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Niners' staff to coach at Senior Bowl for third straight year

MOBILE, Ala. -– Under Armour Senior Bowl fans will see plenty of familiar faces on the South team sideline during the 2008 contest, as San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Nolan and his staff have been selected to coach the Senior Bowl's South team for the third straight year, bowl officials announced on Friday.

Senior Bowl gold rush


The 49ers' staff will coach at the Senior Bowl for the third straight season. In the past two years they have taken 10 players that they coached in the Senior Bowl. Joe Staley is a starting OT and these three players have also made an impact:

**Patrick Willis**, LB
Total tackles: 1

Solo tackles: 1,658

Passes defensed: 5

Forced fumbles: 7

**Michael Robinson**, RB
Rushing yards: 121

Per carry average: 4.7

Catches: 11

Receiving yards: 73

* Manny Lawson, LB
Total tackles: 57

Solo tackles: 47

Sacks: 2.5

Interceptions: 1

* 2006 stats, Lawson was hurt most of 2007

Through the Senior Bowl's working agreement with the National Football League, the NFL office selects coaching staffs for the two teams of top NFL Draft prospects that participate in the event each year. The North team coaching staff will be from the Oakland Raiders.

"I think coaching the Senior Bowl is a great opportunity and a blessing for the entire San Francisco 49ers organization," Nolan said. "It's the best way to evaluate players that I've come to know. I think it's an exciting game, and it's an exciting bunch of players -- 95 to 100 percent of the players make a team in the NFL, so that's huge."

The 49ers have certainly made the most of their recent opportunities to serve as a coaching staff in the 2006 and 2007 Senior Bowls.

In 2007, the 49ers selected six Senior Bowl players in the draft, more than any other NFL team, and the group included both of their 2007 first-round draft picks in linebacker Patrick Willis, named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year on Friday, and offensive lineman Joe Staley. The others included wide receiver Jason Hill, defensive ends Ray McDonald and Jay Moore, and running back Thomas Clayton.

In the 2006 NFL Draft, the club selected four Senior Bowl players including defensive end Manny Lawson, a first-round pick, and running back Mike Robinson.

"For us to have an opportunity to coach those guys and evaluate them first-hand in meetings, get to know them, eat with them and do all those things for an entire week puts us one up in the evaluation process" Nolan said. "Last year we had a chance to get a close look at both of our first round picks in Patrick Willis and Joe Staley. It is just a great opportunity."

Entering the 2007 NFL season, over 575 former Senior Bowl players were listed on the active rosters of the 32 NFL clubs, and the 49ers featured more former Senior Bowl players than any other team with 25. That list included several 49ers starters such as recently retired Pro Bowl defensive lineman Bryant Young, 11-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Larry Allen, wide receiver Arnaz Battle and safety Michael Lewis.

In addition to their coaching staff, the 49ers will also be bringing their training, video and equipment staffs to Mobile to maximize the many benefits that the players will receive through their participation in the Senior Bowl.

Named the 15th head coach in team history on January 19, 2005, Nolan recently completed his third season as head coach of the 49ers. He joined the 49ers following a distinguished 17-year career as an NFL assistant, most recently as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

The Senior Bowl is the nation's most unique football game and football's premier pre-draft event, annually featuring the country's best senior collegiate football stars and top NFL draft prospects on teams representing the North and South which are coached by the entire coaching staffs from two National Football League teams.

Senior Bowl practices are also attended by over 800 general managers, head coaches, assistant coaches, scouts and other front office personnel from the 32 National Football League teams.

The 2008 Under Armour Senior Bowl will kickoff at 3:00 p.m. on January 26 and the game and its practice sessions will be nationally televised by the NFL Network.

Tickets sell for $24, $18 and $12 each and can be purchased at all area Food World stores, selected Regions Bank branches, the Senior Bowl ticket office in the Riverview Plaza Hotel and through the bowl's website at

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