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

July 27, 2010
Four picks unsigned, but Niners remain optimistic

Optimism abounded at the 49ers second annual "state of the franchise" event held tonight at the Santa Clara Convention Center. There was a highlight video set to Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight," a standing O when coach Mike Singletary was introduced and lots of promises about the team's 2010 prospects. These events have the feel of a college booster extravaganza or a high school pep rally, so I guess it was only fitting that expectations were high that the team would have every draft pick signed in time for training camp. Both first-round picks, Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati, second rounder Taylor Mays and third rounder Navorro Bowman have yet to sign. The rookies are scheduled to report Friday. The first practice is Monday.

"Obviously, we want to get it done, and there's constant communication right now with the guys that are working on the contract," personnel chief Trent Baalke said. "So once again, we fully expect them to be here. If they're not, we'll address it at that time. But right now, we expect them to be 49ers by the time they need to be."

The problem is that only one first rounder, Dallas' Dez Bryant, has signed thus far. Baalke said the signing period was at a virtual standstill right now because agents are waiting for the players slotted around their clients to sign their deals and establish the market. "They don't want to get a guy out of slot, because if you do it reflects badly on them going into next year and their recruiting process," Baalke said. "... I think everyone's just in a holding pattern, and as soon as a few start to go, I think you'll see a lot of them fall." (Another first rounder, CB Devin McCourty, signed this morning. McCourty was the 27th overall pick to the Patriots).

Even if some of the rookies are late, they promise to be in good shape. Baalke said that Davis has been working out at the 49ers facility every day since OTAs ended in June. Davis' conditioning was an issue early in spring practices, but he began to improve his stamina as the sessions drew to a close. "As of right now, he's doing an outstanding job of self-monitoring ...," Baalke said. "He's a self-motivated guy. I think you're going to see as the season unfolds and his career unfolds that a lot of things that have been said about him are probably a little bit misconstrued. This guy is a worker, but what you have to realize is he's 20 years old. He's learning how to be a pro." Iupati and Mays also have been in the building every day since OTAs.

Mike Singletary said he has not spoken to nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, who has yet to sign his franchise player tender. Singletary struck the same tone he did last season when Michael Crabtree did not appear for training camp. "I expect him to be here, but if he's not, it is not going to be an issue with me," he said of Franklin. "It's going to be the same as I said last year. I'm going to focus on the guys that are here. I'm going to focus on what I can control. If Aubrayo is not here, Aubrayo is not here." The silver lining if Franklin misses part of camp: It gives his inexperienced back up, Ricky Jean-Francois, more practice at the position.

Singletary said he figured the starters at right tackle and left guard on the first day of training camp would be Adam Snyder and David Baas respectively. Those were the starters throughout the spring. That obviously would be the case should contract impasses bleed into next week.

Singletary, of course, stole the show at last year's "state of the franchise" function with a couple of memorable sound bites. His best tonight came when he was going over how the 49ers addressed their offensive needs. He reiterated that the team wants to be physical, but to do that "we have to have an offensive line with teeth that can bite."

His No. 2 offseason priority was adding youth to the secondary. Singletary implied that Mark Roman and Michael Lewis were getting long in the tooth at the safety position. "As the season went on, those guys got a little beat up back there," he said. "... As the season went on, we got a little slower on the back end." Singletary seemed impressed by what he's seen from Mays so far. "There are a lot of things that he can do that have not been tapped," Singletary said.

Baalke said that the 49ers were poised to select Bowman with their original third-round pick, but they moved down in the third round to take him and got an extra sixth round pick in 2010 and a fourth-round pick in 2011 in the process. Like he did with the media following the draft, Baalke went over college game film of each of his picks that was projected on a large screen in the Santa Clara Convention Center. Of seventh-round pick Phillip Adams, Baalke said: "He's shown great promise, and we expect him to develop."

Jed York said the no. 1 complaint he receives from fans is that it takes forever to get out of the Candlestick Park parking lots following games. A new stadium in Santa Clara, he said, would empty 50 percent faster than Candlestick.

Finally, it's not just the 49ers who are optimistic about the team's chances in 2010. York said the season-ticket renewal rate this offseason has been better than it's been in a decade.

-- 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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