49ers Blog and Q&A

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

May 20, 2014
Happy returns? Ellington, other rookies working on special teams skills

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Wide receiver Bruce Ellington has been handling both kick and punt returns during the 49ers' recent "football school" and he expects to do both at the team's rookie minicamp that begins Friday. "It's something I'm working on, and hopefully I can get in this year and make some plays," said Ellington, a fourth-round pick from South Carolina.

At this point last year, Kyle Williams was the team's most experienced return man with LaMichael James serving as his understudy. Williams was released during the 2013 season while James, unhappy with his workload at running back, has stayed away from the 49ers' voluntary practices so far and is open to a trade.

Both general manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh have lauded James' return skills in recent weeks and have spoken as if he will be part of the team in 2014. Still, they must come up with alternatives this offseason even if James remains.

Ellington appears to be a top candidate even though mostly handled kickoffs at South Carolina. He returned three punts total, all of them in 2013. Ellington said former SMU cornerback Kenneth Acker, a fifth-round pick, also has been returning punts in recent weeks and that second-round pick Carlos Hyde, a running back from Ohio State, has been among those handling kickoffs. Acker handled 14 punt returns at SMU; Hyde had two kickoff returns at Ohio State in 2011.

Aside from James, receiver Devon Wylie (Granite Bay High) and cornerback Perrish Cox have experience returning punts in the NFL. Neither is eligible to attend the weekend rookie minicamp.

-- Matt Barrows

May 19, 2014
Q&A: Who might the 49ers dangle as offseason trade bait?

Answ: To me, these questions are related. The 49ers have two starting-caliber nose tackles in Glenn Dorsey and Ian Williams but only use a nose tackle on about 40 percent of their defensive plays. Furthermore, Quinton Dial has played the position in the past and may get some repetitions there this offseason. If Trent Baalke wants more draft picks for next season - and Baalke always wants more picks - it would seem like this position could fetch a nice price and that Williams would be the likeliest to be dangled. In fact, the entire defensive line is deep, especially on a team that uses only two at a time on obvious passing downs.

Answ: Do you mean, "Are the 49ers at risk of losing Hunter to free agency in March?" That's possible. But as is the case in all questions about the future of the running back spot, the 49ers still don't know exactly what they have in Marcus Lattimore. If Lattimore looks like the second coming of Roger Craig this year, it may make the team less apt to strike a long-term deal with Hunter. Still, I think the running back pecking order, at least for the first half of the season, will begin with Frank Gore and Hunter.

May 15, 2014
49ers sign RB Hyde, CB Johnson; five rookie deals done

The 49ers now have five of their 12 draft picks under contract after finishing deals for second-round pick Carlos Hyde, a running back, and fourth-round selection Dontae Johnson, a cornerback. The 235-pound Hyde trained with Frank Gore in Florida following the combine and the team is eyeing him as a possible workhorse running back and replacement for Gore should the veteran leave when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Johnson, meanwhile, has the size - 6-2, 200 pounds - the 49ers have been seeking at cornerback. He also is familiar to Jim Harbaugh, who recruited him at Stanford. Johnson, who is from New Jersey, chose N.C. State because it was closer to home.

"Yeah, that one left a bruise," Harbaugh said on Saturday. "But we got him now and he was really excited. Another great moment talking to him and he remembered us at Stanford, recruiting him and visiting. The time we visited together. Also [offensive coordinator] Greg Roman went out to the school and visited. So that was quite a thrill to get to talk to him, make him a part of our team."

The 49ers have deals with Hyde, Johnson, fellow cornerback Keith Reaser, outside linebacker Aaron Lynch and defensive end Kaleb Ramsey.

-- Matt Barrows

May 15, 2014
Shayne Skov eager for what may be 49ers' best offseason position battle

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Shayne Skov battled a knee injury midway through his college career, a calf injury just before the scouting combine and a hamstring injury prior to his pro day at Stanford. The string of bad breaks - which translated into a sluggish 5.1-second 40-yard dash prior to the draft - helps explain why Skov, who was once viewed as one of the top inside linebackers in the nation, went undrafted last week.

Skov admitted to being surprised by the snub, which has created a sizable chip on his shoulder as he prepares for what promises to be perhaps the 49ers' best offseason position battle.

"When public opinion and people's perceptions are different than your own then obviously you're going to take that a little bit personally," Skov said on Thursday. "But at the end of the day I'm a football player. From here on out, my play and my abilities are going to dictate whether I see the field or not and what my future is as a player."

Skov played for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for a season at Stanford and is more familiar with the 49ers' defense than any of the team's rookies. The 49ers also will have an opening at inside linebacker while NaVorro Boman recovers from his January ACL tear.

May 14, 2014
Battle stations! Ranking the 49ers' offseason competitions

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The 49ers' 90-man roster likely will be tweaked here and there throughout the offseason. But the major players are set, and with them the biggest position battles of the offseason. This is how I rank them:

Inside linebacker - This gets top billing because the winner is guaranteed not to be an incumbent starter. NaVorro Bowman is doing quite well in his recovery from ACL surgery, but the 49ers are very unlikely to rush his return. The smart money is on Bowman coming back in Week 9, which is one week after the team's bye. This will be a three-way race among Michael Wilhote, Nick Moody and third-round pick Chris Borland to replace Bowman in the meantime. You also wonder if two people could win it -- one player coming in on first and second downs and the other entering in nickel packages. Moody is the most athletic member of the trio and played safety at Florida State. On paper, at least, he would seem to be the best bet for playing the nickel role. Undrafted Shayne Skov is the wild card. He obviously knows the defense and the hope is that the further he moves from his 2011 ACL injury the closer he gets to his 2010 form.

Center - When the 49ers extended Daniel Kilgore's contract this offseason, it looked for all the world that he would take over Jonathan Goodwin's starting role this year. He's still the frontrunner, for sure. After all, Kilgore is going into the fourth year in this offense, has played center extensively in the preseason and has taken a few snaps in regular-season games as well. But third-round pick Marcus Martin was taken two rounds ahead of Kilgore's spot in 2011, and he is a bigger man at 6-3, 320 pounds and with 34-inch arms. The question about Martin's future is two-fold: How quickly can he learn the 49ers' offense and will the 49ers prefer to play him at guard?

Nickel cornerback - Trent Baalke doesn't want another A.J. Jenkins situation - in which the 30th overall pick in the draft sits on the bench for virtually all of his rookie season. So he's got a reason to root for Jimmie Ward for this spot. Ward appears well-suited for the role. He's smart, aggressive, instinctive, quick and a very willing tackler. But Baalke also has a stake in cornerback Eric Wright having stuck his neck out for Wright after his second DUI arrest in two years last summer. (Wright ultimately was charged with reckless driving in the latest case; he pled no contest and was sentenced to 36 months' probation with a $510 fine, 100 hours of community service and six months of drug treatment with testing). Meanwhile, Vic Fangio and the coaching staff have favored Perrish Cox for the position in the past. In the end, look for a repeat of how Fangio handled Eric Reid last year. Fangio - who is hesitant to start rookies - didn't start Reid at first in the preseason but couldn't ignore his superior talent. Reid ended up starting all 19 games when the season began. That is, if Ward isn't the team's nickel corner from the outset, it will be an upset.

May 13, 2014
49ers sign two draft picks to contracts

That didn't take long.

The 49ers began chipping away at a 12-man to-do list by signing two members of their draft class to four-year deals. The first to have their contracts completed were fifth-round pick Aaron Lynch from South Florida and seventh-round pick Kaleb Ramsey from Boston College. The 49ers and Jets tied with a league-high 12 picks in the recent draft.

Lynch (6-5, 255 pounds) will play outside linebacker in the team's 3-4 scheme. Ramsey (6-3, 285) will play defensive end. Ten years ago, teams used to wait until the start of training camp to sign their draft classes. Salaries are slotted under the new collective bargaining agreement, and some teams began signing players this week.

-- Matt Barrows

May 13, 2014
South Florida strength coach who criticized 49ers resigns

The University of South Florida strength coach who criticized the 49ers for drafting former USF defensive end Aaron Lynch has resigned, the school's athletic director said in a statement.

After the 49ers selected Lynch, who was removed from at least one other team's draft board due to character concerns, USF strength and conditioning coach Hans Straub went to Twitter. "Thought an organization with 5 Super Bowl titles would have a stricter draft criteria. Clearly, integrity & character are not a priority," Straub wrote. The post has since been removed.

The 49ers took Lynch, a 6-5, 255-pound underclassman in the fifth round on the backing of the football coach Willie Taggart, who is friends with Jim Harbaugh.

"USF Athletics has high expectations for each and every student-athlete, coach and staff member," athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement. "To that end, I have accepted the resignation of Hans Straub from the position of head strength and conditioning coach. I thank him for his contributions to USF Athletics and wish him well in his future endeavors. A national search for his replacement will begin immediately."

The university reportedly placed Straub on an "indefinite leave" after he made the comment. For more on the story and what the 49ers said after drafting Lynch, click here.

-- Matt Barrows

May 13, 2014
Numbers game: New 49ers pick their jerseys

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Wideout Brandon Lloyd, who wore No. 85 in his first stint with the team, has dropped down a digit and will wear No. 84 this year. That jersey was worn last year by fellow receiver Jon Baldwin, who will wear No. 82, which he wore at Pitt. Other new numbers, in order, according to the 49ers:


  • QB Blaine Gabbert - No. 2 (He was No. 11 at Missouri and with the Jaguars)

  • WR Bruce Ellington - No. 3 (This is temporary; WR numbers must be in the teens or 80s)

  • WR David Reed - No. 10

  • WR Stevie Johnson - No. 13 (Johnson had this number in Buffalo)

  • QB Kory Faulkner - No. 18 (He wore No. 19 at Southern Illinois; WR Devon Wylie has 19 for SF)

  • CB Chris Cook - No. 22 (He was No. 20 with Vikings)

  • S Antoine Bethea -- No. 24. (He was No. 41 in Indy; Bubba Ventrone has 41)

  • DB Jimmie Ward - No. 25 (He was No. 15 at No. Illinois. DBs must be in 20s, 30s, 40s)

  • RB Carlos Hyde - No. 28 (He was No. 34 at Ohio State, which was worn by the great Joe Perry and is retired)

  • CB Keith Reaser - No. 31

  • CB Dontae Johnson - No. 36

  • CB Kenneth Acker - No. 38
May 13, 2014
Report: USF assistant suspended after questioning 49ers' selection of Aaron Lynch

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The University of South Florida's strength and conditioning coach reportedly has been suspended for a tweet he made about the 49ers' fifth-round selection of former Bulls' defender Aaron Lynch.

Read the tweet from Hans Straub, which has since been removed: "Thought an organization with 5 Super Bowl titles would have a stricter draft criteria. Clearly, integrity & character are not a priority."

Josh Newberg of 247Sports, citing unnamed sources, first reported the suspension. NFL teams typically turn to college strength coaches for background on a prospect, especially that prospect's work ethic and demeanor.

The 49ers acknowledged that Lynch, who left Notre Dame for USF after an impressive 2011 season and then had only a middling 2013 year with the Bulls, had red flags. But Lynch had the backing of USF head coach Willie Taggart, a former assistant at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh and one of Harbaugh's close friends. Taggart spoke up for Lynch prior to the draft.

"He believes that this is a good young man," Harbaugh said of his conversation with Taggart. "(Lynch) needs direction. He needs good structure around him where he's got guys, men that he would look up to. That he would have a chance to emulate. Feels that he'll thrive in that kind of environment."

Said Taggart when asked about Straub's tweet today: "Very disappointed in the tweet that you're talking about. Hans knows how disappointed I am. ... Our football team knows how disappointed I am." The quote was provided by the school's athletic communications department.

Linebackers coach Jim Leavitt, who once coached at USF, also was familiar with Lynch, a 6-6, 255 defensive end who will compete at outside linebacker for the 49ers. Lynch visited Santa Clara last month and met extensively with Leavitt and general manager Trent Baalke.

"I think you need to dig into him a little bit more," Baalke said. "This isn't a young man that has a rap sheet that you're dealing with. He's not a young man that's been in a lot of trouble. He's made some mistakes. He's got to do some things differently. He understands that and we as an organization understand that.

May 12, 2014
49ers sign six undrafted rookies; release LB Darius Fleming

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The 49ers today signed six rookies who went undrafted over the weekend, including Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov and Southern Illinois quarterback Kory Faulker. A seventh, Asante Cleveland, a tight end from Sacramento who played at the University of Miami, is expected to sign shortly.

To make room on the 90-man roster, the team released three players, including linebacker Darius Fleming, a fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft. Fleming tore an ACL in each of the last two seasons and never played a snap for the 49ers. His release means that just two members of that year's draft class -- second-round pick LaMichael James and fourth-round pick Joe Looney -- remain with the squad.

The other two players who were let go are cornerback Dax Swanson and receiver DeMarco Sampson.The 49ers also signed:

* OLB Morgan Breslin, USC, 6-1, 240. He had a team-high 13 sacks last year but suffered a hip injury that limited him to just four sacks his senior year in 2013.

* C Dillon Farrell, New Mexico, 6-4, 303. He was an All-Mountain West honorable mention and has experience at both guard and center.

* OT Fou Fonoti, Michigan State, 6-4, 308. He played in 28 career games with the Spartans, and he started all 12 contests as a senior.

* S L.J. McCray, Catawba, 6-0, 215. Athletic safety who has the potential to stand out on special teams.

Skov is perhaps the most well-known free-agent pickup. He played for Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio at Stanford, leading the team in tackles in 2010, Harbaugh's and Fangio's last year there. Skov tore his ACL the following season, however, then was injured for the scouting combine and Stanford's pro day.

May 12, 2014
Tale of the tape: 49ers have long-armed draft class ... with one exception

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Trent Baalke, an admitted admirer of long-armed players, lamented in February that few draft prospects this year had the length he's looking for. "All of the guys last year on the D-line were 34 (inches) or more," Baalke said of 2013 prospects like Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial. "I think it's an important trait. It's a trait that's hard to find. If you look at this this year's measurements, you're not going to find many players in this year's draft that are 34-plus arm length regardless of position -- O-line, D-line, linebacker. So it is a trait we certainly look at."

