Out West With Waugh, For the Final Time

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Player Personnel Assistant Ethan Waugh is in his fourth season with the 49ers and has become a jack of all trades for General Manager Scot McCloughan with duties that cover both the pro and college side of scouting. In this latest blog, Waugh updates everyone on the Draft, mini camp and his new position with the 49ers. **

It already seems a while ago, but I'll touch on the Draft, which I thought was excellent.  It was a different process because of having only two rounds the first day and the later start so we had all morning to sit around and eat and wait. We weren't picking until 29 so we had to watch a lot of good players come off the board, but we were fortunate that there was a very good one left when it was our turn. Kentwan Balmer was a guy who we wanted and who fit a need we have on the defensive line and we think he'll be an excellent player for us in the future.

We were up again ten picks later so there was a flurry of activity between our two picks and then after that it slowed and we were really done for the day. We came back bright and early and the second day always flies by because there are only five minutes in between picks and teams rarely use all five minutes. Players go off the board quickly and it is a scramble to keep up with the trades that happen and who all still has what picks. We fielded some phone calls and were active in trade talks, but there wasn't anything we ever felt was a win for us so we held steady and were able to pick the guys we liked.

Probably the most exciting part of the draft weekend is the free agency scramble at the end. By that point we know who is on the roster and the positions where we need extra players and how much money we want to spend on each position. Also, if you really like a guy and felt he could have been drafted, you might want to spend a little more so we talk through all of that and then the coaches and scouts work the phones like crazy. We ended up getting a really good group – probably as good a group of free agents as we've had in a while.

Next up was mini camp, which went very well.

Everyone came in on Thursdays for physicals after 4PM per the league rule. We sent them all up to Stanford for those and got a full medical history on them, and then some of the free agents signed their contracts while the draft picks signed medical waivers. Basically they got all of their information while they were there getting their physicals done – human resource stuff, where they were going to stay, etc.

They came back here for dinner and Coach Nolan had an introductory meeting for the rookies and gave them the lowdown on what it is like to be a 49ers and what he expects from them. I think they bought in wholeheartedly. It's a little bit like a first day of the new school year – everyone looking around and trying to feel each other out. The vets come back and are all friends already and the rookies are still trying to learn who everybody is, and the rules and the ways of the locker room, but usually by the end of the weekend everyone is very comfortable.

I thought the practices went well. I spent a lot of time watching the offense and watching how the guys were picking up the new system. The coaches were doing a lot of instruction and players seemed to be taking to it well. The vets were in great shape and the rookies jumped right in line and competed hard. Balmer stepped right in and showed he is a physical guy, as much as you can be without pads on. You could certainly tell he is a strong player.

The same goes with Chilo Rachal. They are probably the hardest guys to judge because they are not in pads but they both have great strength and great power. Also, the o-line is one of the closest groups on the team and he seemed like he fit in very well with those guys.

Reggie Smith has very good balance and very good feet and appears to be a very instinctive football player.

Thinking of defensive backs brings Dashon Goldson to mind. He had an excellent camp, and really looks good moving off the hash with great range. He had a bunch of picks and passes defensed and looked like he's come a very long way in just a year.

Our receiving group also has a very different look to it. Bryant Johnson is a big, physical presence and Isaac Bruce looks every bit the crafty veteran who just has a presence about him. He's accomplished a lot of things in this league and knows what he is dong. I also thought Arnaz Battle looked like he was in great shape and he looked quicker than ever. I thought he had a great camp. Jason Hill looks healthy and much improved. Josh Morgan is another big, strong receiver. Ashley Lelie definitely looks like he could be an asset in this system getting down the field. It's just a much better looking group as a whole, top to bottom. We even have a bunch of guys like Dominique Zeigler and some other undrafted free agents who all catch the ball very well. There will be good competition there for the roster and the practice squad and I think they are all excited to play in this system, which has produced a lot of good numbers for receivers.

Justin Smith looks like he's very strong with a great motor and he's playing a bunch of different spots. I think without a doubt that he'll be a guy people are going to have to account for this season.

All across the board, it was a more competitive mini camp than it has been and I'll be looking forward to seeing them again at training camp.

The big news for me is that I'm actually flying out to South Carolina this afternoon, which is where I'm moving. I will now be scouting the Midwest area, and my wife and I chose South Carolina to live because she's from there. It will be nice that she can have some help from her family when I'm out on the road since our second child is due on June 12.

I'm really looking forward to getting acquainted with the South Carolina area, and then also since I'm from the Midwest, I'm excited about the opportunity to scout that area this fall. After visiting west coast schools the past few years, I'll now get a look at some new programs in the Midwest region. I guess I'll need a new name for my blog, maybe the Route 66 tour? It is definitely going to be strange to not be in the office, and certainly an adjustment just to be one of the road guys from now on calling in to find out what's going on at the office, but I'm looking forward to this new role.

Thanks for reading my blogs this year, and I'll be back with some updates during training camp!

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