The minicamp wrapup
Cornerback Mike Rumph got bad on a motor scooter
Cornerback Mike Rumph got bad on a motor scooter

Posted May 4, 2003


News, notes, quotes and anecdotes from 49erland after Sunday's final session of the team's three-day minicamp at Niners headquarters, which featured the first full-squad practices of the Dennis Erickson era:

--- Now Erickson knows the 49ers. And they know him. The Niners and their new head coach had a chance to get better acquainted over the weekend, and it looked like the beginning of a strong relationship. Several players met Erickson for the first time this week, and by the time the team left the field Sunday - many of them to return in two weeks for another spring minicamp - it felt like any transition period under the new coach already was over.

--- Evidence of above statement, Take 1: "I love the leadership of the veteran group that was here, how they practiced and the intensity level that they practiced at," Erickson said. "I'm really impressed with that and I can see why they've been successful here. You come in new and you're trying to see where your football team is at. And then when you see leadership like that, as far as practice ethic, it's something I was really happy with. I'm just getting to know them. You don't have any problems when you have a work ethic like these guys have."

--- Evidence, Take 2: "Everyone is excited about our new coach and is rallying around him," running back Kevan Barlow said. "You notice the difference. I can tell from the head coach to the position coach. You definitely know (Erickson) wants to go out there and win. That's definitely what he came here to do. He keeps saying it over and over, he wants to win a Super Bowl championship. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it."

--- Evidence, Take 3: "Great guy," third-round draft pick Andrew Williams said of Erickson. "You can't get no better. He's been there. He's done big things, he's coached at both levels and he knows a lot about the game. With him and the rest of his coaching staff, he's going to make me and everyone else better."

--- Erickson definitely is taking charge as a man and coach who plays it straight and is true to his own style and convictions. When asked if he felt any lingering pressure of succeeding Steve Mariucci - regarded as a popular "players coach" during his time with the Niners - while spending his first weekend with the team, Erickson said: "No, not at all. It didn't bother me at all. I've done it before. I just know that I am who I am and I coach like I coach and that's just how it is. I've never had any problems any place I've been." So far, no problems here, either.

--- By adding University of Miami products Williams and Ken Dorsey in the draft, the Niners are starting to get a bit of a Miami flavor - from the top on down. Erickson, of course, coached the Hurricanes to national championships in 1989 and 1991. Cornerback Mike Rumph, who won a national championship of his own last year before becoming the Niners' first-round pick in the April draft, can't stop grinning about this pleasant development. "All the Miami guys here, I just can't stop smiling whenever I see them."

--- Rumph had a scary accident a couple of weeks ago when he and a group of other 49ers were in Hawaii for a fundraising event - and he's got the scars to show for it. Rumph was driving a motor scooter 35 mph on a sidewalk when he wiped out on some gravel while attempting to make a turn. "Before I knew it, my face was sliding on the ground," said Rumph, who had to make a trip to the hospital for treatment and stitches above his lip. He still has deep abrasions on his face and hands, but otherwise he says he's fine.

--- The feeling before minicamp was that the Niners had a decent draft, but now it is looking better than that - and perhaps much better. Each of the team's seven draft picks impressed during the three-day session and caught the eyes of coaches and most other observers. Erickson, not one for hyperbole, hesitated to go overboard, noting that nobody is wearing pads yet. But he did offer, "Actually, it was a good group. We're excited about all of them, really."

--- And it's already time to start getting excited about first-round pick Kwame Harris. First impressions suggest the offensive tackle from Stanford is the real deal. He moved effortlessly on the field and already was up to speed among pro players by the time camp ended. He looked so big, fast and athletic during team drills Sunday that it makes one imagine how good this intelligent 20-year-old could become once he gets some age, pads and experience on him. "Particularly, Harris has got a chance," Erickson said. "He's very athletic, you can see that. As big as he is and as athletic, we put him at left tackle from Day One and he made the adjustment just like that." Harris played right tackle at Stanford, but he's soon to become a fixture on the left side of San Francisco's line.

--- Starting right cornerback Jason Webster, who aggravated his previously-injured left ankle when he slipped on wet turf in Friday's first session, told SFI on Sunday that he will be taking the cautious approach the rest of this spring to make sure the ankle is 100 percent by training camp. Webster sprained the ankle in the season finale last year and missed the Niners' two ensuing playoff games. "It's healed (since then), but not completely," Webster said. "That's what we're trying to work on now, to get it right." That may require surgery, though Webster doesn't think it's to that point yet. But, "That's possible," he said. "We're just kind of keeping the options open now, talking (to doctors) and seeing what's the best thing to do for it. We'll pull out all the stops to get it ready for training camp." When asked if he'll be sitting out the team's next minicamp on May 17-19, Webster said, "It's pretty safe to say at this point."

--- The Niners come out of minicamp with their uncertain depth at receiver looking much better. Tai Streets looked sensational and appears primed to improve on his breakout season of last year. Rookie draft picks Brandon Lloyd and Arnaz Battle "showed some stuff," Erickson said, but when asked generally about camp standouts, the coach singled out receivers Cedrick Wilson and James Jordan, the team's Nos. 4 and 5 wideouts last year who both look ready to move up in the rotation and keep the talented rookies on the bench. "I was really impressed with them," Erickson said. "Cedrick Wilson had a real good camp, as did James Jordan. It's a position obviously that we've got to develop some depth. Obviously, somebody is going to have to step up."

It looks like a few guys already have.



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