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San Francisco 49ers

Stadium: Levi's Stadium | Coach: Jim Harbaugh
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense9th167.0 (3rd)214.0 (22nd)
Defense3rd124.0 (20th)157.0 (2nd)

49ers report: Notes, quotes

The Sports Xchange
 
Notes, quotes · Strategy and personnel · Inside slant
 

--Receiver Antonio Bryant was rooting for the 49ers to select tight end Vernon Davis with the No. 6 overall pick. But tight end Eric Johnson, who caught 82 passes in '04, obviously was not.

"I've been lucky not to have a first-round guy or a top-10 pick at my position," Johnson said. "Of course, I wasn't cheering them on for it, but it's a new challenge and he's going to be a good addition to the team. It's not like being at a position like quarterback where there's just one guy. We can both be at a position like tight end and mix and match. I'm excited to play with him. We can have the best tight end duo in the league."

Bryant sees the addition of Davis as a huge boost to the receiving corps because he is likely to draw defensive backs away from the wide receivers.

"That's what I was hoping for," Bryant said. "I don't get inside the politics of it all, but that was what I was hoping for."

--Eric Heitmann is working exclusively at center during the off-season, as the club still does not know if veteran center Jeremy Newberry will be able to play this season. Heitmann has a locker next to free-agent pickup Larry Allen, considered a likely Hall of Famer based on his 12 seasons with the Cowboys.

"When you're a young kids growing up and playing football, especially for me in Texas, Larry Allen was your prototypical star NFL lineman," Heitmann said. "He's the guy every high school lineman would look up to for technique or inspiration. I've been a fan of Larry's since I was in high school."

--Onye Ibekwe played power forward at Long Beach State, which does not have a football program. He is among the latest crop of basketball players hoping to make the transition to the NFL as tight ends. He agreed to a two-year contract with the 49ers as an undrafted rookie.

"It's a good situation, a good location and a good tradition," Ibekwe said. "I wanted to go where I was wanted the most, and the 49ers expressed the most interest in me. It's a good place for me to grow."

Ibekwe is one of at least three athletes who played college basketball and have no football experience past high school to sign as NFL free agents this week. Jai Lewis, who led George Mason to the Final Four, signed with the Giants, while Connecticut's Ed Nelson joins the Rams.

--Ibekwe's brother, Ekene, is a standout basketball player at Maryland who recently declared for the NBA draft. Ekene is good friends with tight end Vernon Davis, whom the 49ers chose Saturday with the No. 6 overall pick.

"He came into Maryland with Vernon Davis, so that figured into my decision, too," said Ibekwe, adding six or seven teams wanted to sign him. "I don't know Vernon personally, but my brother told me a lot about him. I'm looking forward to meeting him and I'm willing to learn from him."

Ibekwe was listed on the Long Beach basketball roster at 6-foot-8. NFL scouts recently measured him at 6-5, 256 pounds during a workout in which 15 to 20 organizations sent representatives.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"The first thing we wanted to do -- on the first day, in particular -- was to get starters, to get people that were playmakers. From there, we wanted to make sure we got guys with speed. Toughness was big for us. Football smarts. All these things were things that we're shooting for every day, but in particular that first day because I think you get starters by getting those kind of guys" -- 49ers coach Mike Nolan on the club's approach to the draft

Copyright (C) 2006 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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