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Foster frenzy: 49ers’ interest in ILB began well before draft

Thu, 25 May 2017 23:01:25 UT

Shortly after 49ers general manager John Lynch was hired in January, he was on the phone with Broncos executive Adam Peters, whom Lynch eventually hired on his second full day on the job. Yes, Peters, the 49ers vice president of player personnel, was championing Foster four months ago and Lynch also fell for the Alabama inside linebacker before his first draft. The 49ers, of course, selected Foster, ranked third on their draft board, with the No. 31 pick. Foster fell to them because of injury and off-the-field concerns that gained momentum leading up to the draft. [...] the 49ers, who selected Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas at No. 3 overall, maintained their high level of interest in Foster.




Why the Seahawks would be wise to sign Colin Kaepernick

Thu, 25 May 2017 21:42:13 UT

Photo: Associated Press Image 1of/16 CaptionClose Image 1 of 16 San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick kneels during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick kneels during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) Photo: Associated Press Image 2 of 16 San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick (7) stands on the sidelines against the Seattle Seahawks in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 37-18. (AP Photo/John



Cal head coach Justin Wilcox gets into the swing of spring

Thu, 25 May 2017 04:00:58 UT

When asked about the most eye-opening part about his transition from defensive coordinator to head coach, Cal’s Justin Wilcox noted he has discussed far more than blitzes and coverages during his first four months on the job. Wilcox has been tackling issues ranging from dormitories for his players to start times for his practices. Cal hopes it has a head coach who can overhaul a defense that has allowed at least 30 points in 40 of 49 games over the past four seasons. Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, 54, was the head coach at Fresno State the past four seasons, and has spent 15 of his 27 seasons in Division I as a defensive coordinator. “In terms of calling the plays and all that, coach DeRuyter is the defensive coordinator,” Wilcox said. Offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, the head coach at Eastern Washington the previous nine seasons, will have a major role in handling another huge challenge: identifying the right quarterback to follow in the footsteps of Jared Goff, the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft in 2016, and Davis Webb, a third-round pick in April. A wild-card candidate to enter the competition is sophomore Brandon McIlwain, a transfer from South Carolina who will play baseball and football at Cal. A four-star recruit from Newton, Penn., completed 62 of 118 passes for 600 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.



Report: Ex-49ers QB Kaepernick to visit Seahawks

Thu, 25 May 2017 00:08:56 UT

Seventy-six days after the start of free agency, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was scheduled to visit the Seahawks on Wednesday, NFL Network reported. Kaepernick, 29, is clearly the best quarterback remaining on the market and Seattle doesn’t have an established backup behind Russell Wilson. [...] several prominent Seahawks, including cornerback Richard Sherman and wide receiver Doug Baldwin, were vocal in their support after Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem last season. The Seahawks’ backup is Trevone Boykin, who entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie last year, has 18 pass attempts and was arrested on misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession and public intoxication in March. Jake Heaps, who hasn’t thrown a pass in the NFL, is the only other quarterback on Seattle’s roster.



New York organization planning pro-Colin Kaepernick demonstrations across the country

Wed, 24 May 2017 17:59:35 UT

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is visiting the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday for a potential role with the 49ers' NFC West foe.




Best-man McDonald discusses near-divorce from 49ers

Wed, 24 May 2017 14:30:31 UT

On April 28, Vance McDonald’s mom, Beverly, approached her son with some shocking news: According to a report, the 49ers were shopping McDonald in trade talks during the NFL draft. On Tuesday, the tight end who signed a five-year contract extension in December was asked about his initial reaction to the bombshell. [...] a few hours after he delivered the speech, the best man heard a speech, of sorts, from new head coach Kyle Shanahan to explain why he was candidate to be an odd man out. Shanahan has told reporters the 49ers were initially approached by another team about trading McDonald and they subsequently inquired with other teams to gauge their interest in the 2013 second-round pick. Shanahan said the 49ers viewed it as an opportunity to upgrade the roster and he clearly expressed the same sentiments to McDonald. McDonald has been plagued by injuries and inconsistent hands during his career, although he posted career-highs in yards (391), touchdowns (4) and yards per reception (16.4) in 11 games last year.




49ers’ NaVorro Bowman on competition: ‘I won’t be on the sideline’

Wed, 24 May 2017 04:46:24 UT

In March, the 49ers signed inside linebacker Malcolm Smith to a five-year contract with $11.5 million guaranteed. In April, they used a first-round pick on Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster. [...] on Tuesday, head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked about how playing time will be divided at a position group that also includes NaVorro Bowman, a four-time, first-team All-Pro. Given Bowman’s pedigree, it won’t be a surprise if he’s starting in Week 1 against the Panthers at Levi’s Stadium. [...] it’s also clear that he’ll need to prove to the 49ers’ new regime that he remains a force after sustaining a torn left Achilles tendon in October. Bowman, who turns 29 on Sunday, endured a multiligament tear in his left knee in January 2014, and his injuries have kept him off the field for 28 of 48 games the past three seasons. After the 49ers drafted Foster, Shanahan called Bowman that night to explain the situation, but Bowman politely said a talk wasn’t necessary. There’s always someone trying to take your spot. Two weeks ago, former NFL executive Mike Lombardi reported that the 49ers attempted to trade Bowman during the draft. [...] Shanahan said Bowman, who has been a full participant in practices, doesn’t resemble a player coming off an injury and “looks like the guy I’ve seen on tape over the years.” Shanahan acknowledged Bowman’s second significant injury to his left leg played a role in the 49ers’ offseason moves. [...] Bowman, who returned from his knee injury to lead the NFL in tackles in 2015, sounded unfazed by the trade rumors and competition.