Still, Baalke managed to land three prospects in the 34-inch club on Friday and Saturday. Keeping in mind that the average arm length -- from shoulder to the end of the middle finger -- in this draft was little under 31 inches, here are the official measures, most of them from the scouting combine:

1. S Jimmie Ward - 31"
2. RB Carlos Hyde - 32"
3A. OL Marcus Martin - 34"
3B. ILB Chris Borland - 29 1/4"
3C. OL Brandon Thomas - 34 3/4"
4A. WR Bruce Ellington - 31"
4B. CB Dontae Johnson - 31 1/2"
5A. OLB Aaron Lynch - 34"
5B.CB Keith Reaser - 30 ¾"
6. CB Kenneth Acker - 31"
7A. DL Kaleb Ramsey - 32 7/8"
7B. Trey Millard - 31"
* WR Stevie Johnson - 32 3/4"

Obviously, Borland's stubby arms stand out, and they were a knock against him in the run-up to the draft. When he met with reporters Friday night, Baalke arrived armed - sorry, couldn't resist -- for questions about Borland's levers. "How can you not love him as a football player?" Baalke said. "Not tall enough, not fast enough, arms are too short - you hear all of that. We just love the makeup. We love the player. He's everything you're looking for from a DNA standpoint."

* trade

-- Matt Barrows

May 11, 2014
49ers draft thoughts: Dr. Jekyll & Aaron Lynch ...

When it was reported last month that Aaron Lynch visited the 49ers, I put on one of Lynch's games last year at South Florida. I wasn't impressed. Yes, he got off the line of scrimmage quickly from his defensive line spot. But all he had was an outside move, and even that wasn't all that great. He was stonewalled whenever he tried to loop inside. He spent a lot of time on the ground. His stat line from that game against Michigan State: two tackles, no sacks. Meh. I didn't need to see more. This guy stinks.

But if you watch Lynch two years earlier against the same team, Michigan State, he looks like a morph between Aldon Smith and Jason Taylor. But angrier and more disruptive. Mike Mayock, who was doing the play-by-play in that game, couldn't stop gushing about Lynch, a true freshman for Notre Dame at the time, and deservedly so. Lynch played on the inside of the line and routinely brought pressure up the middle of the Spartans' pocket. In the second half, the Spartans double teamed him and chipped him with a running back, and still he came. He was unstoppable.

In short, he was a different person. At South Florida, he looked skinny and fatigued. He was bigger, nastier, more ferocious at Notre Dame. He did a lot of the inside stunting that Smith has done so well for the 49ers. The 49ers did a lot of research on Lynch, and they must believe he can return to his Notre Dame form. If he does -- and I realize this sounds a lot like draft-time hyperbole, so be it -- the 49ers hit a home run in the bottom of the fifth.

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If the 49ers had traded up for a wide receiver in the first round - something GM Trent Baalke acknowledged contemplating - I was prepared to write the sentence: The 49ers' move ahead for _________ may signal that they don't intend to sign Michael Crabtree to a long-term extension. Crabtree, of course, is entering the final year of his rookie deal. The 49ers didn't trade up. In fact, they didn't draft a wideout until the fourth round (Bruce Ellington). But they traded for veteran Stevie Johnson, who is signed through the next three seasons at salaries that are lower - perhaps significantly lower - than what Crabtree will want. The bottom line: The 49ers' trade for Johnson may signal that they don't intend to sign Michael Crabtree to a long-term extension.

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Another player whose long-term extension seems more unlikely today than it did a week ago? Mike Iupati's. The 49ers drafted two interior linemen, Marcus Martin and Brandon Thomas (Thomas played tackle but is projected to guard) who were among the best at their positions. Thomas likely won't play this year after suffering a torn ACL last month. But he will be ready next season when Iupati is set to hit the free-agent market. With Daniel Kilgore, Joe Looney and perhaps even Jonathan Martin contending for spots on the interior offensive line, the 49ers should find at least one candidate to play left guard should Iupati depart.

May 10, 2014
Undrafted free agents: 49ers land Skov, Southern Illinois QB

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The 49ers had one of the most loaded rosters in the NFL before the draft. Then they added 12 drafts picks during it. That means they don't have a lot of room for undrafted free agents, though they are starting to fill up those slots.

* QB Kory Faulkner, Southern Illinois, 6-3, 229
Faulkner is a big, strong-armed quarterback who threw 18 touchdowns against four interceptions last year. He missed three games with a broken finger but still finished with 1,997 yards and averaged nearly 222 passing yards a game. Faulkner also can run. He rushed 60 times for 283 yards and scored two rushing touchdowns last year. Jim Harbaugh met with Faulkner during his trip to Miami, Ohio for the recent unveiling of his brother's statue on campus. He said Faulker has experience in a read-option offense and also has operated under center. He'll compete against Blaine Gabbert and McLeod Bethel-Thompson for a backup job this offseason.

* OLB Morgan Breslin, USC, 6-1, 240
The junior college transfer had a team-high 13 sacks last year but suffered a hip injury that limited him to just four sacks his senior year in 2013. He had a good showing at the Trojans' pro day in March, leaping 35 1/2 inches in the vertical jump and pumping out 26 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press.

* TE Asante Cleveland, Miami, 6-5, 261
Sacramento product (Christian Brothers) has great size but was underutilized by the Hurricanes. He only caught three passes as a senior last year.

* C Dillon Farrell, New Mexico, 6-4, 303
All-Mountain West honorable mention has good size and experience at both guard and center.

* OT Fou Fonoti, Michigan State, 6-4, 308
Fonoti has played in 28 career games with the Spartans, and he started all 12 contests as a senior. He started the last nine games at right tackle.

* S L.J. McCray, Catawba, 6-0, 215.
McCray is a very athletic safety who stood out with an impressive 41-inch vertical leap at his pro day. His best fit immediately might be on special teams coverage units. The 49ers' top players there -- C.J. Spillman, Bubba Ventrone, Dan Skuta and Kassim Osgood -- are entering the final year of their contracts. McCray also has returned kicks.

* ILB Shayne Skov, Stanford, 6-2, 245
Skov, of course, is familiar to Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio who coached him at Stanford. Skov had a fantastic season in 2010 but suffered an ACL injury the following year. He rebounded this past season and was a finalist for the Butkus Award. He recorded a team-high 109 tackles (62 solo), 13 tackles for loss and 5 1/2 sacks.

-- Matt Barrows

May 10, 2014
Seventh round: 49ers end draft with defensive lineman, versatile fullback

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No. 243. Kaleb Ramsey, DE, Boston College. The 49ers waited until their penultimate pick to take a defensive lineman. Ramsey has classic size for a 3-4 defensive end at 6-3, 293 pounds. Impressively, he had 36 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press before the draft. Ramsey spent six seasons at Boston College after being injured in 2011 and 2012. Last year he finished with 28 tackles, four for loss and had two sacks.

No. 245. Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma. The 49ers rounded out the draft -- perhaps appropriately -- with another player who suffered an ACL injury. Millard (6-2, 247) tore his ACL and another ligament in his left knee in October following a 38-30 win over No. 10 Texas Tech. The versatile Millard was a team captain last year. He has good size and soft hands having caught 30 passes for the Sooners in 2012. Draft picks Brandon Thomas, a guard, and Keith Reaser, a cornerback, also are coming off ACL tears.

The 49ers' starting fullback, of course, is Bruce Miller, a seventh-round pick in 2011 whom the team recently awarded with a three-year contract extension. It's possible that the 49ers are looking at Millard as an H-back.

-- Matt Barrows

May 10, 2014
Sixth round: 49ers take third cornerback of the day, Kenneth Acker

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No. 180. Kenneth Acker, CB, SMU.

The 49ers didn't take a cornerback on the first two days of the draft, but they have taken three today. Acker (5-11, 190) had 16 pass deflections and three interceptions last season for SMU. When the Mustangs played Texas A&M on Sept. 21, they lost 42-13. But Acker had a good game against receiver Mike Evans, a Top 10 pick to Tampa Bay, limiting the big wideout to two catches for 57 yards and no touchdowns.

Acker picked off three passes in 2012 as well, returning one of them for a touchdown. He was one of the most athletic players on the squad, so much so that coaches gave him a look at wide receiver before the season. Acker suffered a hernia in the spring, however, which he said halted his move to receiver. He also has some punt- and kick-returning experience. He handled 14 punts in four seasons, averaging 8.1 yards a return. Acker said he would have done more of that last year, but injuries at his position meant that coaches didn't want to risk him on special teams.

"I went out there a lot for the sure-hands guys just to make sure we got possession of the ball," Acker said on a conference call.

Acker joins a cornerback group that includes fourth-round pick Dontae Johnson and fifth rounder Keith Reaser, who is unlikely to play in 2014. in addition, the 49ers used their first-round pick on safety Jimmie Ward, who is expected to play nickel cornerback. The team's starters promise to be Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver.

-- Matt Barrows

May 10, 2014
Fifth round: 49ers tap pass rusher Aaron Lynch, cornerback Reaser

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No. 150. Aaron Lynch, OLB, South Florida.

Lynch was one of the 30 prospects who visited the 49ers in Santa Clara last month likely because the team wanted to answer questions about his character. Lynch transferred from Notre Dame after earning first-team Freshman All-American honors in 2011 and sat out 2012. His weight dropped to 240 pounds at that time because he said he was taking Adderall, which suppressed his appetite. He said he's back to 255 pounds now and that he's at his best at 260 pounds.

Lynch said he's known 49ers linebacker coach Jim Leavitt since high school and that he spent a lot of time with Leavitt and general manager Trent Baalke during his visit. He praised the 49ers for taking time to learn about him. One of the critiques of Lynch is that he was lazy and underachieved at South Florida. Some draft observers thought that talent-wise, Lynch projects to a first-round selection. "I am a first-round talent," Lynch said. "I made some mistakes in my past and I figure that hurt me a little bit."

Lynch has excellent length and long arms (34 inches). He was a first-team all-conference selection last season after finishing with six sacks and 12 1/2 tackles for loss. Like last year with Corey Lemonier, the 49ers drafted a tall, ex-defensive end at the position. Lynch will compete with Dan Skuta and Lemonier for playing time. With Aldon Smith likely to serve a suspension in 2014, those players conceivably will be battling for a starting spot.

Lynch was recruited by Leavitt and played at South Florida for coach Willie Taggart, a former assistant at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh and one of Harbaugh's closest friends (Harbaugh was the best man at Taggart's wedding). Lynch should benefit from Leavitt's tutelage as well as that of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who coaches the team's outside linebackers. "This is my dream," he said. "I don't know how to express myself right now. This is amazing. First round, third round, it doesn't matter."

No. 170. Keith Reaser, CB, Florida Atlantic. Reaser is a member of the 49ers' ever-growing All-ACL team. The speedy cornerback tore his ACL six games into the season in October, then had to have a second surgery in February when his body rejected the cadaver ligament initially used to repair the tear. Like third-round pick Brandon Thomas, Reaser is unlikely to play in 2014 and his rookie-year salary should toll to 2015. Reaser (5-10, 189) has good athleticism and nice strength.

He said he ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at Florida Atlantic last year, and he has kick-return experience in college. Of course, he couldn't run at the scouting combine in February but was able to do 22 repetitions on the bench press. Reaser was one of the players who went back to Indianapolis for a medical checkup last month. "Everything's cleared up now," he said on a conference call. "So I should be good to go."

-- Matt Barrows

May 10, 2014
Fourth round: 49ers take WR Ellington, DB Johnson

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No. 106: Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina. The 49ers finally tapped a wide receiver, landing one of several prospects in this draft class with a basketball background. Ellington was a point guard for the Gamecocks and projects to slot receiver in the NFL. He leaped 39.5 inches at the combine and ran his 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds. At 5-9, 197 pounds, Ellington is undersized, but he showed good toughness and was an excellent blocker with the Gamecocks.

Ellington also has punt- and kick-return experience, meaning that if LaMichael James remains on the squad this season he will have competition. Ellington was not prolific due in part to a Gamecocks offense that spread the ball around. He started 11 of 13 games last year with 49 catches, 775 yards and eight touchdowns. During a conference call, Ellington noted that he played quarterback, defensive back and running back in high school and that he split his college career with basketball. "I feel like I have a lot of growth (at receiver)," he said. "Because I only played it for three years."

No. 129: Dontae Johnson, CB, N.C. State. With their second, fourth-round pick, the 49ers took defensive back Dontae Johnson, who has the size Trent Baalke has been looking for at cornerback -- 6-2, 200. Johnson played both safety and cornerback at N.C. State, but confirmed on a conference call that the 49ers are looking at him as a press-style cornerback. Like first-round pick Jimmie Ward, Johnson lined up at a number of spots in college, including at slot cornerback (see: video below). Johnson scored well at the combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds and leaping 38.5 inches in the vertical jump. He started all 12 games last season with five starts at cornerback and seven at free safety.Johnson may be tall but has shortish arms for his height -- 31 1/2 inches. Hands are 8 5/8 inches.

Johnson also is brainy. He was a double major at N.C. State -- sports management and business administration -- and he also was recruited by Jim Harbaugh to play at Stanford. "Honestly, it was too far," said Johnson, who is from New Jersey. "I wanted to stay closer to home." Johnson had a formal meeting with Harbaugh and the 49ers at the scouting combine at which point the 49ers coach -- as is his custom -- asked Johnson why he turned him down five years ago.

Johnson will join a cornerback group that includes Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver, Eric Wright, Perrish Cox, Chris Cook and Darryl Morris. Ward will compete to be the nickel/slot cornerback.

-- Matt Barrows

May 9, 2014
49ers reinforce might-is-right approach on second day of draft

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While the rest of the NFL has been moving toward a more finesse, more pass-oriented style of play, the 49ers haven't budged from their old-school, might-is-right approach to the game. The team reinforced that strategy on the second day of the draft Friday as they selected two interior offensive linemen, a throw-back style inside linebacker and a 235-pound running back from Ohio State, Carlos Hyde.

"Big wins," general manager Trent Baalke said minutes after the third round was complete. "Big wins a lot of football games in the league. And big in the middle wins a lot of football games."

The 49ers began the second day of the draft with Hyde, a powerful, squat runner who gained 3,198 yards and scored 37 touchdowns in 20 starts for the Buckeyes.

