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March 17, 2011
Niners, Rathman take a long look at Stanford's Marecic

Stanford's pro day this afternoon was teeming with NFL personnel, although the bulk of them represented one team -- the 49ers. Among the coaches making the short drive up Highway 101 were defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, offensive coordinator Greg Roman, offensive line coach Tim Drevno and running backs coach Tom Rathman, who put Stanford fullback Owen Marecic through cone drills and then spent more than a half hour chatting with Marecic in a corner of the practice field. Marecic is considered the top fullback in the draft and could go as high as the third round. Fangio, Roman and Drevno, of course, coached at Stanford last season. Two 49ers scouts also were on hand Thursday.

"He has a ton of experience and he seems like a great coach, so he's giving me a lot of advice," Marecic said of Rathman. "There are a lot of things to work on."

Marecic said Rathman's advice mostly centered creating explosiveness, staying low to the ground and keeping his pad level below that of his opponents. Rathman, of course, is the quintessential fullback in a West Coast offense, a system Marecic ran at Stanford and one he would run if the 49ers were to draft him. "I haven't studied him in the past," Marecic said of Rathman. "But after today, after everything I did here, I'd better hit the books on that one."

Marecic, who ran a 4.87-second 40 at the combine, improved to 4.77 seconds today.

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Nose tackle Sione Fua rested on all of the numbers he produced at the combine save the broad jump and vertical jump. His broad jump improved from 8 feet 5 inches to 8-7 while his vertical went from 24 inches to 28 inches. That's not bad, especially considering his weight went from 308 pounds in late February to 311 pounds today.

Fua said he was hoping to get to 315 or possibly 320 pounds by the time he reports to an NFL team. "No team came out and said, 'We want you to be heavier,' but I kind of got that vibe at the Senior Bowl and combine," he said. "They asked questions like, 'What's the heaviest you've ever been?' I just got a vibe that maybe they wanted me a little heavier."

Fua has one private workout set up thus far -- with the Jets

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Richard Sherman, who played cornerback his senior year at Stanford, went through drills for both defensive backs and wide receivers. The 6-3 Sherman was a receiver his first two seasons with the Cardinal, finishing with 581 yards and three touchdowns his freshman season and 651 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore. He was injured as a junior and switched to cornerback last year.

Sherman and other receivers, including Ryan Whalen and tight end Konrad Rouland, caught passes today from back-up quarterback Alex Loukas.

"Teams have come up to me and asked if I'd be willing to make the transition back if need be," Sherman said. "And I said, it's up to them. Whatever they say goes. If they ask me to play punter, I'm going to play it and do it to the best of my abilities."

Sherman was clocked at 4.47 seconds in the 40 and had an impressive 11-foot broad jump.

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Another draft-worth Stanford player, outside linebacker Thomas Keiser, measured in at 6-3 3/8 inches and weighed 261 pounds. Keiser pulled a hamstring on his first attempt on the 40-yard dash; a make up date has not been set. Receiver Doug Baldwin, Stanford's leading receiver last year, ran his 40 in 4.45 seconds. Center Chase Beeler weighed in at 295 pounds and hoisted 225 pounds 33 times.

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One of the observers today promises to an observee - a popular one - next year at this time. "No regrets," said quarterback Andrew Luck, who chose to return to Stanford in 2011 instead of being perhaps the No. 1 pick this year. "I'm excited for these guys. Decided to come out and watch them take off on their new path. They're all good guys. It's cool to see a bunch of people out here watching them."

Luck, of course, was observing a pro day on the same day his former coach, Jim Harbaugh, was observing quarterback Blaine Gabbert's pro day in Columbia, Mo. Gabbert is vying to be the first player chosen April 28. Oh the irony ....

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW 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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