Inside the Combine: Q&A with 49ers Scouting Director

INDIANAPOLIS -- Entering his 11th year as a scout for the San Francisco 49ers, Matt Malaspina has seen the likes of Colin Kaepernick, NaVorro Bowman and countless more future stars perform at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Malaspina, now the 49ers third-year director of college scouting, took time away from his hectic schedule – the Super Bowl of weeks for NFL scouts – to speak with 49ers.com on Wednesday.

After sitting down with Scott Kegley for the above 1-on-1 interview, Malaspina stuck around to answer a few more questions about how his career began, his favorites memories from past combines and his philosophy on scouting players.

49ers.com:What memories do you have from your first combine experience?

Malaspina:I was maybe 26 or 27, and I worked for National Football Scouting my first year. It was kind of cool to see all the guys you see on TV, especially the coaches and the personnel people. You're like, 'Wow, there's Dan Reeves, there's Bill Parcells and there's Al Davis.' As far as players go, that was 1998, so that would've been Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. It was a cool experience, because you hear about all of this and then to be here was kind of neat.

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A look back at San Francisco's most recent draft class competing at the NFL Scouting Combine.

49ers.com: **Looking back over the years, what comes to mind when you think about the combine performances of some of the 49ers star players?

Malaspina:I remember Vernon Davis well and just how explosive he was. He just stood out. I remember Joe Staley being a good athlete. In the interviews, Jimmie Ward was a no-nonsense guy. Chris Borland was excellent. Bruce Ellington was a class act.

49ers.com:Who are some of the players you scouted that you are most proud of how they've performed in the NFL?

Malaspina:The ones that scouts are the most happy about aren't the ones on the front page of the paper. They're the ones who are the backend guys who end up playing for four or five years (when) a lot of people didn't envision that for them. That's the thing, there are 32 teams out there and they are all looking at players through a different lens.

49ers.com:So what exactly do the 49ers look for in a prospect?

Malaspina:It's not like we have some great formula. We just try to find guys that fit into what we do and they love football, are workers, are wired right and are tough. We really try to find the right guys.

49ers.com:How much of a team effort goes into scouting and building a team that can sustain success?

Malaspina:You can't do it by yourself. That's why we have six different area scouts. You can't just sit there with one other guy and say, 'Do you like him? I like him.' You have to have different opinions and scouts with different ages and backgrounds. That's the beauty of it. One guy may see a player in a completely different light than I do. There aren't many no-brainers in the draft, so you have to be creative in your thinking, and you have to constantly be evaluating and thinking, 'How can we do this different? How can we get an edge?'

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