Beginning Day 2 with a bang

The 49ers started off Day 2 of the NFL draft with a bang Sunday, trading up to pick the wide-bodied strongman they need to bolster the sagging middle of their defense, then grabbing another tough, productive defender who fell to them at the fourth-round selection they'd acquired the day before by trading down with Carolina. Later, they traded back in the sixth round to regain the pick they'd lost by trading up hours earlier.

San Francisco's maneuvering continues to pay apparent dividends as the Niners snatched Hawaii defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga with the eighth pick of the day, the No. 104 overall selection in the fourth round. The Niners traded their fourth-round pick, the No. 112 overall, and their fifth-rounder, the No. 147 overall, to get a shot at the 321-pound Samoan who was expected to be a lock to go in the first three rounds.

"We saw him there and really had him marked last night," Niners coach Dennis Erickson said. "We thought he was the best guy on the board – for us – and we weren't sure (he would be there), so we traded down and gave up a pick to get him, which is what we thought we needed to do, because we really felt that he was going to be gone."

Sopoaga gives the Niners the inside bulk they were lacking on defense last year when San Francisco was overpowered several times by opposing rushing attacks. He's a brutish force who made big plays in college and possesses tremendous quickness for his size. He also bench-pressed 225 pounds 42 times at the NFL Combine, the most be any prospect who attended the event.

And get this: On Sunday, Sopoaga said he wasn't even tired at that point and could have done it 10 more times if he hadn't already passed his nearest challenger at the Combine.

"The thing you like about this guy is he's got real power," Niners defensive line coach Dan Quinn said. "That's what you look for in a defensive lineman. And he's not just a sit-and-hold-there tackle. He's got some movement, too. I think this guy can be a real factor in the run game."

Sopoaga immediately becomes San Francisco's heaviest defensive player and is a candidate to play nose tackle when the Niners switch to a 3-4 scheme, which the team plans to experiment with considerably this season.

In another move that will bolster the team's size up the middle and depth when it plays the 3-4, the Niners grabbed Oregon State linebacker Richard Seigler, who was rated by many as the No. 2 inside linebacker in the entire draft. The 244-pound Seigler was a tackling machine at OSU, where he started 49 consecutive games and finished with 356 tackles – 227 of them solo.

He's a player that Erickson knows well, since the Niners' coach recruited Seigler to Oregon State, then coached him there from 2000-2002.

"He's a frickin' warrior," Erickson said simply. "He's as big a leader as I've ever had in my career."

After losing their fifth-round pick to draft Sopoaga, the Niners got back on course toward their goal of acquiring 10 picks this weekend when they traded their first sixth-round pick, the 179th overall, to Green Bay to acquire the Packers' No. 226 pick in the seventh round.

That trade moved San Francisco back to the No. 188 pick in the sixth round, where the Niners selected Pittsburgh punter Andy Lee, who immediately will come in and be expected to handle that position of need for the team. With their second sixth-rounder, the No. 198 overall, the Niners selected Oregon safety Keith Lewis, an All-Pac 10 choice last season who will add depth at that position with his new team.


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