounds.

-- 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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