McCloughan on the record

If there’s one thing that was reinforced in speaking with 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan Thursday, it’s that he likes big players.


He likes big cornerbacks; he likes big safeties; he likes big running backs. And he does not like to make exceptions — especially with high draft picks.


Here is what he said about drafting cornerbacks:


“We believe in bigger corners,” McCloughan said. “In our division, we went 5-1 last year. I think we set ourselves up pretty well to match up against guys in our division. Also, you’ve got to realize the receivers coming in have somewhat running-back vision and instincts because they get the ball and have so many opportunities to make plays in college.


“I’ll never lose sight of this — and maybe I’m a dinosaur in this — but I think it’s a big man’s game, from the standpoint of holding up through a season durability-wise. But also in the playoffs. You have to have some size and some power and strength to be a contender year in and year out.”


This is also why I have my doubts whether the 49ers would make a first-round investment in a smallish running back who might be a dynamo on special teams but might struggle in the future as an every-down back. (They already have their every-down back right now, and Glen Coffee appears to be the heir apparent.)


McCloughan said he was taught a long time ago during his time with Green Bay that if a team makes exceptions to that rule, soon it turns into a team of exceptions.


At some point today, McCloughan was asked if it was time to start planning for the future at strong safety. After all, it’s unclear how much longer Michael Lewis will be able to play at a high level. McCloughan said that planning has already taken shape in the past two years with the addition of draft picks Reggie Smith and Curtis Taylor.


Here is the transcript of what McCloughan said while speaking to reporters at the podium at the NFL Scouting Combine:


Q: What was the thought process behind placing the franchise tag on nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin?

McCloughan: We’ve been on the 3-4 now for five years – it is a very important position. The one thing about it is when you have good football players at any position, you always want to try to extend them early. You want to get a long-term deal. And we tried with Aubrayo. Now that we’ve reach the deadline and we put the tag on him, we’re going to keep trying. I think the price tag for it isn’t outrageous yet, for the tag. From our standpoint, we’re glad he’s on our team for one more year and we’re going to keep fighting for a long-term deal.”


Q: How does he evaluate the draft class of offensive linemen?

McCloughan: I think every draft takes on an identity. I’m not saying this is a real deep year on the offensive line but there are good football players out there. The one thing about the offensive line nowadays is the game’s changed a lot in college with the spread offense. The big power guys, the guys that come off (the line) and drive block and all that – you don’t see that any more in college. You see more finesse, more pass protection. From our standpoint, the O-line is always going to be important. When you’re carrying the 53, it’s the deepest position numbers-wise. You’re always looking in the draft, first round through seventh round, for guys who can come in and play and play a role for you.”


Q: What went behind picking Michael Crabtree last year?

McCloughan: Looking at a football player at any position. The one thing about the college draft is it’s not an exact science, that’s why so many mistakes are made. But what we felt about Michael Crabtree was that he was a very good football player, not just from the standpoint of his measurables and all that. But when the ball was in his hands, he scored 42 touchdowns in two years. And that’s production in any kind of offense. But our philosophy is not going to change at any position. If we see a player we think can come in and help us from a starter standpoint or a back-up or a core special teams player, that’s the guy we’re going to draft.


Q: What do you expect of Crabtree after a full offseason?

McCloughan: I expect him to take a big step forward. He came in and had production for us at a position where a lot of rookies don’t, with him missing the five weeks and all of training camp. Being around him and seeing the way he’s wired and how important it is for him to be a good football player, I expect him to come out and have an excellent year for us.”


Q: What do you look for in college defensive ends who become linebackers in 3-4 defenses?

McCloughan: Natural pass rush. The thing about is very seldom do you see them standing and come out of the two-point stance. I think it’s important here, you see a lot of the guys in the two-point stance. Natural instincts and being able to go forward. I don’t think you’re ever going to be able to sit there and say, ‘Can he drop, how’s he going to be in coverage?’ I think the first and foremost thing is, can he get to the quarterback and go from there.


Q: What does Kurt Warner’s retirement means for the 49ers?

McCloughan: They (Cardinals) are a good football team. Kurt Warner at that position has been an excellent football player for them. But they’re talented. I know this: With the staffs that are in our division now, with the coaches and all that, it’s going to get back to being tough one at some point. What we’ve got to do is take care of business week in and week out. I like the fact that we have been able to compete in our division and that’s our first goal. But now we have to find a way to win the division and get in the playoffs.


Q: With an uncapped year, will restricted free agents be tendered higher this year?

McCloughan: From our stand point, it won’t. What we’re going to do is tender what we think is the value of the player.


Q: What changed in Vernon Davis that made him more productive this season?

McCloughan: I think just, you know, I don’t want to say a social maturity standpoint. He’s always worked really hard. But I think he’s come into his own now. He came out as a true junior. He knew physically he could do it but now mentally he knows he can do it. I’m glad for him. The guy is a competitor, the guy’s a warrior and it’s important to him. To see how hard he works and the determination he has. And with him going to the Pro Bowl this year will only make him work harder. That’s just his personality. You see a guy that work that hard, you pull for them. He’s a guy that deserves where he got to.


Q: What are your thoughts on Tim Tebow changing his mechanics?

McCloughan: A good football player is a good football player. It’s the reason why he’s been successful. You can’t lose sight of the intangibles he brings with him. There’s no reason why he can’t be successful in the NFL. You look at Philip Rivers and his release, and everybody will make fun of that and say things about that, but it doesn’t matter. All that counts is what he does on the field and does he win games – that’s what you get measured by. And that’s all he’s done.


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