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Meet the Rookies: 2011 Edition

Posted by Taylor Price on May 2, 2011 – 12:58 PM

The 2011 NFL Draft is in the books, but it didn’t take place without suspense, trades, and the addition of 10 players to the 49ers roster.

Though each one is unique in their own right, Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke added players who fit the qualifications they envisioned for the 2011 San Francisco 49ers.

 Talent is one thing that attracted the 10 players to the 49ers head coach and general manager, representing the organization with character and class was equally as important as well.

“That was coming down from our organization and we are all about that because it all comes down to, on a football team, the guys and the ways,” Harbaugh said. “When I say that, it’s the guys you have in the building and the way you do things, and you want guys that love football, that are good people and be good teammates because it’s a team game.”

With each of the draftees, Harbaugh found the attributes he was looking for in building his first roster as a head coach in the NFL. He also came to realize the depths the 49ers scouting staff went to research each draft-eligible player.

“I was really, really impressed with the over 12 months work that went into identifying what is a 49er,” Harbaugh said. “For Trent Baalke to put a definition on what a 49er is and get everybody in the process to understand that and we bought into it. From coaches and scouts and our entire organization, being a Niner, putting the gold dot, the gold helmet on a guy’s card, that meant something to everybody that was evaluating and picking these players, so that’s who we want to be.”

In his post-draft press conference, Harbaugh further described the scouting staff’s process of designating their favorite prospects by placing a gold sticker on the respective cards on the team’s draft board. Harbaugh said the 49ers picked the most gold dot players of anybody in the draft. “And it wasn’t even close,” he added.

Because many of the draftees will play a different position than they did in college, some in the media wondered if the 49ers added a developmental draft class, to which Harbaugh and Baalke disagreed.

Harbaugh commented that every incoming NFL prospect could be categorized as a developmental player. Baalke said the draftees would need time to make their conversion, but was very high on this draft class as a whole being able to develop.

“We have a lot of confidence, and I do specifically in this coaching staff, to develop these guys,” Baalke added. “When you look at the guys, not everybody is going to be used at the collegiate level the way they’re going to be used in the NFL. All of these guys that we drafted, we felt very strongly had the traits that we were looking for physically to make the changes that we’re going to be asking them to make in our system.”

Now let’s move on to a brief meet and greet with the 10 newest members of the 49ers. Here’s a quick snapshot of the prospects added to the roster.

Round 1, Pick No. 7 – Aldon Smith, LB Missouri


If you followed our draft coverage, you’d know already that Smith is the Tigers all-time single-season sack leader, having topped Justin Smith’s school record. But besides knowing about Aldon’s 11.5 sacks in 2009, many should know he missed three games with a broken leg in 2010 and still was a difference-maker.

What you probably didn’t know is that Smith is a self-motivator, with the Spanish phrase “vas a ver,” tattooed very faintly next to his left ear. It means “you’ll see,” something Smith uses as motivation when he senses people doubting his ability.

Round 2, Pick No. 36 – Colin Kaepernick, QB Nevada


Kaepernick’s throwing motion has been much talked about during the pre-draft hype, but there’s probably no better way to discuss it than to see him throw a football or two in super, slow-motion. Thanks Sports Science.

We touched on Kaepernick’s story as part of “Draft Spotlight” series before the 2011 NFL Draft, Kaepernick’s hometown newspaper, The Turlock Journal, did a fine job in covering Kaepernick’s remarkable journey as well.

Round 3, Pick No. 80 – Chris Culliver, CB South Carolina


Like many of the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine participants, Culliver did a sit-down interview with Eastbay, the athletic equipment catalog provider. From this clip, we learned Culliver’s reason for playing the game of football. “I love the intensity,” said the versatile defensive back, who made 32 starts in four seasons at South Carolina.

Culliver’s selection might have taken some off guard, but not to those who’ve seen him up close and in person. SI.com draft guru Tony Pauline listed Culliver as one of the best defensive backs to perform at the combine.

