49ers Blog and Q&A

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

May 5, 2010
Moving Vann? 49ers take advantage of multi-talented CB

LeRoy Vann was listing the many positions he played at Florida A&M - punt and kick returner, cornerback, running back, receiver - the other day when one of the reporters quipped, "Did you do any kicking?" As a matter of fact, yes. Vann said he was messing around with the Rattler's kicker recently and nailed a 55-yarder.

Which is to say the 49ers' undrafted free agent has many talents, and the 49ers took advantage of nearly all of them in their recent rookie minicamp. With two receivers out of action, the team used Vann --- he's listed as a cornerback - at wideout. Now the offensive coaches are wondering if he isn't better suited to play on that side of the ball. Vann also played cornerback and handled punts in the recent two-day session.

Vann said he knew the 49ers were interested him prior to the draft, and he was hoping they'd pick him in the final rounds. When the seventh round came up and the 49ers selected another cornerback, South Carolina State's Phillip Adams, Vann figured the 49ers were passing. But they called immediately to say that they still wanted him on the team. Vann also said he was not deterred that the team also signed Ted Ginn Jr. and drafted Kyle Williams, both of whom excel as return men. "Every man should want to have someone to compete against," Vann said. "That's what I came out here to do. I never want to get it easy, so that's what I have to do to win the job."

Vann scored 11 touchdowns from returns at A&M, and he is one of five players in NCAA history to finish with at least 1,000 yards in both kick and punt returns (1,973 and 1,033 yards respectively). But his small school and small stature - Vann stands 5-8 - kept him from being drafted. "I think that played a big role," Vann said. "They think height matters, but think it's what's inside your heart."

Do you stare at your high school trophies and wonder, 'What if ...?' Here's your chance to pull a Vince Papale and win a spot on a professional football team. The UFL's Sacramento Mountain Lions will hold open tryouts this month. Coach Dennis Green first will look in Southern California - tryouts are Saturday May 8 in San Diego. Then he heads north to Sacramento on May 15.

Each tryout camp will last about four hours, according to a release from the league. Participants will be timed in the 40-yard dash and 20-yard short shuttle and will then take part in a series of individual and team drills. The tryouts are for all positions, including kicker and punter. So start stretching those hammies ...

Here are the details:

May 8: 7:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Montgomery High School
3250 Palm Ave, San Diego, CA 92154
Contact: Joe Waggoner: 916-216-5143

May 15: 7:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Natomas High School
3301 Fong Ranch Rd, Sacramento, CA 95834
Contact: Joe Waggoner: 916-216-5143

Patrick Willis' big payday bumped our Niners chat to today. If you have questions, I have answers, guesses and conjecture. Log onto www.sacbee.com/live to join.

-- 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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