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Rolle, Edwards audition to be 49ers' No. 1 pick

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (April 11, 2005) -- From his playing style to his infectious smile, Braylon Edwards is unafraid to compare himself to Terrell Owens -- and the Michigan star would love to become the NFL's next great receiver while wearing Owens' old uniform.

Edwards visited the San Francisco 49ers ' training complex for interviews and meetings. The 49ers have four players on their list of possible selections with the first overall pick in the draft, and Edwards is convinced he deserves the honor.

"I've wanted to be the No. 1 player this whole year, and I definitely want to be the No. 1 player now," he said. "That would be something special."

Though many scouts believe Edwards is the best player in the draft, the 49ers are thought to be leaning toward selecting a quarterback who can be the cornerstone of their rebuilding effort. But Edwards, who grew up rooting for the 49ers from his native Detroit, did his best to change coach Mike Nolan's mind.

"I've always set my goals high, and I believe that being the No. 1 player taken says a lot about what you've done throughout your career and what you're capable of," Edwards said. "Being the No. 1 player taken (would) mean I've done what I'm supposed to do for at least the last four years, and I have the potential to make things happen."

Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle also visited with the 49ers' brass. Utah quarterback Alex Smith will visit April 12, and California quarterback Aaron Rodgers is scheduled for April 13.

Edwards won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver, catching 97 passes for 1,330 yards and 15 touchdowns, including three TD catches in the Rose Bowl.

And Edwards, an outgoing communications major, isn't shy about his pro prospects. With his athleticism, improved hands and strong pedigree -- his father, Stanley, played six NFL seasons and put Braylon on a strict training regimen -- Edwards believes the 49ers could recover from Owens' departure.

Owens fled San Francisco a year ago after eight standout seasons, and the 49ers desperately need a game-breaking receiver. Tight end Eric Johnson led the 2-14 club in catches last season, while two of the top three wideouts from last season -- Cedrick Wilson and Curtis Conway -- won't be back.

"You have to have that confident attitude ... that you can make a play whenever the team may need it," Edwards said. "That's one thing that I know: I have that ability. Terrell Owens is tremendous ballplayer. Despite the shenanigans people talk about, he's a game-time player. ... The bottom line is, he makes plays whenever his team may need it, and that's what I do."

Edwards attended Detroit's Martin Luther King High School with Niners nose tackle Anthony Adams, and their mothers are friends. Adams interrupted his offseason workout to poke fun at his "little brother."

"You can't help (but) notice that he's a great guy and a hard worker," Adams said. "He was a little scrub in high school, but after a while, he shot up. I used to come home and see him all the time, and he got a lot bigger. It wasn't as easy to slam him like I used to."

Adams had nothing but praise for Edwards, whose father once tried to put the stocky defensive lineman through Braylon's regular workout. Adams had to quit after the warmup.

"He was killing me doing stretches," Adams said. "I can imagine how he was with Braylon."

Edwards also has interviewed with Tennessee, Detroit and Chicago, and he's planning to visit Minnesota on April 13.

No defensive back has been chosen with the first pick in the draft since 1956, and Rolle is unlikely to be the next, since the 49ers have much more pressing needs. But the coaching staff was impressed by Rolle at the draft combine -- and if the three offensive players prove tough to sign, or if an unlikely trade allows the Niners to move down a few spots, Rolle could be a target.

"I feel like there's a handful of people who can be the No. 1 pick," Rolle said. "It would be a great accomplishment, a great honor and I would really enjoy that moment, but I think it's just another slot to me. I just want to play."

Rolle already visited Miami and Carolina, and he has interviews planned with Houston, Detroit and Washington.

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