2015 DRAFT GUIDE
49ers add depth to roster, next year's draft

By ANTONIO GONZALEZ - AP Sports Writer
    2012-04-28 20:32

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Trent Baalke never felt pressured to load up on rookies or sacrifice depth to make one, splashy pick.

With a talented roster expected to challenge for the Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers general manager instead built depth and created future flexibility on the final day of the NFL draft.

Baalke still hopes the 49ers also plugged a few holes - and maybe found a hidden gem - in Saturday's late rounds, selecting guard Joe Looney of Wake Forest, Notre Dame linebacker Darius Fleming, Michigan State free safety Trenton Robinson, offensive lineman Jason Slowey of Western Oregon and defensive end Cam Johnson of Virginia. San Francisco also netted three picks for the 2013 draft.

``It's all about value,'' Baalke said. ``We feel good about that depth. It's about drafting players at the right value, and also making sure that they have a legitimate chance to make this football team.''

Going to back to Friday's third round, it seemed San Francisco might never draft another player.

The 49ers traded back three straight times from the 92nd pick before moving up to land Looney in the fourth round and 117th overall. San Francisco sent its original fourth-round pick (125th) and a sixth-rounder (196th) to Detroit.

The 6-foot-3, 318-pound Looney started at left guard the last three seasons for the Demon Deacons and - unlike the team's other picks on the final day - could have an immediate chance to play. San Francisco lost right guard Adam Snyder to Arizona in free agency.

``As impressive an interview as we had at the combine,'' 49ers coach Jim Harbugh said of Looney, emphasizing the lineman's ``oomph'' and ``pizazz'' as reasons. ``We believe he will be a starter in this league for us.''

Looney has a head start.

He spent part of the offseason working out with former 49ers center Jeremy Newberry (1998-2006), who knows Looney's agent, Andy Ross. The practice should speed up Looney's learning curve in Harbaugh's complex version of the West Coast offense.

The pulling guard - a key position in San Francisco's zone-blocking scheme to attack linebackers - had a left ankle injury that kept him from working out at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis and Wake Forest's pro day. He said Dr. Bob Anderson - the same specialist to perform surgery on Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry's right ankle last year - in Charlotte cleared him for running and jumping activities two weeks ago.

``I love pulling around, coming up on linebackers,'' said Looney, who can also play center. ``I feel like that's an offensive lineman's time to shine.''

Looney's selection followed a series of trades by San Francisco to add future picks.

Baalke parlayed the original 92th overall pick in the third round into five picks in trades with Indianapolis, Miami and Carolina. In all, that included a pair of sixth-round selections Saturday - one of which was later sent to Detroit - plus a pick in the third, fifth and sixth round in 2013.

The 49ers lost to the eventual champion New York Giants in the NFC title game and figured it best not to overload with late picks who probably won't make a talented roster this fall anyway.

``We feel like we're ready to go,'' Baalke said, acknowledging the team will sign undrafted free agents in the coming days.

That will include at least a trio of former Stanford players - defensive end Matt Masifilo, wide receiver Chris Owusu and safety Michael Thomas - who Harbaugh recruited while the Cardinal's coach. Masifilo drove from the nearby campus and signed minutes after the draft ended.

``That's probably one race and the last race I'll ever win against Owusu,'' said Masifilo, confirming his teammates would soon join. ``Coach Harbaugh likes to cut drag. He said it's a competition to get down here as fast you can.''

Familiarity proved to be a common theme for Harbaugh's new group.

The 49ers drafted wide receiver A.J. Jenkins of Illinois in the first round Thursday before selecting Oregon running back LaMichael James on Friday. James, Looney and Fleming made it three straight players Harbaugh had faced while Stanford's coach.

Fleming had 55 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks, one interception and one forced fumble for the Fighting Irish last season. San Francisco has perhaps the NFL's best linebacker corps with All-Pros Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman and sensational rookie Aldon Smith, among others, but a shortage of outside linebackers. Still, it will be tough for Fleming to find playing time as a rookie beyond special teams.

Even though he will be half a continent away from his native Chicago, Fleming should feel right at home.

He was a college roommate of San Francisco's Ian Williams, and the two are close friends. Fleming, who wanted to avoid the agony of watching the draft, was stuck in Chicago traffic when Harbaugh called him to deliver the news.

``I was actually rolling pretty well and then once I got the call traffic hit,'' Fleming said. ``I'm fine with being stuck in traffic now that I'm a 49er.''

In the sixth round, San Francisco took Robinson 180th and Slowey 199th overall.

Robinson had 76 tackles last season and his nine career interceptions are tied for 12th in Michigan State history. Slowey played left tackle for most of his career at Western Oregon but is projected at center or guard in the NFL.

The 49ers took Johnson in the seventh round and 237th overall. The Virginia defensive end is expected to shift to a pass-rushing outside linebacker in Vic Fangio's 3-4 scheme in a transition similar to the one Aldon Smith made a year ago.

