On April 21st, 2001 just into the first day of the 2001 NFL Draft, The San Francisco 49er’s made some surprising deals to secure California Defensive End Andre Carter. Son of the legendary Rubin Carter nose tackle for the Denver Bronco’s, moving from the ninth overall pick in the first round up to the seventh overall pick to acquire him.

All of us 49er fans including the opposition expected 49er General Manager Bill Walsh to trade down in the draft to acquire more picks, however he actually did a little of both as his last will and testament as a general manager of this proud organization came to a close.

Bill Walsh made his first move in conjunction with Green Bay Packer General Manager Ron Wolf who is also stepping down as a long time general manager, by trading down to acquire more picks.

The Packers moved up in the second and third rounds and obtained a fourth-round selection in the process. In the second round, the Packers received the 49er’s 10th pick (41st overall) in exchange for Green Bay’s 16th selection (47th overall).

In round three, Green Bay received San Francisco’s ninth pick (71st overall) in exchange for two of the Packers third-round picks; it’s own 18th pick (80th overall) and the 20th selection (82nd overall-from New Orleans).

The Packers also obtained the 49er’s 10th selection in the fourth round (105th overall), in exchange for Green Bay’s 16th selection in the sixth round (179th overall) and 22nd pick in round seven (222nd overall-from St. Louis).

Within this first move we gained two additional picks but lost our fourth round choice along with the fifth round choice that was taken by the league for salary cap violations in a prior ruling. We gained in the long run as this move set the stage for the next anticipated move.

As the 2001 NFL Draft got underway the adrenalin pumped excitement took it’s toll in the 49er War Room. As General Manager Bill Walsh observed with nervous anticipation at the prospect that The Chicago Bears were in a position at the number eight slot to acquire coveted defensive end Andre Carter out of California.

With San Francisco at the number nine selection Bill Walsh felt a critical move was vital in order to secure an athlete that had completely impressed them in a pre-draft visit, that was far beyond his time in development. Bill Walsh made a sudden move up to acquire him at all costs.

With images of Chicago taking Andre Carter Bill Walsh made the necessary call to his former offensive coordinator, Mike Holmgren now Head Coach/General Manager of The Seattle Seahawks as they held the seventh selection one ahead of Chicago.

“It took some time doing and Mike Holmgren is a tough guy to deal with. I don’t know where he learned that,” Walsh said. Recruiting Holmgren’s help when the team feared the worst that the Chicago Bears would draft Carter with the eighth pick overall just plain made sense. So Walsh negotiated a settlement with Holmgren’s seventh overall pick and acquired Carter before the Bears had a chance. “This was a unanimous decision,” Mariucci said.

“Everybody in this building; secretaries were hoping for Andre Carter, groundskeepers, coaches, scouts alike, front office personnel department; we had Andre Carter targeted as a player that we would love on our football team.” “We were nervous to sit there at No.#9 and wait for him to fall in our lap so we goy a little edgy and said, 'Hey, we may not get him if we wait so let’s move up and get him.’ So we did.”

With the deal the 49er’s gave Mike Holmgren one of their third round picks (No. 82 overall). And the deal was finalized. With Walsh acquiring that extra third round draft pick in the first deal with Green Bay we bought the leverage we needed to acquire Carter.

“It was a great move by General Manager Bill Walsh to go up and get him,” said Mariucci, describing Carter as the organization’s consensus first pick. “He’s liked him for a long time. And we’re anxious to add to the defensive speed that we need to put in the field. We’re going to be playing against these fast quarterbacks. So we’ve got to have guys that can run and chase them down.”

I cannot agree more than with this assessment as we have been sorely vulnerable to pass-happy offenses that have riddled more holes in our secondary than Switzerland’s finest cheese, largely because we have been unable to generate effective pressure on the quarterback.

To addressing this need up front with our very first round pick was a victory for all personnel involved with the 49er organization even the fans alike. With Andre Carter’s acquisition we will enhance a young defense that will mature and grow into a dominating force in just a short few seasons.

