OL coach pleased with top pick

When the 49ers selected Stanford tackle Kwame Harris on Saturday - the first offensive lineman drafted by the team in the first round since 1987 - Niners OL coach Pat Morris said, "I couldn't believe it. I never thought it would happen." But it did, and now Harris becomes a prized pupil for Morris, who has developed his unit into one of the NFL's best. Here, Morris gives his impressions of what makes Harris special and what it will take for the team's top pick to succeed in the NFL.

Q: What do you feel you need to work on most with Kwame right away?

Morris: He has to get used to your system and that type of thing. Coming out early as a junior, he's just got to slowly get himself involved and into the pro game in terms of learning the system first. Then he can get himself to start working once we get into training camp and he gets his pads on and that type of thing. Basically, he needs to learn our system first. He'll be here for one (mini-camp) and then, until Stanford graduates up the road here, he'll be here for our last mini-camp and the rest of the summer.

Q: What is the most impressive aspect of his physical presence?

Morris: You love his size and athleticism, but the best thing about the guy is he's lean, he's got a lean body weight. There's nothing physically you have to re-do with him. You've got 310 (pounds). He's a solid 310. He measured, like, 17 percent body fat. Basically, now we just get him ready for his techniques and get him to know the system.

Q: Will you attempt to - and is it important to - get him bigger?

Morris: I think that will just come naturally. I think he's an athletic 310. He's not going to have to get a lot bigger. When you've got lean body mass, I think you're in good shape.

Q: What will take to move him from the right side, which he played in college, to the left side at the NFL level?

Morris: It's mostly his stance. You have a right-hand stance and a left-hand stance. I don't think that's ever been drastic for anybody. You just have to get used to it.

Q: Could he challenge for a starting position at left guard or left tackle right away?

Morris: That has to wait to be seen. I think the biggest thing with any of those guys is … We have a starting left tackle in Derrick Deese, and I think you work (Harris) at the side, left guard and left tackle, get him used to playing over there, and you just work him in the competition. There's no rush on it, because we do have a starting left tackle. This will be a nice addition because, basically, that position has always been something we've needed and wanted.

Q: From what you've seen, does he always play up to his athletic ability?

Morris: I'd say most of the time. Everyone has bad games. Everyone gets beat some time. If I thought he didn't play up to that, we wouldn't have drafted him.

Q: When you watch film on Kwame, is there one thing in particular that stands out which displays his athleticism?

Morris: The biggest thing is that he plays low, he has some strength and quickness, and I know he's smart. He competes. He went against (Arizona State first-round defensive end Terrell) Suggs at times and did a decent job against him. To me, a coach has got to do something. That's why I'm hired. I have to coach something out of the guy, and that's what I'm going to do. There's a lot there to work with.

Q: What sets him apart from other comparable prospects?

Morris: Just his overall athletic ability and explosion for a guy that's 6-7 and 310 pounds and who's really only a junior and played just two years in college. Very rarely does a guy with that size and that athletic ability show up in the lower rungs of the first round. Usually, you have to get those guys in the top 10. The only way pick in the top 10 is lose games, and that's not an option.

Q: How do you feel he fits in with an offensive lineman's mentality?

Morris: He loves to hit, he's an aggressive guy. He's awfully talented both on and off the field. Q: Is it good that he comes in here with an attitude that he wants to play immediately even though you return all five starters from last year on the offensive line?

Morris: Every player wants to be able to play. And you want them to feel that way. You just don't want to rush any young guy into that situation where he losses his confidence. Especially at that position.

Q: How much will his intelligence help him to learn quickly and hasten his development at this level?

Morris: I think he'll be a guy that will be able to pick up the offense quicker. It always helps out to be able to think on his feet, and this guy's got some football instincts also. That's one of the reasons why we picked him, because he's so intelligent.

Q: Considering his size and skills, what do you feel his potential for stardom is at this level?

Morris: I think the potential is there. But that's a long ways away. I think you just look at your immediate goals. Let's get him here and get him off the ground real quick. But we're happy to have him here.


Niners Digest Top Stories