The selection of a big-bodied ball carrier was a look ahead to next year when the 49ers may be without Frank Gore, who is entering the final year of his contract and who turns 31 next week. Hyde said he looked up to Gore, felt he had a similar style to Gore - "violent," he said of that style - but that he planned to push Gore for a starting spot.

"What I bring is I play with a lot of passion," he said. "I feel like guys can feed off of that. They see how hard I run the ball and how much determination I run with."

Hyde had a particularly ferocious battle in college against the 49ers' second, third-round draft pick, Wisconsin's Chris Borland, a small but gritty linebacker who was one of the top tacklers in the nation in recent years.

May 9, 2014
Hyde & seek: 49ers take big RB in second round

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With Frank Gore entering the final year of his contract and questions lingering about Marcus Lattimore, the 49ers selected a big-bodied running back at pick No. 57, Carlos Hyde from Ohio State. Hyde is 6-0, 235 pounds and rushed for 1,527 yards after being suspended for the first three games of the season. The suspension was stemming from an alleged assault in 2013.

The 49ers have been a run-first team for the last decade, but they suddenly have question marks at tailback. Gore, their workhorse since 2006, turns 31 next week and is not signed beyond this season. In addition, Kendall Hunter is entering the final year of his contract and LaMichael James is unhappy with his playing time and wants a trade. Lattimore, meanwhile, was a fourth-round pick last year after suffering a grisly knee injury at South Carolina in 2012. He is continuing to come back from that injury.

Hyde said he has watched and admired Gore, feels like he runs similarly to Gore, and is gunning for Gore's starting job. "I'm going to definitely get in there and compete for that starting job and keep that running game alive that Frank Gore brought to it," Hyde said in a conference call.

Hyde said he described his running style as "violent." "What I bring is I play with a lot of passion," he said. "I feel like guys can feed off of that. They see how hard I run the ball and how much determination I run with." Hyde is among the biggest tailbacks in the draft, and he scored 18 touchdowns last season, 15 of them on the ground.

As to his suspension, Hyde said the 49ers asked him about it during an interview at the combine. "That's the first incident I've ever been in in college and I haven't been in any trouble after that," he said.

The 49ers have had nine arrests involving players in the last two years.

-- Matt Barrows

May 9, 2014
Jimmie Ward makes his mother cry

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New 49ers safety/slot cornerback Jimmie Ward made his debut in front of the local media today, and the personable 22-year-old came away with an A grade.

Ward, who is from Mobile, Ala., said that Round 1 of the draft also fell on his mom's birthday. Early in the day, he drove three hours west to New Orleans. He needed to find a mall that had an unusually extravagant gift he wanted to buy his mother, a Louis Vuitton purse. He drove back during the first half of the first round, then was home when Jim Harbaugh called to tell him he was the 49ers' selection at pick No. 30.

"She was proud, she was happy, then it was crazy when I got drafted," said Ward of his mother, whom he credited with steering him from trouble in the "tough neighborhood" he grew up in in Mobile. Needless to say, she also appreciated her birthday gift, which she opened in front of the whole family.

"I never, ever - I couldn't afford anything like that," Ward said. "First time for me ever buying anything for my mother over $100. So it felt great."

Ward admitted to being a class clown, and he recalled one of his grade school teachers once telling him that he would make his mother cry one day. "And she was right," he said. "But it was tears of joy."

FYI, guys, Mother's Day is Sunday.

-- Matt Barrows

May 9, 2014
Round 2: Plenty of CBs, WRs left for 49ers

Jimmie Ward, the 49ers' first-round draft pick, can play several positions, including free and strong safety as well as the slot position in the team's nickel defense. General manager Trent Baalke, however, made it clear that he is not looking at Ward as a cornerback.

That means the 49ers' two biggest draft needs, cornerback and wide receiver, still must be addressed. The 49ers have five picks - two on the second round and three in the third - today, and there's a good chance they package some of those picks to target players they like. Baalke acknowledged interest in trading up in the first round for receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., but he said the price of doing so was too steep.

Instead, he decided to rely on the draft's impressive depth at the position. "We feel good about the wide receiver corps all the way through the draft," he said. "We feel there's going to be value to be had at every level. And that is one of the positions that we feel, or have felt all along, that had some depth to it."

Here are the top players remaining at cornerback and receiver, according to CBS.com. Comments are mine. The 49ers currently have picks 56 (2nd), 61 (2nd), 77 (3rd), 94 (3rd) and 100 (3rd).

Wide receivers:
* Marqise Lee, USC - Quick, smooth route runner looked great in 2012, battled injuries last year.
* Allen Robinson, Penn State - Good size and length but not as fast as some of the other options.
* Cody Latimer, Indiana - Powerfully built junior with very good hands. Coming off foot injury.
* Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt - Prolific pass catcher in SEC; many catches were on screens, short routes.
* Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss - He may be the best athlete of the group; was inconsistent last year.
* Davante Adams, Fresno State - FBS' leader in Tds and receptions last year. Great leaper, not fast.
* Jarvis Landry, LSU - Physical, determined pass catcher but not athletic or fast
* Bruce Ellington, South Carolina - Played point guard for Gamecocks. Physical, tough but lacks size.
* Martavis Bryant, Clemson - Tall, long-limbed down-field threat in the mold, at least, of Randy Moss.
* Paul Richardson, Colorado - Fast, downfield threat but weighs only 172 pounds.

Cornerbacks:
* Philip Gaines, Rice - Surprised with an extremely fast 4.31-second 40 at combine. Has good, not great size.
* Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska - One of several tall, big-bodied cornerbacks who could catch Baalke's eye.
* Keith McGill, Utah - Another massive cornerback in the mold of Richard Sherman, other press specialists.
* Jaylen Watkins, Florida - Older brother of Clemson WR Sammy Watkins; versatile member of Gators secondary.
* Pierre Desir, Lindenwood - Tall, long-limbed but played at small school. Held his own at Senior Bowl.
* Marcus Roberson, Florida - Had alcohol arrest in 2011 and suspended a game in 2013. Next.
Walt Aikens, Liberty - Another 6-1, 200-plus pound cornerback who can play press coverage.
* Bashaud Breeland, Clemson - Tall and long-limbed. Had solid career at Clemson; burned deep vs. FSU.
* Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State - Former wrestler and team leader. Physique does not stand out.

-- Matt Barrows

May 8, 2014
Baalke on Jimmie Ward: Don't mistake size for lack of toughness

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For the second straight season, the 49ers took a player listed as a free safety with their first-round choice. Jimmy Ward's immediate role, however, likely will come at the increasingly critical slot cornerback position.

The Northern Illinois safety is 5-11, 193 pounds, which is undersized for an NFL safety and quite a bit smaller than the team's top choice last year, Eric Reid. The 49ers' biggest free-agent addition this offseason, Antoine Bethea, also plays safety, and he and Reid are slated to start there this season.

Ward is expected to enter games when opponents line up three or more wide receivers, a role that veteran Carlos Rogers, now a member of the Raiders, had for the past three seasons. Ward said it was a position he played more than 50 percent of the time at Northern Illinois, which faced plenty of spread offenses in the Mid-American Conference, and is a role that has become more and more vital in the pass-heavy NFL. The 49ers coaches have preferred bigger-body cornerbacks at the spot in previous seasons because they play close to the trenches and are expected to make a lot of tackles.

"The nickel's been on the field 60 percent of the time for us," said 49ers general manager Trent Baalke. "So that's a starter in our opinion."

May 8, 2014
49ers tap safety Jimmie Ward in first round

For the second straight season, the 49ers took a safety in the first round, although Jimmie Ward might be best suited as a nickel cornerback early in his career. The Northern Illinois safety is 5-11, 193, which is undersized for an NFL player at his position and quite a bit smaller than Eric Reid, the team's top pick last season. The 49ers' biggest free-agent pickup, Antoine Bethea, also is a safety, and he and Reid are expected to start this season.

Ward was dealing with a foot injury during the combine in February, but he performed well at his pro day in March, which the 49ers attended. Ward reportedly ran his 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds, which would have been the second fastest time for a safety at the combine. In 2013, he had a team-high 95 tackles, seven interceptions and 17 pass deflections. Ward was a third-team All-American, a first-team All-MAC selection and a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2013. Ward was one of nine defensive backs taken in the first round Thursday.

In the days before the draft, a buzz built that the 49ers would trade up in the first round and that LSU receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. was their likely target. Two receivers, Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, were taken in the first seven picks, then the Giants snapped up Beckham with the 12th pick.

MORE TO COME

May 8, 2014
Live chat replay: Draft day finally has arrived
 
May 8, 2014
Trade up? 49ers' draft-day scenarios

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Here are three first-day-of-draft scenarios for the 49ers in order of likelihood:

1. Trade up. 52% chance. This is the most likely outcomes for the following reasons: A.) Trent Baalke has done it in the past and it's part of their roster-building strategy - accumulate a lot of picks and then package those picks to target specific players. B.) The team has the means to do it, six selections in the Top 100 slots. C.) It's considered a deep draft, so teams in rebuilding mode might be more apt to exchange a high pick for multiple lower-round picks. How high is Baalke willing to go? My guess he wouldn't part ways with a first- or second-round pick for next year because that would run counter to the team's overall strategy. Therefore, moving into the Top 10 seems unlikely.
Targets: WR Odell Beckham, Jr., CB Justin Gilbert, CB Kyle Fuller

2. Stay put. 26% chance. Sometimes it's hard to find a dance partner. And if pre-draft chatter is even remotely accurate, the 49ers' top target, Beckham, is being eyed by a number of teams. The 49ers had the 30th pick in 2012 and stayed at that spot. If that happens again this year, look for them to take the highest rated receiver or cornerback on their board. Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste's names has been bandied about as a possibility, but if the team liked Baptiste, they were very discreet about it. Another position would be surprise. But pass rusher always is a possibility.

Targets: WR Cody Latimer, WR Davante Adams, CB Jason Verrett, WR Kelvin Benjamin, WR Jordan Matthews, WR Allen Robinson, OLB Dee Ford, OLB Demarcus Lawrence

May 7, 2014
Tick tock, it's time to mock ....

1. DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina.
Concerns about Clowney's work ethic are overblown. Just limit his snaps and make sure he has central a/c at all times. A mist machine and a cool glass of ice tea might be nice, too.
2. OT Greg Robinson, Auburn. The Rams must ask themselves: Protect quarterback Sam Bradford or replace him? They go with the easier move.
3. WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson.
Prolific wideout heads to Jacksonville, which along with Tennessee and Tampa forms the Bermuda Triangle of the NFL. So long, Sammy.
4. LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo.
Browns feel that Brian Hoyer is a better option than a man nicknamed Johnny Football. That's why they are the Browns.
5. OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M.
Raiders coach - blanking on his name - takes Matthews to protect quarterback - blanking on his name.

May 7, 2014
Crossover move: One-time hoopsters to be drafted early

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Cody Latimer was an aspiring power forward who didn't play football until he was a junior in high school. Mike Evans spent his prep years grabbing rebounds, not receptions. Davante Adams and Bruce Ellington - they went off to college dreaming of becoming basketball stars, not football players.

It turns out their dedication to the hardwood was time well spent.

All four college wide receivers are expected to be taken on either Day 1 or Day 2 of the draft this week, and their basketball experience is very much seen as a bonus. "Generally speaking, the guys with basketball in their background understand a key element of sport, which is spacing," said 49ers general manager Trent Baalke. "They understand how to keep space, and more important, create space. That's not easily learned. That's a natural instinct people have."

The 49ers' locker room already teems with players who insist that had they gotten a break or two - or grown an extra inch or two - they'd be sinking last-second three pointers in the NBA and exchanging barbs with Spike Lee on the sideline.

Michael Crabtree, for example, was a Top 50 basketball recruit in Texas whom then-Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight was gunning to land. When Nevada coaches first saw Colin Kaepernick, it was during a basketball game at Pitman High. His gritty play that evening convinced them he'd be a good fit at quarterback.

May 5, 2014
Beatwriters mock draft: run on CBs, WRs in Round 1

The annual beatwriter mock draft concluded this afternoon, and here are the results. This obviously is a no-trade mock and is designed to give fellow writers an idea of your team's draft needs, possible targets, etc.

  1. HOU Jadeveon Clowney, DE
  2. STL Jake Matthews, T
  3. JAC Sammy Watkins, WR
  4. CLE Khalil Mack, DE
  5. OAK Greg Robinson, T
  6. ATL Taylor Lewan, T
  7. TB Mike Evans, WR
  8. MIN Blake Bortles, QB
  9. BUF Eric Ebron, TE
  10. DET Anthony Barr, OLB
  11. TEN Aaron Donald, DT
  12. NYG Zack Martin, T
  13. STL Darqueze Dennard, CB
  14. CHI Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. S
  15. PIT Justin Gilbert, CB
  16. DAL Johnny Manziel, QB
  17. BAL CJ Mosley, ILB
  18. NYJ Odell Beckham, WR
  19. MIA Ja'Wuan James, T
  20. ARI Calvin Pryor, S
  21. GB Ryan Shazier, OLB
  22. PHI Kyle Fuller, CB
  23. KC Marqise Lee, WR
  24. CIN Bradley Roby, CB
  25. SD Jason Verrett CB
  26. CLE Teddy Bridgewater, QB
  27. NO Brandin Cooks, WR
  28. CAR Kelvin Benjamin, WR
  29. NE Stephon Tuitt, DE
  30. SF Cody Latimer, WR
  31. DEN Kony Ealy, DE
  32. SEA Demarcus Lawrence, DE

All of the draft crush disciples reading right now are familiar with why I chose Latimer with the 30th pick. I definitely can see a scenario in which the 49ers trade ahead, say to Baltimore's No. 17 spot, and take either Odell Beckham or Kyle Fuller.

In this draft, the Top 5 cornerbacks were off the board and six receivers were as well. As I wrote in the mock draft, I could see the 49ers going with a pass rusher in this scenario with Kony Ealy, Dee Ford and Demarcus Lawrence being the likeliest picks. A scenario in which the 49ers traded out of the first round, say with Houston, Jacksonville or Oakland, also would be a possibility. Latimer, Ealy, Ford, Lawrence and the next-rated cornerback would be in play early in the second round as well.