``It's a historic day for so many of these young men,'' an overenthusiastic Harbaugh said. ``But it's not the end. It's very much the beginning.''

---

Follow Antonio Gonzalez at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Brandon ColemanSep 2 10:03p

New Orleans Saints WR Brandon Coleman has impressed QB Drew Brees during training camp and the preseason. The quarterback said Tuesday, Sept. 2, that he has a great comfort level with Coleman.

Richard RodgersSep 2 09:43p

Green Bay Packers TE Richard Rodgers is expected to see more opportunities in the passing game with WR Jordy Nelson (knee) done for the season.

Melvin GordonSep 2 08:23p

San Diego Chargers RBs Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead, Branden Oliver and Donald Brown will be part of a committee at running back this season, according to QB Philip Rivers. [ More ]

Randall CobbSep 2 07:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb (shoulder) said he'd be comfortable starting in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears even if he doesn't practice next week. However, wide receivers [ More ]

Giovani BernardSep 2 06:03p

Cincinnati Bengals RBs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard both finished among the top-16 running backs in point-per-reception leagues last season.

Tom BradySep 2 04:33p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady doesn't look like he'll reach a settlement with the NFL. The league and the NFL Player's Associated have not had any talks regarding [ More ]

Victor CruzSep 2 04:03p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (calf) is doubtful to play Week 1, according to ESPNNewYork.com's Dan Graziano. Cruz has not yet been cleared to practice and did not participate in the preseason.

LeSean McCoySep 2 01:43p

Updating an earlier report, Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) may not be in great 'football shape' once Week 1 rolls around, according to a source. He's not at [ More ]

LeSean McCoySep 2 12:43p

Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) seems to be in some danger of missing the season opener Sept. 13. 'Well we certainly expect him to be ready to go, [ More ]

EJ ManuelSep 2 11:33a

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel is expected to remain on the team as the backup quarterback. There is growing expectations that QB Matt Cassel will be cut.

Matt CasselSep 2 09:23a

Buffalo Bills QB Matt Cassel could be cut by the team, as they are internally discussing the option.

Joseph RandleSep 2 08:33a

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle could have 10-15 carries per game with RB Darren McFadden slightly below that, in the opinion of beat writer Drew Davison

Travis CoonsSep 1 11:03p

Cleveland Browns PK Travis Coons edged out PK Carey Spear, winning the battle for the placekicking job. 'Yeah, it was close. I thought both guys handled themselves very well, [ More ]

Nick ToonSep 1 07:43p

New Orleans Saints WRs Nick Toon, Lance Lewis and R.J. Harris were released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Randall CobbSep 1 06:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb (shoulder) thinks his sprained right shoulder will be good to go to play in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears in 12 days. [ More ]

James ButlerSep 1 05:53p

Green Bay Packers WR James Butler and TE Harold Spears were released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Julius ThomasSep 1 05:23p

Jacksonville Jaguars TE Julius Thomas (finger) will undergo surgery on his injured finger Wednesday, Sept. 2, according to a source. Thomas is expected to miss four to five weeks.

Zac DysertSep 1 05:13p

Free-agent QB Zac Dysert (Broncos) was claimed by the Chicago Bears Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Tom BradySep 1 05:03p

Updating a previous report, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will know his fate by the end of this week. Judge Richard Berman said he will issue his decision and order by that time.

Matt BlanchardSep 1 04:53p

Green Bay Packers QB Matt Blanchard was released Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to a source.

Juron CrinerSep 1 04:32p

New York Giants RB Akeem Hunt (hamstring) was waived/injured Tuesday, Sept. 1. WRs Juron Criner and Derrick X. Johnson and TE Will Tye were also waived.

Robert HerronSep 1 04:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Robert Herron was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Phil TaylorSep 1 04:23p

Cleveland Browns DT Phil Taylor was released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Junior HemingwaySep 1 04:12p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Michael HillSep 1 04:12p

Dallas Cowboys RB Michael Hill (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, Sept. 1. WRs Antwan Goodley and David Porter and TE Brandon Barden were also waived.

Travis KelceSep 1 03:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (ankle) would be able to play if the Chiefs had a game Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to head coach Andy Reid. Kelce is recovering from an ankle sprain.

Jarrett BoykinSep 1 03:03p

Carolina Panthers WRs Jarrett Boykin and De'Andre Presley were waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Jace AmaroSep 1 01:33p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (shoulder) will have season-ending shoulder surgery and will be placed on the Reserve/Injured list.

Erik LorigSep 1 12:33p

New Orleans Saints FB Erik Lorig was cut Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Nathan PalmerSep 1 11:53a

Denver Broncos WR Nathan Palmer was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Devonta FreemanSep 1 11:32a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman was the most active in practice Monday, Aug. 31, that he was been since a hamstring injury Aug. 6. It's unclear whether he'll play [ More ]

Jarrett BoykinSep 1 10:33a

Carolina Panthers WR Jarrett Boykin was released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group