SANTA CLARA (CBS / AP) — The San Francisco 49ers began to build depth and future picks on the final day of the NFL draft.
They used their final pick of the NFL draft to select defensive end Cam Johnson of Virginia.
The 49ers took Johnson in the seventh round and 237th overall Saturday. Johnson had four sacks and 30 tackles, including 11 for a loss, last year for the Cavaliers.
The 6-foot-3, 268-pound lineman will likely shift to a pass-rushing outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s 3-4 scheme. He played in an upright stance at linebacker previously before moving to defensive end in a 4-3 system last season.
San Francisco’s first-round pick a year ago, Aldon Smith, made a similar transition.
San Francisco selected guard Joe Looney of Wake Forest, Notre Dame linebacker Darius Fleming and Michigan State free safety Trenton Robinson on Saturday while stockpiling spots in next year’s draft with a series of trades.
After trading back three straight picks, the 49ers move up to select Looney with the 117th overall pick in the fourth round. San Francisco sent its fourth-round pick (125th) and a sixth-rounder (196th) to Detroit.
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 Dr. Bob Anderson — the same specialist to perform surgery on Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry’s right ankle last year — in Charlotte cleared him for full workouts about two weeks ago.
The NFL scouting report on Looney 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 add 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 overload with late picks who probably won’t make a talented roster this fall. The 49ers also drafted wide receiver A.J. Jenkins of Illinois in the first round Thursday before selecting Oregon running back LaMichael James on Friday.
Fleming’s selection made it three straight players Harbaugh had faced while Stanford’s coach.
Fleming had 55 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks, one interception and one forced fumble for the Fighting Irish last season. He will likely land in a special teams role if he hopes to make the final roster.
San Francisco has perhaps the NFL’s best linebacker corps, with All-Pros Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman and sensational rookie Aldon Smith, among others. Even though he will be half a continent away from his native Chicago, Fleming should feel right at home.
He was a college roommate of San Francisco linebacker Ian Williams, and the two are close friends. Fleming, who wanted to avoid the agony of watching the draft, was stuck in Chicago traffic when Harbaugh called him to deliver the news.
“I was actually rolling pretty well and then once I got the call traffic hit,” Fleming said. “I’m fine with being stuck in traffic now that I’m a 49er.”
San Francisco took Robinson in the sixth round with the 180th overall pick. Robinson 76 tackles last season and his nine interceptions are tied for 12th in school history.
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