His colleagues call him impatient with mere mortals, abrasive and egotistical, but few will dispute Joe Thomas' talent as a casting director.
The general manager of the San Francisco 49ers was conceded yesterday, by clearly impartial experts, as having "won" the two-day draft of college players by National Football League clubs.
Including deals leading up the the draft, Thomas has just about made over the 49ers as he did three previous clubs, the expansion franchises at Minnesota and Miami and the Baltimore Colts.
He brought speed, the sport's best runner, and a needed gate attraction to the 49ers when he traded for O.J. Simpson. He picked up more speed and an instant remedy for his special teams by acquiring kick returners-wide receivers Freddie Solomon from Miami and Larry Jones from Washington.
Then he used one of two first-round draft choices Tuesday to grab off 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end Ken MacAfee of Notre Dame "to get O.J. around the corner" with his blocking.
In his first eigth picks in six rounds, Thomas selected two players other than MacAfee rated to be sure starters, center Walt Downing of Michigan in the second round and guard Ernie Hughes of Notre Dame in the third.
On the fourth round, he chose a speed receiver, Terry LeCount of Florida, who may chase into retirement nine-season veteran Gener Washington. In the sixth round he took running back Elliott Walker of Pittsburgh, merely rated "good."
The opposition may wonder more about other choices who were not quite big names. Thomas' second pick in the first round went for linebacker Dan Bunz of Long Beach State. Defensive tackle Archie Reese of Clemson was taken as the first of two fifth-round selections, with defensive back Bruce Threadgill of Mississippi the other.
Thomas' success now will rest on his hand-picked rookie head coach, Pete McCulley, former Colts and Redskins receivers coach, and quarter-back Jim Plunkett.
George Allen's Los Angeles Rams will be watched to see how their deal for Elvis Peacock of Oklahoma works out. Despite glowing scouting reports on the running back, Peacock was still available after 19 selections on the first round.
The Rams traded their 23rd selection in first round to Cleveland, plus a fourth-round choice obtained from the Redskins under Allen, for the Browns' 20th pick in the first round and took Peacock.
A league spokesman speculated that peacock lasted so long in the draft because he was in and out of the Oklahoma lineup last season with a shoulder injury.
"We understand he is quite sound now that he has had a chance to rest the shoulder," the spokesman said, "and I would think the Rams would have given him a physical examination before drafting him. Obviously, he will play hurt"
Peacock is 6-1 and 220 pounds, yet runs 40 yards in 4.4 seconds. His college rushing average was 6.2 yards. If the Rams have outsmarted the rest of the clubs and have an entirely recovered athlete, Peacock is expected to crowd Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelleti.
The Pittsburgh Steelers made a trade that indicated they are trying to reduce the disruptions blamed for their troubles last season. They dealt six-season veteran defensive tackle Ernie (Fats) Holmes to Tampa Bay for a 10th and an 11th-round choice. Holmes was a team rebel and had a few