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49ers’ draft preview: many needs and many underwhelming options

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 02:07:09 UT

Though most NFL teams have done strategic shopping, the 49ers are buying in bulk this offseason. [...] general manager John Lynch has made it clear he’s willing to deal the No. 2 overall pick before the NFL draft begins Thursday to add to the 10-selection stash. [...] the 49ers’ host of needs, coupled with the fact that there’s no consensus second-best player after Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, means their No. 2 pick could be a safety (LSU’s Jamal Adams or Ohio State’s Malik Hooker). Or a defensive lineman (Stanford’s Solomon Thomas or Alabama’s Jonathan Allen). Or a cornerback (Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore) or a running back (LSU’s Leonard Fournette) or an inside linebacker (Alabama’s Reuben Foster) ... Shanahan and Lynch have been working in tandem to overhaul the roster, and their first-year status has added another layer of mystery as to how their initial draft will unfold. Two prime examples are players who have been dogged by injuries: center Daniel Kilgore, a 2011 fifth-round pick who signed a three-year contract extension in 2014, and running back Carlos Hyde, a 2014 second-round pick. [...] both Shanahan and Lynch have offered measured praise of Hyde, which has helped fuel speculation they are seriously considering Fournette with their first pick. When asked on a conference call about the Jaguars possibly targeting Fournette at No. 4, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout, mentioned the 49ers as a logical suitor. [...] it’s possible the 49ers have fallen for one of the quarterbacks, despite what many are viewing as an underwhelming class, and won’t risk missing a franchise savior. Or they might want to upgrade the secondary in their new 4-3 defense in an attempt to mirror Seattle’s formidable back end. Or they might like the idea of adding yet another first-round pick to a defensive line to create a potentially dominant unit. No one knows what the first-time head coach and GM have in mind as they continue to collect players in massive quantities. New defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has said his 4-3 defense needs an elite pass rusher at the “Leo” spot.



49ers not on MNF for first time since 2006

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 18:10:27 UT

The 49ers are no longer a marquee team. If last year’s 2-14 eyesore didn’t hammer the point home, this year’s schedule serves as another reminder: For the first time since 2006, the 49ers won’t play a game on “Monday Night Football.” [...] the 49ers are one of six teams that won’t play a prime-time game on a Sunday or Monday. The other not ready-for-prime-timers: the Bills, Browns, Jaguars, Jets and Rams - a quintet that sported a 20-60 combined record last year. The 49ers, who have won an NFL-best 48 MNF games, won’t play on Sunday night for the second straight year after making eight appearances from 2012-15. In 2006, the last time the 49ers didn’t appear on MNF, they were coming off a 4-12 season and had a star-starved roster that included not-yet-established running back Frank Gore and quarterback Alex Smith. Here are the 49ers’ MNF results from 2007-2016: Rams, 28-0, W Vikings, 20-3, W 10-13-14: at Rams, 31-17, W



Heat to greet the 49ers in the early season

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 21:23:05 UT

This year’s 49ers’ schedule provides the team a fighting chance, particularly in the early part of the season. The NFL announced their league wide schedule on Thursday. Last year, the 49ers played the Rams on Monday night, then they traversed the country to play Carolina, the reigning NFC champs at the time, for an early Sunday game. That two-game stanza set up a completely non competitive situation for the 49ers under new coach Chip Kelly. Understandably, the 49ers were drubbed in Carolina 48-27 and they also got waxed in Seattle the next week, 37-18. That sent the team on a franchise record 13-game losing streak. Obviously, the 49ers would have



Trading the second overall pick might be difficult for the 49ers

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 19:45:34 UT

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch, right, gestures beside head coach Kyle Shanahan during an NFL football news conference Friday, March 10, 2017, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) So what’s behind 49ers general manager John Lynch declaring his team is “open for business” when it comes to dealing the second overall pick? “We’ll listen to anything,” Lynch professed last week in a meeting with local media members. “But I’ve always said you don’t like being a 2-14 team, but you like having the second pick. Because I think it puts you in the driver’s seat. (There are) a lot of options at (our) disposal. And we’ll explore



49ers’ John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan seeking more from Carlos Hyde

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 03:15:35 UT

The general manager and head coach are on the same page when it comes to running back Carlos Hyde. Last month, at the NFL combine, they parroted each other as they described the 2014 second-round pick as a promising work in progress after three NFL seasons. [...] that not-quite-definitive statement has been followed by several reports that the 49ers are extremely interested in the draft’s top running back, LSU’s Leonard Fournette. “I think as a player, one of the great things about this league and, frankly, what drove me to get back into it is that you’re always proving yourself,” Lynch said. Hyde and a rookie could be part of a one-two punch that evokes the backfield Shanahan had last season in Atlanta with Devonta Freeman (1,079 rushing yards) and Tevin Coleman (520). [...] of how Shanahan and Lynch view Hyde’s ability, using an early- to mid-round pick on a running back would be prudent, given Hyde’s extensive injury history. Hyde, who repeatedly has said he wants to deliver punishment to defenders, has missed 14 games in his career because of injuries to his ankle, foot, shoulder and knee. Last season, he played in 13 games and ranked 14th in the NFL in rushing (988 yards).



