Legendary 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark announced the team’s second-round pick at the 2011 NFL Draft, only it happened nine slots before the selection was originally intended to be made.
The 49ers traded their second-round pick (No. 45 overall), along with a fourth-round pick (No. 108 overall) and a fifth-round pick (No. 141 overall) to acquire the Denver Broncos’ No. 36 selection in the second round.
The trade all went down right before Clark took the stage at Radio City Music Hall. By that point, the 49ers Faithful were waiting on the edge of their seats to find out who the team traded for.
“With pick No. 36 in the 2011 NFL Draft,” Clark began, “the 49ers select
After Clark made the announcement, NFL Network cameras showed Kaepernick hearing the news over the phone while sitting on the couch with friends and family surrounding him.
Kaepernick must’ve known the 49ers were moving up to take him; he was wearing a red 49ers hat when Clark told the world who would be the newest 49er.
“I heard a little bit of a rumor earlier today,” Kaepernick said in a conference call with local reporters. “It just depended on whether it was going to work out or not, but very happy and very excited that it did.”
So excited, Kaepernick headed from his home in Turlock, Calif., to meet with coaches and the media at 49ers headquarters in the same day. Kaepernick’s parents also made the trip, watching their son’s press conference proudly from the back of the team’s defensive meeting room.
Kaepernick had a good feeling about the 49ers ever since coach Jim Harbaugh led him through a private workout at Nevada’s pro day.
“I was very excited about it,” Kaepernick recalled. “He was one coach that was very hands-on. He was very energetic with everything that he was doing. He’s the type of coach that gets you just excited to play the game.”
The two hit it off immediately, competing in various throwing drills as part of the workout.
Now, Kaepernick believes he can be a good fit for Harbaugh’s offense because of his mobility and all-around skill set at the position. As the NCAA’s only player to rush for more than 4,000 yards and throw for more than 10,000 yards, Kaepernick is confident he can fit well with the 49ers weapons on offense too.
Harbaugh pointed to the productivity as well in his reasoning for trading up to pick Kaepernick.
“I think a lot of it comes down to 11-on-11 football, how are you at that? What contribution is the quarterback making to the offensive unit? His production has been dramatic,” Harbaugh said.
“You hear talk about Colin being a developmental type quarterback. I heard that a few times after we selected Colin. That goes for all quarterbacks. That is every quarterback that goes from college to the National Football League, so he’s no different. He’s got great gifts from mom, dad, God. He comes with the energy and the ability to think his way to success. So all of those things and more.”
But Kaepernick isn’t being inserted into the starting lineup just yet. He’ll be in the competition for the starting job.
“We want to get the best players on our roster that we possibly can and throw out the balls and let them compete,” Harbaugh said.
The Kaepernick trade certainly made waves on Friday, but the 49ers weren’t done making moves on day two of the draft.
With their third-round selection picks away, the 49ers sent their third-round pick (No. 76 overall) to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a third-round pick (80th overall) and sixth-round pick (182 overall).
When the 49ers turn came up four picks later, the team addressed its secondary by selecting versatile South Carolina cornerback
The senior defensive back is well versed in playing pass defense. In 2009, he was a second-team All-SEC performer at free safety. In 2010, Culliver moved to cornerback, but was hampered by a pectoral injury that caused him to only play in seven games.
But 49ers general manager Trent Baalke sees a lot of upside in Culliver, who has experience playing all over the defensive backfield.
“He’s a 6-foot corner, who runs in the low 4.3s,” Baalke said of the selection. “He has been versatile, played in the nickel, has played on the perimeter, has played out at safety and he’s also been a solid kick returner at the SEC level, so there’s a lot of value there.”
Culliver, like the 49ers previous two selections of the draft, was one of the team’s 30 pre-draft visitors. The defensive back, who’s started 31 collegiate games for the Gamecocks, said he’s ready to play any role the 49ers designate for him.
“Whatever coach wants me to play. I feel like I can definitely develop into a good corner,” Culliver said in his conference call. “I feel like at safety I’m definitely good at that position as well. I know I don’t have a lot of years of experience like other guys at corner, but I definitely only can develop and be a better player in that role. So, regardless, I’m down for pretty much whatever coach wants me to do.”
Culliver’s flexibility is something Baalke is looking for when selecting players. He’s also looking for players who can compete at a high level, something Culliver is quite familiar with.
His competitive drive is a benefit as well.
“I feel like I’m going to be a corner because I feel like they’re not going to let me fail,” Culliver added.