Through six Trent Baalke-engineered drafts with the 49ers, a few trends have developed.
Baalke has a penchant for drafting players with -- in no particular order -- long arms, big hands and surgically repaired knees.
Now, we can add another item to Baalke's list of favorites. He has an admitted affinity for players from South Carolina.
The 49ers selected running back Mike Davis in the fourth round of the draft. When asked about Davis’ ability to perform in pass protection, Baalke gave some hints as to why he appears to be attracted to South Carolina.
“I used to work for (Steve) Spurrier when we were in Washington,” said Baalke, referring to the South Carolina coach since 2005. “Obviously, he throws the ball all over the place. So if you're a running back in that system, you got to be able to catch the ball and you got to be able to pass (protect). He's shown the ability to do that. He's a three-down back in the National Football League. That was what we were looking for.”
Two years ago, the 49ers selected South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore in the fourth round. Lattimore never recovered from a devastating knee injury that ended his college career. He retired last year.
Over the weekend, the 49ers also selected South Carolina tight end Busta Anderson in the seventh round and signed Gamecocks quarterback Dylan Thompson as a free agent. Last year, the 49ers drafted wide receiver Bruce Ellington. And in 2011, they invested a third-round pick in cornerback Chris Culliver.
“Well, you know they're going to be well-coached,” Baalke said of South Carolina players. “They're going come into the league, especially on the offensive side of the ball -- and that’s nothing against the defense -- but on the offensive side of the ball you know they're going to come into the league well-versed. They're going to be able to pick up the information. They're going to usually, almost always be able to on play three downs, if it's a back. And they're prepared.”