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Don't Baalke: Niners Like Versatility Of Draft Class

By Peter Fournier



Corey Lemonier will play outside linebacker for the 49ers. He forgot Jim Harbaugh's name on draft day.
Corey Lemonier will play outside linebacker for the 49ers. He forgot Jim Harbaugh's name on draft day.

San Francisco 49ers GM Trent Baalke said Tank Carradine wasn’t the only player they had eyes on after they traded their first pick of the second round — No. 34 for No. 40 — with the Titans.

“We had a number of players that we were willing to take, and at that time, we felt that one of that group of guys was going to be available at 40, and we would have been happy with all of them,” Baalke said.

Baalke said Carradine will be playing on the defensive line.

“He’s going to play down,” Baalke said. “He’s not an outside linebacker. In our system, it’s one of the things we really liked was the versatility.”

The 49ers chose tight end Vance McDonald at No. 55 in the second round, and he comes as the likely replacement to Delanie Walker. A 6-foot-4, 262-pound from Rice, McDonald has bounced back-and-forth from being a receiver and tight end.

“Junior year, that was when I was pretty much only in the slot,” he said.

Then he switched back to being an optional last man on the line his senior season.

“I would play split out and then again with my hand on the line, so it was a real balanced amount of inline and split," McDonald said.

McDonald said his blocking skills are a little above average, but there’s plenty of room to learn.

“I just know that I’m extremely underdeveloped in that regard, and I know I have a potential,” he said. “I think I have the right size and frame in order to handle that responsibility, but I’m ready to take the challenge.”

Baalke also loved McDonald’s versatility.

“He’s a big guy,” Baalke said. “He’s 260-plus pounds. He’s got a huge wing-span. He’s got big hands. He lines up all over the place. He lines up a little bit in the backfield. He lines up a behind the line of scrimmage. He lines up in the wing position — off the line of scrimmage — and he also lines up outside.”

The 49ers moved up for the second time on Day 2 of the draft to choose another pass-rusher: Corey Lemonier from Auburn. Lemonier (pronounced Lemon-neigh) gained 28 pounds while in school.

“I’m really surprised,” he said, adding that he didn’t have any clue the 49ers were going to choose him because he had no contact with them prior to the draft.

Lemonier was so surprised by the pick that he told reporters 49ers coach “John Harbaugh” called to tell him of his selection. In actuality, Jim Harbaugh contacted Lemonier, as John is the Ravens coach.

“Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry,” said Lemonier when informed of his mistake. “Oh my goodness. I’m just like really excited right now. I can’t even think right now.”

Baalke said Lemonier will be playing outside linebacker.

“He’s another one that we feel that can fit into the sub-package grouping, more on the outside than the inside," Baalke said. "He’ll get in that rotation, and once again, it’s all about creating competition.”