SANTA CLARA – Four years after they narrowly missed each other in Berkeley, Andre Carter will get to play for Steve Mariucci on the other side of the San Francisco Bay.
Carter, a powerful defensive end who starred at California and Oak Grove High School in the Bay Area, was thrilled to stay home after the 49ers drafted him with the seventh overall pick in the NFL draft Saturday.
The 49ers, who traded up two spots in the first round to snatch Carter away from the Chicago Bears, were just as thrilled to get him.
“Andre will be a centerpiece of this defense,” said general manager Bill Walsh, who wheeled and dealed again in what’s likely his final draft as GM. “He comes out of college more advanced in skill and technique than anyone I’ve ever seen, and it’s because of his father.”
Carter is the son of former Broncos nose tackle and current Jets defensive line coach Rubin Carter, who taught defensive line technique to his son while other children were out playing soccer. Carter was recruited to Cal by Mariucci, but on the day Carter was to sign his letter of intent, Mariucci was hired by the 49ers.
After consulting with his father, Carter went to Cal anyway. He became an All-American while staying in school for four years — a choice that paid off handsomely on Saturday.
“We got the guy we wanted, the guy we had to have,” Mariucci said. “This was a unanimous decision. Everybody in this building from secretaries to groundskeepers were hoping for Andre Carter.”
San Francisco picked Vanderbilt linebacker Jamie Winborn in the second round and Pittsburgh running back Kevan Barlow in the third. The 49ers have five picks in the draft’s remaining four rounds, but assistant general manager Terry Donahue said the team likely will try to trade up Sunday.
“It’s exciting to get a local guy who brings (Carter’s) talent and work ethic,” Donahue said. “It’s nice to keep him at home. People say that isn’t a big deal ... but we think it is.”
The 49ers hope to team Carter with stalwart Pro Bowler Bryant Young and free agent defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield — who might sign with San Francisco any day now — in what would be a drastically revamped and improved defensive line. One of the 49ers’ weaknesses last season could quickly become a strength.
“I can just say I take pride in playing for the 49ers,” said Carter, who was in Maryland when he got the news. “I’m blessed. There’s so many emotions. I like the 49ers’ (defensive line). They play with fire and passion, especially Bryant Young. I’m just excited and ready to go.”