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Iupati, Brock Examples of Small-school Prospects

Posted Mar 3, 2014

For every handful of players from major colleges like Miami (Frank Gore), there's one from a place like Idaho (Mike Iupati), which is why the 49ers scouting department doesn't discount any potential NFL draftee.


The 49ers front office is objective.

General manager Trent Baalke and Co. are partial to talented NFL prospects, sure, but it doesn’t matter where they come from.

This will be the organization’s mindset two months from now, during the NFL Draft May 8-10.

“There are players at all levels,” director of college scouting Matt Malaspina told 49ers.com at the league’s Scouting Combine. “It comes down to height, weight, speed and production. So if you see a kid at a smaller-level school that’s really playing well consistently, he’s a legitimate prospect – just as much as a kid at Alabama.”

Use safety Eric Reid as an example.

San Francisco employed the 18th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft on Reid, a stud coming out of high school and a stud coming out of LSU.

READ: Reid Became Player 49ers Envisioned 

“There (are) no secrets with him,” Malaspina said. “A guy like Eric that played to his level at the level he played at, it’s fairly simple to figure out what he can do.”

For every handful of Reids, star amateurs who turn into star pros, there is a Tramaine Brock (Belhaven University), a Darryl Morris (Texas State) or a Dan Skuta (Grand Valley State).

The 2014 class boasts strong prospects from schools like Montana and Maine. Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is a potential second- or third-round draftee, according to NFL.com.

READ: 10 49ers Who Didn't Receive Combine Invites 

It’s worth wondering then, exactly how many 49ers on the first unit attended major schools?

In fact, 21 of the 22 players that finished the 2013 season atop the depth chart attended Football Bowl Subdivision conferences. (Brock, a Belhaven University alumnus and a de facto starter down the stretch, would decrease this number to 20.)

“Most of the league comes from the big conferences, so it’s very important to us,” Malaspina said. They “definitely get more attention, as well they should.”

San Francisco's scouting department won't shy away from pluckling a player like Mike Iupati early in the first round, as it did in 2010, even if he comes from a non-powerhouse place like Idaho.

QB Colin Kaepernick – Nevada – MWC

FB Anthony Dixon – Mississippi State – SEC

RB Frank Gore – Miami – ACC

WR Anquan Boldin – Florida State – ACC

WR Michael Crabtree Texas Tech – Big 12

TE Vernon Davis – Maryland – ACC

LT Joe Staley – Central Michigan – MAC*

LG Mike Iupati – Idaho – Independent

C Jonathan Goodwin – Michigan – Big Ten

RG Alex Boone – Ohio State – Big Ten

RT Anthony Davis – Rutgers – AAC

DT Ray McDonald – Florida – SEC

DL Glenn Dorsey – LSU – SEC

DT Justin Smith – Missouri – SEC

LB Ahmad Brooks – Virginia – ACC

LB NaVorro Bowman – Penn State – Big Ten

LB Patrick Willis – Ole Miss – SEC

LB Aldon Smith – Missouri – ACC

CB Carlos Rogers – Auburn – SEC

CB Tarell Brown – Texas – Big 12

S Eric Reid – LSU – SEC

S Donte Whitner – Ohio State – Big Ten

MWC: 1

SEC: 7

ACC: 5

MAC: 1

Independent: 1

AAC: 1

Big Ten: 4

Big 12: 2

*This story has been corrected to reflect Staley's college. 


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