General manager Scot McCloughan addressed the media following the conclusion of the 2008 NFL Draft.
RE: Opening Statements"As you guys are well aware, from our standpoint, we think we had a heck of a draft. Everybody that was on our board was a draftable guy. That's all I can really say. I'm excited about it. I think we got a chance to (get) -- not say starters out of this thing in the whole bunch -- but some good football players, and that's what we try to do every year. Again, we want to get enough depth on this team where they have to earn the spot, and I think that's what we got. Same with last year with Patrick (Willis) and Joe (Staley), they were not given the starting spot. They had to come in here and earn it, and they did. I think these guys are the same way. I'm very excited about the first two because they're big bodies, strong guys, and they've been durable guys. I know on ESPN they said that Kentwan (Balmer) wasn't durable. He's been very durable. I think from the standpoint of size, which we really like, they're good picks. Offensive line, defensive line, which you guys know, we want to try to build from inside out, front to back. Again, this adds to it. I think you saw that we took the best player on the board. Not just with the first two picks, but throughout the whole draft. It wasn't so much for need, which I am happy about. Some of the second-day guys fit the needs that we wanted. We didn't push the envelope on anybody. Didn't jump over another guy to make sure we get this position. It kind of fell the way the board fell. This is the first year that the board has really gone the way the league drafted them. For me, it's a little different because usually we're 75-25. This year, we're probably, at least 80-20, maybe 85-15."
RE: What do you mean by 80-20?"The way it went. The first round through seventh round with the way our board was set, how teams took guys. The way we set our board is for the 49ers, not for the league. So there's usually guys in the top 15, top 25, even through the third round, they will go much higher than we have them on our board."
RE: That's bad?"That's bad for us, from the standpoint because you always hope for guys to fall. But again, I think we had a good draft. I think we got players we wanted."
RE: So, when you say 85-15, that means 85 percent of what you thought would happen, did?"From the standpoint of the 49ers, also happened for the league. As a matter of fact, the Kansas City Chiefs board and our board was almost identical. The guys they took, compared to what we would have taken at those picks – it's almost identical (and) very unique. It's almost like they had a picture of our board…It's kind of interesting how it worked this year. Very interesting."
RE: Is that the most even you've ever seen a board with yours?"Yes. By far. Matter of fact, not just my board, but even in Green Bay and Seattle. Very interesting."
RE: How many rounds did that last with Kansas City?"Through five (rounds). They had a lot of picks, but through five."
RE: Could you look at Kansas City, can you tell which guys you would have drafted?"Yeah, you could look at them. The guys we like, (are the) guys they took. If we were in the same spot, there's a good chance we would have taken those guys. Who knows if it's right or wrong. We'll find out in a couple of years. It was very interesting. Guys we had ranked higher, even in the second and third round, the highest guy we had ranked they took. They had a lot of picks."
RE: Was Glenn Dorsey your highest rated guy?"I'm not going to get into that, but he was up there for sure."
RE: Why did you wait until the sixth round to get a wide receiver?"The way it worked for us this year was the best player on the board. We knew early we were going to do it no matter what. But it fell that way throughout the draft. We are not going to force the issue on a receiver in the fourth, or the third, when we do have a better player at another position. We are not a good enough team to draft for need. We've still got to take the best player, and as many guys as we can to make us better."
RE: Why not force the issue for an offensive tackle?"We don't have to. We have versatility. The guys we drafted have versatility. If we have to slide (Adam) Snyder outside, so be it. Again, I think it worked out perfect from my standpoint because we have two offensive linemen that could be really good football players for us. Going into this draft I wanted that, and we got it."
RE: With Balmer, will you try him first at the nose, or do you see him more as (an end)?"I think, which is great, is the versatility again, same as the offensive line. He has a chance to be the nose or be a left end. That gives us – from the standpoint of training camp and during the season – if somebody gets hurt, we can move him side to side. He can stay outside. That, I think, played a lot into what we did. But again, he's a really good football player. From my standpoint, as a defensive lineman, he can do a lot of things for you. People say, 'Well, he's not a pass rusher.' Well, how many 300-pound guys are pass rushers? If they are, they're Reggie White type guys. They're not sitting there at (No.) 29. He brings great attitude, passion, work ethic, intelligence. One thing that really impressed me at the Senior Bowl, and it was early because he got hurt quick, you'll see when you guys see him out here, he's a pretty dang good athlete for a 300-pounder. He can move his feet, and he can make some lateral plays, and that's hard to find at 300 pounds. Will he ever be a good pass rusher? No, but what he does with those front three is he brings power, and all of a sudden your four backers are making the plays. And in a 3-4, that's what you look for."
RE: Is Balmer talented enough to draw double teams?"Oh yeah, he has leverage and is pretty impressive."
RE: Balmer seems more tall and angular than other players at his position"Well he is, but in uniform he is a real thick-legged guy. He is built like a nose (tackle). He's been up to 310; this year he played at 300. If we want him to be big, we can do it. You let him grow into who he is physically, but we're excited. If you had asked me before the draft if he would be there at No. 29, I would have said it will be tough and if he was, we would be very excited, and we were."
RE: Is Balmer a little undersized to be a nose?"From the standpoint of size, yes. From the standpoint of the way he plays, no. He has really good leverage."
RE: How do you feel you have addressed the team's other needs?"I think we addressed them. Again we didn't force the issue. It would have been nice to draft three receivers, to draft an offensive tackle, but it didn't happen that way. I think what we got out of this draft from the standpoint of need was pretty good and from the standpoint of football players, really good. I'll take that every year."
