Wide receivers coach John Morton not only flew to Indiana to watch Cody Latimer's Friday workout, he spent an hour and half with Latimer diagramming plays and otherwise trying to figure out how the big-bodied wideout would adapt to an NFL film room, meeting room, locker room.
What does that mean? Well, in 2010 offensive line coach Mike Solari met with both Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati to chart plays on a white board and otherwise discuss the type of schemes they'd be expected to process with the 49ers. The 49ers took each in the first round that year. Last year, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula attended Tank Carradine's pre-draft workout and also spent time with him afterward. The 49ers took him in the second round, 40th overall.
So that means it's a slam dunk that the 49ers will take Latimer? No, not exactly. The only reason we know that Solari met with Davis and Iupati is because they ended up on the squad and Solari talked about their visit afterward. What we don't have is the list of players Solari, Tomsula, Morton, et. al. have met with in previous years that the 49ers ultimately passed over.
In 2012, for example, Solari met with, and went over plays with, offensive lineman Amini Silatolu (prompting me, in my mock draft that year, to project Silatolu to the 49ers at pick No. 30.). San Francisco instead took A.J. Jenkins - who visited Santa Clara before the draft and presumably charted plays - in the first round while the Panthers took Silatolu 10 picks later.
Did Solari have a bad session with Silatolu? Were the 49ers trying to throw a smoke screen? Did they really like Silatolu but just not as much as Jenkins? These are all unknowns. There are plenty of clues in the run-up to the draft. The trick is figuring out which clues are the most important. The 49ers also have met with receivers Martavis Bryant, Paul Richardson and, according to CSN Bay Area, Kelvin Benjamin this month, and they presumably charted plays them as well.
Do 49ers' first-round picks usually pay the team a pre-draft visit? Yes, but not always. Here's the list since Trent Baalke started running the draft in 2010.
2010: Anthony Davis - yes
2010: Mike Iupati - yes
2011: Aldon Smith - yes
2012: A.J. Jenkins - yes
2013: Eric Reid - no.
- Matt Barrows