49ers select G Joe Looney in 4th round of draft

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - The San Francisco 49ers selected guard Joe Looney of Wake Forest in the fourth round of the NFL draft Saturday, adding depth to an offensive line that prides itself on a power running game.

The 49ers traded with Detroit to move up and select Looney with the 117th overall pick. San Francisco sent its fourth-round pick (125th) and a sixth-rounder (196th) to the Lions.

The 6-foot-3, 318-pound Looney started at left guard the last three seasons for the Demon Deacons but could have an immediate chance to start on the right side of the line. San Francisco lost right guard Adam Snyder to Arizona in free agency.

"All throughout my career I played left guard in all my games, but in practice I played left guard, right guard," Looney said. "I'm confident I can play any position."

Looney spent part of the offseason working out with former 49ers center Jeremy Newberry (1998-2006), who knows Looney's agent, Andy Ross. The practice should speed up Looney's learning curve in coach Jim Harbaugh's complex version of the West Coast offense.

The pulling guard - a key position in San Francisco's zone-blocking scheme - had a left ankle injury that kept him from working out at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis and Wake Forest's pro day. He said doctors cleared him for full workouts about two weeks ago.

The NFL scouting report is mixed.

Looney, who played center at the Senior Bowl and in high school, is quick off the ball and has the skills to get into the second tier and block linebackers. While he has to make strides in pass protection, Wake Forest often used him as the lead run-blocker, and San Francisco will likely ask him to seal the edge for its stable of backs.

"I love pulling around, coming up on linebackers," he said. "I feel like that's an offensive lineman's time to shine."

Looney's selection followed a series of trades by San Francisco to stockpile future picks.

General manager Trent Baalke parlayed the original 92th overall pick in the third round into five picks. In all, that included a pair of sixth-round selections Saturday - one of which was sent to Detroit - plus a pick in the third, fifth and sixth round in 2013.

The NFC West champion 49ers finished a field goal shy of the Super Bowl and figured it best not to waste early picks this year.

They drafted wide receiver A.J. Jenkins of Illinois in the first round Thursday before selecting Oregon running back LaMichael James on Friday.


Follow Antonio Gonzalez at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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