49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

April 22, 2014
49ers checking out tight ends; list of pre-draft visits

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The 49ers are checking out tight ends in the upcoming draft, including McNeese State's Nic Jacobs, who began is college career at LSU. The 6-5, 265-pound Jacobs will visit the Cardinals and 49ers, according to NFL.com's Gil Brandt. He had 32 catches for 453 yards and four touchdowns last season.

The team also hosted this week Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, who mostly was used as a blocker in the Hawkeye's offense. The 6-5, 265-pound Fiedorowicz looked good at the Senior Bowl this year and bench pressed 225 pounds 25 times at the scouting combine.

The 49ers used a second-round pick last year on tight end Vance McDonald, who is expeced to pair with Vernon Davis in two-tight end sets this season. Their blocking tight end has been Garrett Celek. Derek Carrier also filled in at the position last season. The 49ers are eying him as an H-back.

49ers pre-draft visits
ILB/OLB Carl Bradford, Arizona State
ILB Preston Brown, Louisville
WR Martavis Bryant, Clemson
RB Terrance Cobb, University of the Cumberlands
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa (National Football Post)
OT Sentreal Henderson, Miami (CSN Bay Area)
TE Nic Jacobs, McNeese State (NFL.com)
RB Storm Johnson, Central Florida
OLB Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
OL Matt Patchan, Boston College
WR Paul Richardson, Colorado
RB Terrance West, Towson University
WR Albert Wilson, Georgia State

-- Matt Barrows

April 21, 2014
Michael Wilhoite, a possible starter at linebacker, signs tender

Michael Wilhoite, who is perhaps the leading candidate to take NaVorro Bowman's spot in the 49ers defense at the start of the season, signed a one-year contract on Monday. Wilhoite was a so-called "exclusive rights free agent" which gave him little leeway to shop himself on the open market. The deal will pay him $570,000.

Wilhoite started two games last season while Patrick Willis was out with a groin injury This year, Bowman could miss the first half of the season while he contines to recover from the ACL tear he suffered in January.

Other candidates for the job include second-year player Nick Moody and Darius Fleming, who is coming off his own ACL injury. The 49ers also could draft an inside linebacker. Hard-hitting Louisville product Preston Brown visited the team last week.

-- Matt Barrows

April 21, 2014
49ers travel schedule: Easy compared to last year

Last year the 49ers travelled 33,000 air miles in the regular season -- by far the most of any NFL team -- then tacked on another 9,500 miles in the playoffs. This year? It will seem like a puddle jump by comparison.

The longest trip on the team's regular-season schedule, which is due to be released this week, is a 5,132-mile round-trip trek to play the Giants. That, however, is their only game in the eastern time zone. What's more, they will visit the Raiders, a game that requires a 35-minute bus ride instead of a trip to the airport.

The bottom line: The 49ers will travel approximately 19,700 miles (give or take a couple hundred miles depending on whether they return to SFO or SJC). It still likely will be one of the highest counts in the NFL but will pale next to last year's itinerary.

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AWAY
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-- Matt Barrows

April 18, 2014
Miami police: Kaepernick wasn't there when we arrived

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Miami police do not believe 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was present when they responded to two 911 calls about an upset naked woman refusing to leave a downtown Miami hotel room.

But they are waiting for the Viceroy Hotel to turn over additional surveillance tape to see if they can determine whether Kaepernick had been in the suite earlier with two other players and, if so, what time he left.

Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa said that, so far, police have not confirmed the woman's report that Kaepernick had been among a trio of men in the hotel room on the night of April 1. She named him in a report she filed with police two days after the incident.

Police already have one surveillance tape from the Brickell-area hotel that only shows Miami Fire Rescue transporting the woman from the room just after midnight, a source familiar with the investigation said this week. The Bee has reported that the suite was Kaepernick's.

Last week, police confirmed that Kaepernick, 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton and Seattle Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette, a friend and former roommate of Kaepernick, were under investigation in connection with the incident.

The woman reported that she had blacked out while naked in the hotel room after a night of drinking shots and smoking marijuana in room 4710 in the posh Viceroy. She reported that she mixed drinks for herself and the three men and that they coaxed her into smoking marijuana before she passed out.

Kaepernick lashed out at TMZ, the entertainment and gossip website, and other outlets on Twitter last week, saying he did nothing wrong. His agent Scott Smith declined to comment Friday.

No charges have been filed, but a police incident report given by the woman on April 3 shows the case is being investigated by the department's Special Victims Unit, which looks into sex crimes.

April 17, 2014
Troubled client? Agent advises quick public apology

My colleague Ed Fletcher caught up with agent Leigh Steinberg, who spoke at UC Davis on Wednesday, and he asked Steinberg how he'd deal with a troubled client like Aldon Smith, who was arrested for the third time in two years on Sunday. Steinberg is making a comeback after dealing with alcohol abuse and has been open about his struggle.

