Another something for nothing trade?

Mike Rumph for Taylor Jacobs? That sounds a lot like Rashaun Woods for Sammy Davis – another something for nothing trade. It remains to be seen how much Jacobs – a 2003 second-round draft pick who couldn't break into the lineup in three seasons with the Washington Redskins – will help the 49ers this season, but one thing appears fairly certain: Rumph wasn't going to help them at all.

In fact, Rumph – the team's No. 1 selection in the 2002 draft – was unlikely to make it past the first summer cut on Aug. 29, even though the 49ers were still running him out with their second-team defensive unit at the time of the trade.

Rumph was mostly running after people during last week's 28-14 victory over Chicago in the Niners' preseason opener, and not even doing a very good job of that. He missed several tackles – bouncing off ball carriers instead of bringing them down – and also was burned in coverage, looking almost lost during an extensive playing stint.

Coach Mike Nolan couldn't deny that he saw what everybody else saw from Rumph in that game, so the Niners had to be pleased to get something in return for Rumph, even if it's another high-round receiver who has underachieved in the NFL, the kind of player the 49ers already have shed off their roster twice in 2006.

The first example of that was the trade of Woods – the disappointing 2004 first-rounder – to San Diego earlier this year for cornerback Sammy Davis, who not only has a good chance to make San Francisco's final roster, but also could be a contributor in the secondary this season. Woods subsequently was cut early in training camp by the Chargers, then failed a physical when he was picked up off waivers by Denver earlier this month. The Niners also released another receiver selected high in the 2004 draft – third-rounder Derrick Hamilton – last week. Hamilton never caught a pass in 2+ seasons with the team.

While Jacobs came into the NFL with high expectations, he was a disappointment in Washington, where he caught 30 passes in three seasons, averaging just 10.5 yards per reception with one TD.

Jacobs' career in Washington was marked by injuries. Each year it was something else, from a bruised pancreas his rookie year to a strained abdomen in 2004 and a sprained left big toe last year. Coaches and teammates raved about his potential, but Jacobs appeared to suffer from confidence problems. Some teammates said he also often ran the wrong routes during games.

The Niners, however, are weak at receiver, where no one is stepping up among their young prospects behind front-line players Antonio Bryant and Arnaz Battle and third option Bryan Gilmore. Battle's knee problems also are a concern, and Jacobs will get an immediate look in a battle for playing time among a group that includes veteran Jason McAddley, rookie Brandon Williams and youngster Marcus Maxwell, though Jacobs has a lot of catching up to in the system as he joins the team more than two weeks into training camp.

Nolan remains intrigued by Jacobs' potential and jumped at the opportunity to get something for Rumph, whose days on the roster were numbered. When the Redskins approached the Niners about Rumph's services, the Niners didn't have to think twice.

"It kind of came out of the blue," Nolan said of the quick-developing trade. "(Jacobs) was a high pick. When they took him, they were pretty surprised, because he was supposed to go in the first round. I know that Steve Spurrier had coached him and he was extremely high on the player. He's a good football player. I'm kind of anxious to see how he fits into the group that we have. He can still be a very good wide receiver."

The 49ers have been trying to make Rumph fit into their secondary since the day he was drafted four years ago, and it never really happened. He was a liability in coverage as the team's nickel back for San Francisco's NFC-West championship squad in his rookie season, then took over as a starter at right cornerback in 2003, Rumph's best season with the team when he intercepted three passes and displayed some promise and development.

But he broke his arm in the fourth game of the 2004 season and spent the rest of the year on injured reserve. When Nolan took over the team in 2005, he moved Rumph to free safety, which seemed like a promising fit for his skills and hard-hitting potential. But Rumph was a disaster at the position, often getting caught out of position – way out of position – and taking bad angles as the 49ers allowed an astronomical 1,107 passing yards in their first three games last year with Rumph as their last line of defense.

That experiment ended right there as Rumph was quickly dispatched back to cornerback the next week in practice, where he lasted exactly one practice before suffering a season-ending foot injury.

While Nolan hardly was complimentary regarding some holdover veterans that he has dumped from the roster this year, he had good things to say about Rumph.

"Mike's been a very good 49er," Nolan said. "He's been good since we've been here both on and off the field. He's done everything we've asked on the field and he's continued to work all of the time. This (trade) certainly is no reflection of what happened the other night (Rumph's poor performance vs. Chicago)."

Rumph's departure left the 49ers with just one-first rounder remaining on their roster – 2003 first-rounder Kwame Harris – to show for their 10 draft classes from 1995-2004. Not surprisingly, three of those deposed former No. 1 picks were cornerbacks. And one of them – 2000 first-rounder Ahmed Plummer – began last season as the starting left cornerback and also was on the field for that opposing aerial assault in September.

Like Rumph, Plummer – who was released in February – didn't play another snap in 2005 after starting the first three games because of an ankle injury. And, like Rumph, for that matter, will never pay another snap with the 49ers.

In summarizing the trade, Nolan said, "We'll see what Taylor brings to us. I don't want to count anybody on the roster until they've shown that they can do it. We do need to strengthen ourselves at wide receiver, so I thought it was an opportunity for us to maybe take advantage of that. We'll see how it works out."


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