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SEIFERT HIGH ON HIS 2 1ST-ROUND DRAFT CHOICES

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Excuse 49ers Coach George Seifert if he sounds biased when assessing Bryant Young and William Floyd as NFL defensive and offensive rookie-of-the-year candidates.

At least Seifert is realistic."Bryant Young should be the defensive rookie of the year," Seifert said this week, echoing the sentiment of others around the NFL. "I can't imagine anyone playing more effective defensively than he has."

As for Floyd: "He's had a great year, but he's up against Marshall Faulk, who is quite heralded," Seifert said of the Indianapolis running back. "Personally, I'd vote for (Floyd)."

Actually, Seifert doesn't get a vote. Three media members from each NFL city do, and the awards are announced Wednesday. Nevertheless, the media will be careful to note that it is rare for a team to receive such high-level contributions from rookies on each side of the line of scrimmage.

And that's just part of the rookie story for the 49ers. When the contributions of starting outside linebacker Lee Woodall are considered, the 49ers might have their best rookie class since pass-rushing linebacker Charles Haley and cornerbacks Tim McKyer and Don Griffin all made an immediate impact in 1986.

Young is the best of this group and could follow the path of teammate Dana Stubblefield, who won the 1993 defensive award.

That observation comes from Jack Faulkner, the Los Angeles Rams' pro personnel director. The Rams made a draft-day trade that sent the No. 7 pick overall to the 49ers, and that move allowed the 49ers to select Young out of Notre Dame.

"Young is a better first-year player than Stubblefield was, and Stubblefield is an outstanding player," Faulkner said. "Young is a polished kid, which is special for a rookie."

While not quite as big a lock for the award on defense as Faulk is on offense, Young appears to be head and shoulders above the other candidates, such as Miami defensive tackle Tim Bowens and Minnesota cornerback DeWayne Washington.

"He's a high-intensity guy with a lot of savvy," said Chuck Connor, Atlanta's pro personnel director, who also liked Young as defensive rookie of the year. "He's hard to fool, and his statistics are comparable to Stubblefield."

Young has six sacks, second on the team to team-leader Stubblefield, who has 81/2, but Young refuses to get caught up in defensive rookie-of-the-year hype.

"If I get it, great," said Young, who plays next to Stubblefield in the 49ers' four-linemen, three-linebackers alignment. "I'm not worried about that. I didn't put that pressure on myself. There's enough pressure being the seventh pick."

Young was the third defensive player chosen, behind No. 1 pick Dan Wilkinson, a bust with Cincinnati, and No. 4 selection Willie McGinest, who is emerging as a fierce pass rusher after a slow start with New England.

"I might see a game or two and check them out," Young said of his rookie competition, "but I don't get caught up to see who is better than who."

Floyd and others say he is a long shot for the offensive award because he plays fullback instead of the more glorious halfback or tailback position and because he did not become a starter until Game 6.

"Really, he's just what they needed to go with (Ricky) Watters," Faulkner said. "Running backs must have the opportunity to show what they can do. If Floyd carried the ball more, who knows?"

As it is, he has 298 yards rushing, 18 catches for 136 yards and six touchdowns overall.

"We look at our fullbacks as blockers, receivers and runners, and he's all those," said Allan Webb, the 49ers' pro personnel director.

Besides, fullbacks rarely receive honors unless they carry the ball 30 times as Earl Campbell did in the late 1970s and early '80s.