It didn't come in the first two days of draft weekend, but the 49ers finally got their guard.
Joe Looney—a 6'3", 320-pound lineman with loads of upside—became the freshest member of the 49ers' 2012 draft class with the 117th overall pick in the fourth round.
The former Wake Forest Demon Deacon started 41 games during his four seasons at the collegiate level.
Then, after an invite to the 2012 Senior Bowl, Looney fell victim to a torn ankle ligament during a practice leading up to the game.
The injury was a tough break, no doubt.
But the unfortunate situation that prevented Looney from boosting his stock leading up to the draft by competing at not only the Senior Bowl—but the NFL combine and pro day at Wake Forest as well—allowed the 49ers to nab a talented prospect at a position of need in the later rounds.
After a flurry of trades to move back in the draft, the Niners then scrapped picks No. 125 (fourth round) and No. 196 (sixth round, previously acquired from Miami Dolphins) to slide up and get Looney at No. 117 in the fourth round. This selection came from the Detroit Lions.
Looney is yet another high-character prospect the 49ers have now uncovered in this year's draft. He's a hard-nosed blocker who excels out in space, and is a nice overall fit for the 49ers blocking schemes.
He's a polished blocker in a lot of ways, but could use some coaching when dropping back in pass protection.
We have to figure Looney will join the open competition for the right guard position, along with Alex Boone and Daniel Kilgore.
Looney expects to be fully recovered in time for training camp, and you shouldn't be shocked to see him earn significant playing time in his rookie season.
He should be instant fit inside the locker room, particularly up front with the San Francisco O-line. Looney seems like a guy who plays football for the love of the game and possesses a deep desire to win.
Those are the types of players Trent Baalke, Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers' front office are in search of.
After selecting two promising offensive skill players in wide receiver A.J. Jenkins (first round, 30th overall) and running back LaMichael James (second round, 61st overall), the 49ers should now be boosting competition and depth at positions of need, and Looney is a great start.
Overall Grade: A
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