Round 4, Pick No. 118 – Kendall Hunter, RB Oklahoma State


In examining Hunter’s postgame press conferences posted by Oklahoma State’s media relations department, the 5-foot-7 running back appears to be very calm and calculated in his responses.

He doesn’t seem to let emotions get the best of him. Maybe it’s because Hunter is thinking about taking a nap in the back of his mind. The two-time All-American said he likes to take 10-minute naps before every game. That fun fact underscores Hunter’s calm temperament on gameday.

Round 5, Pick No. 163 – Daniel Kilgore, G Appalachian State


The 49ers added depth to the offensive line by selecting Kilgore in the fifth-round. He started 29 games for the Mountaineers, including 16 starts at right guard and 13 games at left tackle. Kilgore is listed by the 49ers at guard, but will be an option at all three interior line positions.

Like Culliver, Kilgore sat down with Eastbay at the combine and shared insight to his personality. The Kingsport, Tenn., native said he enjoys the great outdoors, especially fishing, hunting and cookouts.

Round 6, Pick No. 182 – Ronald Johnson, WR USC


We caught up with Johnson at the 2011 Senior Bowl media night and found him to be a nice guy, eager to show his skills at receiver and in the punt return game.
We weren’t the only ones who recalled Johnson. John Morton, Johnson’s wide receivers coach in college, now with the 49ers, was adamant about picking his former pupil. Harbaugh too, had fond memories of the 5-foot-10, 185-pound wideout, whom he competed against four times in college while coaching Stanford.

Round 6, Pick No. 190 – Colin Jones, S TCU

Jones comes to the 49ers as one of the most special teams-ready players in this year’s draft. His tackling ability certainly intrigued Harbaugh and assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Brad Seely. In this postgame interview following a 38-7 rout of Air Force, Jones talked about how he uses is eyes to his advantage while one reporter stuck the world’s biggest recorder in his face.

Harbaugh pointed out Jones’ fearlessness as his biggest asset. “I’m really excited about Colin Jones from TCU. There’s a guy that I cannot wait to watch him run down on a kickoff, full throttle, running his 4.3 with his mindset, his get from point A to Point B and go hit somebody mentality.”

Round 7, Pick No. 211 – Bruce Miller, FB Central Florida


Bruce Miller’s highlight video from a stellar four-year career doesn’t look like most fullback highlight videos. It’s for good reason. Miller was a productive, two-time Conference-USA Defensive Player of the Year (2009, 20010) at defensive end.

But as witnessed in the clip, Miller provides the 49ers with another big-bodied “football player.” Harbaugh made sure Miller was up to the challenge of switching positions, but had little reservations because of Miller’s unbridled passion for the game.

“I got on the phone with Bruce,” Harbaugh said, “and made sure when we are on the clock that we were looking for a guy that’s willing to be a fullback and make that conversion and he said, ‘Coach, I’m a football player. Whatever you ask me to do, I’m going to do,’ so he was very excited about it. He may also be a pass rusher too. So, we’re not closing the door on any options with that youngster. I think he is a football player.”

Round 7, Pick No. 239 – Mike Person, G Montana State


Judging by this clip, the 49ers added another quality person, Mike Person, in the seventh-round. It’s been a great couple of days for the Montana State lineman too. A few hours after being drafted, Person won the Little Sullivan Award given to Montana’s top amateur athlete.

As was the case with many of the team’s draft picks including the Kilgore selection in the fifth, the 49ers fell in love with Person’s versatility.

“If you’re going to be a backup lineman in the NFL, you have to have position versatility,” Baalke said. “If we didn’t feel they could offer us that, we wouldn’t have made the decision to pick them.”

Round 7, Pick No. 250 – Curtis Holcomb, CB Florida A&M

For the second consecutive year, the 49ers selected a small-school cornerback prospect with their final draft choice. In 2010 it was South Carolina State’s Phillip Adams, who went on to make the 49ers roster and contribute on special teams before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in St. Louis.

