The San Francisco 49ers had a busy weekend, drafting ten players over the course of last week’s NFL draft. Each player had a conference call with Bay Area media shortly after being selected. They will all report for rookie minicamp this coming weekend, but in the meantime, this is a chance to get to know the players a little better.
The 49ers drafted pass rusher Pita Taumoepenu (tao-mo-eh-pen-new) in the sixth round with a pick they acquired from the Denver Broncos in the Vernon Davis trade. After the draft, GM John Lynch said they might just call him Pita T given his lengthy last name. Feel free to do the same if you so choose!
Taumoepenu measured in this offseason at 6’1 243 pounds, which is a bit undersized for a traditional edge rusher in the 4-3. However, John Lynch said that the 49ers currently have a lot of bigger guys working at the LEO position, and they wanted to bring in a speedier option. I’ve seen scouting reports suggest him as a weak-side linebacker, and Taumoepenu said WILL was an option, but he also acknowledged being happy playing anywhere.
Considering the 49ers have Reuben Foster and Malcolm Smith potentially playing WILL, my guess is the 49ers try him out as a situational pass rusher. When preseason gets here, my money is on him to be the guy leading the team in sacks. Whether that’s enough for a regular role on the defense remains to be seen, but it sounds like his motor is a big plus.
Here is what Taumoepenu had to say shortly after the pick was announced.
Welcome. Obviously, your last game was here at Levi’s Stadium with Utah. What do you remember about that and just your thoughts on coming into the NFL with the 49ers?
“I’m going to bring a lot of passion. I’m super excited for this opportunity. I’m just really grateful for it and I can’t wait to come out there and give everything I’ve got. I have a lot of passion and I’m ready to do whatever it takes to help the Niners win another Super Bowl.”
What do you know about the 49ers defensive scheme and how you might be able to fit into it?
“I know it’s going to be like the 4-3 style this year. I feel like I’ll fit into outside linebacker, pass rushing, maybe a WILL backer or SAM. But, I’m super excited and I can’t wait to play whatever they want me to play. So, I’m excited.”
Do you think the biggest asset you bring to the NFL is your ability to get after the quarterback?
“Oh, yeah. It’s the biggest thing. I have a great ability to get after the quarterback. It’s what I do and I have a lot of passion for it.”
What do you know about RB Joe Williams?
“He’s a great football player. I remember meeting him two years ago. He’s a great guy and he works hard. He works hard and he always gives everything he’s got to help his teammates. So, he’s a team guy.”
You said that getting after the quarterback is what you do. Why do you do it so well?
“I have a lot of passion for it. I grew up back in Tonga and used to work in the farms with my grandpa and I always had the high motor ever since I was little. I always worked hard basically my whole life. When I moved back to America and I saw football and I kind of see pass rushing, getting to the quarterback is a way that I can express myself. I always feel like I have a high motor. I never stop. That’s basically it. So, I never stop and I’ve always felt like I’ve always been good at it. I’m looking forward to joining the Niners and help them.”
You have some family in the area?
“Yes. My family is living in Monterey right now. I live in Monterey, California right now which is not too far from you guys. So, I’m super excited for it.”
Is that where you are right now? Monterey?
“Yes, sir. This is where my mom lives.”
Were you able to come to the facility here in Santa Clara and visit the 49ers?
“No, I wasn’t. I didn’t get the opportunity to come and visit.”
Did you take any pre-draft visits around the NFL?
“Yeah. I took a visit to the Pittsburgh Steelers and then I also had two workouts with the Falcons and Patriots.”
So, did the 49ers lead on that they were interested in you?
“I think I got like one phone call and they asked me about my contact and the phone number for the draft. So, I didn’t really know. I never thought about it. I thought I might get picked up by the Ravens or the Steelers, but I’m surprised and I’m just so happy.”