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Iupati goes to 49ers

by From news and wire services
| April 23, 2010 9:00 PM

Mike Iupati, Idaho's All-American offensive guard, was selected in the first round of Thursday's NFL draft, taken by the San Francisco 49ers with the 17th overall selection.

Iupati, who was at home in California with his family, said he knew moments before the nationally televised announcement that his name would be next.

"Right when I got the call, I was so excited," said Iupati, who was shown on ESPN awaiting the announcement, then shown hugging his parents and other family members. "It was very emotional."

It marked the end of a long day for Iupati, who said his mom woke him at 6:30 a.m. to make sure everything was in order for the arrival of the television crews and a house full of company.

"I waited and waited and waited," he said. "I wasn't really nervous."

Iupati, who didn't play football until he was 14, became Idaho's highest draft choice since Ray McDonald was the 13th selection in the 1967 draft. He leaves Idaho as the most decorated player in school history as a consensus All-American and an Outland Trophy finalist. He also was part of a revitalized Vandal football team that won the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl.

"I'm very excited for Mike," Idaho coach Robb Akey said. "I'm excited for his family. I know he has a great future."

San Francisco coach Mike Singletary described Iupati as a "devastating" blocker.

In Iupati, the 49ers acquired a prospect widely considered the top offensive guard in the draft. He is one of the most physically dominant guards coming out of college.

"I just come off the ball fast and physical, so I try to attack my opponents," Iupati said. "I can play anything. I just need the repetitions. I know I played guard in college and in high school, but I know I can transition outside if they need me. Anywhere the coaches want me to play, I can play for them."

San Francisco drafted two offensive linemen in the first round. The 49ers took Rutgers offensive tackle Anthony Davis after trading up to get the 11th pick.

"Do I expect them to start? Yes I do," Singletary said. "We're hoping that soon they can work their way in there. That's why we brought them in here."

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