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Lots of Links in Recent Niners News

Links, links, links. That’s the name of the game in this post. There is a plethora of Niners information on the ‘net and I wanted to consolidate it in this space.

Pro Football Weekly had a roundup on the Niners’ draft. Instead of providing a link, I figured I would save the hassle of you having to scroll through other teams to get to your favorite. See what a nice guy I am?

San Francisco 49ers

Bypassing the opportunity to initially bolster an offense short on firepower, the Niners chose to strengthen their defensive line with the late-first-round selection of North Carolina DT Kentwan Balmer. Balmer most likely figures as a replacement for the retiring Bryant Young at left end, but he also is considered versatile enough to push veterans Aubrayo Franklin and Isaac Sopoaga for playing time inside at nose tackle.  Ten picks later, the Niners upgraded the interior O-line with the addition of USC OG Chilo Rachal. Described as a “poor man’s Larry Allen” by GM Scot McCloughan, Rachal becomes a strong possibility to start at left guard in place of Allen, who is expected to retire. Rachal also offers insurance in case David Baas, the leading candidate to start at right guard, is slow to recover from surgery on a torn pectoral muscle suffered while lifting weights in the week leading up to the draft. Third-round pick Reggie Smith is a versatile DB who probably will see more action for the Niners at cornerback, where starter Walt Harris is showing his age, and injury-prone Shawntae Spencer remains a health risk. In the fourth round, the Niners returned to addressing their beleaguered O-line with the selection of pure C Cody Wallace. A team captain at Texas A&M who performed well in the Senior Bowl against the likes of Sedrick Ellis and Trevor Laws, Wallace could push starting C Eric Heitmann, who had some problems in pass protection last season. WR Josh Morgan has good size and tremendous leaping ability, but he needs to play with more consistency than he did in college. OLB Larry Grant was the former national Junior College Player of the Year in 2005 at City College of San Francisco. Look for him to contribute primarily on special teams.’s Mike Sando said the most surprising draft move of the NFC West teams was that the Niners waited until the sixth round to select a skill player. Here is his full statement:

The 49ers didn’t take a skill-position player until the sixth round, which was surprising for a team that hired Mike Martz as offensive coordinator. Yet there’s no question that Bruce and fellow veteran newcomer Bryant Johnson upgraded the receiver position. Tight end Vernon Davis also should emerge as more of a passing threat if Martz can coax better results from the quarterback position.

But the 49ers will need young reinforcements at receiver at some point. Bruce is nearing the end, and Arnaz Battle has never exceeded 686 yards in a season. Martz will surely help pump up those numbers, but another viable prospect might have been helpful for the future. The 49ers didn’t take a receiver until selecting Virginia Tech’s Josh Morgan in the sixth round, 174th overall.

Third-round pick Reggie Smith was given the best wake-up call of his life last Sunday…

Here is another piece on the relationship between Mike Nolan and Alex Smith, only with two interesting tidbits: 1) The Niners coaches feel that Shaun Hill resembles Marc Bulger, and 2) J.T. O’Sullivan is apparently in the running for the starting quarterback.

Kentwan Balmer’s position on the defensive line is undetermined as the 49ers start mincamp.

In some surprising news, Pro Football Weekly says that the word from Niners headquarters is that Mike Martz thinks Alex Smith could be “the best quarterback he’s worked with on the pro level.”

Niner Insider Kevin Lynch reviews some of the Niners’ 11 rookie free agents.

Lynch has a couple days worth of notes from mincamp, May 2 and May 3. One important note is that guard David Baas tore a pectoral muscle while bench pressing and will be out until the end of training camp.

Frank Gore has Marshall Faulk’s number if he has any questions about Martz’s offense.

Mark Roman is becoming accustomed to having a speaker in his helmet.

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