Bing could be next big thing at DB for 49ers

Considered one of the best safeties available in the 2006 NFL Draft, Darnell Bing cites his family roots as reasons why he is well grounded as he heads toward what will be the start of his professional career. Bing already has had a visit with the 49ers at team headquarters and is one of several prospects in which the team is particularly interested. Here's an in-depth personal profile on Bing followed by an extensive Q&A.

When asked to describe his background and family life growing up, Bing talked about how thankful he was for his mom and his family, who always supported him and encouraged him to succeed in sports whether playing football or running track.

Sports were an important part of his life from grade school through high school and on into college. It is a passion his brothers still share with him. Darnell's voice picked up with a level of appreciation simply addressing what his brothers were doing now.

"One of my brothers goes to Cal State Dominguez," said Bing with pride. "My other brother is a real estate agent, and he lives in Sacramento."

The brothers were close growing up. "We were all that we had," said Bing of his family.

The brothers still live close enough that they could get together on weekends to watch Darnell play for the Trojans. They supported his goal of trying to make the leap to the NFL. Although he doesn't see them as much, Bing appreciates the time together.

"They always come down on weekends so we always get together then," Bing said.

In high school, Bing was a multi-sport athlete. He was part of the track team, an interest he carried from his younger days, but it was the football field where he earned his accolades. A 2001 Parade All American, Super Prep All-American, Prep Star All-American - those were just a few of the many honors Bing acquired.

"Those meant a lot to me," Bing said. "It's always a wonderful feeling to be rewarded for some of the things you have done in the sport that you love the most."

Indeed. Splitting time at running back and defensive back, Bing loved playing on both sides of the ball. The more playing time the better was how he looked at it. His success on defense and the ability to make big plays appealed to him.

"When I first started (playing football) I was a more of a running back," said Bing. "Since high school, I played mostly defense so I pretty much got the love of defense over running back then."

Track was another part of Bing's athletic life. Although by the time he became a starter on varsity, football rapidly took over as his favorite sport. He appreciated participating in track, because he says it helped him with speed. He claimed he kept at it to stay in shape.

"When there were long plays on the other side of the field, it helped me run the ball down," Bing commented about the benefits of running track. "It came in handy."

Bing is leaving USC with another year of eligibility remaining. Although he hasn't graduated yet, he plans on returning to get his degree in public policy, management and planning at the university. "Yeah, I plan on going back to finish," Bing acknowledged, but after football.

It is football first now for the first-day draft prospect.

"I set a lot of goals for myself in the beginning of the season I felt that I accomplished pretty much everything I wanted," Bing said about his decision to leave early. "Then the support from my friends and family and my coaching staff that also helped me with my main goal that was to make the jump to the NFL."

Although some thought Bing might be a bit raw to leave USC and that his prospects would be better if he remained for another season, Bing felt it was time.

"A lot of people said it would be a good time (to leave early)," he said. "I also heard from a lot of people that it would be even better if I were to come back my senior year."

The decision has been made, and it's time for his NFL career to begin. Bing is rated as a top-10 safety according to most draft publications. He is projected to be selected as high as late in the first round, but more likely in the second round.

"He probably won't make it past the fifth slot in the second round," said Jamal Tooson, Bing's agent.

The 49ers owned that pick, the No. 37 overall, before trading it away to Denver on Thursday as part of the deal that bought San Francisco another first-round selection.

But that doesn't mean the 49ers are losing interest in Bing. According to Tooson, the 49ers also met with Bing prior to his Pro Day on April 2. The Patriots and the Panthers were two others to meet with the talented safety.

In his senior season Bing managed 50 tackles, four interceptions for 119 return yards with six passes defensed and one forced fumble. He also saw time on the kick return unit, managing five returns for 143 yards, a 28.6 average.

Here, Bing covers a variety of subjects with's Jon Scott:

Q: What did coach (Pete) Carroll say to you about coming out early?

He said it would be OK if I left, but that I would do a lot better if I came back for my senior season. He said he'd give me the opportunity to try some running back which might help my draft status as well.

Q: Has anyone else talked to you about being a running back beside coach Carroll or your high school coaches?

No, not really. They know I've played it before. We talked about it, but mostly they want to see me on defense.

Q: from a football perspective, who would you say was the biggest influence in college?

