The 49ers' first- and third-round picks revealed their strengths to the media.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Although the excitement of being a first-round draft pick ruined his first night's sleep in the NFL, Mike Rumph is ready to begin his professional career.
His new team is even more eager to put his skills to work.
Saturday, the 49ers used the 27th selection on Rumph, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound physical cornerback from Miami (Fla.)
"It's exciting because I'm young and coming to a young team that's accelerating," Rumph said Sunday at the 49ers headquarters after an early-morning flight to the West Coast.
"They must be doing the right things to be winning," Rumph said of the 49ers, who are coming off a 12-4 season. "That makes me want to work that much harder to help the team out."
Got their man
Rumph's selection drew cheers in the team's war room.
Coach Steve Mariucci anticipates sending Rumph onto the field in nickel and dime pass defensive coverages with the idea he'll disrupt three- and four-receiver formations. If that's what the coaches want, Rumph is ready.
"I like playing up in the receivers' faces," Rumph said. "A lot of times, they put the best receiver in slot against the nickel corner. Whatever they want me to do, I want to learn it."
Rumph, who didn't allow a touchdown in Miami's championship season last fall and had one stretch where he didn't allow a reception in seven games, said he expected to go in the first round but began to wonder when the New York Jets passed on a cornerback at No. 22.
"So when [the 49ers] called me, it was relief," Rumph said. "But when I got home, I couldn't sleep."
With pick No. 26, Rumph knew the Philadelphia Eagles were considering him and Florida cornerback Lito Sheppard.
Rumph found out he was going to San Francisco before ESPN could announce Philadelphia's selection. That's because 49ers general manager Terry Donahue called Rumph as soon as team personnel in New York told him that the Eagles were taking Sheppard.
"There's a term in football -- cover corner. It's a nice way of saying a guy will cover you, but he won't hit," Donahue said. "Mike is not a cover corner -- he's a press corner and he'll hit."
Rumph was one of three Miami defensive backs recruited by Cleveland Browns coach Butch Davis who were selected in the first round. The others were cornerback Philip Buchanon (No. 17, Raiders) and safety Ed Reed (No. 24, Ravens).
Their secondary coach at Miami was Mooney graduate Mark Stoops, who said of Rumph: "He has great speed to go with his size. I don't think people realize how fast he is."
Rasheed makes visit
Alabama linebacker Saleem Rasheed, the 49ers' third-round selection, also flew to California Sunday.
Rasheed said he doesn't think it will sink in that he's in the NFL "until I see the other players, have on the 49ers gear and I'm working out.
"It's so exciting being here because we have such a young linebacking corps," said Rasheed, who will contend for a backup position behind starters Julian Peterson, Derek Smith and Jeff Ulbrich.
Rasheed played at middle linebacker during his junior season last fall, but played outside during his first two seasons with the Crimson Tide.
"I can play all three [linebacking positions], so whatever the coaches want me to play, I can feel comfortable there," Rasheed said.
He'll also see playing team on the kickoff and punt teams after being a leader on Alabama's special units.
"He's a special teams phenom," Mariucci said.