Niners asking about top Ohio State defenders

Sources have confirmed that the 49ers have spoken with members of the Ohio State coaching staff regarding three highly-regarded defensive prospects that San Francisco would like to fit into its 3-4 defensive system. There's a good chance the Niners could end up with at least one of them in the NFL draft later this month - and maybe even more than one.

The Niners have had discussions with OSU staff members regarding linebacker prospects A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter and defensive end Mike Kudla, whom the Niners would likely move to linebacker in their 3-4 scheme.

According to sources, there are plenty of other teams taking concentrated interest in those three Ohio State stars by seeking out and talking to coaches on the Ohio State staff.

The New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers and New York Jets also have discussed Kudla with members of the OSU staff.

The Titans, Browns, Jets, Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints, and Green Bay Packers also have discussed Hawk, who is likely to go to the Jets, Packers, 49ers or Raiders, who hold the 4-5-6-7 slots in the first round of the draft.

The Packers, Jets, New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins also have discussed Carpenter with the OSU staff.

Several of those teams mentioned above also have had discussions with the OSU staff regarding defensive back Ashton Youboty and receiver Santonio Holmes, but the 49ers weren't mentioned as one of those teams.

There's at least a 50-50 chance - and, likely, higher - that the 49ers would select Hawk if he still is available with their No. 6 pick in the first round.

Carpenter is a prospect the team would highly consider with their second-round pick - the No. 37 overall - while Kudla is a prospect the 49ers would hope to be able to grab in the middle rounds.

Other quick-hitters around the NFL:

--- In addition to Hawk, who visited last week, Miami of Ohio outside linebacker John Busing has had a visit to 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara, according to Busing's agent, David Canter. Busing, who the 49ers are considering as a second-day pick, also has visited with the Bengals and Browns.

--- Representatives for Packers' wide receiver Javon Walker could be prepared to offer the team a deal to secure his release from the team. Walker has stated on numerous occasions he will not play for the Packers again. Walker is a talent the 49ers would consider acquiring under the right circumstances.

--- Patriots' running back Corey Dillon restructured his contract this off-season, and the deal wasn't one which was constructed to secure the roster position of the veteran. Dillon coming off a mediocre season is viewed as the starting quality back in New England, but the team is expected to select a running back on the first-day of the college player draft.

--- Cornerback Charles Woodson (Oakland) hasn't been overwhelmed in free agency as he expected. Woodson has visited the Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but a worthwhile deal has not been offered. Possible destinations in the coming weeks for Woodson could be in Kansas City and Detroit. Niners coach Mike Nolan stated earlier this month that the team has not had any discussions with Woodson or his representatives.

--- The Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals are the most mentioned and considered front-runners for the services of Detroit Lions quarterback Joey Harrington, but the Chiefs have remained in contact with the Lions.

--- The Browns have not entertained any significant interest in center Jeff Faine. Faine was made available due to the Browns' signing of free agent LeCharles Bentley. Look for the team to deal the former first-round draft selection on draft-day.

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