Ronald Blair does not have the kind of physical attributes that were eye-popping to NFL scouts. So, instead, he has focused on developing the intricacies of play along the defensive line.
“I got to make sure I’m really technique-sound, because I’m not one of those 6-7 guys that can tower over people,” Blair said. “I got to make sure I’m doing everything right, every play and every down, because I don’t have the (measurable) of a prototypical defensive end.”
The 49ers saw enough from Blair to select the Appalachian State product in the fifth round with the No. 142 overall selection.
The 49ers did not have much contact with Blair during the draft process, but assistant defensive line coach Vince Oghobaase spent some time quizzing him at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“We went over some things on the D-line,” Blair said. “They quizzed me. Went over some scheme stuff. They just wanted to test my intelligence. When I was there, they said I passed with flying colors. I guess that’s all they needed from me.”
Blair measured 6-foot-2 1/8 and 284 pounds at the combine. Only 11 of the 63 defensive line invitees were shorter. But only 17 of those players had arm length greater than Blair’s 34 inches.
Blair dropped to 270 pounds and went through linebacker drills at his pro day, but it appears as if he will be a defensive lineman with the 49ers. At least initially, he appears best-suited as a pass-rusher in nickel situations. While he generally played defensive end on a four-man line in college, he said he moved inside and rushed the passer in Appalachian State's "NASCAR package."
“It’s a possibility that I’ll be everywhere on the D-line, so we’re going to see where that goes,” said Blair, who signed his four-year contract and participated in the 49ers’ rookie camp over the weekend.
“I really just love playing D-line. I feel like my knowledge of the game really helps me. I usually get in real good with my defensive coaches so we can figure out the same thing and get on the same page and figure how to attack the weaknesses of the offensive line.”
Blair was selected as the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Student-Athlete of the Year and was a first-team all-conference honoree after leading the conference with 19 tackles of loss and ranking second with 7.5 sacks.