Q & A with Saleem Rasheed

Saleem Rasheed, the 49ers second selection in last week's NFL Draft out of the University of Alabama, talks about becoming a Niner, his role with the team and his desire to show everybody that he was the best third-round pick in the draft.

 Q: Did the draft turn out the way you thought it would as far as when you were selected?

 Rasheed: Actually, I was ranked the second linebacker by most polls, so I expected to go a little higher. Obviously, if you're ranked as the second linebacker by most polls, you think you're going to go at least in the top two rounds. But I'm not disappointed. San Francisco is a place I'm going to like playing, I believe, and it's a place that was one of my favorites. I'm just looking forward to getting in camp and trying to make San Francisco have the best third-round pick in the draft.

 Q: Can you or will you use that for motivation?

 Rasheed: I think I can use that for motivation, just to be able to prove to everybody that I was a better linebacker than the other linebackers selected ahead of me. I don't need too much outside motivation, because I play for a lot of reasons and I play with such intensity and passion just because of the love of the game, to be able to go out there and just play football and get paid for something you love to do. It's not something that I need to motivation I don't think, but it's something I could possibly use.

 Q: Do you see yourself staying at inside linebacker or possibly moving back outside?

 Rasheed: I'm going to leave that up to the coaches. I feel like I'm suited to play all three positions and I feel like I can be comfortable at all three positions. But it's all about what the coaches decide and what they feel is best. I'll do whatever they say is best and I'm going to work as hard as I can at whatever position they put me in.

 Q: What went into your decision to come out of school a year early?

 Rasheed: It was just something I felt in my gut was right. It wasn't a financial issue. It's just something I felt was the right time. I had a good junior season and stayed relatively healthy throughout this whole season and throughout my career, and I just felt like the time was right to move on to the next level. I don't have any regrets about the decision. Once I made the decision, I didn't look back.

 Q: What kind of talents and skills do you bring to the field?

 Rasheed: I'm going to bring a strong work ethic to the team that I think is going to help us out. I think my speed is one of my greatest assets, and my coverage ability. I'm ready to just support in every way I can. I feel like I'm going to bring a strong work ethic and toughness to the team, and I don't think they're going to be disappointed at all.

 Q: What's your feeling about coming to a team that has so many young linebackers?

 Rasheed: It feels good, because you can grow together and build together, if that's in the team's future plans to keep all of you around. It can be exciting to be part of a young linebacker corps because you all have the opportunity to grow together as a unit and become closer and be more efficient. I feel it's going to be an exciting experience to be on a linebacker corps as youthful as this one.

 Q: How long can you be happy as a backup?

 Rasheed: I'm going to try to become a starter as soon as possible. At the same time, I'm just going to work hard and leave that up to the coaches on what happens. I feel like everybody's qualified for the position, or else you wouldn't be a pro. I'm just going to work hard and do everything in my power that I can control.

 Q: Do you see being a mainstay on special teams as part of your role as a rookie?

 Rasheed: Obviously, you have to play special teams this year if you're on their team. I've been prepared for that. I've done that. Even though I was a star at Alabama, I didn't have any problem of playing special teams and I played every one of them. If that's something that they want me to do, I'll do it.

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