If San Francisco spoke to you on a minimal level this offseason, you might be a 49ers draft pick in 2013.
The four prospects were left off the invite list by design.
“When the stars align, do you really need to tip your hand and let anybody know that you’re interested in them?” general manager Trent Baalke said. “Does it do any good to bring them in and interview them again so that people start to think, ‘Well, maybe they’re interested?’
“Sometimes it’s better off to go with the work that your area scouts do, and we do.”
Baalke puts great emphasis in the work of his scouting staff and the information they bring back from on-campus interviews and film evaluation.
Reid, the No. 18 overall pick, didn’t visit the 49ers before the draft, but met with Jim Harbaugh at the combine, the very same coach who once recruited him in college. Carradine, pick No. 40, didn’t come to the Bay Area either, but had a private dinner with defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. McDonald, pick No. 55, met with the coaches at the combine, too.
With Lemonier, the Auburn defensive end, Baalke felt comfortable with the information gathered by national scout Matt Malaspina and Joel Patten, director of college scouting.
“In this case, the stars aligned and we were very comfortable with what he could, based on the film,” Baalke said. “All the other stuff we were comfortable with, so there was no reason to dig any deeper.”
Lemonier was so caught off by his draft selection, he mistakenly called his new head coach, John Harbaugh. No, that’s the brother of the actual coach, Jim Harbaugh.
“I haven’t talked to them or anything like that,” the Auburn prospect drafted No. 88 overall in the third round said of the 49ers. “This is just all new to me.”
Either way, Lemonier was eager to be picked by San Francisco.
His comments certainly reflected it.
“I’m pumped,” Lemonier said. “It’s a great defense and I’m humbled to be a part of it. So, I’m just excited to get out there.”
Lemonier started 26 of his 39 career games at Auburn, totaling 100 tackles, 17.0 sacks, 24 tackles-for-loss, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Baalke felt comfortable with the Auburn junior’s talent and ability to rush from both sides of the field. He didn’t need a combine interview to confirm it.
“You do as much homework as you can on these guys and you’ve got to trust the information,” Baalke said. “And, once again, fortunate to have guys out there beating the bushes, working as hard as they do, spending as much time as they do away from their families to get this information and get it right. You’ve got to roll with it.”
Carradine, the productive Florida State pass-rusher, was unsure if the 49ers would draft him after the visit with Tomsula.
“I was kind of shocked,” Carradine, a 6-foot-4, 276-pound defensive end said. “Also, I knew that I did have an injury that was serious. But, I was able to come back fast. And I thought that if I am able to come back fast and run that fast 40 and being able to move around and show teams what I can do being four months out of surgery. It kind of shocked me but I kind of got over it.
“I was hoping that I’d go in the second round. Some teams take a chance on me in the second round. Because I knew that they’d be getting one of the best D-Ends in this year’s draft. I kind of had an idea that I’d get picked and I was going to be very excited about it.”
Carradine had a positive encounter after his workout and visit with Tomsula, but he still was unsure of where he’d play in the NFL. The meeting, however, put Carradine at ease about a possible future with the 49ers.
“It was great. It was a great dinner,” the Seminole defensive end said. “We talked about football. We talked about life as well. He was able to get to know me as a person, as a player. And I was able to get to know him as a coach. So, I was really excited about it. It was a great moment in my life.”
Now that he’s been drafted by San Francisco, Carradine feels even better about his future in the NFL. His primary focus is to get 100 percent healthy from a late-season knee injury.
“I see myself fitting right in,” Carradine said of his future with San Francisco. “I can come out there and learn from a great group of guys and also compete as well. You’re coming into a great system and a great team that went to the Super Bowl, and also want to help so we can do a repeat and go back to the Super Bowl and win it. So, I felt like it was a big accomplishment and I’m excited about it.”
McDonald, too, couldn’t help his excitement.
“It’s an exciting one to be a part it,” the All-Conference USA prospect said. “Going in with all the success that they’ve had. It’s just awesome to know I’ll be a part of it.”
The 6-foot-4, 262-pound tight end also didn’t know of San Francisco’s draft-day intentions. He met with the 49ers at the combine, but didn’t get a true sense of their interest.
“I knew going into the draft that there was always a chance,” McDonald said. “The couple of teams that hinted at it a little more than the others. But, after talking to some people close and my agent and family, I just kind of had the feeling that it was going to be someone just coming out of left field and grabbing me up. And I’d say that’s pretty much what happened here.”
So, for all draft hopefuls waiting to hear their name called in the remaining rounds of the draft, if the 49ers haven’t spoken to you at length, there’s still a chance you could find a home in San Francisco.