Holcomb, as witnessed in this clip, is a soft-spoken player who is all about the details of his position. Here he talks about the preparation that goes into his defensive back position. The attention to detail helped Holcomb intercept 12 passes in 45 games for the Rattlers.


Posted in Announcements | 36 Comments »


36 Responses to “Meet the Rookies: 2011 Edition”

  1. By Spike on May 2, 2011 | Reply

    GO 49ER’S! YAAAAAAAAAAA

  2. By cy on May 2, 2011 | Reply

    49ers would benefit by adding Boston College LB Mark Herzlich

  3. By missouri 9er on May 2, 2011 | Reply

    Really like the picks, even though i was hoping to get P. Peterson, but being from Missouri I love the Aldon Smith pick! And I think it would be a great idea for the coaching staff to invite Boston Colledge LB Mark Herzlich to camp this guy has a fire you can just feel. LETS GO NINERS!!!!

  4. By Doug Holzkamp on May 2, 2011 | Reply

    Welcome!!!! Aldon,Colin,Chris,Kendall,Daniel,Ronald,Colin,Bruce,Mike and Curtis

    You all bleed RED and GOLD now!! You are part of the new Harbaugh regime and were selected because you have great character and special talents. The only thing that may differ between you is your level of commitment. Three simple words to live by Preperation, Execution and Victory! The journey to the Super Bowl starts with you and how determined you are to sacrifice the extra hours to become more than your coaches ever thought possible. All of you have the opportunity to never compromise the belief that the reason you were selected to by The San Francisco Fourty Niners is to become champions who honor God, your familys, the organization,the fans and most of all yourself!!
    God Bless and God Speed!!! Doug

  5. By JR Baca in NM on May 2, 2011 | Reply

    I agree with you Doug Holzkamp, Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke know what they are doing and knew their choices ahead of time. I truly believe that with this addition and an awesome coaching staff our 9er team will go forth and achieve greatness this season. Keep the faith, trust in God and in yourselves.
    “Welcome back Alex”

    GO 49ERS, NEW SEASON, NEW COACHES, NEW TEAM > 2012 SUPERBOWL CHAMPIONS!

  6. By pete nice on May 2, 2011 | Reply

    I think the draft was a bust!!!!! Tell me what QB that came from a non nfl offense has had a great career in the nfl? I like the kid but come on really!!! Aldon Smith is a project and could be the next Charles Haley but with the 7th pick you got to plug in a starter right now not maybe! I hope you guys proved me wrong but I don’t see most of the guys on the team in 5 years!!!!!

  7. By TMon on May 2, 2011 | Reply

    Jed, Trent and Jim have given the 9er Faithful hope again. The picks look very promising and with good coaching should become some of the “builders” of the new era 9ers. Go 9ers!!!

  8. By jimmysester on May 2, 2011 | Reply

    At first glance i did not get a couple of the picks but now i get it we could of drafted the players that everyone expected us to draft but whats the fun in that. I have read many many articles on all these players and come to a conclusion we drafted for the team not for the so called experts like everyone else i listen to them and some times they are right but not enough of the time so.
    I can’t wait to see smith chasing down the nfc west qbs for years to come. GO NINERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. By Michael on May 2, 2011 | Reply

    @Pete Nice

    To answer your question is simple. There hasn’t been a QB that has come out of a “non-pro” college offense because of the fact that these offenses (spread, pistol, etc.) have recently been developed. That’s why.

  10. By jose cisneros on May 2, 2011 | Reply

    I didnt like the draft because there was much talented players on the board.

  11. By dusty-dad on May 3, 2011 | Reply

    all rookies are a question mark lets all wait till the Niner’s get they’re training staff on them then decide if this draft is a bust or not

  12. By HW1 on May 3, 2011 | Reply

    I believe in what the Niners r doing, i also believe in QB Alex Smith,with a good draft and players that fits the Niner scheme

  13. By HW1 on May 3, 2011 | Reply

    I believe in what the Niners r doing, i also believe in QB Alex Smith,with a good draft and players that fits the Niner scheme, for sure i believe we will win the NFC West! Go Niners!!!!!! Wecome Guys, we have been waiting for years and now i think we r ready to go!!!!!! playoffs baby here we come!

