SANTA CLARA -– Stanford guard Joshua Garnett arrived at the 49ers’ local pro day on April 13 ready to get to work.
Garnett, the winner of the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior offensive lineman, was not expected to go through the full workout at the 49ers’ practice facility. But his eagerness to participate certainly caught the attention of the team that would eventually place a high priority on drafting him.
The 49ers traded up nine spots to get back into the first round on Thursday evening to grab Garnett with the No. 28 overall pick.
“We looked at the next seven or eight picks and who was sitting there and their needs, and for us, why not?” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said. “We like the guy. We like him a lot. We had that kind of value placed on him. Let’s go get him and let’s not sweat it out over the next seven picks.”
The 49ers gave up their second-round pick (No. 37), as well as picks in the fourth (No. 105) and sixth (No. 178) to the Kansas City Chiefs, who also sent the 49ers their seventh-round pick at No. 249 overall.
“We thought he was the best interior run-blocker in the draft,” coach Chip Kelly said. “We’ve always run the football, whether I was in college of the National Football League. . . We’re going to continue to do that.
“The one thing that’s remarkable about him is you look at some of those short-yardage, goal-line packages that David (Shaw) runs there, and you look at Josh, who’s literally three inches off the ground just driving guys out of there, it’s impressive to see.”
Garnett, a human biology major, wants to be a trauma surgeon after his football career. He worked in a cell biology lab last summer. Yet, if there’s any question about his commitment to football, he’s willing to just let his film to the talking.
“The style of play I have and the way I play, especially in the run game, (it shows) I love football and put everything into it," Garnett said.
“Based on the film and people watching me, they could tell, ‘Hey this is a guy who loves football.’”
Kelly has known Garnett for a while. He lost the recruiting battle to try to attract Garnett to the University of Oregon out of Puyallup (Wash.) High School. He ended up attending Stanford, where was a team captain and figured out what he wanted to do with his post-football career.
“He’s an extremely driven person in everything he does, whether it’s academics or athletics,” Kelly said. “I think that’s what you’re looking for, that’s what attracts you to people like Josh, that someone no matter what the challenge is ahead of him, he’s going to attack it with everything he has. I look at that as a positive.
“Josh loves football. The fact that he is actually a very intelligent young man who wants to go to med school doesn’t take away from the fact he loves football.”
Garnett proved to the 49ers how much he loves the sport when he did not shy away from workouts at the team’s local pro day. Most players who are in line to be high draft picks do not attend local pro days.
“He looked at it as another opportunity to be coached by an NFL coach and get some work with (49ers offensive line) coach (Pat) Flaherty," Kelly said.