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2011 49ers Draft Picks: OL Coach Jason McEndoo On Michael Person

Yesterday I posted an interview I conducted with Chris Culliver's position coach at South Carolina. We're back today with another interview, this time with Jason McEndoo of Montana State. McEndoo is the Bobcats offensive line coach and worked extensively with new 49ers offensive lineman Mike Person. McEndoo has coached the MSU offensive line since 2003, which came after working at two high schools in Washington. McEndoo placed center at Washington State and was himself a seventh round selection of the Seattle Seahawks. He spent some time with the Seahawks and Saints before playing for a bit in NFL Europe.

Seventh round picks generally have a long path ahead of them. For Person, he'll have to prove himself as a capable backup. The 49ers have some questions on the interior of the offensive line but it will be incredibly tough for Person to break into the starting lineup with a fairly young unit in place. Throw in the addition of Daniel Kilgore in the fifth round and Person faces a tough road ahead. It sounds like he'll bust his butt the entire way, so we'll see how it plays out for him.

Niners Nation: I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me here for a little bit.

Jason McEndoo: Yea, you bet.

NN: As a seventh round pick, it's a little difficult finding information on Mike Person so who better than one of his college coaches. Do you have some general information about Person to start?

JM: Sure. Mike is a Montana native from a little railroad town in eastern Montana near the North Dakota border called Glendive ... Dawson County high school, he was a three sport athlete in high school, two time state discuss champion, All-State junior and senior year. One thing about this state is it's the fourth largest state in the union but only has 900,000 people and so the fact that we don't produce a lot of Division I athletes every year, there's probably one or two a year. At the time I recruited Michael, he chose us over Wyoming and University of Montana at the time, which was a pretty good get for us.

NN: Is there a particular reason he went with a Football Championship Subdivision school over a Division I school like Wyoming?

JM: I think it was just the right fit for him. Montana State was the best place for him both academically and football-wise.

NN: Some of the basic information that's come out since the draft is that the 49ers would be looking to move him into the interior of the offensive line. He played offensive tackle for you guys, correct?

JM: Yea, he was a four year starter at offensive tackle. He started three years at right tackle and last year started at left tackle. In his career he started 43 out of a possible 46 games.

NN: How do you think the skills that he's picked up and developed at tackle could translate over to guard or center?

JM: I think the biggest thing that's going to help him make that move is that he's athletic, he plays with bent knees, he can hash out, he can move, he can pull, he can play in space. I think one of the biggest things that probably will help him is that he's a very cerebral player. His football intelligence is very high. He understands defensive structure, game plans, making the calls and adjustments. All the mental things he needs to do to play on the interior he's able to do those things. So making the move to guard or center, even though he hasn't played that position before, I think he's athletic to do it, and he's smart enough to play that position.

NN: It sounds like he's a great kid as far as the intangibles. He's got great character. Do you see him as a guy that could lead the offensive line as a center?

JM: Oh yea, definitely. He was elected team captain. As a leader he's the kind of guy who leads out in front. He's done a great job just being a leader within our offensive line unit, within the team. At the center position, you've got to be a field general. You've got to be able to know not only what you're going to do, but what everyone else around you is doing. You've got to be able to communicate that with everybody, so that's why I think that aspect is a good fit for him. I think that will be a good transition for him.

NN: What do you think he might need to improve on at the next level?

JM: The biggest thing, to me it doesn't matter what round you're drafted in, any incoming rookie has to be able to handle the speed of the game.. The size of the guys, the speed of the game is completely different. Just transitioning into how fast things go. How big those guys are. I played center in the NFL, I played for the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints. I remember playing with the Saints, and Norman Hand was nose guard and that guy weighed 360 pounds. So, you know, yes I think that's one of the things overall speed, and strength and size of the players.

You talked about the intangibles, and with Mike I think that's what the Niners are getting with him. He's gonna come to work every day and he'll outwork everybody. First one out, last one off. He does a good job with that. And he'll need to continue that at the next level.

Fooch: Big thanks to Coach McEndoo for taking a few minutes during a busy recruiting time.