The San Francisco 49ers made a late run on defensive backs this past weekend, selecting three in one four player stretch. They drafted Dontae Johnson in the fourth round, Keith Reaser in the fifth round, and then closed the run with Kenneth Acker in the sixth round.
Acker is a 5'11, 190 pound cornerback out of SMU. He ran a 4.50 40 at his Pro Day, but prior to that he was unable to secure an invitation to the Combine. Instead, he had to show his skills at the NFLPA's Collegiate Bowl game, where one report seemed positive about his performance. You can check out an interview he did the week of the NFLPA game HERE.
His scouting reports indicate he is a guy who has not gotten much opportunities in press coverage. He is viewed as a guy with athleticism, but it's hard to tell how physical he can get. In reality, special teams is probably his best chance to earn a roster spot in Year 1.
Most of their draft picks will be expected to compete on special teams, and for a guy like Acker, it seems like this will be his best chance to make the roster. He spoke with the media and talked about how much of a competitor he is. He could very well emerge as a cornerback candidate, but the 49ers added considerable depth to the position. Whether you're completely sold on them or not, the cornerback depth chart is fairly lengthy.
Acker indicated he has done a lot on special teams, both as a return guy, and as a member of the hands team for onside kicks. Given the question marks surrounding LaMichael James, I'd imagine Acker will get a lot of opportunities both as a punt returner and a kick returner. The 49ers have added a few guys that can contribute there, so we'll see how it shakes out.
Here's the transcript from his conference call with Bay Area media after his selection.
So, what did you think? Was this around the area you thought you might go?
“Yeah, I expected middle to late so I was really just worried about sitting here and being patient and everything. So, I had a feeling I was going to come off the board, but I didn’t have a set time. So, really I was just surprised to go whenever.”
You were not a combine invitee, correct?
“No, I was on the honorable mention list and then I was on the backlist for the guys who get picked after they see how many juniors commit. So, they had like a record number of juniors commit this year to go to the combine, so I wasn’t selected.”
Was that a big disappointment for you?
“Not really. I got to go to the NFLPA [Collegiate Bowl] game and did pretty good out there. And then I know I was coming from a situation where I had some hype, but I didn’t have that much. So it was something I would liked to have done, but I felt like I had a lot of time to get prepared for my pro day so I was fine with that.”
And how much did you talk to the 49ers through this?
“I had some conversations with them. The DB [defensive back] coach [Ed Donatell] stayed in contact with me and just praised how much he liked my ball skills and everything. They were out at my pro day and I connected with a couple guys at that. So, I mean I always felt the love coming from the team. I knew that I was on their board and everything and they just stayed in contact with me. But, it’s good to see they liked me enough to draft me. I’m excited.”
Which defensive backs coach contacted you?
“I really couldn’t even give you a name right now.”
“I have talked to Donatell actually. I know for sure I’ve talked to Donatell a couple of times.”
You also have return skills?
And so how comfortable are you catching punts?
“I’m pretty comfortable. Actually was in position this year where we kind of were short on cornerbacks where I was going to be returning more kicks and doing more punt returns in that situation. But, I went out there a lot just for sure-hand guys just to make sure we get possession of the ball. That’s something that I’ve been doing for some years so I feel pretty comfortable doing that.”
Tell us about your game? What do you bring to the table?
“I feel like I just bring a lot of versatility to the team. I’m able to learn things really fast and feel like I’m a player that’s just out there and hungry at all times. I’m a real bad competitor. I love to win. I hate to lose. It really irks me so I’m just a guy that’s going to go out there and do it as best as I can. I like to put on a show for the fans and everything because I’m a fan of football and I like a good game. I feel like I just give back to the people just like me when I was watching the game. I feel like I’m versatile, I’m a hard worker and I’m just ready to get in there and do whatever for the team I can.”
Did they give you some reps on offense in the offseason or before the 2013 season?
“I actually was slotted at receiver for my spring, but then I actually suffered a hernia in my stomach, which kind of set me back for the spring. And then we had a corner go down at the point where I was playing receiver in spring, I was going into my senior season starting at receiver, so it was a situation where they had put me out there and everything was going good, but then I got a hernia and then one of our corners went down. So they just went back to, ‘Well, we need you to stay where you’re at and help us on the defensive side.’ So it never really came about. But, I feel comfortable at that position too.”
Were you happy you stayed at corner?
“I mean in the end I feel like I was happy I stayed at corner because I had film and that’s what I was getting looked at from, but I was dying to get on the offensive side of the field just from past experiences because coming into college and everything, I was a receiver and a quarterback. So, to go back and say you played two positions in college is something that I wanted to do. I’m still proud of my work at corner and happy that I got to show what I could.”
Who’s that in the background?
“What’d you say?”
Who’s that in the background?
“Oh, this is my niece. My brother just had a baby like a year and a half ago. So, it’s my niece.”
How well do you know Paul McCoy?
“I know Paul McCoy really well. We went to high school together. We won a state championship in basketball. We both ran on our state track team. We run the 4x4 together. I’ve known him since I was in about the 4th grade.”
You know he’s out here now?
“Yeah, I do. I do.”
So from Portland, did you grow up a Seahawks fan?
“I would say just for them being so close, I was pretty much a fan because that’s the only games I was able to go to close to me. But, I was more of a Falcons fan growing up, but the 49ers were also one of my favorite teams because I was a big [former WR] Jerry Rice fan. And you’ve got to like those guys because those guys are winning and it’s a good organization. I kind of bounced around because I didn’t have an actual set team with my family so I got to dibble and dabble from everybody.”
When are you coming out to the Bay Area?
“I would say in the near couple days. I’ve got to talk to my agent. I’m thinking that’s it’s going to be within the next three days, two days, so I should be there like early week, Monday, Tuesday.”