A replenishing draft for 49ers?

Upon arriving at 49ers headquarters Sunday for his first full day as a Niner, Rashaun Woods was given a choice of three numbers he could wear with the team this season. He chose No. 81, the same worn by his predecessor at receiver, four-time Pro Bowler Terrell Owens. "It's my number now and it's going to signify that it's Rashaun Woods, not Terrell Owens," said Woods, signifying the fresh new breeze of talent and attitude that has blown into the building with the team's 10-player draft haul.

Sitting beside Woods, Justin Smiley – San Francisco's burly new addition at guard – wore the same kind of relaxed smile and spoke in the same kind of confident, assured tone.

"I'm the same way Rashaun is," Smiley said. "You define the number. I want to make a name for myself."

San Francisco's 2004 draft class won't have to wait long to get that opportunity. In the process, the 10 prospects the team selected over the weekend can help make a new name for the rebuilding Niners.

Everybody knows you can't judge a draft by the way it looks the day after it has been selected. But the Niners got a lot of value for their picks, and some of them were absolute steals considering where the team grabbed them in the college lottery.

Each prospect immediately could help a team with plenty of holes punctured by free-agent losses and salary-cap casualties. Some of them more than others, of course, but the Niners succeeded on draft weekend by breathing new life and talent into a franchise that's on shaky ground after its offseason purges.

"I think we've taken a really good step in the right direction toward replenishing the talent here," Niners general manager Terry Donahue said.

The Niners had another strong and intriguing group of selections Sunday, ranging from a muscleman tackle that can plug holes in the middle of the defensive line, to a punter who could solve a considerable problem at that position, to a quarterback plucked in the seventh round who becomes the team's best athlete at the position and potentially could have been selected much higher.

"I like this day a lot because I think we got four or five players that can come in and help us next season," said Niners coach Dennis Erickson, who gave the same kind of affirmation to the team's entire draft class.

"We're extremely excited about this whole draft," Erickson said. "They've all got a chance to make the team and contribute next season. If that can happen, then it's a hell of a draft. Then, if you can have two or three that (become starters this season), then that's a great draft."

It will take a while for the 49ers to become great again. But they acquired quite a mixed bag of quality material to develop. Now they'll plant those seeds, and we'll wait and watch to see how this crop grows and impacts what's already in place around it.

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