  14. By pete nice on May 3, 2011 | Reply

    @ Michael Vince Young Jamarcus Russell Joey Harrington dennis Dixon Any of the Boise State QB’s ALEX SMITH TO JUST NAME A FEW ALL OF THESE GUYS HAD GREAT COLLEGE CAREERS BUT HAVE DONE NOTHING GREAT IN THE NFL!!!!!! I AS MUCH AS ANYONE WANT THE 49ERS TO BE SUCCESFUL BUT RECENT HISTORY HAS SHOWN WE ARE WAY BEHIND ALL BECAUSE OF THE QB POSITION! I HOPE IT ALL WORKS OUT BUT HISTORY SHOWS ALL OF US IT DOESN’T LOOK PROMISING

  15. By Ernest A Owens Sr on May 3, 2011 | Reply

    I think the 49ers are ready to make a run at the champinionship this year! they had a good Draft;there shoult not be any reason not to be the head of the West.

  16. By jon on May 3, 2011 | Reply

    I know that we needed help with OLB and smith will help there. I would of liked to see peterson but what are you going to do. If this nonsense lockout would ever end, i cant wait to see what we are going to do in free agency. how about the ex raider cb? another qb, or possibly another playmaker on offense in the wr category. This time of year should be exciting but its hard to enjoy the offseason when you have cry baby millioniares arguing with snobby billioniares. just cut the crap and lets get back to football

  17. By Steohen Jones on May 3, 2011 | Reply

    The 49ers drafted speed this year, thats really what we went for. i dont like alot of the pics we got i feel there were better players out there but we got the fastest out of the pic of what was left. I do love the fact that we get these small school players because they always prove themselves better then university guys so we will see what happens

  18. By Joe Montana on May 3, 2011 | Reply

    Kaepernick will eat Aaron Rodgers this year !!

  19. By Sammidog on May 3, 2011 | Reply

    Remember a small school guy named Jerry? If only half these guys run the San Mateo hills like he did they may amount to something. Seattle took the olive and had a really poor selection process. Can you imagine the heat in Rain City? No more Willard up the middle and Brodie to the sideline!

  20. By JR Baca in NM on May 3, 2011 | Reply

    AMEN TO THAT, HE WILL HAVE HIM FOR LUNCH!

  21. By Lamar Osborne on May 3, 2011 | Reply

    CAN WE PLEASE WEAR OUR 94 THROWBACKS NOW!!!..WE ARE READY!!! GREAT DRAFT!!!

  22. By ty on May 4, 2011 | Reply

    I cant what to see how our coaching staff is bringing back the west coast off. if memory serves me well this is exactly how Bill Walsh found the hall of fame players like Lott Montana Rice by not listening to the so called media pros

  23. By KDB on May 4, 2011 | Reply

    Looks to be a very good draft. As said before though time tells all. I’m excited. Glad that Alex may be coming back. Under the new and REAL Coaching Staff he should do very well. Sit Kaepernick for a coupple yrs., if Alex plays well and Katy bar the door!!!!!!!!

  24. By edward on May 4, 2011 | Reply

    hurry up and fix this crap now your not locked out and now your locked out what is wrong with you people if i had one of your pay checks that would pay my bills and i;m unemployed

  25. By THE HAMHOCK on May 4, 2011 | Reply

    WAY TO GO NINERS!!! THE YOUNG QB FROM NEVADA WILL LEAD THIS TEAM TO ALOT OF EXCITMENT AND VICTORIES GIVEN THE TIME TO BE READY FOR THE FUTURE OF 49ERS FOOTBALL. HE IS JUST WHAT THE NINERS NEEDED A GOOD STRONG ARM AND MAN HE CAN RUN TOO!! PLUS HE HAS A GOOD GRASP OF THE GAME READING THE DEFENSE AND WITH A HEALTHY LINE TO BLOCK AND OUR RUNNING GAME BEING A GOOD GROUP I WISH THE TEAM WITH THE NEW DRAFT CHOICES GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN!!! ITS TIME TO OPEN THE DOOR TO THE PLAYOFFS AGAIN AND WITH A SMART COACH IT IS VERY POSSIBLE TO GO MANY YEARS OF HAVING GREAT SEASONS AHEAD.

