Free-agency a frenzy, says Cougs' Gonzales

SUDDENLY, AFTER A long day of not hearing his name called, David Gonzales was a popular man. In the middle of the seventh and final round of the NFL draft Saturday, the San Francisco 49ers called the Cougar offensive lineman. They said they weren't going to be able to draft him but wanted to sign him as a free agent once the proceedings ended. And then the opportunities really started pouring in.

Being a Fresno native, Gonzales said he "was ecstatic" about the 49ers' offer and called his agent to let him know. No sooner had they hung up then the Vikings were on the line. And the Dolphins, Bears, Buccaneers and Packers, too.

So many opportunities, so little time.

"It happens fast," Gonzales told CF.C late Saturday. "My agent looked over each team and their situation at tackle and we came to a conclusion that San Francisco was the place.

"They (the Niners) told me there's room on the line, and that I need to be versatile (with playing tackle or guard) ... I'm just glad to be in the NFL."

He said being so close to home also was big selling point in San Francisco's favor. Ironically, he noted, he was a Dallas Cowboys fan growing up.

Gonzales had a hunch the Niners might be knocking at his door. They called him two weeks ago to verify his main and backup phone numbers for draft weekend. The 6-6, 290-pound honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection will report to the Niners' minicamp on May 10.

Saturday was also a big day for two of Gonzales' fellow outgoing Cougar teammates. Alex Hoffman-Ellis signed a free-agent deal with the St. Louis Rams and Jared Karstetter signed with the Detroit Lions. Gonzales, after a dinner out with roommates to celebrate, said he was planning to call Cougar guard B.J. Guerra to find out what he had been hearing from NFL teams.

Two local products who had grown up wanting to be Cougars -- Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore of Prosser High and Arizona State receiver Aaron Pflugrad of Pullman High -- also signed free-agent deals Saturday. Moore will join Karstetter in Detroit and Pflugrad is headed to Philadelphia.

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