Niners draft preparations about to heat up

The 49ers pre-draft activity is set to heat up this week as general manager Trent Baalke talks college lottery with the media and the Niners host some of the top prospects in the region later in the afternoon during the team's Local Pro Day workout session.

With no movement on signing a free-agent guard, the 49ers are involved in their draft preparations and that includes visits from draft-eligible players. As usual, some of the invites are curious and that includes scheduling a meeting with Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd.

Floyd is vaulting up the draft charts and is even challenging Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon as possibly the first wide receiver chosen. Some have Floyd now sneaking into the top 10.

The 49ers own the 30th overall pick, so why would they want to look at Floyd? The team has the ammunition to trade. They have all seven of their picks and they have the luxury of going after a player they want with many of their team needs filled through free agency and through the re-signing of their own players.

Also, late-rising players sometimes don't rise at all when the draft actually takes place. Draft analysts this time of year do get it wrong.

Last year, many predicted that Missouri pass rusher Aldon Smith would go in the second half of the draft. Then the 49ers popped up and drafted him with the seventh overall choice. After the selection, coach Jim Harbaugh said there were several teams interested in moving into the 49ers' seventh slot to get Smith.

The choice worked out for the 49ers as Smith's 14 sacks will attest. That was a team rookie record and one of the highest totals ever for a NFL rookie.

In keeping with Harbaugh's maverick reputation, the team also took a look at Cal-State Fullerton's Andre Hardy, who hasn't played football since high school. Hardy was a basketball forward at Fullerton, averaging seven points and 5.6 rebounds at Fullerton and Oral Roberts. At 6-5, 244 pounds and with a 4.7 second 40-yard dash time, Hardy hopes to emulate Chargers All-Pro Antonio Gates, another basketball player turned tight end.

Saints tight end Jimmy Graham played only one season of football at the University of Miami before starring for the Saints last year. Graham was also a member of the Hurricane basketball team.

The 49ers also brought in players that make more sense including LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle, Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, and Utah State running back Robert Turbin.

Turbin was a prep player in the East Bay community of Fremont and is projected to be a third-round choice. The 49ers are stacked at running back, but will be looking for someone to eventually replace Frank Gore. At 5-10, 222 pounds, Turbin is a three-down back and was extremely productive as an Aggie.

The team also entertained Northwestern State cornerback Jeremy Lane, who is projected to be a late-round selection. Lane ran a 4.48 40-yard dash and had a 42-inch vertical leap. He also had nine tackles and a sack in a 49-3 loss at LSU this past season.

NINERS LINEBACKER PATRICK WILLIS IS STILL ALIVE in the fan contest to see who will grace the cover of the Madden 13 video game, but no one wants the honor.

There's a huge jinx affixed to being on the cover. Peyton Hillis was on it last year and struggled through an injury-marred season.

Past cover men included Peyton Manning, Sean Payton, Eddie George and Garrison Hearst all before they faced injury and indignity. Willis now faces Victor Cruz in the final round of fan voting and could square off with the winner of the Calvin Johnson vs. Aaron Rodgers for the final vote.

HBO IS LOOKING FOR A PARTICIPANT in the next series of "Hard Knocks," the NFL reality show that takes cameras deep into players' dorms and coaches' offices and meeting rooms during training camp.

The 49ers are apparently the next to be asked if the Falcons say no.

But no one expects the 49ers to say yes. Baalke and Harbaugh are two of the most secretive front-office types in the NFL. It's highly unlikely they'd allowed their team to be exhibited in such fashion.

NEW NINERS RUNNING BACK BRANDON JACOBS said he was always a 49ers fan while growing up in Louisiana.

"When I was about 8 years old, I liked their uniforms," said Jacobs, who admits he remained a fan even when he turned pro. "I found myself cheering on Sunday nights (for them). I was really a big fan."

Jacobs also said the team's signing of fellow teammate Mario Manningham was a factor in his decision to choose San Francisco. Jacobs is tight with the wide receiver.

"I love Mario," he said. "I've been around him a lot, he's been one of my closest friends on the Giants."

Jacobs said that Baalke made him feel welcome from the start. He also had this to say about his role on the team:

"My role is going to come off how much I earn. I'm going to get as much (playing time ) as I can."

Asked if he expects to be the short-yardage back over regular tailback Frank Gore this season, Jacobs responded, "Being about 25 to 30 pounds heavier, I would hope I would get it."

THE 49ERS MIGHT TRY TO SOLVE their right guard vacancy by switching swing tackle Alex Boone inside.

The 49ers have been unsuccessful in signing a free-agent option and they want a veteran to compete with last year's rookie, Daniel Kilgore, for the position.

Boone appeared often as an extra blocker and subbed for left tackle Joe Staley after he exited with a concussion against Arizona last season.

Boone, at 6-8, 300, has prototypical tackle dimensions. He could, however, have the versatility and athleticism to move inside.

The 49ers will also bring in Midwestern State guard Amini Silatolu for a visit. Projected by NFL as the third-ranked guard in the draft, Silatolu is 6-3, 311 and dominated at times at his small school. He has a nasty streak and was sometimes too aggressive.

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