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What might 49ers interest in Tavaris Barnes at Clemson Pro Day mean?

The San Francisco 49ers recently showed some interest in a Clemson defensive lineman. Is he a legit depth option, or was this a chance to sneak a peak at another player?

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this month, the San Francisco 49ers were in attendance at the Clemson Pro Day. According to Tony Pauline (a strong resource for pre-draft meetings, the 49ers met with defensive end Tavaris Barnes that day. The Sporting News also reported on it, describing the 49ers as one of six teams that "showed the most interest" in Barnes.

Barnes stands 6'3 and a half, and weighed 282 pounds at the NFL Combine. According to his scouting report, Barnes was never a full-time starter at Clemson. That would seem to indicate he got some starts, but in more of a spot-starter mold. This article suggests he started nine games in his college career, while his Clemson bio says he started four games, including three this past season.

According to ESPN's school listings, Clemson had five players that ranked high enough to get an "overall ranking" by Scouts Inc. That group included OLB Vic Beasley (24), ILB Stephone Anthony (58), DT Grady Jarrett (64), DE Corey Crawford (127) and CB Garry Peters (266). Barnes was not an overall ranking player.

It is possible the 49ers might look at him as a day three or UDFA option to add depth on the defensive line. He has the size to build on for the defensive line. But it is also possible their appearance of interest was really just part of their plan to get a look at other players. It would not be the first time a team has done that. The 49ers appeared to be interested in Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, but in reality were looking at Aldon Smith. This is a slightly different example given that Barnes is not quite on the level of the big names. But it's one more thing to track as we try and figure out some potential players on the 49ers radar as the draft approaches.