-- Matt Barrows

April 17, 2014
Running story: 49ers bring in third tailback for pre-draft visit

Add one more running back to the list of college players the 49ers hosted this week. The team also met with Terrance Cobb, a 5-10, 218 tailback from the University of the Cumberlands (Ky) who ran for 1,991 yards and scored 26 touchdowns in 2012. Cobb was injured this past season, finishing with 540 yards and six touchdowns in three starts.

The 49ers have some insider information on Cobb. He is the younger brother of regional scout Reggie Cobb, who was a good running back in his own right and who played for the Buccaneers, Packers, Jaguars and Jets. The elder Cobb serves as the 49ers' Western region scout.

The 49ers also will bring in Towson tailback Terrance West and already met with Central Florida runner Storm Johnson, suggesting that they will take a running back in the mid to late rounds in the draft. All of the tailbacks above are big-bodied, every-down type of runners.

The team's long-time workhorse, Frank Gore, is entering the final year on his contract and his future is uncertain. Furthermore, the 49ers are trying to trade tailback/returner LaMichael James, who has been frustrated by his limited role in the team's offense.

Minutes after The Bee on Wednesday reported that the team is shopping James, the former Oregon star Tweeted out a seeming response: "When old news becomes new news."

49ers pre-draft visits
ILB/OLB Carl Bradford, Arizona State
ILB Preston Brown, Louisville
WR Martavis Bryant, Clemson
RB Terrance Cobb, University of the Cumberlands
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa (National Football Post)
RB Storm Johnson, Central Florida
OLB Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
OL Matt Patchan, Boston College
WR Paul Richardson, Colorado
RB Terrance West, Towson University
WR Albert Wilson, Georgia State

-- Matt Barrows

April 16, 2014
Source: 49ers shopping running back LaMichael James

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If the 49ers want to maneuver higher in next month's draft, they could offer another team multiple draft picks in return or they could offer a team picks and a player. That player? According to a league source, the 49ers have been shopping running back LaMichael James, a second-round pick in the 2012 draft.

James ran for 5,082 yards and scored 53 rushing touchdowns while at Oregon. However, he has had only scant work as a runner with the 49ers and finds himself behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and perhaps Marcus Lattimore on the depth chart at running back this season.

James served as the team's primary returner last year and played well in that role, averaging nearly 11 yards a punt return. But the source said he has made it clear to the team he wants a bigger role as running back as well. He carried the ball only 12 times in the 2013 regular season and just once in the playoffs. He missed the first three games with a knee injury.

It's also worth noting that the 49ers spent a long time looking at possible return men in free agency. The team considered a number of then-free agents - including Julian Edelman, Dexter McCluster, Golden Tate and DeSean Jackson, for example - who have experience as punt returners.

Asked in February if he was shopping James, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said, "No discussions. LaMichael is a 49er. He'll continue to be a 49er."

"It's tough," Baalke said at the time of James' role on offense. "There are certain game plans where LaMichael was meant to play a little bit bigger role than he ended up playing, but that's the game. Every game you go in with a plan and sometimes that plan changes based on what you're seeing and what the other team is doing. So you've got to be flexible. It's up to LaMichael and it's up to every player. We tell every one of our players this: 'It's up to you to earn time on the field.' So it's not as much about what he hasn't been doing, it's as much about what Frank has been doing."

Meanwhile, the 49ers are bringing in at least three running backs for pre-draft visits. Towson's Terrance West is one of the busiest players in the run-up to the draft, and his itinerary will take him to Santa Clara on Monday. West has a total of 11 visits this month, including the Seahawks this week.

West was the CAA offensive player of the year, and he led the FCS in rushing with 2,519 yards and 41 touchdowns. At 5-9, 225 pounds, he also is the second workhorse-style running back the 49ers will have brought in for a pre-draft visit. They also met with Central Florida running back Storm Johnson and Terrance Cobb of The University of the Cumberlands (KY) on Monday and Tuesday.

As for possible trade partners for James, the Eagles at one point seemed like a realistic destination considering head coach Chip Kelly was James' coach at Oregon and that the man who scouted James for the 49ers, Tom Gamble, is now with the Eagles organization. Philadelphia, however, traded for another running back, Darren Sproles, last month.

-- Matt Barrows

April 16, 2014
No Bowman? No Aldon? Is 3-4 still best defense for 49ers?

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The 49ers are a 3-4 defensive team whose top two defensive players, NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith, may not be around when the season starts. Both are linebackers. Which raises the question: Is a three-lineman, four-linebacker defense still the best scheme for San Francisco?

