SANTA CLARA, Calif. - If any 49ers players need to find shade on the practice field this summer, they might want to wander over toward their new offensive lineman drafted in the seventh round.
Florida's Trent Brown (6-8, 355) was one of the largest men in this year's draft, and gives the 49ers a low-risk project along the offensive line that could reap significant rewards given the tools he has to work with. He can also block out the sun, probably.
The 49ers initially met with Brown at the Senior Bowl, where he said he weighed upwards of 387 pounds. Afterwards, he went into trimming mode, knowing his NFL career might be on the line if he didn't, and his weight fell to 355 at the scouting combine three weeks later.
"When I stepped on the scale, I wowed a lot of people," Brown said. "And then, when I did my field drills, I feel like I had another great showing there too."
Brown has the wingspan of a commercial airliner (36-inch arms) to match his height (and his size 18 cleats), which is one of general manager Trent Baalke's favorite traits, particularly for players that play at the line of scrimmage. Long arms allow players to engage with opponents before the opponents can engage with them in order to gain leverage.
"There's something to work (with) there," Baalke said. "It's a big piece of clay right now. And we got some work to do, but he's played a lot of football at a high level of competition. He's shown versatility. He's shown the ability to learn multiple positions. With that, you've got something to work with."
Brown played both tackle and guard with Florida after spending the previous two years at Georgia Military College, and will continue to learn both positions with San Francisco. The 49ers lost menacing left guard Mike Iupati, who signed a five-year, $40 million deal with the Arizona Cardinals in March. Right guard Alex Boone is entering the final year of his contract in 2015. If Brown maximizes his talent, there are potential openings he could slide into.
Weight was an issue for Brown before the draft process began, he said, because he didn't heave the means to eat properly. After the Senior Bowl, he linked with agent Drew Rosenhaus.
"Now that I have the funds and the means of income to eat healthy, I can maintain a healthy playing weight," Brown said.
Baalke said, "We got to get our strength coaches, medical staff, training staff, to take a look, see where he's at on certain criteria that we use, and find out what the ideal weight is for him. But we're confident, in talking with him, that he understands what he's got to do to make this football team. He's going to have to come in here and work ... When you're a seventh-round pick, the writing's on the wall. You know what you need to do."
The 49ers used the 244th overall selection on Brown, making him a low-risk prospect going forward. Brown wasn't sure he would even get drafted, and started negotiating with the Miami Dolphins about potentially joining the team as a priority free agent following the draft - until he got the call from San Francisco.