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May 9, 2014
Third-round bounty: 49ers tap center, linebacker, guard


The 49ers now have four picks in the third round after a bevy of trades in the second. I'll post them here as they come in.

No. 70: Marcus Martin, C/G, USC. The 6-3, 310-pound Martin played center last year for USC, which puts him in competition with Daniel Kilgore, a fifth-round pick in 2011, for the starting role. Martin, 20, also played guard. And either he or Kilgore -- depending on who is playing center -- conceivably could step in for Mike Iupati at left guard should Iupati depart via free agency in March. Martin is an underclassman. He was the first true freshman to start on the Trojans' offensive line since 2004. Martin said he was "100 percent healthy" after dealing with recent knee and ankle injuries. Martin has 34-inch arms, which is excellent for an interior lineman and something that general manager Trent Baalke has said he covets in draft prospects.

No. 77: Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin. Borland (5-11, 245) was an ultra-productive tackler at Wisconsin -- 112 stops last year -- who has forced 15 fumbles over his career there. In terms of production, Borland was perhaps the top inside linebacker in the draft. But his size and -- gasp! -- stubby, 28 5/8-inch arms may have caused him to slip. NaVorro Bowman is expected to miss perhaps the first half of the season while he recovers from January's ACL tear, and Borland will compete with Michael Wilhoite and Nick Moody for that role. Borland said he hasn't had a lot of coverage duties at Wisconsin, something the 49ers require from their inside linebackers, but it's not because he can't do it. "I think that was because of my skills as a pass rusher, not because of any deficiencies," he said.

No. 100: Brandon Thomas, G/T, Clemson. The 49ers have a habit of picking talented but injured players, and they continued it this year with Thomas. The Clemson lineman suffered a torn ACL while working out for the Saints in the run-up to the draft. The 6-4, 315-pound Thomas is unlikely to play this season, and if that happens his rookie-year contract would toll to 2015 and he would be signed through 2018. Thomas becomes yet another candidate to play left guard should Iupati move on next year. Like Martin, Thomas has exceptionally long arms -- 34 3/4 inches -- for an interior lineman. He's also played tackle while at Clemson.

The 49ers traded the 94th overall pick to the Browns for a fourth- and the sixth-round pick this year. They now have seven picks in rounds four through seven.

-- 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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