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

Arian FosterAug 4 02:53p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) will undergo surgery on his injured groin. He should return during the season, however.

Arian FosterAug 4 02:23p

Updating a previous report, Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) may need surgery on his injured groin.

Arian FosterAug 4 01:33p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) suffered a groin injury during the team's first fully padded practice Monday, Aug. 3, according to sources.

Terrance WestAug 4 10:52a

Cleveland Browns RB Terrance West appears to be on thin ice because of maturity issues, and his conditioning is a question, according to ESPNCleveland.com's Tony Grossi.

Doug MartinAug 3 09:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin was confirmed as the team's lead back Monday, Aug. 3, by head coach Lovie Smith. 'We talked about being able to establish the [ More ]

L. WashingtonAug 3 07:22p

Free-agent WR L'Damian Washington signed with the Kansas City Chiefs Monday, Aug. 3.

Senquez GolsonAug 3 07:12p

Pittsburgh Steelers CB Senquez Golson (shoulder) told ESPN Monday, Aug. 3, he might need surgery on an injured shoulder, and he will find out in the next few days. [ More ]

Ace SandersAug 3 07:02p

Free-agent WR Ace Sanders (Jaguars) was suspended 10 games by the NFL Monday, Aug. 3, for a second violation of the league's drug policy.

Stephen HillAug 3 05:52p

Free-agent WR Stephen Hill (knee) was placed on Reserve/Injured Monday, Aug. 3, after being waived/injured Sunday, Aug. 2.

Michael EgnewAug 3 05:42p

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Michael Egnew was released Monday, Aug. 3.

Kevin ConeAug 3 05:42p

Cleveland Browns WR Kevin Cone was waived Monday, Aug. 3.

Timothy FlandersAug 3 05:22p

Free-agent RB Timothy Flanders (Saints) signed with the Cleveland Browns Monday, Aug. 3.

Jalen ParmeleAug 3 04:52p

Free-agent RB Jalen Parmele (Cardinals) was signed by the Cleveland Browns Monday, Aug. 3.

Kyle WilliamsAug 3 04:42p

Denver Broncos WR Kyle Williams (Achilles') was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Aug. 3. WR Corbin Louks was subsequently signed.

Matt ElamAug 3 03:32p

Updating a previous report, Baltimore Ravens FS Matt Elam (biceps) will have surgery on his torn biceps soon and will officially be out for the season.

Michael JohnsonAug 3 02:32p

Updating a previous report, Cincinnati Bengals DE Michael Johnson (knee) will be out four weeks with a grade 2 medial collateral ligament sprain.

Matt ElamAug 3 11:12a

Baltimore Ravens FS Matt Elam (arm) will likely miss the entire 2015 season with a torn biceps muscle suffered during a full-contact practice Sunday, Aug. 2.

Stephen HillAug 2 08:02p

The Carolina Panthers waived WR Stephen Hill (knee) after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament Sunday, Aug. 2.

Terrelle PryorAug 2 07:52p

Cleveland Browns WR Terrelle Pryor took reps with the first-team offense during training camp Sunday, Aug. 2.

Martavis BryantAug 2 04:22p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (elbow) will undergo a procedure for an elbow infection that will cause him to miss the Hall of Fame Game Sunday, Aug. 9, against [ More ]

Michael EgnewAug 2 03:02p

The Pittsburgh Steelers have released TE Michael Egnew.

Tony McDanielAug 2 12:12p

The Seattle Seahawks released DT Tony McDaniel Sunday, Aug. 2. McDaniel should quickly find a new home.

Stephen HillAug 2 12:02p

Carolina Panthers WR Stephen Hill (knee) has an ACL injury, according to assistant head coach Steve Wilks Sunday, Aug. 2.

Sam BradfordAug 2 11:52a

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (knee) has been cleared for 11-on-11 drills Sunday, Aug. 2, and head coach Chip Kelly told reporters the quarterback doesn't have any restrictions.

Stephen HillAug 2 10:12a

The Carolina Panthers signed free-agent WR Paul Browning Sunday, Aug. 2. Browning is expected to take WR Stephen Hill's roster spot.

Brandon BoykinAug 1 08:12p

The Pittsburgh Steelers acquired CB Brandon Boykin from the Philadelphia Eagles Saturday, Aug. 1, in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Eagles could [ More ]

Kyle WilliamsAug 1 02:22p

Denver Broncos WR Kyle Williams (Achilles') suffered at least a partially torn Achilles' tendon in practice Saturday, Aug. 1, according to a source. He may be out for the season.

Melvin GordonAug 1 02:12p

San Diego Chargers RB Melvin Gordon has struggled with pass protection through the first three days of training camp.

Devin SmithJul 31 09:32p

New York Jets WR Devin Smith (ribs) will miss a majority of training camp after suffering broken ribs Friday, July 31, according to the team. He will be held [ More ]

Bashaud BreelandJul 31 07:42p

Washington Redskins CB Bashaud Breeland (knee) is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks because of a knee injury he suffered during practice Friday, July 31.

Bashaud BreelandJul 31 07:22p

Washington Redskins CB Bashaud Breeland has been suspended one game by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Breeland received a citation for marijuana possession last year.

Jason Pierre-PaulJul 31 06:22p

New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (hand) is not allowed to use his injured hand while it is healing from the fireworks accident he had earlier this month. Pierre-Paul [ More ]

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