-- Matt Barrows

May 5, 2014
Crystal ball: seven-round stab at 49ers' draft

Ok, ok. The 49ers will not end the draft with the same amount of picks - 11 - with which they begin it. They will move up and down the draft board in a number of rounds, perhaps starting with the first. They'll turn a pick or two into additions selections next year. I understand that. But predicting when those myriad trades will occur is a fool's errand. Instead I'll whet your drafpetite with the types of players the team could select if it hung onto all of its picks.

You'll notice that this is a no-lineman draft. On the defensive line, the team's backups include Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Ian Williams, Demarcus Dobbs, Will Tukuafu and Lawrence Okoye. Offensive line depth isn't quite as vast, but it still includes Jonathan Martin, Adam Snyder, Joe Looney, Al Netter, Carter Bykowski and Luke Marquardt. That is, there doesn't seem to be room for additions at either spot.

1st; 30th overall: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
He's big, fast, tough and is an excellent leaper. Latimer could serve as the heir to either Michael Crabtree's or Anquan Boldin's starting role. Like A.J. Jenkins, he's an underclassman receiver from a Big 10 school (that starts with 'I'). Unlike Jenkins, Latimer's physique is NFL-ready, and at the bare-bones minimum he could serve as special teams coverage player during his rookie season.

2nd, 56th overall: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
Desir is tall, long-limbed and physical, and he could be the press cornerback Trent Baalke has been looking for in recent years. If Desir is unavailable, there are a slew of others will similar physical skills - Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Keith McGill, Bashaud Breeland to name a few - who likely will be around in the second round.

2nd, 61st overall: Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville
Smith may not be as powerful as the two players, Aldon Smith and Corey Lemonier, Baalke has drafted at the position in the past. But he is very athletic and still is learning his position. Smith was brought to Louisville to play quarterback, which hints at his intelligence and leadership ability.

3rd, 77th overall: Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
The 49ers could stand to add a short-yardage runner, and the 235-pound Hill fits the description. The 49ers had issues last season when fullback Bruce Miller was lost to injury. Hill has the size and attitude to be a lead blocker, and he has soft hands (18 catches for 181 yards in 2013) as well. He has character concerns that must be checked out.

May 2, 2014
Draft-savvy? 49ers stand out in league-wide analysis

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General manager Trent Baalke has been taking some lumps lately. There's the failed 2012 draft that included first-round pick A.J. Jenkins, who was traded last year to Kansas City. Even Baalke's star-studded 2011 draft class doesn't look quite as bright today following the recent arrests of Aldon Smith (first round) and Chris Culliver (third round).

But take a step back and you'll find that the 49ers, thanks to Baalke and predecessor Scot McCloughan, lead the league in finding players, especially starters, in the draft or as undrafted free agents. According to an analysis by The Boston Globe, the 49ers and Texans have the most draft picks still on the team and that the 49ers have more starters and pro-bowl draftees than any other franchise.

The 49ers have done a particularly good job in the first round with seven of their picks in starting spots. Only the Patriots claim as many, according to the study. San Francisco, however, has only one starter from rounds 5-7 (Bruce Miller). The Seahawks lead the league with five starters from that part of the draft. (The Globe's numbers do not include the 2013 draft. Eric Reid would be the eighth first-round starter; Daniel Kilgore will be another 5-7-round draftee if, as expected, he starts at center this season).

I count 17 drafted players or undrafted free agents currently penciled in for starting spots in 2014 with free-agent pickup Glenn Dorsey getting the nod, in my mind at least, over Ian Williams. Of those 17, six were brought in when McCloughan was in charge of personnel decisions 2005-2009.

Projected defensive starters:
LDE Ray McDonald
LOLB Aldon Smith*
ILB NaVorro Bowman+
ILB Patrick Willis
CB Tramaine Brock
CB Chris Culliver
S Eric Reid

Projected offensive starters:
WR Michael Crabtree
RB Frank Gore
FB Bruce Miller
LT Joe Staley
LG Mike Iupati
C Daniel Kilgore
RG Alex Boone
RT Anthony Davis
TE Vernon Davis
QB Colin Kaepernick

-- Matt Barrows

May 1, 2014
Rank & file: How the draft's top WRs stack up

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There are 13 wide receivers expected to be taken in the first two rounds of the draft. Here's a statistical breakdown in how they rank, followed by an admittedly incomplete tally at the end.

Receptions in 2013:
Davante Adams: 131 (13 games played)
Brandin Cooks: 128 (13)
Jordan Matthews: 112 (13)
Sammy Watkins: 101 (13)
Allen Robinson: 97 (12)
Jarvis Landry: 77 (13)
Cody Latimer: 72 (12)
Mike Evans: 69 (13)
Odell Beckham: 59 (13)
Donte Moncrief: 59 (13)
Marqise Lee: 57 (11)
Kelvin Benjamin: 54 (14)
Martavis Bryant: 42 (13)

Yards per game:
Cooks: 133.1
Adams: 132.2
Robinson: 119.3
Matthews: 113.6
Watkins: 112.6
Evans: 107.2
Landry: 91.8
Latimer: 91.3
Beckham: 88.6
Benjamin: 72.2
Moncrief: 72.2
Lee: 71.9
Bryant: 63.7

April 30, 2014
2014 draft crush: And the winner is ...

Host: May I first say that you look fantastic?

Me: Thanks. You know, drinking plenty of water, getting eight hours of sack time. Trying to hit the gym as much as possible.

Host: Whatever you're doing, it's working. Bravo. Am I right, ladies?

Studio audience enthusiastically applauds.

Host: Of course, we're here today for your annual draft crush. Carl Nicks, Percy Harvin, Von Miller, Tank Carradine - you've hit on some interesting names in the past. Who wins it this year? Who gets the rose?

Me: Well, picking at No. 30 is not easy, Oprah. There are no obvious choices that far down the draft. The player has to have enough question marks to slip 30 spots but must be special enough to warrant the selection. That player this year is ....

Host: ... drum roll, please ...

April 30, 2014
Target practice: Who would the 49ers be after in a trade-up scenario?

The 49ers and Ravens have a good working relationship. I think I read that somewhere. After all, these are the teams that agreed to a trade of Anquan Boldin last year. They're scrimmaging against one another following a preseason game in Baltimore in August. And, oh yeah, head coaches Jim and John Harbaugh are related in some way. I forget exactly how.

Which makes them potential trade partners next week in the first round of the draft. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome today said he's already received calls from teams looking to trade into his No. 17 spot in the first round. While I'm sure that his counterpart with the 49ers, Trent Baalke, made one of those calls, I'm also sure that Baalke has made numerous calls exploring both trade-up and trade-down scenarios. That's what general managers do before any draft and they probably make more calls in a year in which the draft is two weeks later than normal.

But let's assume the 49ers did move up from pick No. 30 to pick No. 17, a very plausible scenario considering they jumped up 13 spots last year to get Eric Reid. My guess is that they'd be targeting, in order, one of these players:

1. WR Odell Beckham, Jr., LSU
2. CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
3. CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State

Beckham seems to check all of the boxes when it comes to what the 49ers were seeking in free agency this offseason and what they need to round out their offense. He's a downfield receiver with very good, but not elite, speed. He's feisty and fights for the ball in the air. He's a very good route runner. He played in the toughest conference in the nation (and the 49ers moved up for an LSU product last year). And he also returns punts and kickoffs, and is especially good at the latter.

Fuller, meanwhile, has good toughness and experience and would be a fit both on the outside and in the slot cornerback role the 49ers must solve this offseason. Gilbert is perhaps the most athletically gifted of all the cornerbacks. It's doubtful, however, that he would be on the board at pick No. 17.

-- Matt Barrows

April 29, 2014
49ers fits: Looking at pass rushers in the upcoming draft

The 49ers hope that Aldon Smith is with them for the long term. The short term? That's a lot fuzzier, and it may prompt them to look at a pass rusher early in the draft. Trent Baalke on Friday said that the team was ready to count on Corey Lemonier, who is expected to improve upon a promising rookie campaign, as well as veteran Dan Skuta. After all, the 49ers went 5-0 in the games that Smith missed last season.

But if they did look for a pass rusher, the following players would be intriguing. All of them are listed as defensive ends - as were Smith and Lemonier - but have the athleticism to play outside linebacker in the 49ers' scheme. All also are similar to Smith in that they are tall, long-armed prospects. They are expected to be drafted anywhere from the end of the first round through the third round.

Kony Ealy, Missouri. (6-4, 273) 34 ¼-inch arms, 9 ½-inch hands.
This should be an easy projection for the 49ers because Ealy essentially played the same spot in the Tigers defense that Smith did in 2010. Ealy is bigger and not quite as long as Smith. He mostly played with his hand on the ground but, like Smith at Missouri, also dropped into coverage from time to time. He had eight sacks and knocked down six passes. He also had an interception for a touchdown return. Most teams likely are looking at Ealy as 4-3 defensive end. That was the book on Smith when he was coming out in the draft, too.

Dee Ford, Auburn (6-2, 252, 32 7/8, 10 ¼).
Ford is not as long as the pass rushers Baalke has preferred in the past. But he was a relentless defender for Auburn who has the traits of a team leader, something the 49ers could use considering their spate of off-the-field issues. The 49ers likely got a long look at him when they were examining Lemonier last year. Ford last season had 14 ½ tackles for loss and 10 ½ sacks, including two in the national championship game. He also excelled against top competition at the Senior Bowl. He missed the first two games of his senior season with an MCL issue, and Ford has been nicked at various times in his career.

April 28, 2014
Baalke's list: Analyzing the 49ers' pre-draft visitors

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NFL teams are allowed to host up to 30 draft prospects, and Sunday was the final day NFL teams could have such a visit. Here's a partial list of the players who have visited with a bit of analysis below each position group.

Wide receivers:
Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Martavis Bryant, Clemson
Paul Richardson, Colorado
Albert Wilson, Georgia State

The common thread here is that each of these players can make plays downfield, a high priority given that the 49ers' starters, Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree, aren't exactly speedsters. The team also has spent time with LSU's Odell Beckham, Jr. and Indiana's Cody Latimer, who fit the above description as well, especially Beckham. The most intriguing name on this list is Benjamin, who has almost tight end-like size, including the long, powerful arms that Trent Baalke desires. But he's also a 23-year-old, redshirt sophomore, who comes with red flags, including showing up at the combine heavier than expected at 240 pounds. His visit is doubly intriguing because Baalke already had attended FSU's pro day. Wilson has return-man abilities. So does Beckham.

Running backs:
RB Terrance Cobb, University of the Cumberlands
RB Storm Johnson, Central Florida
RB Terrance West, Towson University

April 27, 2014
49ers spend 90 minutes with Indiana's Cody Latimer. What that means...

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Wide receivers coach John Morton not only flew to Indiana to watch Cody Latimer's Friday workout, he spent an hour and half with Latimer diagramming plays and otherwise trying to figure out how the big-bodied wideout would adapt to an NFL film room, meeting room, locker room.

What does that mean? Well, in 2010 offensive line coach Mike Solari met with both Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati to chart plays on a white board and otherwise discuss the type of schemes they'd be expected to process with the 49ers. The 49ers took each in the first round that year. Last year, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula attended Tank Carradine's pre-draft workout and also spent time with him afterward. The 49ers took him in the second round, 40th overall.

So that means it's a slam dunk that the 49ers will take Latimer? No, not exactly. The only reason we know that Solari met with Davis and Iupati is because they ended up on the squad and Solari talked about their visit afterward. What we don't have is the list of players Solari, Tomsula, Morton, et. al. have met with in previous years that the 49ers ultimately passed over.

In 2012, for example, Solari met with, and went over plays with, offensive lineman Amini Silatolu (prompting me, in my mock draft that year, to project Silatolu to the 49ers at pick No. 30.). San Francisco instead took A.J. Jenkins - who visited Santa Clara before the draft and presumably charted plays - in the first round while the Panthers took Silatolu 10 picks later.

Did Solari have a bad session with Silatolu? Were the 49ers trying to throw a smoke screen? Did they really like Silatolu but just not as much as Jenkins? These are all unknowns. There are plenty of clues in the run-up to the draft. The trick is figuring out which clues are the most important. The 49ers also have met with receivers Martavis Bryant, Paul Richardson and, according to CSN Bay Area, Kelvin Benjamin this month, and they presumably charted plays them as well.

*******************************
Do 49ers' first-round picks usually pay the team a pre-draft visit? Yes, but not always. Here's the list since Trent Baalke started running the draft in 2010.

Pre-draft visit?
2010: Anthony Davis - yes
2010: Mike Iupati - yes
2011: Aldon Smith - yes
2012: A.J. Jenkins - yes
2013: Eric Reid - no.

- Matt Barrows

April 26, 2014
Harbaugh calls San Jose State's Fales a Top 5 quarterback

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The top 5 quarterbacks in next month's draft? Gather up all the rankings available and Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garrapolo likely are on that list in one order or another.

But Jim Harbaugh, whose reputation for choosing and developing passers - some of them obscure at the time -- is well-earned, believes a local, less-heralded product deserves Top-5 ranking: San Jose State's David Fales. "I'm a big fan," Harbaugh said after watching Fales work out on Friday. "My personal evaluation of this (draft) class has David in the top five."

Fales completed 64 percent of his passes last season for nearly 4,200 yards. He had a memorable game in a shootout against Fresno State in which he completed 37 of 45 passes for 547 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. It turns out 49ers general manager Trent Baalke attended that game, which was held only 11 miles south of the 49ers headquarters and its new stadium.

"I like a lot of things about David," Baalke said Friday. "He's very composed. He's a very smart football player. You look at him statistically. He's won a lot of games. He won a shootout against Fresno, which I happened to be at. He's got good arm talent. He can make all the throws. He's very accurate, especially in the short to intermediate game. There's a lot to like about him."

The biggest question about Fales has been his athleticism and his ability to throw the deep ball. Harbaugh, however, did not seem to be concerned.

"You see a very compact throwing motion today, more compact than I saw during his career," he said. "But he was still throwing the ball 50, 55 yards down field, throwing the deep comebacks, the outside lanes like he threw in college, easily, accurately and on a line. We talked a little after the workout. I don't see any deficiencies that way."