While we had other needs, particularly in the backfield and in a depleted line backing

Corps, Bill Walsh, assistant general manager Terry Donahue and head coach Steve Mariucci all agreed it was imperative to get a dynamic, pass-rushing end. The three ends left on the roster, John Engelberger, John Milem and Chike Okeafor, combined for five sacks last season and former 49er just waived Anthony Pleasant. Who had two is now with New England.

There was much emphasis put on the need to draft a running back over a defensive player, many believed that the 49er’s were leaning even more that way as the reality of Charlie Garner signing with Oakland became real. But all along the priority was and still is defense we addressed even more with this draft.

With Walsh’s wheeling and dealing we have a playmaker on the roster someone that will make an immediate impact on this football team for a long time to come. And could while on the other side of defensive tackle Bryant Young rise to the Pro Bowl very early in his now beginning NFL career.

“I consider him one of the best picks we’ve made in recent history,” Walsh said of the 49er’s first-round pick, California defensive end Andre Carter. “I think he’ll become a great player very early.”

“We like to think of Andre Carter as another Bryant Young.” Mariucci stated. “He’s got the same kind of character, the same work ethic and intensity about the game of football.”

What is so surprising and not much said about is the very fact that San Francisco was prepared to give up even more if push came to shove in order to move up and acquire defensive end Andre Carter. When Walsh went to Holmgren on the phone with the clock ticking and the 49er’s needing to jump two slots, from No. #9 to No. #7 overall, to guarantee that No.#8 Chicago didn’t take Carter Walsh was very determined.

“Suddenly, a different Mike Holmgren was on the telephone,” said Walsh, playfully. “No humor. I tried to get him to laugh about old times. I even went to whether he read the Scriptures, 'proud mentor, you must respect. There wasn’t anything I could say.” “This is a hard side of Mike I didn’t know was there. I don’t know what our social relationship will be from now on.”

Certainly the phone conservation had to be a little tense as Holmgren was in a enviable situation to gain a lot with us moving up two slots and he played the role well as a master manipulator much of what he learned from his mentor in Bill Walsh himself.

“If he would’ve said a second, we would’ve had a hard time,” Walsh said, “but to be honest with you, Andre was worth a first and a second.”

Steve Mariucci was also very high on the drafting of defensive end Andre Carter as he had Carter penciled in on his starting lineup as the starting right defensive end in place of Anthony Pleasant all along. California Coach Tom Holmoe said Carter should have little trouble adjusting to the NFL.

“This guy is like a sponge mentally and he was very coachable,” Holmoe said of Carter. “He wanted to learn and be the best he could. There’s never been a player at our school that carried as much respect from players and coaches as Andre and it’s thrilling he’s a 49er.”

The greatest flaw that football experts and skeptics had of Andre Cater is the fact they believe him to be undersized for the position, and that it would be a detriment to defending against the run. However his incredible strength has more than offset that notion.

Carter has consistently played against 300 lb. linemen in college and fought off plenty of double teams in practice and games. Andre Carter stands 6-4 and weighs around 250-pounds. He has more than proven that he is not a slacker, his stock in the first round was effected with the term undersized, but we are not buying into that and shouldn’t.

“It’s a matter of heart and what you believe,” Carter said. “I honestly believe I can take on a big man, but if you go out on the field afraid, then of course you’re going to lose your battle because you’ve lost the battle within yourself.”

When I listened to the press conference after the draft and listened to how confident and how enthusiastic Andre was about being a part of our incredible franchise I was filled with enormous pride myself as I heard nothing but positives all around the nation about this great athlete. Andre is all about football, especially having grown up with one right in his own family his dad being a decorated nose tackle for the Denver Bronco’s and now a defensive line coach for The New York Jets.

Bill Walsh has commented that Andre started learning defensive postures and maneuvering at the early age of five-years old from his dad and that he is more than ready to play in the big league. Without question his father is a distinct driving force and a recognized symbol of excellence in this game today.

Walsh has never been so comfortable nor so confident about this pick since he drafted the likes of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, he has expressed utter contentment that Carter will be a huge playmaker sooner rather than later.

“Andre comes to us with a full arsenal of skills that 70 to 80 percent of the defensive ends in the league don’t have,” Walsh said. “And he’s super quick, a great athlete and an outstanding leader. I consider him one of the best picks we’ve made in recent history.”

