49ers can’t ignore impact rush linebackers

I made it home late last night from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Now that I’m on the couch, I can watch some of what’s going on inside Lucas Oil Stadium.


The workouts this morning were of considerable interest to the 49ers. By my count, 29 of the 66 defensive linemen invited to the combine were paced through outside linebacker drills so scouts could gauge their prospects of making the conversion.


The 49ers get an up-close look, as outside linebackers coach Jason Tarver leads those drills. (By the way, Tarver might be the 49ers’ best assistant coach. You ask, based on what? He has accomplished something unheard of in the NFL: He has remained with the 49ers with four different head coaches, working his way up from offensive quality control to assistant running backs/offensive assistant to defensive assistant to his current role of outside linebackers coach.)


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Because the 49ers play a 3-4 scheme, this position will always rank as a need. It come at No. 13, No. 17 or at any point later in the draft. With Manny Lawson’s contract set to expire after the 2010 season, the 49ers simply cannot afford to ignore this position.


Here is a rough guestimate of where those 29 athletes might project in the draft:


First round possibilies

Derrick Morgan (Georgia Tech)

Jason Pierre-Paul (South Florida)

Sergio Kindle (Texas)

Everson Griffen (USC)

Brandon Graham (Michigan): He tweaked his hamstring running the 40 and sat out the drills.

Ricky Sapp (Clemson)

Jerry Hughes (TCU)


Second-third round

Jason Worilds (Virginia Tech)

Koa Misi (Utah)

Austen Lane (Murray State)

Jermaine Cunningham (Florida)

Thaddeus Gibson (Ohio State)

Greg Hardy (Mississipp)


Fourth-sixth round

Brandon Lang (Troy)

George Selvie (South Florida)

Willie Young (North Carolina State)

Rahim Alem (LSU)

Cameron Sheffield (Troy)

Lindsey Witten (Connecticut)

Kevin Basped (Nevada)

Adrian Tracy (William & Mary)


Late round-free agent

Junior Galette (Stillman)

Jammie Kirlew (Indiana)

Albert McClellan (Marshall)

Daniel Te’o-Nesheim (Washington)

Dexter Davis (Arizona State)

Antonio Coleman (Auburn)

Greg Middleton (Indiana)

Arthur Moats (James Madison)


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