49ers missed out on ‘the perfect football player’

Emptying some of the notebook in the aftermath of the draft:

• The 49ers tried to draft “football players” – hard-nosed, high-character players who are ultra-dedicated to the game.

But they didn’t get the perfect football player.

Cleveland did.

In his post-draft press conference, Jim Harbaugh wasn’t going to deny the obvious: He wanted to draft Owen Marecic, his former fullback at Stanford who he’d termed “the perfect football player.” Harbaugh had Marecic autograph one of the helmets the fullback broke during college. The helmet was in Harbaugh’s office at Stanford.

“In 30 years of being in college and pro football, I haven’t seen a guy like him,” Harbaugh told Sports Illustrated last year. “He does everything right, all the time, the first time. He has everything—strength, humility, intelligence. He’s everything I envisioned being as a football player.”

The Browns, evoking their Tommy Vardell pick in 1992, drafted Marecic in the fourth round – nine spots after the 49ers selected Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter. Based on Harbaugh’s post-draft comments, it sounds reasonable to assume the Niners were targeting Marecic with their fifth-round pick and might have been willing to move up to draft him.

“We did everything we could to get him here and we came up short on that one. Cleveland got an outstanding football player in Owen Marecic,” Harbaugh said. “… I texted him and said we tried. It didn’t happen. That was one that we didn’t get that is a 49er kind of guy and Cleveland will be very happy with him.”

• Instead of Marecic, the 49ers will have rookie fullback Bruce Miller, who made a Marecic-like first impression on his new coach.

Harbaugh said he spoke with Miller, a defensive end at Central Florida, when the Niners were on the clock in the seventh round. They were ready to draft him, but Harbaugh wanted to make sure Miller was on board with the 49ers’ plan to convert him to fullback. Miller, a four-year starter, was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and senior.

“He said, ‘Coach, I’m a football player. Whatever you ask me to do, I’m going to do,’” Harbaugh said.

Miller echoed that sentiment in his conference call with reporters.

“I’m just excited to have the opportunity to play in the NFL,” Miller said. “If it was at defensive end, if it was at linebacker or fullback. I’m just ready to get out to San Francisco and play some football.”

By the way, the Niners list Miller at 6-foot-2, 248 pounds. Marecic’s measurements: 6-1, 248.

• The 49ers didn’t draft TCU quarterback Andy Dalton, but Jim Harbaugh said it was beneficial to attend the Horned Frogs’ pro day.

Harbaugh was talking with Dalton at the pro day when he got his first look at TCU’s Colin Jones, a safety the Niners drafted in the sixth round. Harbaugh said he was immediately struck by the 6-foot Jones’ physique. He asked Dalton: Who is that?

“There’s sloppy 210 (pounds) and then there’s 210 carved out of stone,” Harbaugh said. “He was stone 210.”

Harbaugh said he’s eager to see Jones stone someone on special teams.

“There’s a guy that I cannot wait to watch him run down on a kickoff, full throttle, running his 4.3 with his mindset, his get-from-point-A-to-Point-B-and-go-hit-somebody mentality,” he said.

• I guess NFL general managers didn’t alter their draft board based on the “Bill Parcells’ Draft Confidential” on ESPN.

Parcells mentioned Southern Arkansas defensive tackle Cedric Thornton and Fort Valley State wide receiver Ricardo Lockette among his players to watch. Thornton and Lockette went undrafted.

• My long-suffering wife was subjected to ESPN’s pre-draft special with Parcells.

Prior to dozing off, she heard Parcells discussing scouting. The Tuna mentioned that a high percentage of draftees come from a relatively small number of  schools – Florida, Michigan, USC etc.

“You’ve got go where they make ‘em,” Parcells explained.

In response to this wisdom my wife was, momentarily, engaged, “He’s talking about them like they’re not even human,” she said.

She looked surprised.

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