The 49ers, who were reportedly interested in West Virginia pass rusher Bruce Irvin in the first round, tapped that position in the fifth with Darius Fleming, an outside linebacker from Notre Dame in the fifth round. Fleming is a 6-1, 248-pound outside linebacker whose immediate role will be on special teams and who could see action as a pass-rush specialist on passing downs.
Fleming was in his car in the Chicago area when he got a call from Jim Harbaugh, whom he faced twice when Harbaugh was at Stanford. Harbaugh asked Fleming if he knew who he was. "I said, 'Yeah, i think we encountered each other a couple of times.' Coach Harbaugh is a great guy. I've watched his coaching style, and that's what I'm most excited about."
Playing against Harbaugh has become a common theme among the 49ers' draft picks. Two earlier selections, LaMichael James and Joe Looney, also faced the Cardinal in recent years. Fleming is a former roommate of current 49ers nose tackle, Ian Williams, and the two stayed in touch during Williams' rookie season last year.
Fleming has had multiple surgeries on his left shoulder but said he was ok now. He played all 13 games last season, finishing with seven tackles for loss and 3 1/2 sacks. He said he knows that the 49ers prefer big, sturdy defensive players and said he'd dedicate himself to getting stronger.
Appearing on NFL Network, Harbaugh noted the team only has three outside linebackers, Ahmad Brooks, Parys Harlason and Aldon Smith. "Mr. Fleming has an opportunity to compete at that position," he said.
-- Matt Barrows