Harbaugh famously graded little-known quarterbacks like Tony Romo and David Garrard higher than the consensus top picks at the position, such as Joey Harrington, when he was a low-level assistant with the Raiders. He has seen Eastern Illinois' Garrapolo - another quarterback with a compact throwing motion - in person this year and also attended the workout for Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas. Fales and Thomas are expected to be taken in the middle rounds of the draft, which is where the 49ers are most likely to pounce on one as well.

Fales wasn't the only quarterback at the 49ers' "local" pro day on Friday. Vanderbilt's Austyn Carta-Samuels (Saratoga) and Delaware State's Cory Murphy (Santa Clara) also took part.

-- Matt Barrows

April 25, 2014
49ers notes: Baalke insists team not trying to trade LaMichael James

Trent Baalke today said he may have come across a few tweets that suggest LaMichael James is unhappy with his role with the 49ers but that he isn't interested in trading the running back. Baalke explained James' absence from offseason training at the same facility by saying that James recently had his first baby and that he is remaining in Texas to "settle into life" with the new child.

"If a guy's not here, I'm not on the phone asking why he's not here," said Baalke, noting that the current sessions in Santa Clara are voluntary.

The Bee reported this month that the 49ers are very much aware of James' dissatisfaction with his role and that the team is actively trying to trade him. Baalke said he'd be more disappointed in James if he was content with his role on offense, which amounted to 12 carries last regular season. "I'd be disappointed if he wasn't disappointed that he wasn't getting on the field as much as he wanted to," Baalke said. "I'd much more concerned about that than his frustration of not playing."

Of course, Baalke wouldn't let on that he is trying to trade James, just as he refused to say he was trying to trade quarterback Alex Smith just before completing a deal with the Chiefs last year. Players who express discontent on the 49ers - such as receiver Braylon Edwards or running back Brandon Jacobs - typically have not remained on the team for very long.

James, meanwhile, has been open about his dissatisfaction in San Francisco. Immediately after The Bee's report was published, he wrote on Twitter, "When old news becomes new news." He also retweeted a message from a fan that read, "I was really hoping they would use ur talent instead of give it away. It's just stupid."

Et cetera - Baalke said he didn't expect that the Miami police investigation that includes Colin Kaepernick would alter the team's ongoing contract negotiations with the quarterback. But he said the nature of those negotiations is that they can take a long time. "They're long, they're drawn out, they can be tedious," he said.

* Mike Iupati is making good progress from a broken leg suffered in the NFC Championship, Baalke said, but it hasn't been determined when he will return to the practice field. Joe Looney could fill in at left guard if Iupati is not ready for OTAs and minicamps.

* Said Baalke of his relationship with Jim Harbaugh: "It couldn't be better right now." But don't expect to see the two men hugging. "If you want us to hug and mug for the camera ... you're looking at the wrong two guys," said the famously gruff general manager.

* Defensive end Demarcus Dobbs signed his one-year restricted free-agent tender Friday. Dobbs backed up Justin Smith the last two years.

-- Matt Barrows

April 25, 2014
Baalke: 49ers won't give up on Aldon Smith

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In the first public appearance by any 49ers official since Aldon Smith's airport arrest on April 13, general manager Trent Baalke today said he and the organization are disappointed by the pattern of bad behavior by the linebacker but not discouraged by it.

Baalke made it clear the team would stand by Smith, who holds the franchise record for sacks in a season but who also has been arrested three times since 2012. "We're a family," he said. "You don't just open a door and toss people out of it."

Smith has been working out at the team facility since the start of the offseason program April 21.

Baalke, however, was vague about how the team would handle the fast-approaching May 3 deadline for picking up a fifth-year option on Smith's contract that would pay Smith nearly $10 million in 2015. He said that's still being discussed internally. According to a league source, the 49ers are leaning against picking up that option.

Smith, 24, has a court date next week in relation to a September DUI arrest as well as gun charges stemming from a party at Smith's home that grew out of control in June 2012. In addition, the Los Angeles City Attorney's office is considering whether to file misdemeanor charges against Smith for allegedly saying he had a bomb as he went through Los Angeles International Airport's security line earlier this month.

During a nearly hour-long session with reporters, Baalke walked a line between saying he was disappointed with Smith's actions and those of several other 49ers in recent years and defending his players.

April 25, 2014
Wideouts Davante Adams, Jerry Rice Jr. highlight 49ers' "local" pro day

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A year ago, Nate Montana was one of the draft hopefuls who performed for 49ers coaches at the team's "local" pro day. This year, Jerry Rice Jr. will run routes and catch passes on the same practice field on which his famous father performed two decades ago.

Rice Jr. transferred to UNLV after four years with UCLA. He had 11 catches and one touchdown last year. While he might have a famous name, another wideout on hand today, Davante Adams of Fresno State, figures to be one of the first receivers drafted next month, perhaps in the first round. He led the nation with 131 catches last season, and the big-bodied leaper -- Adams also was a high school basketball star -- had 24 touchdowns.

Adams is from Palo Alto, which makes him eligible to attend today's event. In fact, he and Jim Harbaugh both played at Palo Alto High and had the same high school coach, Earl Hansen.

Others on hand either grew up in the Bay Area or went to one of the schools here. That list includes Stanford products like linebacker Shayne Skov and defensive end Ben Gardner, whom the 49ers likely would use as an outside linebacker. San Jose State's David Fales also will attend as will a couple of Sacramento State players, wideout Morris Norrisse and guard Tyler Worthley.

Local pro day participants
ADAMS, DAVANTE: 80 WO FRESNO ST PALO ALTO, CA
ATKINSON, GEORGE: 26 RS NOTRE DAME LIVERMORE, CA
BENWIKERE, BENE': 30 DC SAN JOSE ST LOS ANGELES, CA
BIGELOW, BRENDAN: 20 OH CALIFORNIA FRESNO, CA
BLACKMON, DARRYL: 94 DE LINCOLN (MO) VALLEJO, CA

April 24, 2014
49ers taking closer look at Indiana WR Cody Latimer

For the second straight season, the 49ers are sending a position coaches to check out a promising draft prospect who is coming off an injury. This time it's receivers coach John Morton, who will be among the contingent watching Indiana receiver Cody Latimer run and catch passes today in Indiana. A year ago, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula was on hand for Tank Carradine's workout. The 49ers ended up taking Carradine, who did not play any snaps last season, early in the second round, No. 40 overall.

Latimer's injury is not nearly as serious as the ACL tear Carradine suffered in November 2012. A broken bone in the receiver's foot prevented him from fully working at at the scouting combine in February, although he did lead all receivers with 23 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press. At Indiana's pro day a month ago, Latimer reportedly ran his 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, and he had a 39-inch vertical leap.

He is considered a raw talent, but his size (6-2, 215), speed, leaping ability (he's a former basketball standout) and rugged, physical style likely are intriguing to the 49ers, who traditionally have preferred big-bodied receivers in their power-running, ball-control offense. Latimer caught 72 passes for 1,096 yards last season while playing against some of the best cornerbacks in the nation - Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard and Ohio State's Bradley Roby, for example - and while playing on a less-than-stellar Indiana squad. He also played special teams. At least 23 teams are expected at Latimer's workout today.

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
WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State (CSN Bay Area)
ILB/OLB Carl Bradford, Arizona State
ILB Preston Brown, Louisville
WR Martavis Bryant, Clemson
RB Terrance Cobb, University of the Cumberlands
CB Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, McGill University (Canada)
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
DE Aaron Lynch, South Florida (SiriusXM)
OL Matt Patchan, Boston College
WR Paul Richardson, Colorado
CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State (Scout.com)
DT Kona Schwenke, Notre Dame (Draft Insider)
DT Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame (SiriusXM)
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 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
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
Need for speed: 49ers meet with Colorado WR Paul Richardson

Speedy receivers definitely appear to be on the draft menu for the 49ers who are meeting with one of the fastest, Colorado's Paul Richardson, today. Richardson is one of 15 or so draft prospects in town to meet with coaches and take physicals this week. As far as receivers go, the list also includes Clemson's Martavis Bryant and Georgia State's Albert Wilson, both of whom stand out for their down-field ability.

Richardson seems to be similar in some ways to Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson, in whom the 49ers reportedly showed some interest earlier this offseason. The Colorado receiver is 6-0, 175 pounds with 32 5/8-inch arms. His 4.4-second time in the 40-yard dash in February was the third-fastest for a receiver this year. (Bryant was clocked at 4.42 seconds, Wilson at 4.43 seconds).

In 2013, Richardson stood out on a bad Colorado squad. He led the team with 83 catches, 1,343 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches. He averaged 16.2 yards a catch one year after sitting out the 2012 season with a torn ACL. Significantly - in light of the 49ers' recent off-the-field troubles - he also was a team captain last season.

Richardson is considered a second- to early third-round pick. He has five other visits in addition to the 49ers.

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The 49ers have not brought in Indiana wideout Cody Latimer for a visit, but a league source says they are looking closely at the receiver. Latimer, too, has good speed. Unlike the other receivers listed above, he also has excellent size at 6-2, 215 pounds. Some prognosticators think Latimer could go as high as the end of the first round.

-- Matt Barrows

April 14, 2014
First-round pass-rush prospect Demarcus Lawrence to visit 49ers

One day after Aldon Smith was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport comes news that the team will host one of the more talented pass rushers in the upcoming draft. Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, who had 10 ½ sacks last season and is considered a late first-round pick, will visit next week.

A league source said the travel arrangements were made a week ago, before Smith was arrested at LAX for allegedly telling security personnel he had a bomb. Smith posted $20,000 bond and was released Sunday. Still, Smith's third arrest since 2012 must elevate pass rusher on the 49ers' list of draft needs. It's not known whether the NFL or the 49ers will suspend Smith and it's certainly possible that the team could release him.

Smith, who holds the franchise's single-season sack record, is entering the final year of his contract. The 49ers must decide by May 3 to pick up a fifth-year option on that deal. If they did, Smith would be in line to earn nearly $10 million in 2015 if he is still on the roster at the start of the new league year in early March.

In the last several years, the 49ers have felt that the strength of their locker room - led by hard-working players like Justin Smith and Patrick Willis - could accommodate younger players with so-called character concerns. However, that notion has been damaged by seven separate arrests since January 2012 when Aldon Smith was pulled over for DUI in Miami Beach. There have been additional police-blotter incidents involving three other players that have not led to arrests.

Lawrence then becomes an interesting prospect. The underclassman is 6-3, 251 pounds, and has the long arms (33 ¾ inches) and big hands (11 inches) that general manager Trent Baalke loves. He is a two-time first-team All-Mountain West selection who, in addition to his sack total last season, also had 20 ½ tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

However, he also was suspended on three different occasions for violation of team rules. That's likely a big reason why the 49ers want to meet him in person prior to the draft.

-- Matt Barrows

April 14, 2014
Linebacker Preston Brown among those visiting 49ers today

The 49ers and every other NFL are allowed to host up to 30 college players in the run-up to the draft. A big chunk of those visits are taking place today and Tuesday at the team's facility.

One of the visitors is Louisville inside linebacker Preston Brown, who led the Cardinals in tackles last season. At 6-1, 251 pounds, Brown is slightly bigger than the 49ers' starting inside linebackers, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, were coming out of college, but he's been highly productive and has the long arms - 33 ½ inches - and aggressive style general manager Trent Baalke likes to see in prospects.

Brown had 14 tackles for loss last season and five sacks. He also returned a fumble 48 yards for a touchdown against Memphis.

Bowman, of course, is not expected to be on the field for the first half of the season due to his Jan. 19 ACL injury. The 49ers are seeking a replacement. They could turn to veteran Michael Wilhoite, who started two games for Willis in 2013. They could tap Nick Moody, a sixth-round pick in 2013. Or they could find an understudy in the draft in which the 49ers have 11 picks. Brown is considered a third-day option.

The 49ers had wanted Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin to visit today and tomorrow but he had a previous visit scheduled and will make the trip later this week.

Visiting today:
ILB Preston Brown
WR Martavis Bryant, Clemson
RB Storm Johnson, Central Florida
OLB Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State (next week)
OL Matt Patchan, Boston College
WR Albert Wilson, Georgia State

-- Matt Barrows

April 14, 2014
All ACL team: 49ers will host injured cornerback Aaron Colvin

The 49ers will host Aaron Colvin, an Oklahoma cornerback who tore his ACL in January and who spent the first part of the year in Florida rehabilitating alongside a slightly more famous ACL patient, NaVorro Bowman. Colvin tore his ACL Jan. 21 during a practice at the Senior Bowl. Bowman suffered his injury Jan. 19. The surgeries were performed by famed orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, and both players rehabilitated at Andrews' clinic in Pensacola, Fla.

The 49ers, of course, drafted two players with ACL injuries last year, defensive end Tank Carradine and running back Marcus Lattimore. Neither played in 2013. Because Lattimore never appeared on the 53-man roster, his contract tolled. That is, he still has four years on his initial contract.

In that way, adding injured players to a loaded roster has become a draft strategy for the 49ers. They are able to obtain a player in a lower round because he is injured and perhaps allow him to "redshirt" his initial year with the team.

Colvin's injury, however, is not nearly as severe as Lattimore's, which involved several ligament tears and a dislocated kneecap. Colvin's agent said Sunday that the rehabilitation has gone very well and that the 6-0, 186-pound, two-time All-Big 12 cornerback will start running later this month. Colvin's injured occurred in Mobile, Ala. The next morning, he was in Dr. Andrews' office - a short drive away - in Pensacola. The surgery occurred the following week.

Team ACL: Other draft prospects with ACL injuries

DL Dominique Easley, Fla.: Easley was a first-round talent before tearing his ACL in September. He also suffered an ACL injury as a sophomore. Easley will have a private workout on Thursday. The 49ers are expected to attend.

G Brandon Thomas, Clemson. He was considered one of the better interior linemen in the draft before tearing an ACL during a workout with the Saints earlier this month.

CB Antone Exum, Virginia Tech. Exum tore his ACL in January 2013 and missed seven games that season. He missed another three with an ankle injury. He is fully healed but the injuries could cause him to slip in the draft. At 6-0, 213 pounds, he has very good size and also experience at safety.

G Spencer Long, Nebraska. Big interior lineman suffered an ACL injury in October.

QB Zach Mettenberger, LSU. He suffered an ACL tear Nov. 29 but was able to throw at LSU's pro day last week. At 6-5, Mettenberger has good size but not the athleticism Jim Harbaugh typically likes in quarterbacks.

