49ers Blog and Q&A

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

July 27, 2011
Harbaugh taking "Tight End U." to the NFL

If Penn State is known as Linebacker U, then Stanford - in recent years at least - was Tight End U.

This according to one of those tight ends, Konrad Reuland, who signed a rookie free-agent contract with the 49ers today. Reuland, 6-4, 260, said he had offers from several teams but chose the 49ers because of his familiarity with the coaches and because of how they use their tight ends.

If Stanford is a guide, Reuland said, Harbaugh will use a lot of two- and three-tight end sets and he will ask each of his tight ends to be able to play multiple roles. "My experience is that they asked the tight ends to know everything, to know every spot on the field, which frees you up," he said. "There will be a lot asked of us in terms of, we have to know our stuff and be on it."

Reuland, an honorable-mention All-Pac 10 performer last year, said Harbaugh's system attracted some of the best tight ends in the country to Stanford, and they were forced to compete. "It brought a lot of competitiveness," he said. "And I'm hoping that prepares me for the next level.

Jeremiah Masoli, another undrafted free agent, played quarterback at Oregon and Ole Miss, but the 49ers list him as a running back. According to Masoli, he'll do a little of everything. The San Francisco native got a taste of that during the 49ers "local" pro day in April.

"After workouts were over, Coach Harbaugh wanted me to come catch some punts and do some running back drills," he said. "I started thinking maybe - maybe - it might be San Francisco."

Still, Masoli may have to line up at quarterback early in training camp. That's because rookie Colin Kaepernick may be the only passer permitted to take the field. Alex Smith is expected to sign a one-year contract Friday, but he can't join training camp until the players recertify as a union. Meanwhile, CSN Bay area reports that veteran David Carr will be released on Thursday. Any free-agent quarterback the team signs would be in the same situation as Smith.

The team's biggest undrafted free agent -- literally and figuratively -- is Notre Dame's Ian Williams. He said he had interest from 10-15 teams on Monday but chose the 49ers for two reasons -- their shortage of nose tackles and playing for Harbaugh, whose Stanford team steamrolled the Fighting Irish last season. "He's a hard-nosed guy," Williams said. "He runs power and he ran the ball straight at us."

The other part of the equation was the 49ers' depth chart. Williams and his agent suspected that the 49ers would part ways with free-agent nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. Williams says he's about 315 pounds, which is what he played last year for the Fighting Irish. Williams missed four games with an MCL injury, and he suspects that's why he went undrafted.

Wiliams said he hasn't studied any film of how defensive coordinator Vic Fangio uses the nose tackle. But he did become friends with Fangio's Stanford nose guard, Sione Fua, at the Senior Bowl and combine.

-- 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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