BOONE — Appalachian State senior defensive end Ronald Blair will have a chance to be a key part of the San Francisco 49ers future after he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft on Saturday.
Blair, a native of Greensboro, Georgia, became the 26th player from App State to be selected in the annual NFL Draft. Blair is the first to be drafted since Demetrius McCray was chosen in the seventh round by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013.
Blair was picked 142nd overall and was the first Sun Belt Conference player drafted during the three-day event.
During the 2015 season, Blair led the Sun Belt with 19 tackles for loss and was second in the conference in sacks with 7.5. He finished the season with 71 total tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and an interception returned for a touchdown, a 30-yard pick six in the three-overtime win over Troy.
Blair finished up his Mountaineer career with 53.5 tackles for loss, good enough for fifth best in school history, and 20.5 sacks, a mark that ranks him 10th in App State history.
Blair will join former Mountaineer Daniel Kilgore on the 49ers team and is the eighth Mountaineer to be on an NFL roster. Kilgore was also a fifth round pick by the 49ers in 2011 and received a three-year contract extension in 2014 that will most likely keep him in San Francisco until at least the end of the 2017 season.
The 49ers had 11 draft picks and Blair was the only defensive lineman they chose. He will begin his professional career playing for head coach Chip Kelly, who will also be starting his first season as a head coach in San Francisco after a lackluster showing in Philadelphia resulted in his dismissal.
While Blair was the only Mountaineer that saw his name called in the NFL Draft, five other former App State players have already inked undrafted free agent contracts as of Saturday night. Defensive back Doug Middleton (New York Jets), wide receiver Malachi Jones (Atlanta Falcons), wide receiver Simms McElfresh (Detroit Lions), wide receiver Bobo Beathard (Arizona Cardinals) and offensive lineman Davante Harris (Indianapolis Colts) have all reached deals with NFL teams.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87