Any concerns the 49er’s had about Andre Carters lack of girth was nullified by Carter’s amazing strength and near flawless technique. He is a workaholic much in the same mold as Bryant Young and Jerry Rice has been with their own strict regimens. Carter displayed his strength almost daily at California by battling 335-pound California tackle Langston Walker in practice.

Once the 49er’s acquired Carter in that pivotal moment in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft the entire war room erupted in applause and congratulations after the trades succeeded in landing Carter. Andre sitting in his parent’s home in Laurel, Maryland, Carter “freaked out” when ESPN announced he was a 49er.

At that very same time, In the New York Jets draft room, Carter’s father defensive line coach Rubin Carter acknowledged his son’s drafting with a knowing gratification. Rubin spent 12 seasons as a Bronco’s nose tackle before turning to coaching. In his current position as the Jets defensive line coach, one of his father’s futile chores was to scout his own son.

“I didn’t think he would be there when we picked to be honest,” said Rubin. The Jets came into the draft with the 19th overall pick. However his dad was very pleased with his selection by the 49er’s so early into this draft.

“I played with (49er’s defensive coach) Dwaine Board,” Rubin beamed. “He’s a good position coach; very well respected. They (49er’s) have a good chemistry going.”

On February 27, 1999 Rubin Carter was hired by The Washington Redskins as the defensive line coach. However when New Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer was hired this year he came in and cleaned house Rubin being one of them that was fired on January 8th, 2001. On February 7th, 2001 he was hired by The New York Jets as their defensive line coach.

In 2000 the Washington defensive line contributed 33 of the team’s 45 sacks on the season. Highlighted by Marco Coleman’s 12 and Bruce Smith’s 10; Coleman was voted to his first ever Pro Bowl under Carter’s tutelage and was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week against Tampa Bay with an 11 tackle, three sack outing.

In 1999 his defensive unit registered 30 of the team’s 40 sacks while also playing stingy run defense throughout the season. He began his coaching career as an assistant with Denver in 1987 on Dan Reeve’s staff and tutored 4 Pro Bowl linemen: Simon Fletcher, Rulon Jones, Karl Mecklenburg and Greg Kragen, and helped the team reach the Super Bowl XXIV.

He then moved on to Howard University in 1989 to become their defensive coordinator, after four years there Carter moved on to San Jose State as the defensive line coach (1994-95) before moving on to Maryland in 1996, where he again worked with the defensive line.

Rubin Carter enjoyed an impressive 12-year career in the NFL as a player with the Denver Bronco’s that concluded in 1986. Upon his retirement, Carter had played in more games (152) than any other Nose Tackle in NFL history. He had a total of 1,036 tackles and 33 sacks and missed only two games in his first 11 seasons and he was a participant in Super Bowls XII and XXI.

Rubin was drafted in 1975 by Denver out of the University of Miami, Carter earned team MVP honors as a junior and was a Kodak, UPI and AP All-American selection as a senior and was named the MVP of the Hula Bowl. He was inducted into The University of Miami Hall of Fame and Ft. Lauderdale Hall of Fame in 1981.

When you are convinced that one player can dramatically impact your team, you should do whatever is necessary to acquire that said player. General Manager Bill Walsh did not have to work hard at selling this proposal to the rest of the 49er staff; everyone bought into the fact that California’s premier defensive end Andre Carter son of Rubin Carter was the right man for that job.

The 49er’s also probably know more about Andre than any other player in the draft because 49er’s coach Steve Mariucci initially recruited him when he was coaching the Bears and has kept close contact with current California coach Tom Holmoe.

Even newly signed defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield passed on some information to the 49er’s after visiting them in the last few weeks, which advanced their determination to go after him. “He mentioned that the father (Rubin) would use tape of his son doing things in high school to teach the pro’s,” said 49er’s General Manager Bill Walsh. “Andre comes out of college more advanced in skill and technique than maybe any lineman I’ve ever seen, and it’s because of his father,” Walsh said. “His father was training him on defensive line technique while the other kids were out playing soccer.”

Andre Carter starred at Oak Grove High while his father worked as an assistant at San Jose State and was recruited to California by Steve Mariucci shortly before he took the 49er’s coaching job in 1997. Certainly the relationship there was just starting to form when Mariucci was called to take over The San Francisco 49er’s. It seems only fitting that Steve should have that back especially after already acknowledging such a terrific talent.

