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It was pretty obvious in the wake of the 2002 draft that the 49ers have returned to prominence. Of all the picks, only kicker Jeff Chandler stands to be a starter at his position. But the 49ers planned it that way.
With all 22 starters in place, the 49ers began targeting their second strings, and they are now a significantly deeper team than they were on Friday. Mike Rumph and Josh Shaw should see plenty of action as rookies; Saleem Rasheed and Kevin Curtis should be special teams stars; Jeff Chandler will win the kicking job, and the Eric Heitmann and Kyle Kosier give the 49ers depth along the interior of the line. Mark Anelli could be the 49ers’ best backup tight end in quite some time.
1 (27) Mike Rumph, CB, Miami (Fl)
6-2, 205 lbs, 4.56
28 tackles, 8 passes broken up
Would the 49ers have taken Lito Sheppard over Rumph if both were available? We’ll never know, but it’s probably a wash anyway. While Sheppard is a more polished cover corner, he is a clone of Ahmed Plummer and Jason Webster. Rumph brings an entirely new set of skills to the secondary: size and physical play. His numbers were down his senior year, but that had a lot to do with his great play as a sophomore and junior. Teams did not test him quite as much.
Most importantly, the 49ers staff – especially defensive backs coach Brett Maxie – is very high on Rumph and they have a plan for him. Rumph is a surprisingly bright kid, and he really wowed the 49ers staff during his interviews.
Sheppard would have had a chance to knock Webster out of the starting lineup. Rumph probably will not, and will be the #3 corner once the year begins. Still, when a 6-2, 200 pound corner is also a quick learner and coachable, that’s huge. I was never a big fan of his but he has basically proven me wrong. Does not look like a starter now, but let’s talk again come August.
Where He Fits In: Nickel corner with a shot at a starting job.
3 (69) Saleem Rasheed, OLB, Alabama
6-2, 229 lbs, 4.6
114 tackles, 7 for loss, 2 sacks, 5 passes broken up
A very interesting pick. Rasheed is a pure athlete who can play all three linebacker positions, though he’s very undersized for the middle and will probably be used primarily as an outside linebacker. Rated as the second best outside backer by many draft boards, he slid from the mid-second to the early third. With his combination of speed, agility, and smarts, his upside is huge.
Rasheed, interestingly enough, had the highest Wunderlich test score of any linebacker in the draft and was second to only Dwight Freeney of Syracuse among all defensive players. He was also the first player in Alabama history to lead the team in tackles as a freshman.
Where He Fits In: Should be the 49ers’ top backup and a solid special teamer with the potential to be a very good player. Can play Peterson’s position.
4 (102) Jeff Chandler, K, Florida
6-2, 212 lbs
46/48 PATs, 19/22 FGs
Jose Cortez, the bell tolls for thee…
If there is any pick that reveals just how much the 49ers have succeeded in the draft in the last three years, it’s this one. The 49ers only draft kickers when they are scraping the bottom of the 'needs’ bucket. Chandler is no stud, but he’s reliable and generally makes all his kicks up to 50 yards. His longest kick was 52 yards, but he kicked a few high 50-yarders for special teams coach Bruce DeHaven (Chandler said that Steve Spurrier almost never let his kickers kick from outside 50). He’s a big guy and a good athlete. He also will get his kicks a lot higher off the ground than Cortez (who I like to call Mr. 3-iron). He loses some accuracy outside of 45 and is not a superb kickoff guy, but he’s adequate.
Where He Fits In: The 49ers’ new kicker.
4 (127) Kevin Curtis, S, Texas Tech
6-1, 212 lbs, 4.55
99 tackles, 8 for loss, 4 sacks, 4 ints, 5 passes broken up
A team leader and solid player who can play both safety positions. Is very smart and fundamentally sound. A very big guy who can run. Looks like he may be a better strong safety than a free safety right now. If Keith returns from his knee injury, the 49ers will be a little crowded at safety, but Curtis will be a great special teamer. The 49ers were debating whether to take him with their first fourth round pick, but they ended up getting him with their second fifth rounder.
Where He Fits In: Should be a top backup and special teams ace.
5 (163) Brandon Doman, QB, BYU
6-1, 210 lbs, 4.85
64%, 3542 yards, 33 TDs, 8 ints
I never thought the 49ers would take him this high, but nevertheless the 49ers are getting one tough QB with all the skills they look for in their QBs. Is so tough it’s almost ridiculous – played most of the 2001 season with a third degree separation of his throwing shoulder. He’s a good athlete with accuracy, toughness, and field vision. Was almost never picked off (his career interception percentage was 1.9). Is basically a young Jeff Garcia. He is also quite chummy with Steve Young, who called to congratulate him and talk offense after he was picked.
Where He Fits In: He’ll compete for the third-string QB, unless the 49ers decide to carry four QBs.
5 (172) Josh Shaw, DT, Michigan State
6-2, 279 lbs, 5.1
54 tackles, 9 for loss, 0 sacks, 2 ints
Not sure that I like this guy, but it could also be a hangover from Seattle nabbing tackle Matt Hill one pick earlier. Shaw is an undersized tackle who is not a pass rusher and is coming off a major knee injury. However, he looks very stout despite his weight and has solid growth potential. He could be a run stuffer with more weight.
Actually, there have been some mixed signals about whether he’s a run stuffer or a pass rusher, since he seems too small to be a run guy yet had only three sacks in college. He has just starting running again and is scheduled to be ready in August. I’ll have to place my trust in Donahue and Co. on this pick.
Where He Fits In: If he recovers from his injury, will see plenty of time in the defensive tackle rotation.
6 (201) Mark Anelli, TE, Wisconsin
6-3, 262 lbs, 4.88
35 catches, 357 yards, 3 TDs
A decent pass-catching tight end from a running offense who is becoming a better blocker and has the size to do it. Is already a better blocker than Eric Johnson. Given the lack of bodies at the position, he should make the roster, so he’s an excellent value pick in the sixth round. Looks like an upgrade over Justin Swift
Where He Fits In: Backup tight end in 2002 if he can beat out Swift.
7 (239) Eric Heitmann, G, Stanford
6-3, 305 lbs, 5.22
Heitmann has the mobility and the athleticism the 49ers want from their centers, but he has had back problems that scared a lot of other teams away. Is a real leader and tough guy who you don’t have to worry about. The word is that he will be tried at center, and he has the size and toughness to step right in – if his back is OK. Along with Kyle Kosier and Ron Stone, the 49ers are suddenly loaded with guard/center types.
Where He Fits In: Will be worked in as the backup center and provide depth at guard.
7 (249) Kyle Kosier, G, Arizona
6-4, 295 lbs, 5.0
Played tackle in college, but he does not appear to have the size to play it in the NFL and may be a guard. I really like Kosier, who could be a solid player for the 49ers with some seasoning and some added weight. He has top athleticism and movement skills for a guard and adequate for tackle. Like most picks this late, he has super intangibles.
Where He Fits In: He will battle for backup duties at guard and tackle.
7 (256) Teddy Gaines, CB, Tennessee
5-11, 165 lbs, 4.45
29 tackles, 6 passes broken up
A very frail corner, but his speed and agility got him drafted. He is almost certainly a special teams guy, since it is hard to see him beating out Rashad Holman for the fourth corner spot.
Where He Fits In: Special teamer who is a long shot.