49ers’ Thomas and Taylor: Different frames, same fire

Mon, 22 May 2017 18:11:20 UT

Different frames, same fire The physical differences between the 49ers’ rookie defensive lineman (6-foot-3, 273 pounds) and wide receiver (5-8, 181) are obvious, but their similarity in one department - their passion for football - is part of what made them so appealing to the 49ers. Here are Peters’ thoughts on Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick from Stanford, and Taylor, a fifth-round selection from Louisiana Tech. On Thomas’ intangibles: Solomon and (running back) Christian McCaffrey are talked about at Stanford in the same breath as being alpha leaders, the hardest workers on the team, love football and do all the little things to get better. On Thomas’ ability: As a player, he’s a big-time mismatch inside with his combination of his size and athleticism. On where Thomas will play in the NFL: That’s up for the coaches, I guess. On Taylor’s work ethic: The thing that set him apart is just his overall knowledge and dedication to the game: On if Taylor will need to tone down his willingness to seek out contact in the NFL: That’s probably not my area of expertise - that’s more the coaches.



Draftees, trade acquisitions, free agents to test 49ers’ starters

Mon, 22 May 2017 03:08:13 UT

The offseason purge, however, hasn’t included many of the draft picks made by general manager Trent Baalke from 2010 through ’16: [...] as the 49ers hold their first OTA practice of the offseason Monday, several players who were unquestioned starters last year figure to be involved in spirited training-camp position fights. Shanahan and Lynch clearly don’t expect McDonald, a 2013 second-round pick with 64 career receptions and 16 games missed because of injury, to suddenly realize expectations. McDonald’s slight uptick in production last year prompted his surprising contract extension. Perhaps the most decorated player on a star-starved roster, Bowman could be competing with a rookie and a player with zero Pro Bowls on his resume for playing time. The 49ers fell hard for Foster — they said he was third on their draft board — and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh spent three seasons (2011-13) in Seattle with Smith. [...] Bowman has played in just 20 of 48 games the past three seasons because of two serious injuries to his left leg, including a torn Achilles in October. Whatever the case, it’s clear Bowman, who signed a lucrative contract extension in August, will have to prove he’s still a front-line player, not a sub. The 49ers bolstered their backfield by utilizing all available avenues: free agency (Tim Hightower), trade (Kapri Bibbs), draft (fourth-round pick Joe Williams) and post-draft signing (undrafted rookie Matt Breida). Before those moves, Shanahan and Lynch had offered measured praise of Hyde, a 2014 second-round pick who has missed 14 games because of injury. In March, the 49ers traded for Jeremy Zuttah, the Ravens’ starting center for the past three seasons who was a Pro Bowl alternate last year. Shanahan places a high value on centers — his offense in Atlanta clicked last year partly because of the free-agent addition of Alex Mack — and he clearly wants other options beyond Kilgore, a 2011 fifth-round pick. Since becoming a starter in 2014, Kilgore has missed 23 of 48 games because of a broken ankle and torn hamstring. Kilgore’s primary backup had been Marcus Martin, a 2014 third-round pick who was released two days before the start of free agency in March.




Remembering Wayne Walker: as kind and genuine as he was talented

Sun, 21 May 2017 04:58:40 UT

Remembering Wayne Walker: as kind and genuine as he was talented Turns out I had nothing to worry about. Not long thereafter — the week before the 49ers beat Cincinnati in Super Bowl XVI in January 1982 — I started working full time at KPIX. For the next 12½ years, I enjoyed the pleasure and privilege of working with Wayne, who retired from the station in 1994 after a 20-year run. Wayne rates as one of the most popular and beloved sportscasters in Bay Area history for several reasons. During much of his tenure at KPIX, cable outlets (like ESPN) and the Internet didn’t exist or still were in their relative infancy. [...] when you watched him, Wayne presented sports news in a straightforward, no-shtick manner. [...] his 15-year NFL career gave him bona fides not only with fans, but also with the athletes whom he covered and interviewed. Wayne had few rules, but one was, “We’re not going to look stupid.” During the first three nights of the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, our allotted time on the 11 p.m. broadcast went from 3½ minutes to about one to accommodate the extra news coverage. On the fourth and final night, there was back-and-forth between news and sports about whether we would have a full sportscast or a truncated one. After the newscast, Wayne closed the door to the sports office and read Art and me the riot act. Wayne was a great storyteller; he had some hilarious and poignant stories from his 15 years as an NFL player and his more than two decades as a broadcaster — but he didn’t force those stories on you. Steve Kroner is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.



