49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

April 17, 2010
Draft: Seeking a man in the middle

Following a Ted Ginn Jr. break yesterday, we resume our look at potential first-round 49ers. Already reviewed: T Anthony Davis, CB Joe Haden, RB C.J. Spiller and G Mike Iupati. Today, we look at nose tackles, especially:

Tennessee nose tackle Dan Williams
Height: 6-2
Weight: 327 pounds

In most years, drafting the third-best interior defensive lineman in the middle of the first round would be folly. This year, however, is special for that position. Two of the first three draft picks Thursday are likely to be defensive tackles. Williams has excellent size and quickness. He dominated as a senior, finishing the season with 61 tackles, the most in the SEC for a lineman. He also led his team in quarterback hurries, and it's noteworthy whenever a defensive tackle leads that category.

The 49ers already have a very good nose tackle in Aubrayo Franklin, another Tennessee product. The question is, for how long? Franklin, 29, was franchised this offseason and, barring a long-term contract, will play the 2010 season on a one-year deal. The 49ers are working on a long-term contract for Franklin, but they have so many notable players playing on short-term deals - Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, Dashon Goldson, Alex Smith, Manny Lawson, etc. - that it's hard to see all of them being taken care of. Bringing in another nose tackle would at the very least give the 49ers some added leverage.

The two teams sitting directly in front of the 49ers at pick No. 13, Denver and Miami, also could stand to add some beef to their defensive line, and there's a very good chance Williams will not fall beyond pick No. 11. If he doesn't, however, the draft is as full of potential nose tackles as it's ever been. Trent Baalke said Thursday there are several that fit the 49ers' mold for the position. Some of those potential candidates (keeping in mind that Franklin was 6-2, 307 pounds as a rookie):

* Brian Price, UCLA
6-1, 303

* LaMarr Houston, Texas
6-3, 305

* Cam Thomas, UNC
6-4, 330

* Al Woods, LSU
6-4, 309

* Geno Atkins, Georgia
6-2, 293

-- Matt Barrows

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Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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