49ers plan to select running back in draft

At some point, perhaps on the second day of the draft (April 26), the 49ers will select a running back to complement Frank Gore.

(Unless, they take a guy who is going to just walk around all day and tell Frank how great he is. In that case, they’ll be getting a running back to compliment Frank.)


Here is what coach Mike Singletary told me at the combine about what he envisions: “Frank is a special running back. But I think it would help to have someone come in and share that load, maybe someone who has a different style – someone who adds another dimension to our running game. That would be very advantageous for us.”


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The 49ers have brought in two running backs for pre-draft visits and another is scheduled for later in the week. This is all part of their background checks. Each of these running backs has been considered a “character risk.” As part of doing all the research, the 49ers – and every other team in the league – try to learn as much about every player as possible:


Arian Foster, Tennessee (6-1, 226): He did serve a half-game suspension after he was one of three players arrested for disorderly conduct and underage drinking at a nightclub in 2006. Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com projects him as a seventh-round pick or free agent.


Kory Sheets, Purdue (5-11, 208): Sheets publicly criticized the Boilermakers’ offensive game plan and quarterback Curtis Painter after a loss to Northwestern. He was banned from speaking to the media for the remainder of the season. The guy can flat-out run. He clocked a 4.38 time in the 40, and Rang projects him as a fourth-round pick.


Mike Goodson, Texas A&M (6-0, 208): Did not leave A&M on the best of terms with coach Mike Sherman. His production slipped every year he was in college, and decided to drop out of school to turn pro after rushing for just 406 yards as a junior. Still, projects as a fifth-round pick.


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We don’t know if the 49ers will have any interest in those aforementioned players after they have completed all of their homework.


But we checked in with Rang, the draft expert, for his insights into players who appear to be better fits for the 49ers. Here is what he said:


“You’re seeing more and more teams that are trying to match up a speed guy with a power guy. Frank can do a little bit of everything. I think Shonn Greene from Iowa is one guy to keep in mind. He was the only guy to rush for over 100 yards in every game. He’s a guy in the second or early third who makes some sense. I personally like him a lot.


“If you want a wild-card guy at No. 10, there’s Beanie Wells. That’s a size-speed guy. That’s my shocker of the top 10. I have him going No. 9 to Green Bay right now. Green Bay has a lot of different needs, but if all the tackles are gone, they could go after Wells. And if Ted Thompson is thinking that, I’m think (GM Scot) McCloughan could be thinking the same way.


“Obviously, the 49ers have Frank Gore and he’s a superstar. Considering Gore’s durability over the years, and I don’t know his contract (he’s signed through 2010). I have a hard time thinking they would do that because I think they have too much respect for what Frank Gore brings. They don’t want to (upset him). But Beanie Well is a spectacular talent. He’s a Larry Johnson – almost an Adrian Peterson — kind of talent. But he needs to be coddled, and Mike Singletary’s strength probably is not in coddling players.


“The more likely choice would be Shonn Greene. This isn’t a great class for the powerful guys. Andre Brown from N.C. State is another one who is third round. He’s a good all-around back, but not necessarily a great power guy.


“There are a lot of guys who are a little undersized who are just good football players. Javon Ringer, maybe in the third round, from Michigan State. He could slip down the board a little bit. He’s a talented kid.


“There are two guys I can see McCloughan going for: Rashad Jennings, he’s from Liberty, a small school but he was originally at Pittsburgh. He’s a big back who can do just about anything. He catches the ball well. He stood out at the Senior Bowl. The other one is Glen Coffee. McCloughan in the past hasn’t gone for smaller-school guys, but Coffee is a junior from Alabama. Again, a bigger back, but a little lower on the radar. He’s a third-fourth-round kind of guy. Coffee is 6-1, 210, but has the frame to add some weight. Jennings is a legit 230. He’s bulked up and an incredible kid, a double-major. He’s intelligent and humble, the whole thing.”


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USC quarterback Mark Sanchez is scheduled to arrive in the South Bay this afternoon for a visit with the 49ers. Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman visited on Tuesday. They are believed to be the only quarterbacks scheduled for pre-draft visits (not including those who might attend the April 17 local pro day).


UPDATE (3:45 p.m.): Ball State quarterback Nate Davis and Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith are also expected to arrive later this evening.


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Congrats to Jim Schwantz, an incredibly nice guy who played for the 49ers in 1997. He was elected mayor of Palatin, Ill., a Chicago suburb.


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