49ers eyeing Anderson

Jamaal Anderson is rising rapidly up draft boards as the college lottery approaches, and that includes that of the 49ers, who had some interesting things to say Thursday about the Arkansas defensive end who sees his stock soaring virtually by the day.

Anderson led the Southeastern Conference in sacks and tackles for a loss and also had 26 quarterback pressures in a breakout junior season last year - his first as a full-time starter. While he held a late first-round grade after declaring early for the draft, his status has improved after his solid workouts before pro scouts, who see great potential in him as an edge rusher.

Which would make him fit in just right with the 49ers, who are urgently seeking such a player who can come in and make an impact at an area of need.

And, while Anderson carried about 275 pounds on his long-limbed 6-foot-5½ frame this season, he already has added weight and has the potential to add much more without losing the athleticism that allowed him to play receiver in high school and also excel in basketball.

"He's a very unique guy - 6-5½ and he still is young," 49ers personnel chief Scot McCloughan said Thursday. "He is an interesting guy because of his basketball background. You also like the young guys that are big-body guys. Who's to say Jamal can't be 300, 305 his rookie year - 310, 315 possibly 320 - and carry it fine and still keep his quickness and athleticism?

"It becomes very unique to see a young guy that's physically gifted like those people are, as big as they are, because when it's all said and done - especially if we are more 3-4 or even a 4-3 - you want big defensive linemen because they're the ones that are going to play throughout the season."

And that's what's so intriguing about Anderson. With added bulk, McCloughan believes Anderson could be a powerhouse end in a 3-4 scheme who hold up against the run and be a terror rushing the passer. He already has the skills to play the position in the 4-3 set at the NFL level and fit into San Francisco's system as an edge player.

The 49ers can see Julius Peppers-type potential in Anderson, and every team wants one of those. Whether the team thinks that potential is enough to make Anderson worthy of the No. 11 pick in the draft is the issue facing the 49ers over the next week.

So the team will take a closer look. Anderson is one of the handful of college prospects San Francisco will have in for an official visit at team headquarters this week.

The Niners aren't a team that intends to reach for a project with that pick - they want a player who can come in and make an immediate impact. Of course, Anderson is beginning to look like that kind of player in the eyes of several NFL talent evaluators - and now some are even suggesting Anderson might not even still be on the board when San Francisco selects.

The 49ers hope he is, and that they have a decision to make between Anderson and some other top defensive prospects come April 28.


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