Donahue, Erickson a unified draft team

Dennis Erickson and Terry Donahue sat side by side Tuesday afternoon talking about the upcoming NFL Draft. There was a certain ease and camaraderie between the 49ers' new head coach and the team's GM. "I think anybody that we pick that makes the team, I picked them," Donahue said, smiling. "And anybody that doesn't make the team, Dennis picked them." Erickson retorted, "That's the same thing I just said." You never would have found this kind of banter between Donahue and his former coach.

But with Erickson just a few months into his new job, it is clear he is working as one with the man that hired him. That wasn't always necessarily the case between Donahue and the man Erickson replaced, Steve Mariucci, who often had the same goal in mind but had different ideas of going about trying to reach it. Don't expect there to be any friction on draft day between Donahue and Erickson, who already appears comfortable and established in his role amid the team's draft apparatus.

Erickson's first two months with the 49ers were spent getting to know team personnel and evaluating it. But now his attention is focused on the draft, where he will play an important part in what prospects the 49ers select come Saturday and Sunday.

"When it gets down to where it's close at one position or another, then Terry and I will end up talking about it and I'll have my input into it," Erickson said. "So far, we didn't argue about too many things. We'll sit down and I'll have a lot of influence on who we pick and what position we pick. We've studied our football team, and we have a pretty good idea where we need help."

Once again, team consultant Bill Walsh - who previously has run a dozen drafts in his tenure with the team - will be heavily involved with the process, as are other team personnel and scouts. But it's clear Erickson will play a major role in whom the team ultimately selects, with the biggest role in the department resting with his new boss.

"If it came to push and shove, it would be Terry (making the final choice on a draft selection), but somebody has to make it," Erickson said. "Very seldom would it ever come to a point where that would have to happen. I can't see that happening. But if it did, Terry would make the decision."

Donahue said he has been pleased with the energy and expertise Erickson and his new coaches have brought to the team's draft process and strategy.

"Dennis has really jumped into the draft process and so have his coaches," Donahue said. "It's been hard, it's been intense - in terms of labor and man hours - but it's been fun, too. We've made a lot of strides. We've been really happy with our draft preparation. We're going to go into the draft and, I think, as an organization we feel very confident and very, very prepared.

"Dennis role really is the same as mine. It's to provide leadership and decision-making into eventual choices. That's what his role is as the head coach, just as mine is the general manager. This week, we will continue to go through a number of possibilities that might occur during that time. Dennis will input into that, I'll input into that, and that's how we do it."

And by the looks of things, doing it in concord and unison.



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