The 49ers rolled through quite the non-who's who of draft picks during the final two rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft. Since there was plenty of head-scratching the final couple of rounds, I thought we'd go back to one of the earlier picks that has a lot of people buzzing, running back Kendall Hunter.
While Kendall Hunter is a small back, he put together some impressive runs while at Oklahoma State. He recognizes people see his size as an issue, but as the conference call transcript shows after the jump, he's got a nice little chip on his shoulder, and wants to prove the doubters wrong. It remains to be seen how he'll play out, but the 49ers have to be intrigued by what he brings to the table. Matt Maiocco wrote about Hunter earlier today and included an Insider's scouting report. I don't know if this from his perpetual source Razzano, or if it's his own, but here are a couple tidbits from that report:
Scouting report: He reminded many at Oklahoma State of Barry Sanders with his running style. At his pro day, he ran in the 4.5 range in the 40-yard dash. He is not an every-down back, but he should be an explosive change-of-pace performer.
How he fits with 49ers: The 49ers haven't had a player like Hunter in a long time. Frank Gore is doing fine after a broken hip ended his season. He is still the main back, but as he enters the final year of his contract, but Hunter gives the 49ers a third-down and specialty back who brings an element of speed to the backfield.
The 49ers have to figure out Frank Gore's contract situation at some point in the next 11 months. It's hard to do much right now given the labor situation, so it's nice for the team to just get somebody in who can work his way into Harbaugh's system. After the jump you can check out some of Hunter's comments to the media.
RB Kendall Hunter
Conference Call - April 30, 2011
San Francisco 49ers
Listen to Audio I 49ers Draft Center
On the kind of impression he got when he came out and visited the 49ers and whether he thought they were going to be a legitimate option for him:
"Yes, sir. I was just happy to be around a great environment like that, how they run things over there and their running backs coach taught me a lot, just being in the room with him, the 10-15 minutes that I was."
On whether it was disappointing that he had to wait until today to be selected:
"I would have to say yes. God has a plan for all of us and I'm happy with where I'm at now. I'm going to take advantage of it."
On what he knows about the 49ers:
"That they are rebuilding. It's a good program and they have a great coaching staff there."
On what his role will be with the team:
"Yes, sir. Just to come in and help out. Whatever he needs to me to do, I'm going to take full advantage of it and make sure I do."
On what he can learn from a guy like RB Frank Gore:
"The sky is the limit because he's a Pro Bowl running back and he knows everything you possibly could know to help the team get back to where it needs to be."
On the injuries he was dealing with his junior year:
"I had a little stress fracture, so it was a waiting process because I was out for two or three games."
On where the stress fracture was:
On whether he has a plate in his ankle:
On whether that has any effect on him when he runs:
"It hasn't bothered me since high school, my senior year."
On which ankle it is:
"My right ankle."
On whether it had an effect on where he was taken:
"I have no idea. I feel like I can run better. I ran fast at my pro day. That's the reason I'm at today."
On whether he played special teams at Oklahoma State:
"I did kick returns at Oklahoma State."
On whether he is a change of pace back or an every down back:
"I just have to work my way up and do whatever the coach needs me to do at this time."
On whether he comes in with a chip on his shoulder because a lot of teams passed him by:
"I always have a chip on my shoulder ever since I started playing the game. People doubted me that I can't do this or that, size and stuff like that. I play every game with a chip on my shoulder. I use it as motivation."
On him falling asleep before games:
"I've been doing it since I was a kid, a little 10 minute nap before every game and just relax. When I wake up after the 10 minute period, I'm just ready to play."
On his comparisons to RB Barry Sanders:
"People are calling me all the time and saying that, but I feel like I bring my own style to the game. It's good."
On how much he weighs:
On whether that is where he played last season:
"Yes, sir. I started out at about 202, 203 last year when I first started the season."