49ers GM John Lynch on releasing Tramaine Brock: ‘That was not easy’

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 23:05:34 UT

General manager John Lynch said last week’s decision to release Tramaine Brock was difficult partly because the cornerback figured to play a prominent role for the 49ers in 2017. Brock started 31 games over the past two seasons, but it wasn’t known how he was viewed by a new regime that includes Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan. Brock was released hours after the team learned of his arrest for felony domestic violence. Lynch was asked if he had a zero-tolerance policy with players when it came to domestic violence. Despite the release of Brock, Lynch said the 49ers still will experiment with moving Jimmie Ward, their other starting cornerback, to safety. Ward played the position at Northern Illinois and his speed could make him well-suited to play single-high safety in the 49ers’ new 4-3 defense. [...] Lynch also didn’t rule out addressing the position in the draft, which includes Ohio State’s Malik Hooker and LSU’s Jamal Adams, each of whom is a potential top-five pick.



Is Kaepernick still unsigned because NFL teams are punishing his protest?

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 22:11:48 UT

In this 2016 file photo, from left, San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid kneel in protest during the national anthem. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) Evidence continues to mount that Colin Kaepernick may be being punished by NFL teams for his national anthem protest last year. 49ers webzone’s Richard Madrid put forth a convincing article on Kaepernick’s improvement last year replete with illustrative clips from Kaepernick’s play. While the clips are impressive, they can also be misleading. One play can never represent a quarterback’s strengths or weaknesses. However, what is impressive is the research Madrid delineates from several sources to debunk myths about



GM John Lynch affirms 49ers willing to deal No. 2 overall pick

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 03:32:16 UT

GM John Lynch affirms 49ers willing to deal No. 2 overall pick General manager John Lynch of the 49ers said it last month at the NFL combine, and he repeated himself Wednesday just in case a few of the 31 other teams had been out of earshot: The 49ers are willing to trade the No. 2 pick in the draft. Lynch’s message appears to be finding its intended targets. For a variety of reasons, it makes sense for the 49ers to move down in what is considered an unusually talented-filled draft. [...] there isn’t a consensus second-best player in the draft, and a host of high-profile analysts don’t consider any of the quarterbacks worthy of a top-10 pick. Given Lynch’s open-for-business proclamation, it’s possible the 49ers might not be smitten with the consensus top five QBs, all of whom either Lynch or head coach Kyle Shanahan has seen in person on the pre-draft circuit: North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and Cal’s Davis Webb. Lynch attended the pro days for Trubisky, Kizer and Mahomes, and had a semiprivate workout in Clemson, S.C., with Watson, who visited the 49ers on Tuesday. [...] Webb and Cal wideout Chad Hansen had a workout in Santa Clara on Tuesday. “From the beginning, I thought that maybe the perception that this isn’t a real strong quarterback class — I think that’s in the eyes of the beholder,” Lynch said. On Wednesday, ESPN reported the Browns were torn between using the top pick on Texas A&M pass-rusher Myles Garrett, widely viewed as the best prospect, or Trubisky, who is from suburban Cleveland. Garrett, who would address a desperate need for pass-rush pressure, could be one player worth standing pat for. Former 49ers quarterback Steve Young was at the team’s facility to attend the local pro day, which featured draft prospects who grew up or played collegiately in the Bay Area. Young is friends with Stanford safety Dallas Lloyd, who was participating. Lynch said Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, a possible target with the No. 2 pick, and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey probably wouldn’t have a pre-draft visit. Eric Branch is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Top 10 picks in the NFL draft (April 27-29 in Philadelphia):



CB conundrum? Lynch says Ward will still be tried at safety

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 22:33:16 UT

Last week, the 49ers released starting cornerback Tramaine Brock. [...] today, 49ers general manager John Lynch said they are still committed to giving their other starting cornerback, Jimmie Ward, a look at safety this offseason. Lynch said “every team needs cornerbacks” given the pass-happy NFL and noted the 49ers were no different. The 49ers have hosted Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore, the top cornerback prospect, for a pre-draft visit and he could be a target with the No. 2 pick. Rashard Robinson, a 2016 fourth-round pick, figures to have a strong chance to land a starting role after an impressive rookie season. Lynch made it clear Brock’s exit won’t scuttle the 49ers’ plan to experiment with Ward at safety, the position he played at Northern Illinois.