“I had a chance to visit him in high school and I’ve wanted to share the same sideline with that guy,” Mariucci said. “Now, I’m going to have an opportunity to do that. Let’s face it, there were some good football players available. But as far as the best football player on the board, our needs, a local guy, a smart guy, a great character guy, he just had it all. It just fit perfectly.”

Andre Carter was making a name for himself at Oak Grove High in San Jose, He became one of the top defensive linemen in the country, He was a highly coveted blue-chip player that turned the heads within the California coaching staff. They yearned to bring him into the fold and anchor its young defense.

Back when Steve Mariucci was California’s Head Coach, he acknowledged that he vividly remembers the first time he met Carter. “They were in the weight room. It wasn’t hard to figure out which guy was Andre Carter,” Mariucci said. “I remember making a home visit with him and his father, and I was impressed with his character.”

Andre Carter admitted being comfortable with Mariucci’s easy-going, affable nature. The relationship was sealed on mutual admiration. Mariucci proceeded to make weekly phone calls to Carter and even wrote a letter that left an indelible impression on the young defensive end. The California program seemed to be the right fit, but as he was preparing to commit to California, the news was sudden: The 49er’s had hired the man who would have been his college coach.

“When I found out, I was cleaning my room and I was listening to the news,” Carter said. “The next thing I hear, Steve Mariucci signed with the 49er’s. I was like, What! Oh, no! But that’s a part of coaching. When there’s an opportunity in front of you, you’ve got to take it. I was upset a little about how he left. But I told him that maybe one-day our paths would cross.” And now they have.

“I’m a happy man, no doubt in my mind,” Carter said after being selected by the 49er’s as the seventh overall pick in the first round of the draft. And to heck with all the coaches, scouts and draft experts who said Carter would go low in the first round after weighing in at a relatively light 249-pounds at the spring NFL scouting combine.

If there was any such discussion it was here, however San Francisco drafted early against the grain and were more than willing to go to great sacrifices in order to acquire him, for in their eyes he was that damn good.

“I know that was the main topic for everyone,” said Carter, who played at 263-pounds his senior year at California. “Whatever happens, I’ll put the weight back on. With my work ethic, I’ll get bigger, stronger, faster.”

Since becoming a 49er Andre Carter will be reunited with his former California teammate lineman Jeremy Newberry. He is also interested in the negotiations going on between the 49er’s and defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield who just signed on to play with his old friend Bryant Young after a three year stay with the Redskins.

“I was looking forward to playing with him,” Carter said, noting that he met Stubblefield during a visit to a Redskin’s mini-camp when his father was coaching there. Carter is also excited at the prospect of playing beside defensive tackle Bryant Young for whom he has been compared to. He met Bryant after working out in Santa Clara. “That’ll be fun,” he said. “He’s an interesting man.”

The Tail of the tape on Andre Carter.

California’s Defensive End Andre Carter from the very first day was looked at as being the chosen one by San Francisco. Even though his draft status began to drop after weighing in at the NFL Combine at a mere 249-pounds San Francisco did not flinch.

With everyone expecting the unexpected from Bill Walsh, most notably the fact he has been famous for trading down, he did the unthinkable and traded up to snatch Andre from right under Chicago’s nose.

The move in my opinion is an outstanding one as we are confident that we have secured the player we feel will make an immediate impact upon this team, especially in the sense of the pass rush. We have without question not questioned his talent or his abilities.

Andre Carter has been compared to Tennessee Titans now Giant defensive end Kenny Holmes. He has a height of 6-4.25 and a weight of 249-pounds, with a 40-yard dash speed of 4.75, a 20-yard shuttle of 4.24, a broad jump of 12-5, a 225-pound bench press of 20-repetitions and a vertical jump of 38.5.

The Analysis on his strengths and weaknesses.

1) Versus the run: He plays with tremendous leverage. He has the strength to line up over the tight end and play on the strong side of the line. He holds his ground and does a very good job of recognizing the run. However he still excels better in rushing the passer than he is at stopping the run. Andre does not have the ideal bulk, and opponents will most likely target him in the run game as a rookie.

