2014 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

Adrian PetersonApr 16 02:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has been informed that he will be reinstated from the commissioner exempt list starting Friday, April 17.

Sammy WatkinsApr 15 11:33p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (hip) is able to work out in some capacity during the team's offseason program, although head coach Rex Ryan indicated Wednesday, April 15, that [ More ]

Kai ForbathApr 15 10:53p

Washington Redskins restricted free-agent PK Kai Forbath posted on social media Wednesday, April 15, that he has re-signed with the team. The club has not yet confirmed the signing.

George JohnsonApr 15 08:33a

Detroit Lions DE George Johnson was acquired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, April 15. Tampa signed Johnson to an offer sheet that was disputed by Detroit, but the [ More ]

Philip RiversApr 15 12:13a

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers is under contract for one more season, and he has expressed a desire to play out his deal. However, the Chargers might be [ More ]

Josh GordyApr 14 06:03p

Free-agent CB Josh Gordy (Colts) signed a veteran minimum deal with the New York Giants Tuesday, April 14, according to a source.

Ricardo LocketteApr 14 05:23p

Seattle Seahawks WR Ricardo Lockette signed his exclusive-rights tender Tuesday, April 14.

Ike TaylorApr 14 09:32a

Free-agent CB Ike Taylor (Steelers) announced his retirement Tuesday, April 14.

Wade SmithApr 14 02:12a

Free-agent OG Wade Smith (Eagles) announced his retirement after 12 years in the National Football League.

Michael CrabtreeApr 14 01:13a

The Oakland Raiders are giving free-agent WR Michael Crabtree (49ers) a one-year, $3 million deal with another $2 million in incentives, a source said Monday, April 13.

Eben BrittonApr 14 01:03a

Free-agent OT Eben Britton (Bears) has been suspended four games by the NFL for an unspecified violation.

Matt ForteApr 13 08:02p

Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte was not present for the start of the offseason workouts Monday, April 13, according to sources. Forte is entering the final year of his [ More ]

Cody LatimerApr 13 08:02p

Denver Broncos WR Cody Latimer, who is expected to line up across from WR Demaryius Thomas in 2015, has been praised by WR Emmanuel Sanders, who figures to move [ More ]

Joe MaysApr 13 04:32p

Free-agent LB Joe Mays (Chiefs) signed an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Monday, April 13.

Zackary BowmanApr 13 02:22p

Free-agent CB Zack Bowman (Giants) signed an undisclosed deal with the Miami Dolphins Monday, April 13.

Sean RichardsonApr 13 02:02p

Green Bay Packers restricted free-agent SS Sean Richardson will remain with the Packers after the team decided to match the one-year, $2.55 million offer he signed with the Oakland Raiders, according to a source.

Sean RichardsonApr 12 10:02a

Green Bay Packers restricted free-agent SS Sean Richardson signed an offer sheet with the Oakland Raiders, and the Packers have until Monday, April 13, to inform him if they [ More ]

Jason CampbellApr 12 07:02a

Free-agent QB Jason Campbell (Bengals) is considering retirement, according to sources close to the team. Campbell has rejected multiple opportunities to sign a contract for 2015, including offers from [ More ]

James CaseyApr 11 01:02p

Free-agent TE James Casey (Eagles) agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos Saturday, April 11. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Johnny ManzielApr 11 12:22p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel has been released from his rehab facility.

Victor ButlerApr 10 03:22p

New York Giants LB Victor Butler has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Anthony SpencerApr 10 01:12p

Free-agent DE Anthony Spencer (Cowboys) signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints Friday, April 10. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Charles TillmanApr 9 04:02p

Free-agent CB Charles Tillman (Bears) signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers Thursday, April 9. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Rob HouslerApr 9 12:42p

Free-agent TE Rob Housler (Cardinals) has agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns on a one-year deal, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Le'Veon BellApr 9 09:52a

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell was suspended three games and fined an additional game check after violating the league's substance abuse policy, according to league sources. He has appealed.

Stevan RidleyApr 8 07:53p

New York Jets RB Stevan Ridley signed a one-year deal with the team.

Amobi OkoyeApr 8 04:53p

Dallas Cowboys DT Amobi Okoye was released Wednesday, April 8.

Emmanuel LamurApr 8 03:43p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Emmanuel Lamur officially re-signed Wednesday, April 8, to a one-year, $2.356 million deal.

Adrian PetersonApr 8 01:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is 'highly unlikely' to face more suspension from the league when he's finally off the Commissioner's Exempt List, according to a source. Peterson's next [ More ]

George JohnsonApr 7 10:23p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed restricted free-agent DE George Johnson (Lions) to a three-year offer sheet Tuesday, April 7. Financial terms are undisclosed. The Lions have five days to match the offer.

Le'Veon BellApr 7 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell is expected to be suspended for the first two games of next season, according to sources. Bell is being suspended following an arrest last [ More ]

Erin HendersonApr 7 05:13p

Free-agent LB Erin Henderson (Vikings) agreed to terms on an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Tuesday, April 7, according to a source. Henderson didn't play last year [ 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