But their luck up front hasn't been so good lately.
Projected starter David Baas suffered a torn right pectoral muscle during a recent workout and is expected to miss a significant amount of training camp. Team spokesman Aaron Salkin said the right guard would undergo surgery, perhaps today, and would be fine by the start of the regular season. Tony Wragge is penciled in as the starter in the meantime.
McCloughan said Baas' injury would not affect the way the team approached its first-round selection -- the 29th overall -- Saturday. The 49ers will consider an offensive lineman, but they would have anyway. McCloughan also identified inside linebacker as a priority and said he had no reservations about taking a linebacker in the first round for a second consecutive season.
"Especially in our 3-4, the more 'backers you have (the better)," McCloughan said. "They're usually your playmakers on defense. Again, we're going to carry more 'backers than most teams because of special teams value, as well."
In addition to No. 1 overall pick Jake Long, four other offensive linemen could go in the first 20 picks: Virginia guard Branden Albert, Boise State tackle Ryan Clady, Pittsburgh tackle Jeff Otah and Vanderbilt tackle Chris Williams.
The next best on the list might be Boston College tackle Gosder Cherilus, although it is a tossup as to whether he would be available when the 49ers pick and whether the team would want him. McCloughan declined to comment on specific players, saying only that there were "four or five" linemen worthy of a first-round selection.
If the 49ers choose to go with a linebacker instead, McCloughan said the team is in search of a replacement for Derek Smith, a longtime starter at inside linebacker.
Possibilities at No. 29 could include Tennessee's Jerod Mayo, who ran an impressive 4.54-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. Dan Connor of Penn State is coming off a season in which he was credited with a career-high 145 tackles.
Asked about Quentin Groves, the Auburn outside linebacker the 49ers brought in for a workout earlier this month, McCloughan said: "Size, speed -- he's been very productive in the SEC for 31/2 years."
In other 49ers news:
The NFL's push for a more efficient draft means teams are laying the groundwork for trades earlier than ever. There are only 10 minutes between first-round picks this year instead of 15.
McCloughan said he had talked to four teams already and expected to hear from four more by the end of the day. "There's been more contact this year than ever," he said.
Nolan has already informed Jennings that he would be moving from left tackle to right tackle to make better use of Joe Staley. "I was pleased," Nolan said of Jennings' reaction. "He was more reasonable than I thought. He said he had been anticipating the move."
Smith had shoulder surgery in December, and Nolan said the 49ers would probably hold back on having him make any long throws.
Linebacker Manny Lawson, coming off ACL surgery, will also be handled cautiously during minicamp.
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