The NFL draft is both silly and beautiful. It is silly because of what happened Friday night in the third round when the 49ers drafted an outside linebacker named Corey Lemonier from Auburn.
On an ensuing conference call with reporters, Lemonier said he was thrilled to be drafted by the team and get a phone call from "John Harbaugh."
How's that? A reporter informed Lemonier that the 49ers are coached by Jim Harbaugh -- not John Harbaugh, who is with the Baltimore Ravens.
"Oh, my goodness, I'm so sorry," said Lemonier. "I can't even think right now. I'm so sorry."
Don't apologize, young man. There are 32 coaches in the NFL. It's easy to get them mixed up. The most important thing now is for Lemonier is for him to start learning about the 49er traditions established by their legendary coach, Joe Walsh.
Former University of Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden, left, and General Manager Reggie McKenzie hold Hayden's jersey during a press conference announcing the Oakland Raiders' 2013 first-round draft pick at the Oakland Raiders headquarters in Alameda, Calif., on Friday, April 26, 2013. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Never mind. The beautiful part of the NFL draft is, for all of the blather and smoke, the event is a truth serum of sorts. Teams can lie and mislead all they want before the draft. But when it comes time to pick, they tell you what they really believe they need. And you can learn a lot.
Here is what we learned Friday: The Raiders still have a little of that old Al Davis go-against-the-grain nature in them, for all of general manager Reggie McKenzie's efforts to "normalize" the team's front office. With the second round pick they acquired in Thursday's trade, the Raiders drafted an offensive tackle who grew up in England and had never played American football until two years ago. Bully for the Silver and Black, I say. The Raiders have The Raiders have employed many interesting characters over the years. But they have never previously employed a 6-foot-5, 310-pound player who talks like a Beatle. McKenzie clearly sees potential in the raw kid from Florida State -- who is not really a kid. Watson is 24 years old. This could turn out terrific or terrible. But it's a bold statement. It's also a statement that McKenzie has confidence in Tony Sparano, the Raiders' offensive line coach, to tutor Watson. First lesson: Make friends with those jolly painted-face chaps in the Black Hole, mate. We learned that Cal receiver Keenan Allen will not be forced to start his professional career in the Canadian League or the Arena League. A few months ago, Allen was projected as a first-round pick but kept slipping, slipping, slipping down the board because of a lingering knee injury and murky other issues. Finally, he was selected by San Diego, his hometown team, in the third round as the 76th overall pick. If Allen is a true football player and not the poser his skeptics believe him to be, he'll keep his mouth shut and try to show all 31 other teams they were wrong to pass him up. The 49ers continued to be draft pick hoarders. They were originally supposed to make the second pick in Friday's second round but traded down again and acquired additional later picks. It's nothing new for the franchise and general manager Trent Baalke. He seems to approach the other NFL teams as if they are payday loan customers, leaving them perpetually in debt to the 49ers with more and more picks. The state assembly is investigating potential anti-draft-pick-hoarding legislation. Baalke just keeps smiling.
The big advantage of being a draft pick hoarder, of course, is that you can use one of your many picks to take a slight risk. That's probably what the 49ers did when, with the draft's 40th selection, they called the name of Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, a defensive lineman from Florida State (where he was a teammate of the Raiders' Watson). In Carradine's last college game, he sustained a torn anterior cruciate right knee ligament. Baalke admitted "it remains to be seen" whether Carradine will be able to hit training camp with a totally rehabbed knee. But the team is willing to be patient. Meanwhile, Carradine easily wins the rookie nickname competition. Explained the Tank: "My mom gave the nickname to me. When I was a kid, I always had a toy army tank I'd carry around and always use it to 'run over' people. So she started calling me 'Tank.' '' Carradine said his mother still has the toy tank back home in Cincinnati, where he grew up. When he signs his contract, of course, Carradine should be able to afford bigger toys. The Raiders, with their third-round pick, went the safe route and chose Connecticut linebacker Sio Moore at No. 66 overall. He was a three-year starter for the Huskies, has played football his entire life and does not speak with a British accent. Moore's participation in the Senior Bowl also allowed the Raider coaching staff — who worked the game — to spend much time with him. It's the same scenario that took place with 49er linebacker Patrick Willis in his senior bowl appearance with the 49er coaching staff before the team selected him. Moore may not become another Willis, but the bet here is that he won't be a bust.
Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, right, introduces Eric Reid as the San Francisco 49ers announce their first round draft pick during a press conference at Niner headquarters in Santa Clara Friday, April 26, 2013.(Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)
Contact Mark Purdy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MercPurdy.