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April 24, 2012
Magnificent 7: Predicting the 49ers' draft picks

Here's my Rounds 1-7 prediction for a friendly intra-beatwriters competition we're doing this year. If I even get just one of these correct, I will parade this around town like a new-born son. If I fail to get any right, this post mysteriously disappears from the internet ...

1. G Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State. He's a 315-pound guy who can dunk a basketball. Silatolu has tremendous upside and pairing him opposite Mike Iupati is enough to make defensive coordinators tremble. His biggest downside is his level of competition. But the 49ers are confident he can be coached up to speed quickly. Mike Solari last week had Silatolu diagram and digest plays on a whiteboard just as he did with Iupati before the 2010 draft.

2. CB Trumaine Johnson, Montana. He's just the kind of cornerback the 49ers love - tall (6-2) with long arms to jam defenders. Johnson has first-round ability but character concerns will knock him down teams' draft boards. Will he last to the end of the second round?

3. RB Chris Polk, Washington. He has durability concerns (shoulders) and wasn't impressive at the Senior Bowl. However, he's a big-bodied runner, who was consistently productive at Washington and who is best between the tackles. Polk is just the kind of runner position coach Tom Rathman covets - one cut and he hits the hole. He was particularly good at the goal line (12 TDs) last year and added four more scores as a receiver.

4. WR Rishard Matthews, Nevada. His production notably improved after Colin Kaepernick's departure. Matthews caught 91 passes for 1,364 yards last year. He's got good size (6-1, 208), adjusts well when the ball is in the air, and perhaps best of all, he is very physical after the catch. An added bonus: He also returns punts and has a touchdown return in each of the last two years.

5. LB Miles Burris, San Diego State. The 49ers will love his leadership, versatility and hustle. He could be a backup at two positions, inside and outside linebacker, early in his career and would be a special teams demon right off the bat. A weight-room freak, he had 18 sacks in his last two seasons with the Aztecs.

6. S Trent Robinson, Michigan State. The 49ers need a fourth safety and Robinson has the ability to play free safety behind Dashon Goldson. Robinson is small at 5-9 ½, but he was productive at Michigan State with eight interceptions in the last two seasons. He'd be an immediate special teams contributor.

7. OL Jeff Adams, Columbia. Adams would be a project, but he has the length and the athletic abilty to warrant a late-round draft pick.

-- 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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