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April 29, 2011

The San Francisco 49ers selected South Carolina defensive back Chris Culliver with the 16th pick in the third round of the NFL Draft, the 80th pick overall, Friday. He is the first Gamecock to be selected in this year’s draft.

Culliver, a six-foot, 198-pound cornerback from Garner, N.C., started seven of the first eight games for the Gamecocks in 2010 before suffering a season-ending injury (torn pectoral) vs. Tennessee. He finished his career as South Carolina’s all-time leader in kickoff returns (106) and kick return yardage (2,476) and was third in SEC history in kick returns and kick return yards. He was named to the 2010 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll and was invited to the NFL Combine following the season.

Culliver was a second-team All-SEC pick by the Associated Press as a junior free safety in 2009 when he finished the season with 62 tackles and nine pass breakups. Despite starting his collegiate career as a wide receiver, Culliver finished his Gamecock career with 156 tackles and three interceptions with 14 pass breakups. He also forced three fumbles and recovered one.

Culliver became the highest Gamecock selected in the draft since Sidney Rice went to the Minnesota Vikings in the second round with the 44th pick overall in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Rounds four through seven of the draft will take place on Saturday.