DL injected with speed on Draft Day 1

SFI told you before the NFL draft that the 49ers' top priority was to improve along the defensive line. And, after a top OT prospect fell into their lap in Round 1, the Niners spent the rest of the day addressing their most urgent concern, grabbing DT Anthony Adams in the second round and DE Andrew Williams in the third. What do those two have in common? Speed. And pass-rushing ability. "To help ourselves that much defensively is really going to make a difference," coach Dennis Erickson said.

The Niners will put Adams into the mix to compete immediately for playing time at the left defensive tackle position vacated in Febrary by the release of Dana Stubblefield. Williams will be given an opportunity to compete with veteran John Engelberger for the starting left end position vacated when Chike Okeafor left via free agency to sign with the Seattle Seahawks.

"What we've done with both these picks is you help kick up that pass rush, which makes a heck of a difference on third down, which obviously is a problem we have to take care of," Erickson said.

Adams and Williams each were considered small for their positions by some draft analysts. But the common denominator for both players is that they were among the quickest players available at their positions. This continues with San Francisco's philosophy and trend towards getting both younger and faster.

Whether they crack the starting lineup or not as rookies, that element of speed is expected to allow both players to contribute immediately in passing-down situations.

"With these two picks, we've helped ourselves as far as our pass rush is concerned," Erickson said. "To me, size is important to a point, but explosiveness and strength in your rear end is what gets it at this level. That's what we're trying to do defensively. We feel we have great speed at linebacker and safety. And now we're starting to get faster with Andre (Carter) up front. That's what we're trying to get done on defense." Williams didn't start last year at Miami because of knee problems and a six-player rotation used by the Hurricanes. But he recorded four sacks and 22 pressures anyway. Adams had 6.5 sacks last year while heralded teammates Jimmy Kennedy and Michael Haynes received most of the publicity. Both defensive linemen were selected Saturday during the first 14 picks of the first round.

"We filled positions where we lost starters in the defensive line," Niners general manager Terry Donahue said. "The fact that we were able to get an inside pass rusher who has exceptional quickness and one who we think could be real disruptive inside, and an outside pass rusher who we think has exceptional speed and who will be able to come off the corner with a very high degree of intensity and speed, will help our pass rush which we needed to help."

LA Rams Report Top Stories