Give up on Carlos Hyde? 49ers GM John Lynch discusses RB

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 21:53:51 UT

Three days after it was reported the 49ers were ready to “give up” on running back Carlos Hyde and were considering LSU’s Leonard Fournette with the No. 2 pick, general manager John Lynch was asked today where Hyde stood with the 49ers’ new regime. “I think as a player one of the great things about this league and, frankly, what drove me to get back into it is that you’re always proving yourself,” Lynch said. Hyde, a 2014 second-round pick, has 1,791 career yards and has averaged 4.3 yards a carry. Last year, Hyde had 988 rushing yards and averaged 4.6 yards a carry in 13 games.



Radical changes ahead for the 49ers defense

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 17:03:32 UT

For the last 30 years or more, the 49ers have been a fairly traditional 3-4 defense.




Return of 49ers’ NaVorro Bowman could make Robert Saleh prophetic

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 02:06:58 UT

By mid-April, some baseball teams have received their first dose of harsh reality, but those in the NFL remain blissfully optimistic. On Monday, rookie defensive coordinator Robert Saleh indicated he’d be overseeing a unit that would morph from putrid to punishing. Shortly after Saleh left the podium, his spot was assumed by inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman, a run-stuffing savant who missed the final 12 games last season with a torn Achilles tendon. Last season, the 49ers set an NFL record by allowing a 100-yard rusher in seven straight games and established franchise records for the most rushing yards and touchdowns allowed in a season. Bowman for Nick Bellore, a special-teams player who had logged 40 defensive snaps in five-plus seasons before Bowman was injured. In 2017, Bowman will be back, but it’s worth wondering if he’ll be the same player who was a first-team All-Pro in each of his four full seasons as a starter (while averaging 147.5 tackles). [...] second-year defensive tackle DeForest Buckner figures to build on an impressive rookie season and tackle Arik Armstead, a 2015 first-round pick, will return after missing the final eight games with a shoulder injury he sustained in training camp. [...] they could further reinforce the front seven in the draft.



New culture and coach greet 49ers players on their return

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 05:10:39 UT

On the first day of the offseason program Monday, running back Carlos Hyde was greeted by a new coach and new decor at the 49ers’ facility. On Friday, head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch took culture-setting action by releasing starting cornerback Tramaine Brock just hours after learning he’d been arrested the previous day on suspicion of felony domestic violence. Under general manager Trent Baalke, the 49ers released linebacker Aldon Smith, defensive tackle Ray McDonald and fullback Bruce Miller only after they’d had multiple off-field incidents. Shanahan said the new regime didn’t use the arrest of Brock, who started 31 games the past two seasons, to set a tone. The discussion about Brock was part of a get-to-know-you day in which several players who spoke with reporters invoked buzz words such as “accountability” and “culture.” There is a sense this latest new beginning could be different, partly because Shanahan is a well-respected offensive mind whose play-calling earned him the NFL Assistant Coach of the Year award and helped the Falcons reach the Super Bowl. Inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who tore an Achilles tendon Oct. 2, said he took part in the conditioning test Monday. Shanahan said he met with North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky last week after also visiting with him at the NFL combine.



49ers’ Bowman, Hyde surprised Kaepernick still a free agent

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 00:01:09 UT

Today, 49ers running back Carlos Hyde and inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman said they figured the quarterback would have found a new team in the four-plus weeks since free agency began on March 9. Seventeen quarterbacks have either signed or been re-signed since the start of free agency, according to Spotrac.com. “I’ve seen some quarterbacks who got signed that, in my opinion, Kap is way better than,” Hyde said. In 11 starts in 2016, Kaepernick had 16 touchdowns, four interceptions and posted his best passer rating (90.7) since 2013. [...] I think that’s what matters in the NFL -- if you can play level and your character is great.




Preseason series between 49ers, Raiders remains on hold

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 23:10:16 UT

Preseason series between 49ers, Raiders remains on hold Niners general manager John Lynch and Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t get their wish. The teams had met annually since 1967 before the series was halted after fan violence marred an exhibition game at Candlestick Park in 2011. At the NFL combine, both Lynch and Del Rio lobbied for the series to resume. The NFL’s release of the preseason schedule today revealed the 49ers will play a prime-time game at Minnesota on Aug. 27. First preseason meeting since 2013. First preseason meeting since 2013.