  26. By THE HAMHOCK on May 4, 2011 | Reply

    LETS FORGET ABOUT THE NEW STADIUM CUZ ITS REALLY NOT NEEDED CUZ WHERE THEY PLAY NOW IS A GOOD STADIUM AND IT HAS TRADITION AND LOTS OF GOOD PLAYERS THAT HAVE GONE TO THE PLAYOFFS AND WERE VERY LOYAL SO SPEND THE MONEY ON IMPROVMENTS AND LETS STAY PUT AND SAVE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS THAT WE SHOULD NOT BE SPENDING FOR A PROJECT THAT MAY ONLY BE USED FOR 19 DAYS. IT WOULD BE NICE BUT HOW MANY PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE JOBS AND THE STADIUM MAKE NOOOOOOOOO CENTS HE! HE!

  27. By Justin on May 4, 2011 | Reply

    I got my season tickets! Should be a great season, definitely better than the last few.

  28. By L.G on May 4, 2011 | Reply

    hmmm Only time will tell what these guys true capabilities will be??? They may have a much bigger impact then we think but there is going to be a learning curve. How much and how long is the question?

    Alex back again, amazing? Well I am going to try my best not to be critical of him this season these coaches no more than I. I am just going to trust that they know what they are doing, risky.

    I like more what Arizona has done in the draft watch them pick up a stud QB in free agency…

  29. By Donde on May 4, 2011 | Reply

    Being a Nevada Alum, I can tell you that Kaepernick is the real deal. The fact that he runs like Vick and throws like Rodgers will breakdown Defenses will make him a starter for years to come. That is after Alex gets benched by about week 8 for being a sorry waste of roster space. Too many excuses for this guy.

    Aldon Smiith was a surpise at 7 but after watching this dude crush QB’s with his quickness and strength, the D will have no problem freeing up WIllis to make about 10 tackles a game. Niners will win the division this year and will be owning a ring in the next few years.

  30. By J Parker on May 4, 2011 | Reply

    I would have traded down in order to pick up another second round pick then use our number one pick, about 17th overall, to pick up Jimmy Smith CB/S. Then I would have used our two seconds to pick up Marvin Austin DT and Justin Houston OLB. And then with our third I would have taken the best WR available, The best RB and DB with our two number 4’s, a center with our fifth and special team players and depth with our remaining picks. Smith and Carr would both do great with a better team surrounding them. I give our draft a C.

  31. By JR Baca in NM on May 4, 2011 | Reply

    I GIVE OUR DRAFT AN A+, GREAT PICKS, WE ARE ON OUR WAY TO THE BIG ONE!
    GO 9ERS…………………

  32. By Laurenio Braga on May 5, 2011 | Reply

    I think the 49ers got themselves very good draft this year! i really like the kid, Smith! I think the still of the draft was Kape[perick, give him a little time! I think he will make the 49ers pround! On the rest of the draft, it will take time to see! I am ready for FOOTBALL!

  33. By Jason666 on May 5, 2011 | Reply

    Being a former Nevada student, life-long University of Nevada Wolfpack fan and a 49ers fan, it is a dream come true to have Colin Kaepernick on the 49ers! It will take a few years, but it will be the greatest day when we see Colin hoist a Lombardi trophy!

  34. By taint on May 9, 2011 | Reply

    kaepernick is a flunky. tattooed qb means no success. wasted pick.

  35. By zach pierce on May 9, 2011 | Reply

    Frisco love ! these picks are very well thought out and aldon smith is a beast .

  36. By Tugz840 on May 10, 2011 | Reply

    Man lets go niners i like our team i believe we under achieved last year crabtree is perfect to play in west coast offense i believe in alex too

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