Captain Curtis: 49ers’ last pick a natural-born leader
The 49ers’ last draft pick had an item in his bio that was a first.
A four-time team captain? General manager Trent Baalke said that got his attention when he began investigating the merits of Florida A&M cornerback Curtis Holcomb, the last of the Niners’ three seventh-round draft picks.
“You want to talk about wired right?” Baalke said. “I don’t think anyone in our building had ever heard of that.”
It appears Holcomb, 22, might come by his leadership quite naturally. After all, he is the oldest of eight siblings, followed by (take a deep breath) Shada (20), Wendell (18), Michael (16), Casena (13), Brandon (13), Natari (12) and Shakeyla (3).
Florida A&M head coach Joe Taylor, who arrived at the school prior to Holcomb’s sophomore season, said in a phone interview today he wasn’t aware of the circumstances that led to Holcomb being recognized as a team leader as a freshman.
“We never really talked about it, but it was very easy for me to believe it,” Taylor said. “He’s a leader by example. Whenever it came to social decisions, we never had any problem with him. Academically, we never had any problems. I mean, workouts, class, you name it, never a problem with Curtis.
“He was one of those guys that you could rest your head comfortably at night knowing he is accountable. He’s dependable. He doesn’t say a lot, but when he said something the guys listened because they respected him.”
To be clear, Holcomb wasn’t the Rattlers’ lone team leader during his final three seasons. Taylor had a leadership committee comprised of about 10 team captains and Holcomb was on the committee each year.
Of course, the Niners, who placed an emphasis on character in evaluating draft prospects, didn’t take Holcomb strictly based on his intangibles – he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds at his pro day and had 12 career interceptions.
But Taylor said his performance – on and off the field – went hand in hand.
“Wherever the top receiver was for the opponent, that’s where you were going to find him,” he said. “I’ve always felt like if you make smart decisions off the field, you’re going to make them on the field.”
• Draft guru Mel Kiper didn’t have Holcomb rated among his draft-eligible cornerbacks, but the 49ers, who put him through a private workout, weren’t the only team that had Holcomb on their radar.
Taylor said at least four other teams, including the Jaguars and Packers, brought him in for a pre-draft visit.
Said Taylor, “He was very busy that last month.”
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