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Around the NFC West: 49ers draft grades

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com offers thoughts on recent NFL drafts after rating them across the league. On the 49ers: "The 49ers have drafted 12 starters the past five years. That's second only to the Houston Texans' 13. While the 49ers have landed a couple standouts (Patrick Willis and Vernon Davis), they have not drafted top-tier players at impact positions, such as quarterback, cornerback and pass-rusher." I took a look at the 49ers' selections over the first three rounds for the time period in question. The team drafted no quarterbacks, one cornerback (Reggie Smith, since converted to safety) and one pass-rusher (Manny Lawson, who has made a greater impact on special teams) in the first three rounds dating to the 2006 draft.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee uses the 49ers' predraft visits as the basis for determining what positions the team might be targeting in the draft. Barrows: "First, it's clear the 49ers are targeting three position groups. Among the known players visiting, three are quarterbacks, three are cornerbacks and three are smallish defensive ends/outside linebackers. That's no surprise. The 49ers have acknowledged that they'd like to improve those positions this offseason. Three players also are tight ends, a position Jim Harbaugh utilized quite a bit at Stanford. The team also is clearly looking at fullbacks." Teams use predraft visits for various purposes. Teams are often seeking additional information on players coaches and scouts had questions about.

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Razzano thinks the 49ers will take a quarterback 45th overall. He points to Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton as possibilities.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider sizes up the 49ers' linebackers and asks whether new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has enough with which to work.

Aaron Wilson of National Football Post says quarterback prospect Ryan Mallett is scheduled to visit with the Seahawks on Monday. Wilson: "It's a busy week for Mallett, who's set to visit the Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday and Thursday and the Carolina Panthers on Friday and Saturday. He visits the San Francisco 49ers on April 11, the Miami Dolphins on April 14 and the Tennessee Titans on April 17. Mallett's first visit was with the Cincinnati Bengals. He has conducted private workouts for the Miami Dolphins and the Panthers."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says CenturyLink is in the early stages of "transitional branding" at Qwest Field after the company purchased Qwest Communications recently. O'Neil: "The name of the stadium isn't changing right now, but the logos you see on relating to Qwest's sponsorship of the Sounders will -- and it could be anything from trash cans to napkins to logos on the scoreboard -- are likely to have a new logo. And that new logo could include the logos for both Qwest and CenturyLink, which are now the same company."

Liz Mullen of Sporting News checks in with Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for thoughts on the NFL labor situation.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic passes along a dissenting view on pass-rusher Von Miller from former Cardnials scout Dave Razzano. Razzano: "I’m not a Von Miller guy at all. I know he had an ankle injury, but I think it’s a cop-out. I’ve look at enough tape. The stuff he does that I don’t like has nothing to do with an ankle sprain at all. ... Von Miller does not have a real competitive demeanor. That's the kind of guy who has 'bust' quality."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com offers personal recollections on former Cardinals safety Pat Tillman. Urban: "I came in to the Cards’ facility on Sept. 11, 2001. It was a Tuesday -- the players’ off day -- but Tillman was there too. And at one point, with the World Trade Center burning but not yet collapsed, Tillman sat next to me in one of the overstuffed, ugly orange-yellow chairs there at the time and lamented the situation. ... Did I know that day he’d eventually give up football for what he thought was a greater purpose? Of course not. Maybe Tillman did, and maybe he didn’t. He never talked about it, having then-coach Dave McGinnis break the joining-the-Army news to a trio of reporters."

Todd Hefferman of The Southern says Southern Illinois University is trying to land the St. Louis Rams for training camp. Hefferman: "Saluki Stadium seats 15,000 and has FieldTurf Duraspine PRO playing surface. SIU also has a grass practice facility south of the stadium that has two 100-yard fields. The Boydston Center, an $11.3 million facility a couple of hundred feet from the stadium that also opened last year, houses new locker rooms, new offices and new meeting rooms."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says Rams special-teams coach Tom McMahon thinks new rules will "eliminate" the kickoff return specialist. McMahon: "We have started looking, trying to get ahead a little bit. Look at where balls are landing and giving them 5 extra yards. It’s scary how many balls are landing in the end zone. It’s almost scary shocking."