RE: What do you think of the player the Bears took, Earl Bennett, at your old spot in the third round?"He's a good player."
RE: Would you have drafted Bennett at that position?"No, but he's a good player. He will end up being a good football player."
RE: What is your outlook for the undrafted free agents?"As a matter of fact, it's still going on right now. It's going really good. No names yet of course because no contracts are signed. It could happen tonight, anybody can steal anybody. I'm really happy, and it is probably our best year yet."
RE: How many undrafted free agents are you looking to get?"At least six. It would be nice to have eight to 10 that we like. It's a work in progress when you get close to 80 (players on the roster). You try to find good football players. I don't want to sign anybody just to be bodies. If we want to do that, we can do that later before training camp starts. But right now, it's going pretty good."
RE: On Josh Morgan's little trouble in the past:"The key word is little. He's not a bad kid at all. As a matter of fact, we brought him in here for an interview, did stuff at the Combine with him, and he's a good kid. If I thought there was going to be a problem there, I wouldn't have taken him. At that point, we got a heck of a pick. He's a talented receiver and has some size to him. I tried to find all the negatives I could on him from the standpoint of background, and I couldn't find anything. I was very impressed."
RE: Why did Josh Morgan last so long?"It surprised me. I don't know that. He caught my eye very early. I went down to the ACC Championship between Virginia Tech and Boston College and he had a heck of a game down there. Just watching him run routes and catching balls even in warm-ups, he stood out. Then Icame back here, went through the meetings, watched the tape, did the background, and liked him a lot. For us to get him there, it was a heck of a pick."
RE: Could (Cody) Wallace challenge for the starting center spot?"I hope he can challenge for it, that's why we drafted him. He's been a center most of his life. That's what we want, we want a competition … with him and Heit (Eric Heitmann), and we'll let them battle it out, and whatever happens, happens … Even drafting Chilo (Rachal) coming in here, let him battle (it) out at the guard position. The reason we drafted them is because we thought they were good football players. What we're trying to do is just add to that."
RE: Does your seventh round pick mean you won't pursue Takeo Spikes?"No, it does not mean that. Larry Grant's going to be really good (special) teams guy coming in, and battle for inside, outside (linebacker) back-up jobs. (He's from) Ohio State, good defense, (he) played next to a lot of good football players that you'll see next year come out in the draft."
RE: On Takeo Spikes"Probably soon, we'll see where it's at. Again, we're not going to force the issue. We signed Dontarrious (Thomas), I don't think there's a reason to force the issue. But again, (he's) a good football player and a good person, somebody that if we still feel fits into our scheme, from the standpoint of his age and where we drafted and sign free agency, we'll definitely do it to make us better."
RE: Is the ball in his court at this point?"No, 50-50."
RE: On second day picks"When you get into the second day -- fifth, sixth, seventh round type picks -- you look for (special) teams value. The reason their usually going there is to back up the position guys. But, (special) teams value is very important. Guys that block punts and kicks in college; it's an innate thing you have. It's not something you can teach."
RE: On Mike Martz's involvement with picking Rachal and Wallace"He's involved in the conversation; whenever it's all said and done it's my call. But, he gives me his input and he's been very cordial. Again, I think it's very important that the coaches are involved. I want them to be on the same page. There was no green light, he looked at me and said 'do what you've got to do' and I said 'I always do.'
RE: What's your time frame on Larry Allen?"Still waiting. I don't want to go there because it's his choice and our choice. We'll come to terms at some point. Again, I'm really glad we drafted two o-linemen that are good football players. They'll have a chance to come in and contribute."
RE: The one guy we hadn't talked about, Reggie Smith, what do you envision (his role)?"You know what, it's funny, because Mike (Nolan) asked me the same thing, 'How do you envision him on our team?' Corner, safety, whatever, he's a good football player. We drafted him, he's going to come in here and make plays for us one way or another. Year one, year two, who knows. He's a good football player. Watch the tape, and it's pretty impressive. You know, again, a really good guy. He's compassionate, has intelligence and a good work ethic – all stuff we look for. If I would have known we would have got him in the third round I would have been very excited."
RE: Does he play faster than the (40) time?"Yes, as a matter of fact. He did not run 40's prior to his workout at the school. All he did was position stuff. You watch the tape. He reminds of you of Limas Sweed."
RE: What do you say to people who look at this draft and say 'It's sort of a boring draft. A bunch of linemen, guys that don't score touchdowns'?"Well, as you saw. It's the first time in what 19 years that no receivers were taken in the first round. Everybody thinks flashy, so they want to see the receivers make the big play. Like I've said, they are always good drafts. You've just got to find the football players. You go back to the seventh round this year, and there'll be good NFL football players. It's a given. The depth at certain positions was weaker (in this year's draft), but it was a good draft. I think – again, I'm a little bit biased about it – but, I think we had a heck of a draft. We got some good football players, on our board we did. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. But, it's a really good draft. It's only six picks compared to nine or 10, or 11, but I'm very excited."
RE: I'm sure there were opportunities for you to trade back and get a few more picks"There were. Trade back or trade up, either way."
RE: Why not try to get seven picks?"Because at our picks, the guy we wanted was there. If he wasn't there, we would have traded back. Any trade that goes on we say we would like to trade back or trade up. If our guy's not there, I'll call you back and we'll trade out, but each time our guy was there. That's why I think it was a good draft for us."
RE: What picks did that happen at?"It happened at four, six and seven."
RE: Did it happen at one?"No."
RE: Did you have conversations about moving up or offers?"Conversations. I mean there's offers, but it's always conversations. But, if our guy's going to be there, we're staying pat and taking a good football player. Why mess around and move back?"