Wayne Walker, longtime Bay Area sports broadcaster, dies at 80

Sat, 20 May 2017 02:26:05 UT

Wayne Walker, longtime Bay Area sports broadcaster, dies at 80 Wayne Walker, who spent 15 years in the NFL as a linebacker for the Detroit Lions and then two decades in the Bay Area as the sports director for KPIX (Channel 5), died Friday from complications from Parkinson’s disease. Soon after Mr. Walker joined KPIX in 1974 until he left the station in 1994, he became as well-respected and popular as perhaps any sportscaster in Bay Area history. “I don’t know that you could really properly explain to people who were not there how big of a deal Wayne was as a sports personality in the Bay Area,” said KTVU sports anchor Joe Fonzi, who worked with Mr. Walker for more than a decade at KPIX. Montana said athletes often become guarded around certain reporters because the athletes believe the reporters ask questions to fit their preconceived notion of the story. In the ’70s, Mr. Walker made his mark in the Bay Area with his “sports challenges,” in which he would compete against individuals, teams and — in probably the most memorable segment — a cable car in a race up a San Francisco street. Mr. Walker attended the University of Idaho and was selected by the Lions in the fourth round (No. 45 overall) of the 1958 NFL draft. Over the next 15 seasons, he played 200 games as an outside linebacker and was named to the Pro Bowl three times. Mr. Walker also doubled as a placekicker and still ranks ninth on the Lions’ career scoring list with 345 points. “Fifteen years, as a historian of the game and knowing as much as I know about the game, that’s rare air,” said Ronnie Lott, the Hall of Fame defensive back who spent the first 10 of his 14 NFL seasons with the 49ers. For someone who spent so much time in the public eye, Mr. Walker’s personality was decidedly understated. Steve Kroner is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.



Kaepernick's jersey, shoes donated to Smithsonian Museum of African American History

Fri, 19 May 2017 21:33:19 UT

Activist and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will soon take his place in history thanks to a sociologist named Harry Edwards, according to USA Today.




49ers add Carthon to front office

Fri, 19 May 2017 18:21:52 UT

Lynch has also added vice president of player personnel Adam Peters, 37, and senior personnel executive Martin Mayhew, 51. Carthon replaces Mike Williams, who was fired after the draft following a 14-year tenure with the 49ers, which included the last four seasons as director of pro personnel. Carthon was a running back whose 16-carry NFL career spanned parts of three seasons with the Colts, Packers, Seahawks and Lions.



Buried treasure? Undrafted Cole Hikutini could stick with 49ers

Fri, 19 May 2017 05:17:05 UT

When asked Tuesday if he had a few favorites in the 49ers’ 10-man draft class, vice president of player personnel Adam Peters ticked off several players. The 49ers think Hikutini, who grew up in Sacramento and spent one season at City College of San Francisco, slipped through the cracks of a deep tight end class and is a potentially ideal fit as a pass-catcher in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s system. According to a post-draft story by MMQB.com, Peters, Shanahan, tight ends coach Jon Embree and general manager John Lynch combined to make at least eight phone calls to Hikutini, who was also speaking with the Patriots, Saints and Lions. Peters focused on Hikutini’s agent, and the 49ers finally landed the top rookie free agent on their list with a $10,000 signing bonus and $100,000 guaranteed. Hikutini took a meandering path to the NFL. After playing just one season of football at Pleasant Grove High, he spent two seasons, including a redshirt year, at Sacramento State. Last year, he grabbed the attention of NFL scouts (50 catches, 668 yards, eight TDs), but suffered a knee injury in a bowl-game loss to LSU that prevented him from running at the combine. In Santa Clara, Hikutini will attempt to fill the pass-catching role the previous regime had envisioned for tight end Vance McDonald, a 2013 second-round pick with 64 career catches. Despite his undrafted status, Hikutini will have the chance to unseat McDonald, who Shanahan and Lynch acknowledged was the subject of trade talks during the draft.



‘Who is that guy?’ 49ers executive fell for Foster last year

Thu, 18 May 2017 19:35:42 UT

Last year, when he was preparing for the draft as part of the Broncos’ front office, 49ers vice president of player personnel Adam Peters was studying video of Alabama inside linebacker Reggie Ragland. Ragland, the 2015 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, was selected No. 41 overall by the Bills last year. “This guy (Foster) is running past (Ragland) on every single play and making it,” Peters said. [...] for Peters, who has served as general manager John Lynch’s right-hand man, Foster was his so-called “draft crush.” “I’m not going to take John’s (draft crush) because I liked Reuben Foster, too, and I guess he gets first pick,” Peter said, laughing. … A Butkus Award winner and unanimous first-team All-American, Foster had 115 tackles last year and was also named the SEC Championship Game MVP. His tumble to No. 31 was partly tied to concerns about a shoulder that required surgery before the combine and reportedly could require a follow-up procedure (Lynch has said the 49ers think a second surgery won’t be necessary). Foster was dismissed from the combine after arguing with a hospital employee and he tested positive for a diluted urine sample, which the NFL counts as a failed drug test. [...] I think he’s going to make the right decisions.