San Francisco 49ers

49ers checking out pass rushers in advance of draft

Bud Dupree runs through drills during NFL football Pro Day at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Thursday, March 12, 2015.
Bud Dupree runs through drills during NFL football Pro Day at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Thursday, March 12, 2015. AP

Free agency certainly isn't over, but it's at least dying down. Which gives us a chance to catch up on the most important thing on Trent Baalke's calendar -- the draft. Insider Tony Pauline does as thorough a job as anyone at keeping up with college pro days, and he has reported on several private meetings between the 49ers and certain prospects. Also, a shout out to Italy's piu fan appassionato, Franco Mazzoli, who has charted every 40-time, shuttle run and arm length this season and passed the figures along to me.

According to Pauline, the 49ers on Thursday met with Kentucky edge rusher Bud Dupree. He's built the way Baalke likes his pass rushers -- tall (6-4), stout (269 pounds) and extremely athletic. He ran his 40-yard dash in Indianapolis in 4.56 seconds, a time you'd expect from a 215-pound running back.

Dupree's athleticism has triggered an avalanche of hype. (There's a lot of that going around at Kentucky). But his numbers and game film don't always match that potential. He also has merely long-ish arms (32 5/8 inches), not the fire hoses Baalke typically likes at that position. Matt Malaspina, the 49ers' director of college scouting, was on hand for Kentucky's pro day and presumably conducted the team's interview.

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Speaking of edge pass rushers, Pauline also writes that the 49ers spent time with Montana's Zack Wagenmann before the Grizzlies' pro day on March 9. Wagenmann has been training at California Strength in the East Bay and is an intriguing late-round pick.

He's only 247 pounds and managed just 14 repetitions on the bench press in Indianapolis. But his athleticism, relentlessness and production -- 22.5 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks, six forced fumbles last year -- are eye opening. A team that can afford to put him in a special teams role as a rookie while he gets bigger, stronger and more explosive might get a steal.

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Pauline reports the 49ers had a private meeting with Arizona State defensive lineman Marcus Hardison, who is 6-3 1/4, 305 pounds (33 1/2-inch arms) and is known for his "quick twitch" ability. That's what Ray McDonald was known for as well. Hardison had more sacks last season (10) than Dupree (7 1/2). Those who have the 49ers taking a defensive lineman in the first round often link them to Oregon's Arik Armstead. Hardison might be a better bet.

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This one's a bit strange: Pauline reports the 49ers had a private meeting with Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory on March 5. Gregory is considered one of the best edge rushers in the draft and is considered a Top 10, even a Top 5, pick. He's also much smaller -- 235 pounds -- than the 49ers typically like their edge rushers. He does, however, have the long arms (34 inches) Baalke covets.

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The 49ers spent time with Clemson inside linebacker Stephone Anthony, a NaVorro Bowman-Patrick Willis clone in terms of size (243 pounds) and speed (4.56-second 40-yard dash). Baalke surprised people by taking Chris Borland in the third round last year when there wasn't a need. Anthony is predicted to go somewhere in the middle of the second round. The 49ers pick 14th in the second round

Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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