QB Aaron Murray, Georgia. He suffered an ACL tear Nov. 25. He is expected to throw at Georgia's pro day this week.

FB Trey Millard, Oklahoma. He suffered an ACL tear on Oct. 26. The 49ers just signed Bruce Miller to a contract extension, and fullback is not a priority. Still, Millard has excellent size (6-2, 247) and runs with power and could entice with a late-round pick.

S Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama. The strong safety prospect suffered an ACL tear on Oct. 19. He went through all of the drills at school's pro day earlier this month.

-- Matt Barrows

April 13, 2014
49ers to host Clemson WR Martavis Bryant on Monday

The 49ers, who are searching for a wide receiver who can make plays deep down field, will host one with those capabilities. Clemson's Martavis Bryant, who ran his 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds in February, is among the players who will visit with coaches and personnel department officials on Monday.

Bryant is different than some of the other speedy receivers in this year's draft class in that he also has size. He stands 6-4, weighs 211 pounds, and he leaped 39 inches in the vertical jump. He also had 16 bench-press repetitions of 225 pounds at the combine, not bad for an underclassman with longish (32 5/8 inches) arms.

Bryant lined up opposite the draft's top wide receiver, Sammy Watkins, last season at Clemson, and he was definitely the team's deep threat. He averaged 19.7 yards a catch, finished with 828 yards overall and scored seven touchdowns. He caught two passes in the Orange Bowl against Ohio State, two of them for touchdowns.

A year earlier, he caught 10 passes and averaged 30.5 yards a reception, tops in the nation for a player with double-digit catches. Last year, however, was his first extensive season in the offense and he is entering the draft after his junior season. That's likely why the 49ers are interested in bringing him in - they want to learn more about him.

The 49ers also are hosting Georgia State wideout Albert Wilson, Central Florida running back Storm Johnson and Boston College offensive lineman Matt Patchan on Monday. Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin will visit later in the week.

Bryant, meanwhile, has a busy pre-draft schedule. He's visiting 12 teams, including the Ravens this week, and has almost as many workouts scheduled. The 49ers have 11 picks overall and six in the first three rounds. They are expected to take at least one receiver early. Bryant is expected to be a second-day pick. San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke attended Clemson's pro day last month at which time he had dinner with Tigers cornerback Bashaud Breeland.

- Matt Barrows

April 11, 2014
Running back Storm Johnson among prospects visiting 49ers Monday

The 49ers will host a number of draft prospects on Monday, including Central Florida running back Storm Johnson. The 6-0, 210-pound Johnson ran for 1,139 yards, averaged 5.3 yards a carry and scored 14 rushing touchdowns and another three receiving touchdowns for the Knights in 2013. He had 117 yards in the game against Penn State (below).

Johnson transferred from Miami in 2010 and he spent only one season as Central Florida's featured runner. He is entering the draft as a junior, which is likely why the 49ers wanted to use one of the 30 visits they are allotted on him. That is, they are looking for more information. Johnson is expected to be a third-day draft pick.

The 49ers also are hosting Georgia State wideout Albert Wilson on Monday as well as Boston College offensive lineman Matt Patchan, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

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The 49ers waived former USC receiver Brandon Carswell. Carswell signed with the 49ers on June 12, 2013. He missed the entire 2013 season after being placed on injured reserve June 19 with an ACL tear.

-- Matt Barrows

April 9, 2014
49ers inconspicuous at LSU pro day ... just like last year

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***UPDATE*** Following the pro day, Odell Beckham told SiriusXM radio that he met with a 49ers scout, believed to be regional scout Bob Morris, before the session began.

While other teams sent their head coach or general manager to Baton Rouge, La for LSU's pro day today, the 49ers have only one scout on hand. Of course, the team also sent the same scout to the same event last year before trading ahead 13 spots to take safety Eric Reid in the first round.

The Tigers' draft class abounds with intriguing talent again this year, including a wide receiver, Odell Beckham, Jr., who seems to check off all the boxes - speed, toughness, long arms, excelled in SEC - the 49ers are looking for in a wideout. Beckham (5-11, 198) ran his 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds at the scouting combine, and he was one of the event's top performers in the 20-yard and 60-yard shuttles. Beckham did not re-run the 40 today.

Beckham has seemed to create some draft-day separation with teammate and fellow wideout Jarvis Landry, who is believed to be a second-day pick. Another intriguing prospect is quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who tore his ACL on Nov. 29 but who was able to throw at today's pro day. Mettenberger also is considered a second- or third-round draft pick.

LSU pro day participants
LB Lamin Barrow
WR Odell Beckham Jr.
RB Alfred Blue
WR Kadron Boone
FB J.C. Copeland
DT Ego Ferguson
LB Seth Fruge
LB Jarett Hardnett
DT Anthony Johnson
RB Jeremy Hill
LB Tahj Jones
WR Jarvis Landry 
S Craig Loston
QB Zach Mettenberger
OG Trai Turner 
OL Josh Williford           
WR James Wright 

-- Matt Barrows

April 8, 2014
Snap count: 49ers will have options, competition at center

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The 49ers' have exactly one unrestricted free agent who has yet to sign with any team - center Jonathan Goodwin, who has handled virtually every snap for the team for the last three season. The frontrunner to replace him, of course, is fourth-year player Daniel Kilgore, who was Goodwin's backup last season and who recently signed a three-year contract extension.

The bigger question is, who will compete with and push Kilgore during the offseason and who will serve as his backup during the regular season?

The 49ers have options. Adam Snyder has started three games at center and was the team's backup there in 2011. Joe Looney has been taking practice snaps at center beginning with the draft process in 2010. Ryan Seymour, acquired off the Seahawks' practice squad last season, played some center his senior season at Vanderbilt.

"I feel good about that group competing for that spot," general manager Trent Baalke said when asked about the team's prospects at center last month.

And if he doesn't feel good, the team always can bring back Goodwin or perhaps draft a center. The 49ers have shown interest in one of the top players at the position, Colorado State's Weston Richburg, according to a league source. Richburg is either considered the top or second-best center (to Arkansas' Travis Swanson) in the draft, depending on which publication you read. He is expected to be taken in the second round.

-- Matt Barrows

April 7, 2014
Single high? New CB Cook suggests changes in store for 49ers defense

Last month Jim Harbaugh hinted about changes to the 49ers offense. Could the team's defense also be in for a tweak or two?

Newly-signed cornerback Chris Cook suggested as much when he spoke about being used in a "single-high" defensive scheme. That's the formation with which the Seahawks have had so much success, one that often uses a single safety, Earl Thomas, in coverage so that the other safety, Kam Chancellor is free to crowd the line of scrimmage. It also is used in conjunction with Seattle's big, physical cornerbacks playing press coverage.

"They want me to be the press guy," the 6-2, 212-pound Cook said last month of the 49ers' plans for him. "And that's what I like to do. I feel like I'll fit in well with the one-high (safety) scheme that they like to run. I came from a two-high scheme. And I feel like a one-high scheme and a man-to-man scheme fits me well."

The Seahawks' style of defense, of course, is all the rage after a 2013 season in which they finished first in total defense, first in pass defense and annihilated Denver's offense in the Super Bowl. Chancellor in particular has been effective against the 49ers' only true down-field threat, tight end Vernon Davis. His receiving statistics in three meetings last season: 3 catches for 20 yards, 2 catches for 21 yards and 2 catches for 16 yards.

The 49ers' interest in tall, press cornerbacks also makes a one-high scheme seem like a possibility. In addition to signing Cook, the team has looked closely at Clemson cornerback Bashaud Breeland, one of several press-style cornerbacks who could be taken in the second round of this year's draft. (More on that below).

April 4, 2014
49ers to host small but speedy Georgia State WR

The 49ers will host Albert Wilson, a small but speedy wideout from Georgia State to their facility on April 14, according to a league source. Wilson, who goes 5-9, 202 pounds and who was invited to the combine, is the first known pre-draft visitor for the 49ers. I'm told, however, that the team will host about 10 prospects that day. They'll get physicals, meet the position coaches and tour the facility.

Wilson is intriguing because he seems to fit the mold the 49ers were seeking during free agency when they showed interest in players like Dexter McCluster and Julian Edelman. He has plenty of experience with both punt and kickoff returns, including a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Alabama in 2011.

At 202 pounds, he is sturdy for his size, and teams are looking at him as a possible slot receiver. Wilson led Georgia State during their recent 0-12 season with 71 catches for 1,177 yards and eight touchdowns. He had seven grabs for 153 yards and two touchdowns in the game against Troy (below). Wilson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds at the combine. (His arms are 30 3/8 inches, slightly above average for someone who stands 5-9).

Wilson is thought to be a third-day draft pick. San Francisco is his only visit so far, but the Buccaneers coaches are flying to the Atlanta area to work him out.

- Matt Barrows

April 3, 2014
49ers notes: Baalke likes Clemson CB; Brandin Cooks as DeSean-like deep threat

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Interesting quote from Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks today. Of course, the 49ers aren't the only team looking for a wide receiver in the draft. The Eagles, picking at No. 22, could use one as well after parting ways with DeSean Jackson. Could Cooks fill that role?

"The man can blow the top off, catch the deep routes, catch the underneath routes, produce in the return game," Cooks told Philly.com. "He's just special. He's a freak. I definitely admire his game. Maybe Chip Kelly is looking to take another speedy receiver in that first round, and that could be me. Who knows? And if that's the case, a lot of people will wonder, 'Can he do it like DeSean Jackson?' In my opinion, I can do it like him and do it better."

It's interesting because the 49ers had at least some interest in Jackson and in another small but speedy wideout, Emmanuel Sanders, in free agency. I see Cooks as more of a catch-and-run receiver, but he certainly did a lot of damage on the outside as well with the Beavers. Do the 49ers look at Cooks that way? If so, he might be someone they're eying in the first round. (But I still think they like LSU's Odell Beckham and perhaps FSU's Kelvin Benjamin more).

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Draft analyst Tony Pauline reported this week that 49ers GM Trent Baalke had dinner with Clemson cornerback Bashaud Breeland after his pro day last month. Pauline describes it as "heavy interest" from the 49ers. Breeland is seen as a second- or third-round pick. That's where the strength of the cornerback class lies. The 49ers, meanwhile, have five picks in those two rounds.

April 1, 2014
Seeking safeties: 49ers looking at prospects in upcoming draft

The 49ers are looking at safeties. They were one of four teams who sent a scout to watch Central Arkansas' Jestin Love, a strong safety, go through his pro-day workout earlier this week. Love had a 38-inch vertical jump, leaped 10-foot, 3 inches in the broad jump and had 22 reps on the bench press. He is thought to be a third-day draft pick.

The 49ers also were on hand for Northern Illinois' safety Jimmie Ward's pro day and Trent Baalke himself attended Florida State's pro day, which for the second straight year was loaded with NFL prospects, including cornerback/safety LaMarcus Joyner.

Wide receiver and cornerback are by far the team's top needs heading into the draft. A strong argument could be made that safety is No. 3. The team is set at the starting spots with Eric Reid at free safety and Antoine Bethea at strong safety.

After that, Craig Dahl, who took a pay cut this offseason, is signed through the 2015 season and C.J. Spillman is signed through the upcoming season. The only other two players listed at safety on the roster are former Cal player D.J. Campbell, who started four games in 2012 for the Panthers, and Ray "Bubba" Ventrone, who is a special teams player.

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Thanks to draft sleuth Franco Mazzoli for pointing out this video of the 49ers working out Colorado State-Pueblo defensive tackle Mike Pennel on Monday.

-- Matt Barrows

March 30, 2014
The 49ers will draft a WR. But which type?

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It's long been assumed the 49ers will take a wide receiver high in the upcoming draft, and Jim Harbaugh bolstered that sentiment at the owners' meeting last week. Harbaugh not only said quarterback Colin Kaepernick needed a strong No. 3 receiver -- in fact, he was missing a strong No. 2 for most of 2013 -- the 49ers needed weapons to deal with Seattle's formidable defense.

The question now becomes: Which type of receiver does the team need? Could they use A.) a speedy T.Y.-Hilton receiver who can put pressure on the back ends of defenses? Or do they go with B.) a tall, sturdy, Alshon Jeffery-type player who fits their tough-guy offense and who can be a threat in the red zone.

It's a trick question. The answer is C. They need both.

Because neither of the team's starting receivers, Anquan Boldin or Michael Crabtree, is known for his speed, the offense currently is screaming out for a fast player who can make plays downfield. Then again, Crabtree is entering the final season of his contract while Boldin has two more seasons on his deal. The 49ers must think about replacing one or both in the lineup, and the current draft is ideal for teams that want to restock the position.

The real question becomes: Which type of receiver do the 49ers take first? If they're looking for speed demons in the first round, LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. and Oregon State's Brandin Cooks fit the description. Later, the draft offers Wyoming's Robert Herron, Colorado's Paul Richardson, Clemson's Martavis Bryant and South Carolina's Bruce Ellington.

March 24, 2014
49ers get an extra third-round pick in May

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The 49ers were awarded a third-round draft pick, No. 100 overall, for the free agents they lost in 2013, including safety Dashon Goldson, who signed a multi-year deal with the Buccaneers. That gives San Francisco 11 picks in the May draft, including six selections in the first three rounds. They do not have a sixth-round pick after dealing it to Jacksonville for Blaine Gabbert.

The Steelers, Ravens and Packers also were awarded third-round compensatory picks. Under the rules for compensatory picks, a team losing more or better free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks.

The 49ers lost Goldson, Delanie Walker, Ted Ginn, Ricky Jean-Francois and Isaac Sopoaga in free agency. They signed Glenn Dorsey, Phil Dawson, Craig Dahl and Dan Skuta. The 49ers also have extra picks in the second round -- their own and Kansas City's former pick -- and the seventh round. Last year they entered the draft with 13 picks.

SF's 11 picks
1st round: No. 30 overall, own pick
2nd round: No. 56 overall, from Kansas City
2nd round: No. 61 overall, own pick
3rd round: No. 77 overall, from Tennessee
3rd round: No. 94 overall, own pick
3rd round: No. 100 overall, compensatory selection
4th round: TBA, own pick
5th round: TBA, own pick
7th round: TBA, from New Orleans
7th round: TBA, from Carolina
7th round: TBA, own pick.