One could argue that with Bowman's injury and Smith's troubles, the strength of the defense has switched from the linebacking corps to the defensive line. There, you have stalwarts Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. But there is also Glenn Dorsey and Ian Williams at nose tackle, as well as Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Demarcus Dobbs and everyone's favorite experiment, Lawrence Okoye.

Considering that the nose tackle currently comes off the field when the 49ers are in their nickel defense - more than 50 percent of the time - it's hard to imagine some of these players, especially Dorsey and Williams, getting significant playing time in the 49ers' current scheme.

If they switched to a 4-3 or otherwise tinkered with the scheme, the trick would be finding the right combination of linebackers. Patrick Willis, of course, played middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme at Ole Miss and would be the natural "Mike" linebacker. Ahmad Brooks could line up at outside linebacker in a spot similar to the one Bruce Irvin plays in Seattle's 4-3 scheme. The 49ers would have to find a third linebacker from the remaining group of players.

Would the 49ers consider this? Probably not. For one, Bowman is making good progress from his ACL. And while he won't be on hand at the beginning of the season, the expectation is that he's back at the midpoint. And while Aldon Smith could miss all of the 2014 season, as The Merc's Tim Kawakami detailed Tuesday, the 49ers have interesting backups in Dan Skuta, Corey Lemonier and perhaps a draft pick. They are bringing in Boise State's Demarcus Lawrence, a possibility in the first round or early in the second round, next week.

Furthermore, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio prefers 3-4 defenses and has used that scheme for the bulk of his career. Fangio has said he likes the versatility of having an extra linebacker on the field and that the pass-rush angles are more favorable.

Still, in a scenario in which both Bowman and Smith are not available, you have to wonder if a 3-4 defense puts the 49ers' best defenders on the field.

*******************************
One additional note. Skuta was the top backup at outside linebacker last season. He battled a foot injury for most of the year, and there was a possibility he could have surgery this offseason. It looks as if he will avoid that. Skuta saw the league's top foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Robert Anderson, earlier this year who diagnosed and treated him for plantar fasciitis in the foot.

-- Matt Barrows

April 15, 2014
49ers sign WR Brandon Lloyd to one-year deal

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Veteran receiver Brandon Lloyd, who spent his first three seasons with the 49ers, is back after signing a one-year deal with the team today. Lloyd, 32, had 74 catches for 911 yards with New England in 2012 but sat out last season.

The 49ers took Lloyd with a fourth-round pick in the 2003 draft. He led the 49ers in receiving yards in 2005, but during the following offseason the new personnel chief, Scot McCloughan, eagerly traded Lloyd to the Redskins for a third-round pick in 2006 (the 49ers used it on WR Brandon Williams) and a fourth-round pick in 2007 (OLB Jay Moore).

Lloyd was brash as a young player, wanted to be a rap star and clashed with some of the veterans on the team. One of the players who disliked Lloyd was fullback Fred Beasley who famously complained that, following a grueling road loss, he had to listen to Lloyd talk about the length of his braids on the otherwise quiet plane ride back to San Jose.

The Redskins also grew weary of Lloyd, and he only spent two seasons there. He's been on six different teams over his career.

Still, he has proven to be a very smart and savvy player on the field, and he led the league in receiving yards while with the Broncos in 2010. While with the Patriots in 2012, he had a career-high 190 yards in a loss to the 49ers. In another loss to San Francisco -- this one in London when he was with Denver -- Lloyd caught seven passes for 169 yards.

The 11-year veteran, however, does not play special teams like another longtime veteran at the position, Kassim Osgood. And the 49ers are expected to draft a receiver - or perhaps two - next month.

That, plus the fact that Lloyd signed a one-year deal, suggests that a spot on the roster is not assured in 2014. The 49ers top three receivers currently are Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Quinton Patton. Lloyd joins a group that includes Jon Baldwin, Osgood, Chuck Jacobs, Devon Wylie, DeMarco Sampson and David Reed.

-- Matt Barrows

April 15, 2014
Charges dismissed in case against 49ers center Daniel Kilgore

The public intoxication case in Tennessee against 49ers center Daniel Kilgore has been dismissed, according to the Kingsport General Session clerk's office. Kilgore and a friend were stopped by an officer who saw them walking home from a Kingsport, Tenn. bar Jan. 25. They were arrested "for their safety and the welfare of the public," according to the police report.

Those charges were dismissed on Friday. The court clerk said Kilgore can file to have the charges expunged from his record.

A month after the incident, the 49ers extended Kilgore's contract by three years. He is the leading candidate to take over the starting center spot that Jonathan Goodwin manned the last three seasons. Adam Snyder, Joe Looney and Ryan Seymour also will compete at the spot.

-- Matt Barrows





MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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