Reading between the lines with GM McCloughan

Niners general manager Scot McCloughan, a real straight-shooter, put on a happy face and said the right things during his media briefing after the 49ers had completed their six selections in the 2008 draft. But several of his comments appeared to be a bit strained. We go through some of the things McCloughan said about San Francisco's draft, and then tell you what we think he really meant.

McCloughan said: "From our standpoint, we think we had a heck of a draft. Everybody that was on our board was a draftable guy. That's all I can really say. I'm excited about it."
What we think he really meant: Some of the prospects the 49ers hoped would fall to them were grabbed before San Francisco went on the clock. The 49ers are satisfied with their draft - they wouldn't throw it back - but it's tempered excitement at best.

McCloughan said: "I think we got a chance to get - not say starters out of this thing in the whole bunch - but some good football players."
What we think he really meant: The Niners are not really sure this time around that any of their six draft picks will actually step in and become starters as rookies, as each of their top two selections have done in each of the past two years.

McCloughan said: "We've got enough depth on this team where they have to earn the spot, and I think that's what we got."
What we think he really meant: There's no Patrick Willis or Joe Staley in the bunch this year. The 49ers have improved their overall roster talent to the point where their top draft picks just can't come in and immediately step into the starting lineup by default.

McCloughan said: "I think you saw that we took the best player available on the board. Not with the first two picks, but throughout the whole draft."
What we think he really meant: Yeah, the 49ers passed on some good, flashier prospects, but they played it safe instead with the relatively sure things.

McCloughan said: "Some of the second-day guys fit the needs that we wanted. We didn't push the envelope on anybody."
What we think he really meant: Owning just four picks on Day 2, and without a fifth-rounder, the 49ers had to scramble to address their needs that weren't taken care of on Day 1, and did the best they could filling positions of need with hit-or-miss prospects in the later rounds.

McCloughan said: "This is the first year that the board has really gone the way the league drafted them."
What we think he really meant: Prospects came off the board the way the 49ers had them slotted, meaning the selection process pretty much went off the way the Niners thought it would, but not necessarily the way they hoped it would. As McCloughan said, in words that had straightforward meaning, "That's bad for us, from the standpoint (that) you always hope for guys to fall."

McCloughan said: "We are not going to force the issue on a receiver in the fourth (round), or the third, when we do have a better player at another position."
What we think he really meant: The 49ers used a third-round pick on a receiver last year and brought in two veterans in free agency to man the position this year. They sure as heck are not going to invest another mid-round selection on a receiver who might come in and not contribute at all this season, as Jason Hill did (or, for that matter, didn't) last season.

McCloughan said: "I think it worked out perfect from my standpoint because we (drafted) two offensive linemen that could be really good football players for us."
What we think he really meant: Man, the 49ers were really hoping one of the top-notch offensive tackles were going to be there at the No. 29 slot in the first round. But when seven of those top prospects were taken among the first 21 selections, San Francisco had to switch gears to still procure the two offensive linemen the Niners needed to get out of this draft.

McCloughan said: "(Kwentan Balmer) has a chance to be the nose or be the left end."
What we think he really meant: This guy is going to play somewhere along the defensive line, because he might already be better than some of the guys we already have there.

McCloughan said: "(Josh Morgan)'s not a bad kid at all. If I thought there was going to be a problem there, I wouldn't have taken him. At that point, we got a heck of a pick."
What we think he really meant: Yeah, Morgan was available in the sixth round because he has an arrest in his past and didn't really realize his potential on the field in college.

McCloughan said: "I hope (Cody Wallace) can challenge for (the starting position at center), that's why we drafted him. That's what we want, we want competition."
What we think he really meant: Wallace will sit behind incumbent starter Eric Heitmann this season and be groomed for the future while he also learns to play the interior guard positions.

McCloughan said: "When you get into the second day - fifth-, sixth-, seventh-round type picks - you look for (special) teams value."
What we think he really meant: These guys probably won't be able to help the 49ers much this year on offense or defense, but they have to try to get something out of them.

McCloughan said: "At our picks, the guy we wanted was there. If he wasn't there, we would have traded back. If our guy's going to be there, we're staying pat and taking a good football player. Why futz around and move back?"
What we think he really meant: The 49ers didn't get the offers they were looking for to move back in the draft and add an extra pick or two that they could have used.

McCloughan said: "Again, I'm a little biased about it, but I think we had a heck of a good draft. We got some good football players, on our board we did. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. But, it's a really good draft."
What we think he really meant: After sending what turned out to be the No. 7 overall pick to New England in a trade last year, then forfeiting their fifth-round selection after being penalized by the NFL for alleged tampering, the 49ers did the best they could with what they had to work with on draft weekend.



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