-- Matt Barrows

March 24, 2014
Harbaugh calls Kaepernick's extension a "high priority;" why 49ers never considered Gabbert in first round

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ORLANDO -- The 49ers began discussing a contract extension for quarterback Colin Kaepernick last month, and Jim Harbaugh on Monday said it was "a high priority" to have that completed this offseason.

"The priority is that Colin Kaepernick is a San Francisco 49er for however long we can have him be a San Francisco 49er," Harbaugh said at the league's annual meeting. "So it's definitely a high priority. He's an amazing individual, an amazing player."

Harbaugh then explained why he thought Kaepernick was deserving of a deal.

"He shows up at work all the time," he said. "There's really no one that competes with him in a workout situation. He will bury everybody. And then when somebody tries to compete with him, he ramps his competitiveness up, and somebody's over their knee throwing up. He's unbelievable. So you can tell I feel he's a great player, a high priority."

The price tag for a starting quarterback begins at $18 million a season, which is what the Cowboys' Tony Romo and the Bears' Jay Cutler received in deals struck within the last two years. Kaepernick is scheduled to earn $1.073 million in 2014, the final year in his original four-year contract. Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert, by comparison, is scheduled to earn $2.011 million this season.

March 21, 2014
49ers notes: Hester was on SF's radar; team checks out cornerback

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The 49ers' desire to at least check out speedy receivers included another name - ex-Bears wideout and returner Devin Hester, who was signed by the Falcons this week. On a conference call with Atlanta-area reporters, Hester said San Francisco, Seattle, Miami and Tampa Bay were on his list of possible destinations.

The speedy Hester, 31, has been used as a down-field threat in the Bears offense. But he's had perhaps a bigger impact as a punt and kick returner. He has 13 touchdowns on punt returns in eight seasons. San Francisco used a second-round pick in 2012 on LaMichael James, and he served as the primary return man last season.

The 49ers also showed interest in receivers Julian Edelman, Emmanuel Sanders, Hakeem Nicks, Golden Tate and Dexter McCluster during the free-agency period. Edelman, Tate and McCluster all have handled punt returns at some point in their careers.

They also have been linked to Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson, whom Philadelphia reportedly has considered trading. Acquiring Jackson - another receiver with punt-return ability - would mean a $10.5 million salary-cap hit. The 49ers currently have about $3.8 million in salary-cap space, according to NFLPA records.

* The 49ers had a scout at Stanford's pro day Thursday where safety Ed Reynolds and defensive end/outside linebacker Ben Gardner stood out. Inside linebacker Shayne Skov did not do any on-field drills after straining his hamstring.

* The sharp eyes of reader Franco Mazzoli noticed that the 49ers' top college scout, Matt Malaspina, attended Middle Tennessee State's Pro Day. The main attraction there was a cornerback, Sammy Seamster, who ran the 40 in 4.47 and 4.44 seconds, had a 35-inch vertical jump and an impressive 10-4 broad jump. Seamster has good size at 6-0 1/2, 200. His arm length? That critical piece of information has been unavailable heretofore. The 49ers like to use a late-round pick on a cornerback.

- Matt Barrows

March 20, 2014
49ers look at big-legged kicking prospect

Wide receiver, cornerback, quarterback ... kicker?

It doesn't appear to be a big offseason need for the 49ers after they signed Phil Dawson to a two-year deal earlier this month. But the team worked out a big-legged prospect, Old Dominion University's Jarod Brown, at the school's pro day on Tuesday.

At 5-11, 235 pounds, Brown has a Janikowskian physique. He also has shown the ability to hit from long range. Brown made four kicks of 50 yards or more while at ODU, including a 54-yarder against Pitt last season that is the longest field goal ever at Heinz Field, both in college football and the NFL. Brown also was known as a touchback specialist on kickoffs and had 14 successful on-side kicks at ODU.

A rookie certainly isn't expected to take over for Dawson, who kicked 27 consecutive field goals for the 49ers last season. But they likely are looking for someone to help kick during OTAs, minicamps and training camp. And with Dawson turning 40 in January it certainly doesn't hurt to start looking at younger prospects.

- Matt Barrows

March 19, 2014
Epic Fales: San Jose State QB performs for NFL scouts

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SAN JOSE -- One of David Fales' deep passes got away from him today. His other 52, however, were on target, bolstering the assessment that Fales is one of the more accurate quarterbacks in the draft and is a worthy mid-round addition for teams who skip a passer early on. Fales had a completion percentage of 72.5 in 2012 and 64.1 last season.

Representatives from more than 20 teams watched the San Jose State quarterback and the other Spartan prospects, including Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and 49ers quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst. The 49ers had three other scouts in attendance.

Also watching were a couple of ex-49ers quarterbacks, Alex Smith, who trains at San Jose State, and Trent Dilfer, an analyst with ESPN. Dilfer tweeted that he thought Fales resembled former Redskins, Rams and Chief quarterback Trent Green, who spent 15 years in the league.

Smith's wife's family lives in the area, and he spends parts of his offseasons here despite playing for the Chiefs. He and Fales trained together last offseason and the two will work with San Jose State strength and conditioning coach Gary Uribe over the next two months. "So I'm going to be really looking forward to that," Fales said. "You get to train with someone whose been around the league for a while and knows it - it's awesome. He's a great guy, too."

March 19, 2014
Breaking Benjamin? Baalke attends Florida State pro day

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General manager Trent Baalke was among the many NFL faces who attended Florida State's pro day on Tuesday. This shouldn't be all that surprising. The Seminoles are loaded with talent, including two, shall we say, 'persons of interest' for Baalke and the 49ers: receiver Kelvin Benjamin and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner.

The 49ers could stand to add players at both positions in May. At 5-8, Joyner is undersized. But he is tough, aggressive, a team leader and could fill in at the nickel cornerback spot Carlos Rogers played the last three seasons. Joyner likely will be taken in the second round, a round in which the 49ers have two picks.

Benjamin is a possibility in the first round, and he could be someone the 49ers move forward to get. He's got excellent size for a wideout (6-5, 240) with the long arms that Baalke covets. He's not the speedy, slot receiver-style complement to Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree the 49ers could use (although he did a lot of damage for the Seminoles on go and post routes). Instead he conceivably would be a future replacement for Crabtree and Boldin whose contracts expire in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Boldin, of course, also went to Florida State, and the 49ers view him as the ideal mentor for the young wideouts in their locker room. He also is from Pahokee, Fla., a sister city on the shore of Lake Okeechobee with Belle Glade, which is where Benjamin is from.

The 49ers drafted two Florida State players last year, Tank Carradine and Nick Moody. Baalke also attended Wisconsin's pro day this month.

Speaking of pro days, I'll be heading off to San Jose State's this afternoon. The headliner is the quarterback, David Fales. But the Spartans also have a cornerback, Bene Benwikere, and a wideout, Noel Gigsby.

-- Matt Barrows

March 17, 2014
Sub-par secondary? Don't judge yet, 49ers fans

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The 49ers have blown up the secondary they built in 2011 and that ranked in the top 10 in pass defense the past two seasons. But if you thought that unit was going to be great when it was assembled back then, you are either clairvoyant or -- more likely - a big, fat liar.

One of the starting cornerbacks in 2011, Tarell Brown, had started five games in his previous four seasons in the league and none in 2010. He only got the job because Shawntae Spencer pulled his hamstring in training camp. The other, Carlos Rogers, was considered a first-round bust in Washington and was best known for dropping would-be interceptions at inopportune times. Rogers was so lightly regarded that he lasted more than a week in free agency before the 49ers signed him to a one-year deal.

Rogers finished the season with six interceptions and started in the Pro Bowl. Brown started all 18 games and finished with five interceptions, including one in the playoffs.

At safety, the 49ers brought in one experienced starter in Donte Whitner. But there was not a big demand for the undersized, over-drafted Whitner on the free-agent market and he, too, lasted several days before being signed. On other side, Madieu Williams (yes, Madieu Williams; I double-checked it) started the first two games before Dashon Goldson took over. Whitner would go on to have the most iconic defensive play of the 49ers' playoff run when he knocked Saints running back Pierre Thomas out of the game on New Orleans' opening drive. Goldson tied with Rogers for the team lead with six interceptions and, like Rogers, made his first Pro Bowl. The 49ers tied for the league lead in takeaways.

March 13, 2014
49ers on hand to watch speedy Wyoming wideout

We step away from FA Watch to note that the 49ers had a scout at Wyoming's pro day today. The featured attraction was a wide receiver, Robert Herron, who reportedly ran his 40-yard dash in the 4.3-second range. That's an improvement from the combine when he was clocked at 4.48 seconds.

Herron also had a good showing at the Senior Bowl. He's seen as a mid-round draft pick who has drawn comparisons to Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton, a third-round pick in 2012. Hilton's name should raise the ears of 49ers fans considering he is one of the few wideouts last year to have a big day against Seattle's secondary.

Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith also was impressive today, according to reports. The 49ers traded for Blaine Gabbert this week but still could add a quarterback in the draft.

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-- Matt Barrows

March 6, 2014
With the 30th pick: 49ers on hand to watch TCU's Verrett

The 49ers' top college scout, Matt Malaspina, was on hand for Texas A&M's pro day Wednesday and then drove 175 miles for TCU's pro day today. The main attraction there was cornerback Jason Verrett, who put up 19 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press and had a 39.5-inch vertical leap.

His bench-press showing is all the more impressive given that he is dealing with a labrum (shoulder) injury that will be surgically repaired later this month. The procedure typically requires three or four months of rehabilitation, which means that Verrett (5-9, 189) will miss the minicamps and OTAs of the team that drafts him, but that he will be back for training camp.

The 49ers will have a representative at every major college's pro day over the next month, so it's not exactly news that Malaspina was at TCU's. However, it's worth a note given the 49ers' need for cornerbacks and the speculation that Verrett, widely viewed as one of the top five cornerbacks in the draft, will be taken in the latter half of the first round.

Despite his small size, Verrett was a feisty player and a good tackler with the Horned Frogs, and for those reasons would be a good fit as a nickel cornerback as well as outside cornerback. The 49ers could be looking for both if Carlos Rogers does not return in 2014. San Francisco also has not been shy about trying to find late value by drafting injured players such as guard Joe Looney, defensive end Tank Carradine and running back Marcus Lattimore.

How much, if any, Verrett will fall due to his injury is debatable. Both Dion Jordan and Dee Milliner had similar procedures last year, and both were taken with top 10 picks.

- Matt Barrows

March 5, 2014
49ers meet with WR Mike Evans, who seems custom-built for the red zone

At the same time the NFL is starting to consider elongating - by a wide margin - the anticlimactic extra-point kick, the 49ers met with Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans.

I consider these to be related stories.

According to a recent story by NFL.com, the league's competition committee has begun kicking around the idea of moving the extra point try from the 2-yard line to the 25-yard line. That would mean a 43-yard try for kickers.

That also would mean more missed extra-point attempts. While kickers made 1,262 of 1,267 of them (a 99.6 percent conversion rate and therefore boring) in 2013, the conversion rate for field goals from 40-49 yards was 83 percent. Meanwhile, the success rate for two-point conversions historically has been just under 50 percent, which suggests that going for two would be smarter than going for one should the NFL follow through with this idea.

That, of course, would make red-zone and goal-line scoring all the more important. The 49ers have struggled in that area over the last three seasons, and it's notable that their last two seasons ended with ill-fated red-zone throws to Michael Crabtree in the corner of the end zone.

Evans, meanwhile, appears custom-built for the red-zone.

March 4, 2014
QB watch: Harbaugh on hand for Jimmy Garoppolo's workout

The 49ers, who drafted a quarterback early in the second round in 2011, appear to be eying another passer who could be taken in that round. Jim Harbaugh, whose draft expertise is quarterbacks, attended Northwestern's pro day today where Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo worked out.

Garoppolo (6-2 ¼, 226 pounds) looked good at both the East-West Shrine game and the Senior Bowl, and there has been a buzz around him for the last month and half. The Chicago Tribune reported that both the 49ers and the Texans, who have the first pick in the draft, put Garoppolo through a private workout today.

From the 2011 draft period, when the 49ers selected Colin Kaepernick, we know that Harbaugh likes quarterbacks who are athletic, accurate, smart and good leaders. Garoppolo fits that description, although his athleticism is not close to Kaepernick's.

He also compares well to another former Eastern Illinois passer, Tony Romo, which should ring a bell for long-time Harbaugh watchers. When he was a lowly assistant with the Raiders in 2002 and 2003, Harbaugh famously wrote reports about the quarterbacks in those drafts. He gave two highly considered passers, Joey Harrington and David Carr, low grades. And he gave two lightly considered players high grades. One of them was Romo.

The 49ers, meanwhile, have just one backup quarterback, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, under contract for 2014. Kaepernick's backup for 2013, Colt McCoy, will become a free agent next week. The 49ers have the 30th pick in the first round and two picks in the second, Nos. 56 and 61.

Another quarterback at Northwestern's pro day is Kain Colter, who is moving to wide receiver, another position of need for San Francisco. Colter, who compares to players like Hines Ward and Arnaz Battle, is likely to go in the mid to late rounds of the draft.

-- Matt Barrows

March 3, 2014
Blink: Baalke says draft snap judgments usually correct

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Which college players have caught Trent Baalke's eye in the run-up to the draft? The notoriously tight-lipped 49ers general manager never would say. But he did reveal that it doesn't take him long to decide who makes his draft-day list and who gets crossed off.

"Have you ever read the book, 'Blink?'" Baalke said at the combine. "Keep it simple. The first time you look at a player, you're usually right."

The book, by Malcolm Gladwell, asserts that instant assessments, especially when made by someone with expertise in a field, are better and more accurate than long, deliberate ones. (Editorial: Gladwell makes this point in the first chapter and then makes the same point using less-convincing examples, over and over and over, in the remaining chapters).

Said Baalke last month: "Your gut is usually right. Through the process, you gather more and more information and you watch more and more film. And sometimes the process is so long and it's drawn out another two weeks that you end up talking yourself out of that first impression. So I always go back to the book 'Blink.' And if you've read it, you understand where I'm coming from. And if you haven't, you should. It's a great book."

