As an Auburn alum and member of the University's All-Decade Team for the 2000s, Carlos Rogers applauded San Francisco's SEC-heavy, 2013 draft class.
Four of the team's first seven selections hailed from the SEC, the very same powerhouse conference that produced the 49ers starting cornerback of the past two seasons.
Rogers hasn't followed SEC football quite like he did when he was a first-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, but he still knows enough about Auburn football and the stiff SEC competition they faced on a weekly basis. Rogers also knows enough about the league to be excited about San Francisco's incoming draft class.
"I didn't follow it like I used to when I first got in the league, but I have been following those guys," Rogers told 49ers.com after the second day of the team's on-field workouts supervised by coaches. "I do pay attention to Auburn and Alabama, even though I'm not supposed to."
From his loyal support watching Auburn, Rogers picked up on the safety play from LSU's Eric Reid, the very same player San Francisco selected with the No. 18 overall pick in the draft.
"That's a great addition," said Rogers, a Pro Bowler in 2011 and an every-down contributor in 2012. "He can definitely fit our secondary."
The 49ers cornerback finished last year with 69 tackles, seven pass breakups and one interception on a defense with two other Pro Bowl safeties. Rogers knows the 49ers have to fill the void left by outgoing safety Dashon Goldson who signed with Tampa Bay. Even so, Rogers appreciated how San Francisco's front office used its numerous draft picks to target Reid, the 6-foot-1, 213-pound, play-making safety. The 49ers moved up in the first round to find a safety for the future.
"With us having so many picks, it'll enable you to do more things than a lot of teams," Rogers said, channeling his inner Mel Kiper Jr. "For them to move up and get a guy on their draft board they had rated as their first safety, it's definitely a need for us."
Rogers knows the starting free safety job won't be handed to Reid, a first-team All-SEC performer in 2012. If anything, the competition for that spot will only intensify before the season opener on Sept. 8 at home against the Green Bay Packers.
"It's always competition in our room to get on the field over other players," Rogers said. "Around the league, there's competition with other teams in your division. It's getting tougher each and every year."
For now, veterans like Rogers will do their part to help rookies like Reid get acclimated to the pro game.
"With Dashon gone, he's got some big footsteps to fill in order to keep the defense where we want it to be," Rogers detailed. "I've got all the confidence in the world he will come in and learn."
In Rogers' first year in San Francisco, the ninth-year pro mentored Chris Culliver on how to become a better defensive back. In 2013, Rogers imagines the veteran players maintaining a similar role in the development of Reid, the 10 other rookie selections and incoming undrafted free agents.
"We take pride in helping our guys," Rogers said. "You can't have guys come in and expect to play, they need to learn all they can learn. They need to get on the field, get with us, learn our terminology and get our mindset of what we're thinking. And we need to get to the point where we're on the same page without even speaking."
Reid comes to the 49ers as a two-time All-SEC Academic Honor Roll recipient. The LSU safety also earned a 4.7 grade point average in high school.
Reid's intelligence will be counted on early in his NFL career. Veterans like Rogers feel like Reid's track record in a big-time football program should only benefit San Francisco's respected defensive unit.
"I'm pretty sure coming from a good program that he'll be coming in ready to learn fast and help us," Rogers said.
Until the rookies report on May 10 for a three-day rookie minicamp, Rogers will continue maximizing his time at the team's offseason program. Phase two of the training sessions began this week and Rogers has been pleased to get back to work under the guidance of his defensive coaches.
Being around his teammates also makes it more enjoyable.
"It's been fun," Rogers said of this year's offseason sessions at 49ers headquarters. "This is something when I was younger I didn't want to do. Sometimes I didn't come to offseason programs, but the older you get, the better you see how it helps you out.
"You can do all the workouts you want to at home, but you don't get the drills and the work with your teammates. You can learn more. It's totally different than working with a strength coach and just running around… I take pride in coming here."