2) Pass rush: Andre does not possess the top 40-yard dash time, but he still has a quick first step and possesses some powerful pass rush moves. He does an exceptional job of getting up-field and working his way back inside. He has a strong club move, and his initial quickness allows him to get a quick jump on most offensive tackles.

3) Initial quickness: Andre has exceptional quickness for a guy his size. He shows great burst off the ball, he comes out low and accelerates within his second and third step.

4) Run/pass recognition: Andre has made some improvements in this area. He always knows where the ball is. On film it shows that he will get too far up field sometimes and gets taken out of the play.

5) Pursuit/tackling: Carter does not have great chasing speed, but he is quick and he will make a lot of plays in the backfield. He is a solid tackler with good technique. He can explode through the ball carrier, and has shown some big play capability. He won’t make a lot of plays downfield.

6) Bottom line: Defensive End Andre Carter is an athlete that is of high character and gives 100% of himself on every play. He is an exceptional team player and possesses the necessary tools to evolve into a Pro Bowl type player. He is a top-effort end who has the ability to turn the corner. He has long arms and he is clever. He has a keen sense for pass rushing. He is just that damn good.

“We’d like to say this is another (Bryant Young) type,” Mariucci said. “He’s going to be his own man. The first thing I’m going to tell him is you’ve got to be Andre Carter. But being Andre Carter is a great thing. He’s a class act. With his work ethic and training habits, he’s the kind of guy you want your kids to grow up and be like; on and off the field.”

Andre Carter’s California years were filled with immense accomplishment as he was rated as one of the very best defensive players in the entire nation. His ranking was a direct result of all the hard work, and playmaking skills he demonstrated on a consistent basis.

He enjoyed a brilliant senior season in 2000 as he collected school record 13.5 sacks during the season. He also set a California record with 31 career sacks. He finished the 2000 season with 20 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for minus 111-yards, among his 59 tackles on the year; his tackle and sack totals were very impressive in light of the fact that he was double-teamed virtually the entire season.

He was named one of five finalists for the 2000 Bronko Nagurski Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player, he was also named the winner of the Morris Trophy, given to the top defensive (and offensive) linemen in the Pac-10 via a vote by opponent linemen around the league. He was one of 10 semi-finalists for the Lombardi Award; he earned unanimous first team All-America honors including Associated Press, Walter Camp, The Football Writers Association, Football News, Sporting News, CNN/Sports Illustrated and the Football Coaches Association teams.

Also was a unanimous first team Pac-10 selection for the second consecutive season, showing amazing resiliency as he was on the field for 805 of California’s 810 defensive plays during the season; he ended his career with 55 tackles for loss, the second best total in California history. He was twice named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week in 2000 after the Utah and UCLA games.

Obviously The San Francisco 49er’s were convinced of California’s defensive end Andre Carter, they were even prepared to sacrifice even more picks if necessary in order to obtain him. This in itself speaks volumes for this particular athlete’s character and big playmaking abilities. He is without question an athlete that can come right in and make an immediate impact on our young defense.

Defensive Coordinator Jim Mora Jr. is delighted and overcome with immense satisfaction as to this great addition to his defensive unit as a whole. Carter is a team player and a leader on the field and off. I believe he will mature rapidly way ahead of other rookie players because of his work ethic and great knowledge of the game. In general thanks to his father’s great hands on involvement in his life at an early stage in his life in developing him into an elite pro player that he is today.

Expect enormous accomplishments out of our young defense this season, the pass rush has been injected with adrenalin and we will be off and running early. No longer will the opposing quarterback feel the security he felt these last two seasons.

San Francisco felt the undoing of their organization and observed it struggle at the very bottom of it’s very own division, General Manager Bill Walsh in conjunction with the very best front office in the business have reconstructed a piece of the glorified dynasty of old.

Andre Carter is one of those integrated pieces we need to put this defense back on the map in the NFL, he will live up to his high draft status and he will be a immense compliment to defensive tackles Bryant Young and newly signed Dana Stubblefield. He will push the buttons on second-year player John Engelberger and stimulate the depth of Chike Okeafor and John Milem. Andre Carter is the man for the job.