Rookie surprise: 49ers LB Scott McKillop


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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Few unheralded rookies in the NFC West have made significant contributions to their teams in the first four weeks of the regular season.

Scott McKillop, a fifth-round choice from Pitt, scored a touchdown on special teams Sunday to earn NFC West honors as the rookie surprise among players drafted after the first two rounds or not drafted at all.

"He came up big getting the ball in the end zone and scoring a touchdown," coach Mike Singletary said.

Singletary praised McKillop among several 49ers players, including Patrick Willis, for their efforts during a 35-0 victory over the Rams in Week 4. The team would like McKillop to eventually develop as a successor to Takeo Spikes at inside linebacker. Whether or not that happens, McKillop has already done something no other rookie in the NFC West has accomplished: score a touchdown.

The Rams and 49ers were scoreless deep into the second quarter when Andy Lee's punt struck the Rams' Quincy Butler in the leg at the St. Louis 20. Butler kicked the ball toward the end zone, where a hustling McKillop pounced on it. The touchdown gave the 49ers a 7-0 lead heading into halftime. The score remained 7-0 until the 49ers broke open the game during the second half of the third quarter.

I considered 49ers running back Glen Coffee as a potential surprise rookie, but he was a third-round choice, so expectations were higher, and Coffee hasn't been especially impressive or surprising since replacing an injured Frank Gore in the starting lineup.