Deese teaching top pick LT position

There was Derrick Deese early Friday afternoon, working off to the side with Kwame Harris, the veteran teaching the rookie the finer points of the tackle trade during the opening of a three-day mini-camp. Is this guy crazy, or what? Doesn't Deese realize the Niners drafted Harris to take his position as the team's starting left tackle? Well, in fact, Deese knows it all too well. "I never said I wouldn't help a guy that they brought in here," Deese said. "It's something I've done all along."

So it should be no surprise that Deese, the senior member of the 49ers roster, already was taking Harris under his wing on the first day they took the field together as San Francisco teammates.

"Every time they bring a guy in – a drafted guy, a free-agent guy – I don't take that personal," Deese said. "I just do my job. That's all I can do."

And, as Deese sees it, his job includes passing along secrets of the trade that he learned from former 49ers linemen when he was a youngster.

When he arrived in the NFL in 1992, Deese learned the intricacies of playing guard at this level from Pro Bowlers Guy McIntyre and Jesse Sapolu. Later, he learned to play tackle from guys such as Harris Barton and Steve Wallace.

"To me, it's no different than help I got here from other guys," Deese said. "I was fortunate enough to have those guys that could help me. I'm just passing along what happened to me. I said all along that I would help whoever they brought in here that they wanted to learn the position."

Harris certainly appreciated the help and warm introduction to the team. The first offensive lineman the team has selected in the first round since 1987 - and one of the most heralded tackles the Niners ever have drafted - Harris comes to San Francisco at the age of 20 after his junior season at Stanford. He figures to need some seasoning before he can fulfill the big things expected of him.

But it didn't take Harris long to get comfortable in his transition to the pros. Deese was there immediately to help him learn the all-important left tackle position. Harris started the past two seasons at right tackle for Stanford.

"He's a good guy, a real classy guy," Harris said of Deese. "He gave me some pointers, just things to do, things with your stance. It's nice, because you come out here, you have to start shaking off the rust and dusting off the cobwebs. Having somebody like that to sort of help me and tell me what I need to do and adjust and what to expect from different players helps out a lot."

Deese, who has played all five positions along San Francisco's offensive line, is a natural guard who moved to tackle in 1997 because of his athleticism and the team's need at the position. Despite weighing just 289 pounds, he has yet to be dislodged.

In his 12th year with the team in 2002, Deese had perhaps his finest season. One of the smallest starting tackles in the NFL, Deese didn't allow a sack and played at a Pro Bowl level before being slowed by an ankle injury later in the year.

But Deese will be 33 later this month, and the Niners have made it clear they want to get bigger and younger at his position.

Harris fills the bill in both categories. Now the Niners are asking Deese to help Harris get better, even if it might cost Deese his job somewhere down the line in the not-so-distant future.

"He's what I thought," Niners coach Dennis Erickson said of Harris after coaching him in practice for the first time. "He's very athletic. He's big and can run and can move his feet. He'll get better as time goes on. Derrick's going to coach him up and help him. We're all in it together to win."


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