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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Opening Round is the ‘Perfect Storm’

The 49ers targeted two offensive linemen to be their first-round selections in the 2010 NFL Draft, and when both
Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati ended up as the picks, Director of Player Personnel Trent Baalke would end up calling it: “The perfect storm.”

With each player not named Davis or Iupati chosen before the 49ers initial selection (13th overall), Baalke and head coach Mike Singletary became increasingly excited with the thought of adding two new maulers to the offensive line.

“I wasn’t willing to sit there and let a player go when all we needed to do was make a simple trade to get the guy we wanted,” Baalke declared.

Once the Jacksonville Jaguars surprisingly selected California defensive lineman Tyson Alualu with the No. 10 pick, Baalke got on the phone to make sure Davis would be the choice at No. 11. All it took to move up two spots was a fourth-round pick (No. 113 overall) to swap first-round picks with the Denver Broncos.

“I wasn’t worried about the teams ahead of us at all,” Baalke said of his intent. “I was concerned of who would jump ahead of us.”

Without wasting much time, the 49ers selected the junior offensive tackle out of Rutgers, who started in 32-of-38 collegiate games for the Scarlet Knights. Critics labeled Davis as a “lazy” player, but that notion never swayed the 49ers.

Singletary spent plenty of time getting to know confidants of the 20-year-old tackle out of Piscataway, New Jersey.
“We have no concerns,” Baalke reiterated. “We did our homework, we felt good about it. Coach did a lot of background work and we don’t have any issues with that whatsoever.”

Davis was elated to be 49ers first pick of 2010.

“It’s a great feeling. I can’t even talk right now,” the 6-foot-5, 323-pound tackle said in a conference call. “It’s an honor.”

Davis and Iupati both visited team headquarters prior to the draft and just like Davis, Iupati left a solid impression on the 49ers coaching staff.

“He’s a very proud young man. He wants to do things for his parents and his family,” Singletary said of the 6-foot-5, 331-pound guard. “He’s very appreciative. He knows exactly where he’s come from. He’s a guy that wants to give back to the community. He wants to give back to his family. He’s all about giving. There’s a tremendous amount of maturity there.”

Offensive line was priority No. 1 according to Singletary, and that mission was accomplished in selecting 654-combined pounds of offensive line help.

The 49ers accomplished their top priority, by holding firm with their second, first-round selection, taking the senior guard of Idaho at No. 17 overall. Iupati, a first-team All-American, gives the 49ers instant depth on the line as he’s able to play multiple positions.

“He’s a devastating physical blocker,” Singletary said of his newest lineman.
“We talked about a lot of people for a long time, but going back a week ago, these are two guys we had targeted. We feel awfully good to have them on this team right now,” Baalked added.

The 49ers will select the No. 49 overall pick in the second round which kicks-off 3 p.m. PT on Friday. The three-day draft format in its first year was well-received by Baalke.
“I love the new format. It makes for a long three days, but it also gives you time to reflect on what happened in the first round, sleep on what you want to do for the second and third rounds and then catch your breath for the finale on Saturday.”

Baalke hinted that there are several players in the mix for the No. 49 pick and that trading up to get the right player would be a possibility as well.

“We’ll do whatever it takes to get the players on this football team who we believe in.”

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