OL gets huge boost in first round

The 49ers added a huge jolt to their offensive line in the first round of the NFL Draft on Saturday, then Kwame Harris delivered some fighting words. "My goal in coming out of school as a junior has always been to come in and play right away," said Harris, the Stanford offensive tackle selected No. 26 overall by the Niners. "Why would I leave Stanford to sit on the bench with some other team?" The 49ers say they'll give Harris a chance to play right away on the left side of their line.

The team returns all five starters along its offensive line, including Derrick Deese at left tackle and Harris' former Stanford teammate Eric Heitmann at left guard, but Harris will be groomed at those positions and be given an opportunity to compete for the starting position he covets.

"He could play guard or tackle, play on the left side or right side," Niners coach Dennis Erickson said. "We're going to find a place for him to play. We're going to put him on the left side and let him compete at both positions. Eventually, we see him lining up on the outside. That's why we drafted him."

Harris, the first offensive lineman selected by the 49ers since Harris Barton in 1987, is an athletic, 6-foot-7, 310-pound prospect who the Niners simply found too good to pass up when he still was on the board when they selected.

The team had more immediate needs at defensive line and receiver, but Harris was a better prospect than the other two players the Niners were considering at the pick - Florida receiver Taylor Jacobs and Nebraska defensive end Chris Kelsay.

"We were very fortunate to get him," Erickson said. "We did not think, very honestly, that he would be there. You have to have a guy like (Harris) in the future, and that position might be the hardest of them all to find and develop. He's so athletic, big and strong, and has such long arms. We're obviously very excited about our pick."

And Harris, who was considered one of three blue-chip tackle prospects in the draft, comes to San Francisco with something of a chip of his shoulder.

"I'm not going to lie to you," he said shortly after the Niners selected him, bringing the Deleware resident back to play professionally in the area where he starred in college. "I had expectations of going a little higher. I expect the best out of myself, so that's what you'll be seeing from me (in San Francisco)."


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