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Frank Gore was a freshman running back at the University of Miami when Scot McCloughan made up his mind.
McCloughan was the Seattle Seahawks director of college scouting when he made a visit to Miami and was first introduced to Gore, whose pro prospects were dealt serious blows with devastating injuries to both knees while in college.
In his first season as 49ers vice president of football operations, McCloughan made the call to select Gore with the first pick of the third round. Sports Illustrated called Gore the most overrated running back in that class.
The 49ers are still reaping the benefits of that decision. This week, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh -- perhaps, expressing some qualities that drew McCloughan to Gore -- spoke of his first meeting with the franchise's all-time leading rusher after he’d been named head coach in 2011.
“I think he is a mystical man,” Harbaugh said. “I think he sees things that we don't, I don't, we don't see. He’s got a spiritual connection and he can be inward, he can think about things, or he can walk up and down the sideline and talk to anybody that’s on the sideline. We're showered with his attributes and his character and just the kind of man he is.”
Eleven players were acquired during McCloughan’s five seasons as the 49ers’ top personnel guy. That list includes six of the 49ers’ eight Pro Bowl players: Gore, tight end Vernon Davis, linebacker Patrick Willis, left tackle Joe Staley, defensive end Justin Smith and linebacker Ahmad Brooks.
McCloughan left the 49ers just five weeks before the 2010 draft – a parting that CEO Jed York said was “mutual” and for “private personnel reasons.” Trent Baalke was promoted to the team's chief of personnel. He took over as general manager and hired Harbaugh in January 2011.
Several months following his departure from the 49ers – and after that year’s draft – McCloughan returned to the Seahawks in June 2010 to serve as senior personnel executive under general manager John Schneider.
It’s far more difficult to track McCloughan’s contributions toward building the Seahawks, who will play the 49ers on Sunday in the NFC Championship game. But it's clear that nobody has more intimate knowledge of more players on both teams than McCloughan.
“It’s probably not good (to talk) this week," McCloughan told CSNBayArea.com in declining an interview request.
McCloughan this week passed up a potential opportunity to return to a general manager position. McCloughan requested that the Seahawks deny permission to the Miami Dolphins, who sought to interview him for their vacant general manger job.
McCloughan has been with the Seahawks for three drafts. They selected cornerback Richard Sherman (2011) in the fifth round and quarterback Russell Wilson (2012) in the third round. Thirty-nine players on the Seahawks’ roster have been acquired since 2011.
Here’s a look at how the 49ers’ roster has been formed with the team’s top personnel executive and head coach through the years:
Terry Donahue/Dennis Erickson (2003-04)
P Andy Lee, 2004, sixth round
Scot McCloughan/Mike Nolan (2005-08)
RB Frank Gore, 2005, third round
G Adam Snyder, 2005, third round
TE Vernon Davis, 2006, first round
LB Patrick Willis, 2007, first round
LT Joe Staley, 2007, first round
DE Ray McDonald, 2007, third round
CB Tarell Brown, 2007, fifth round
DE Justin Smith, 2008, free agent
Scot McCloughan/Mike Singletary (2008-09)
LB Ahmad Brooks, 2008, waiver claim
WR Michael Crabtree, 2009, first round
T Alex Boone, 2009, undrafted rookie
Trent Baalke/Mike Singletary (2010)
T Anthony Davis, first round
G Mike Iupati, first round
LB NaVorro Bowman, third round
RB Anthony Dixon, sixth round
CB Tramaine Brock, undrafted rookie
DB C.J. Spillman, waiver claim
Trent Baalke/Jim Harbaugh (2011-current)
LB Aldon Smith, 2011, first round
QB Colin Kaepernick, 2011, second round
CB Chris Culliver, 2011, third round
RB Kendall Hunter, 2011, fourth round
G Daniel Kilgore, 2011, fifth round
DE Demarcus Dobbs, 2011, undrafted rookie
CB Carlos Rogers, 2011, free agent
C Jonathan Goodwin, 2011, free agent
S Donte Whitner, 2011, free agent
LB Michael Wilhoite, 2011, free agent
RB LaMichael James, 2012, second round
OL Joe Looney, 2012, fourth round
DT Tony Jerod-Eddie, 2012, undrafted rookie
TE Garrett Celek, 2102, undrafted rookie
WR Anquan Boldin, 2013, trade
DL Glenn Dorsey, 2013, free agent
LB Dan Skuta, 2013, free agent
S Craig Dahl, 2013, free agent
K Phil Dawson, 2013, free agent
QB Colt McCoy, 2013, trade
S Eric Reid, 2013, first round
TE Vance McDonald, 2013, second round
OLB Corey Lemonier, 2013, third round
WR Quinton Patton, 2013, fourth round
DL Quinton Dial, 2013, fifth round
LB Nick Moody, 2013, sixth round
LS Kevin McDermott, 2013, undrafted rookie
(OL Adam Snyder, 2013, free agent, originally 2005 draft)
S Bubba Ventrone, 2013, free agent
CB Eric Wright, 2013, free agent
WR Jon Baldwin, 2013, trade
WR Kassim Osgood, 2013, free agent
TE Derek Carrier, 2013, free agent
OG Ryan Seymour, 2013, free agent
FB Will Tukuafu, 2013, free agent
CB Perrish Cox, 2013, free agent
Players on injured reserve with NFL experience
CB Chris Culliver, 2011, third round
FB Bruce Miller, 2011, seventh round
NT Ian Williams, 2011, undrafted rookie
WR Mario Manningham, 2012, free agent
In line image of Frank Gore provided by the Associated Press