That's a tough one. I basically want to say that I have my own style. Some guys played true free safety always in the back. In our defense we do both (come up for run support). Both safeties will be in the back or they'll be in the front, it depends on the call. I don't really model my game after anybody. I basically go out there to do what I'm capable of doing and make things happen.

Q: You've been compared to players who have come before you and had success in the league. How did you go about developing your own sense of style on the field when you've had to follow in the footsteps of a guy like Troy Palomalu who played before you at USC?

I had to go out there and study hard each week and make sure I had our game plan down and go out there and try to make plays. Because troy Palomalu he was a playmaker, he always made things happen. I just wanted to make sure I could go out there and live up to playing behind the name of Troy Palomalu, and maybe be labeled as another Ronnie Lott. I wanted to make sure I could cover my ground and make sure I didn't give up anything that would hurt the team's chances to win. I just tried to play as hard as I could.

Q: Does anyone on the coaching staff, or others in the program, hold up names of the players who have gone before you to tell you 'this is how it's done,' or 'this is how you should do it'?

Yeah. We watch film of some of the guys. Actually the film we watch is of the plays that we run. They show us how some of those guys would hit the gaps, or play cover. So yeah.

Q: Do you talk to any of those former USC guys?

I talk to some of the older guys who aren't in the NFL anymore. The guys who are in the NFL don't really have time to come around much they're so busy.

Q: You've mentioned Ronnie Lott's name a couple of times, and it sounds like you admire him. Do you look up to him?

Of course, you've got to. He was a wonderful player, he always played hard and was a big time hitter. He always went 100 percent. You have to admire the way he played.

Q: Tell us what you think is your greatest attribute, and maybe something you think you may need to work on as a player.

I would say my greatest attribute is reading my keys and being able to jump routes, because of the amount of film that I've watched and knowing what the quarterback's main keys are. And also being able to see what he sees on the field at the same time. If I had to work on anything I would say that I tend to launch (leave his feet to make the hit). It's only sometimes when I have to make a desperate tackle. It's only sometimes though. I think maybe I may need to breakdown a little more.

Q: How did you feel about your performance on your Pro Day?

I fell it went great. I don't think it could have gone any better than it did. I did very well in all my positional drills and all my cone drills as well. I fell I did as good as possible.

Q: How do you feel about your 40?

I did pretty good. I got clocked at a 4.53 which they say is really a 4.45 because the electronic timing adds .08 seconds to your time. Because, weighing 225 and running that time I think that's excellent. I'm not like any of those other guys who weigh 200 or even 180 and are out there running 4.4s or even 4.3s. I would say [my time] is pretty fast for a guy that's my size. So I was pleased with everything.

Q: So what do you weigh now?

I'm about 222 lbs and about 6-foot-2.

Q: You've already had a number of visits, including the 49ers. Tell us a little about who you met with and how those went.

I met with the Patriots, the Panthers and the 49ers. I met with them around my Pro Day. Those went pretty good. They seemed to like me a lot. I talked with the Jaguars and the Packers at Pro Day. They seemed to like me too.

Q: Did you have a favorite team growing up, or any teams you liked to watch?

I grew up liking 'Frisco and Dallas.

Q: Were there any player beside Ronnie Lott that you admired or followed through the years?

Barry Sanders was my favorite running back as I was growing up. Then I would say on defense it was Deion Sanders.

Q: What else are you doing to get ready for the draft beside these visits you have coming up? Are you working out still?

I'm always working out. I've got to make sure I'm ready and fit for the camps as soon as the draft is over.

Q: Are you working out at school?

I'm working out at Long Beach Poly with my old high school coaches.

Q: Do they have you working on anything specific?

It's pretty much overall training. Working on everything.

Q: What is it about Darnell Bing that you want people to know about you that they may not already know?

That I'm a pretty good kid, and got my head on straight. I'm a straight and level guy. As far as being on the field, that I'm giving back to my teammates and helping them out, and the crowd. I want to make sure they're coming out to see a good game instead of coming out seeing something so boring like something you could watch at home on TV and if you got tired of it you could just flip the channel.

Q: Anything else?

I read my keys very well and am capable of jumping a route keep my eyes on the ball to make an interception and things like that. I'm a good tackler and I like to come up to make a big hit from time to time.

Jon Scott writes for, the New England Patriots affiliate on the network.

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