49ers Build a Mountain to Protect Their QB

Friday, Apr 23, 2010  |  Updated 4:45 PM PDT
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49ers Build a Mountain to Protect Their QB

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Head coach Mike Singletary of the San Francisco 49ers watches drills on the field during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mike Singletary

First-round draft picks Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati were introduced as San Francisco 49ers early Friday afternoon, two hulking figures that easily will fill the red jerseys they gleefully held across their chests.
     
In between the two burly offensive linemen stood coach Mike Singletary.

"We were able to get two shadows here today beside me," Singletary said. "As you can see, they make guys like me look very small."

The 49ers are hoping the two highly regarded prospects will be big players this year in finally getting San Francisco back to the playoffs after a seven-year absence.

Both already have passed the look test. Iupati stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 331 pounds. Davis filled out his three-piece suit at 6-5 and 323 pounds.

The 49ers traded up to select Davis, a tackle from Rutgers, with the No. 11 overall selection Thursday. They then used the No. 17 pick on Iupati, the University of Idaho product generally considered the best guard available in this year's draft.

Both youngsters will be expected to step in and help immediately along an offensive line that has struggled to find cohesion and consistency over the past several seasons and is considered the team's weakest area.

It might not be considered weak much longer with these two powerful figures around to fortify the unit. Both will challenge for starting positions this year during their rookie seasons.

Many around the organization already can envision Davis and Iupati playing side-by-side along San Francisco's line and dominating opponents for a decade to come.

"It could get scary," Davis said. "Mike is a beast. It will be great to play with a guy like Mike."

Davis and Iupati both were three-year starters in college whose best days clearly are ahead of them. Davis, who came out after his junior season, doesn't turn 21 until October and was the youngest player selected in Thursday's first round.

Iupati didn't even begin playing football until high school after his family moved to California from American Samoa when he was 14. He has been a quick learner.

"We came here for education and just to better ourselves in this land of opportunity," Iupati said. "I used that as motivation and realized that football was something that I really liked and really had great potential."

Director of player personnel Trent Baalke and offensive line coach Mike Solari both said the team's two newest linemen fit well into Singletary's image of building the 49ers with tough, physical and passionate players in the trenches.

Davis and Iupati will take part in that building together from the start of their careers.

"We both love the game," Iupati said. "(Davis) has great character and he's a very humble person, so we kind of relate to that and became good friends. Hopefully, this relationship will carry a long ways."
 

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