That doesn't mean the 49ers' draft board won't change between now and May 8. The 49ers will attend pro-day workouts and host 20 or so draft-worth prospects at team headquarters. But at this stage, that information is more of the dotting-i's and crossing-t's variety. Baalke already knows who he likes. And he is so sure of himself that he often will trade ahead in the draft - including the first round - to grab his favorites.

February 28, 2014
Live chat: 49ers after the combine, 11 a.m.

Join The Bee's Matt Barrows for a live chat to discuss the 49ers in the wake of the NFL combine. Chat about what they saw from potential draft choices and how they might proceed when it comes time to pick the team's next building blocks.

Click here to access the live blog from all mobile devices.

February 27, 2014
Combine wrap: Which cornerbacks are fits for the 49ers?

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The 49ers have exactly two spots in their secondary nailed down for the 2014 season. Eric Reid will play free safety while Tramaine Brock will start at one of the cornerback spots (The versatile Brock can play either side). The other positions are up in the air at this point, including the increasingly critical nickel role.

Carlos Rogers, who is due to count a team-high $8.1 million toward the salary cap, has manned the nickel spot for the last three seasons. Perrish Cox also played there. Despite what Trent Baalke said last week, Cox is a restricted free agent, which means the 49ers will be able to get him back if they want him. Two others capable of moving to nickel, Tarell Brown and Eric Wright, will be unrestricted free agents next month.

* Last week, NFL Network's Mike Mayock cited two players, TCU's Jason Verrett and Florida State's Lamarcus Joyner, he thought could play nickel at the next level. Verrett was one of the standouts of the combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, leaping 39 inches in the vertical jump and otherwise looking cat-quick and fluid throughout. Verrett is feisty and a willing tackler, and in that way would make a good slot cornerback. The caveat is that at 5-9 he's a little guy.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has preferred bigger-body players at the position. Rogers and Cox, for example, both are 6 feet. That goes for playing on the outside as well. The league trend (See: Seahawks, Seattle) is for bigger cornerbacks, and that's who the 49ers have drafted (Chris Culliver, Marcus Cooper) in recent years and gone after in free agency (Rogers, Nnamdi Asomugha, looked at Sean Smith). Verrett has a small, wirey frame, which when coupled with his aggressive nature could lead to injuries. Indeed he has a shoulder injury that may or may not require surgery next month. (You could argue, of course, that given the 49ers' last two drafts the prospect of surgery will vault him up GM Trent Baalke's draft list). The other caveat is that Verrett may not be around at pick No. 30. Look at the impact he makes in the above video. (Also look for LSU WR Odell Beckham, another possibility at pick No. 30).

* Joyner, who played in various spots in the Seminoles' secondary, including safety, is extremely aggressive and a very good tackler. But he also is very short, measuring in at 5-8. Donte Whitner is considered a short safety. By comparison, he was a little more than 5-10 when he went to the combine in 2006. If Joyner played nickel cornerback, you can't help but think that opponents quickly would exploit his lack of height by matching him against taller opponents.

February 26, 2014
Combine wrap: Which WRs are fits for the 49ers?

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Before I get into some impressions from the scouting combine, a couple of admissions. First, while I've been poring over wide receivers and cornerbacks like a chem major cramming for the MCATs, I haven't gone far afield of those two subjects. Today's blog will be WR-centric, tomorrow's will concentrate on corners.

Second, I admit I've been a bit Brandin Cooks crazy the last week or so. But that's because he was the most prominent player local to my newspaper. That he went nuts at the combine was a bonus. Is Cooks my draft crush? No, I don't have a draft crush yet. Could he be my draft crush? Stay tuned. My HBO special, "Draft Crush '14: Race for the Rose" airs May 1 on HBO.

* I keep going back and forth between Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin as the No. 2 receiver in the draft. If the 49ers went up in the first round to get a receiver, I figure it will be one of those two guys. Evans had a decidedly better combine than Benjamin. He ran a 4.53-second 40, he looked smooth and fluid in the gauntlet drill and his arms? They measured 35 1/8-inches. (I heard they had to administer smelling salts to Trent Baalke after he swooned in the weigh-in room). He also said all the right things, including that he would love to jaw with and otherwise go up against Richard Sherman.

* Benjamin, on the other hand, ran his 40 in 4.61-seconds. This after telling reporters he was aiming to run in the 4.3-second range. If, before Sunday, I had bet which player would have been faster, I would have put my money on Benjamin, who consistently put pressure on the back ends of defenses. Both players are raw, but their size - and the fact that they use that size in aggressive and physical manners - make them appealing. Benjamin will get another bite of the apple at Florida State's pro day on March 18.

February 23, 2014
Official 40-yard dash times for wide receivers

Wide receiver 40 times
Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin: 4.50
Davante Adams, Fresno St.: 4.56
Odell Beckham, LSU: 4.43
Kelvin Benjamin, Florida St.: 4.61
Chris Boyd, Vanderbilt: 4.73
Corey Brown, Ohio St.: 4.51
John Brown, Pittsburg St.: 4.34
Martavis Bryant, Clemson: 4.42
Isaiah Burse, Fresno St.: 4.58
Mike Campanaro, Wake Forest: 4.46
Brandon Coleman, Rutgers: 4.56
Brandin Cooks, Oregon St.: 4.33
Damian Copeland, Louisville: 4.50
Bruce Ellington, South Carolina: 4.45
Quincy Enunwa, Nebraska: 4.45
Shaq Evans, UCLA: 4.51
Mike Evans, Texas A&M: 4.53
Bennie Fowler, Michigan St.: 4.52
Austin Franklin, New Mexico St.: 4.56
Jeremy Gallon, Michigan: 4.49
Ryan Grant, Tulane: 4.64
Matt Hazel, Coastal Carolina: 4.50
Robert Herron, Wyoming: 4.48
Cody Hoffman, BYU: 4.65
Josh Huff, Oregon: 4.51
Allen Hurns, Miami: 4.55
Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley St.: 4.42
T.J. Jones, Notre Dame: 4.48
Jarvis Landry, LSU: 4.77
Lee, Marqise, USC: 4.52
Marcus Lucas, Missouri: 4.60
Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt: 4.46
Donte Moncrief, Mississippi: 4.40
Kevin Norwood, Alabama: 4.48
Walt Powell, Murray St.: 4.63
Tevin Reese, Baylor: 4.46
Paul Richardson, Colorado: 4.40
Allen Robinson, Penn St.: 4.60
Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma: 4.44
Willie Snead, Ball St.: 4.62
Josh Stewart, Oklahoma St.: 4.69
Devin Street, Pittsburgh: 4.55
L'Damian Washington, Missouri: 4.46
Sammy Watkins, Clemson: 4.43
Albert Wilson, Georgia State: 4.43

-- Matt Barrows

February 23, 2014
Need speed? WR Brandin Cooks blazes in Indy

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Wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who grew up a 49ers fan in Stockton, said he'd "love to blow the top off" of defenses for his favorite team. But after his scorching 40-yard dash time Sunday in Indianapolis, you have to wonder whether Cooks will be around when the 49ers pick at No. 30.

The 5-9 3/4, 189-pound Cooks led all receivers with a 4.33-second 40, bolstering his standing as one of the top catch-and-go receivers in the draft as well as someone who can put pressure on the back end of NFL secondaries, something the 49ers failed to do at wide receiver last year. The Oregon State receiver led the nation in receiving yards last year and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top wideout.

"Cooks had a big day," NFL Network's Mike Mayock said. "People are going to be buzzing about him. He's something."

Other standouts today included the top-rated pass catcher in the draft, Sammy Watkins, who ran a 4.43-second 40. His tall, lanky Clemson teammate, Martavis Bryant, ran a 4.42. LSU's Odell Beckham, a possibility to the 49ers at the end of the first round, ran a 4.43.

Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief also stood out. The powerfully built Moncrief -- he measured 6-2, 221 pounds on Friday -- ran his 40-yard dash in 4.40 seconds. Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews, the SEC's all-time leading receiver, had a 4.46-second 40, not bad at all considering he's 6-3, 212 pounds with 33 1/4-inch arms and massive, 10 3/8-inch hands.

Some disappointing times were turned in by Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin, who on Friday said he was pushing for a 4.3-second 40 but who ended up running a 4.61. LSU's Jarvis Landry clocked a 4.77-second 40 while USC's Marqise Lee was clocked at 4.52 seconds.

February 22, 2014
Michael Sam: Positive reactions have outweighed the negative

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Michael Sam today was asked if he'd thought about how he would react if he encountered harassment or slurs when he reaches the NFL. Would it lead to a fight?

"A fight?," he asked, sounding surprised at the suggestion. "If someone wants to call me a name, I would have a conversation with that guy, and hopefully it won't lead to nothing else."

The first openly gay player at the NFL scouting combine said nothing of the sort has occurred in Indianapolis, where he is trying to showcase himself as a draft-worthy defensive end or outside linebacker. Sounding confident and in command in front of a throng of reporters, Sam said none of the teams he's met with so far has asked about his sexual orientation. Teams were warned against doing so during interviews and meetings with their would-be draft picks.

Said 49ers Trent Baalke on Friday: "We're going to treat that the same way we would treat any other player. We're going to evaluate the film, take a hard look at the fit for our organization. What can he do for us on the field, within the community? His decision to come out has no bearing on where we place him on our board."

Baalke compared Sam to former 49er Parys Haralson, a fifth-round pick who, like Sam, played defensive end in college but was converted to outside linebacker.

Sam's experience so far echoes what he went through at the University of Missouri. He told teammates his secret before the season began and said he had no issues. "Everyone could be normal around me," he said. "If we wanted to, we could joke around. We're brothers. It's a brotherhood, it's a family. We could say things to each other. We don't draw blood. It's all fun and games."

After he came out earlier this month, the reaction mostly has been good. He said some people approach him and "start crying in my arms." Sam was wearing a rainbow button that said "Stand with Sam" that was given to him by a woman at a basketball game.

"The positive outweighs the negative," he said. "I'm kind of surprised, actually."

The smiling and charasmatic defender said he missed much of the media reaction to his revelation because he's been busy training for the combine. He and the rest of the defensive linemen will work out here on Monday. He said he wished reporters would treat him like the NFL teams and fellow draft prospects have so far.

"I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam the football player not Michael Sam the gay football player," he said.

-- Matt Barrows

February 18, 2014
Nickel for your thoughts: Mayock lists top slot cornerbacks

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Mike Mayock says the upcoming draft class is the best - both at the top of the draft and throughout it - he's seen in the last decade. The top positions, according to the NFL Network analyst: wide receiver, offensive tackle and cornerback.

That works out well for the 49ers, who not only have 12 picks, including at least five in the first three rounds, but who have big needs at wide receiver and cornerback. One of the team's long-time starters at cornerback, Tarell Brown, will test the free-agent market next month. Another, Carlos Rogers, will be asked to take a pay cut, something he refused to do last season.

Rogers not only started on the outside, he moved inside to the nickel cornerback position when opponents lined up three receivers. The 49ers have options at the ever-more-critical nickel spot. Perrish Cox and Eric Wright are capable of playing there. Both are free agents but should be easy to re-sign if the 49ers want them back.

And if the 49ers wanted a nickel option in the draft? I asked Mayock which prospects were the best options to play the slot position. He had two options, TCU's Jason Verrett and Florida State's Lamarcus Joyner.

On Verrett: "The only reason I wouldn't say he's a top 20 pick is because of his size. He's 5-9. He's probably a buck 85. But he's ideal for the slot because he's quick-footed, he's tough. And remember, the slot guys - what gets overlooked - is that you've got to tackle also. And this kid's a tough kid even though he's undersized."

On Joyner: "I think he's a little bit like (Cardinals defensive back) Tyrann Mathieu in that he was a corner in college, but I think he's going to have to kick inside and either be a safety or nickel or both. ... He's an explosive, quick-twitch athlete. He can play safety or nickel. He played mostly corner at Florida State and has some special team ability also. I like him a lot."

Mayock's rankings:

Cornerback 
1. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State 
2. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State 
3. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech 
4. Jason Verrett, TCU 
5. Bradley Roby, Ohio State

Safety 
1. Calvin Pryor, Louisville 
2. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama 
3. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State 
4. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois 
5. Deone Bucannon, Washington State

Wide receiver 
1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson 
2. Marqise Lee, USC 
3. Mike Evans, Texas A&M 
4. Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State 
5. Jarvis Landry, LSU

-- Matt Barrows

February 17, 2014
Think big: A ranking of WRs who fit 49ers' physical style

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NFL Films' Greg Cosell says there hasn't been a wide receiver as good as Clemson's Sammy Watkins since A.J. Green and Julio Jones were drafted fourth and sixth overall in the 2011 draft. Watkins has nice size, nice speed and is ferocious when the ball is in the air - precisely the type of receiver the 49ers have had success with in recent years and what they would want for the future.

Would the 49ers trade up - likely into the Top 10 and perhaps the Top 5 - to get Watkins? With 12 picks, they certainly have the ammunition. But they have needs at cornerback and safety among other positions. Also, the lesson the Falcons learned when they traded away five draft picks in order to leap from the end of the first round to get Jones is that, after giving a big-money deal to their quarterback, they didn't have a lot of means to rebuild other areas of their roster.

Finally, this draft not only has good wideouts at the top of the draft, it has intriguing ones throughout. (That's opposed to the 2011 draft; the next wideout taken after Jones that year was Jonathan Baldwin). Because there are so many this year, I asked Cosell about big, physical wide receivers - the type of receiver Colin Kaepernick has been comfortable targeting in recent seasons and the type that fit well in a power-based offense. There will be plenty of time to write about other types of receivers - LSU's Odell Beckham and Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, for example - between now and May.

Here are Cosell's initial thoughts on big, physical receivers. He differs from most draft prospect watchers by putting Kelvin Benjamin ahead of Mike Evans. For what it's worth, I agree with him. Watch the Florida State-Florida game this year when Benjamin is matched against NFL-caliber cornerback Louchiez Purifoy and you'll see why. The heights and weights are from the players' respective colleges. That means they are bound to drop by a few pounds and an inch or so when the players are officially measured in Indianapolis later this week.

Kelvin Benjamin
Florida State
6-5, 234
Cosell said he liked Benjamin a bit more than Evans because he's a little more athletic and moves better than the Texas A&M product. "I thought he was pretty fluid for a big kid," Cosell said. "He can turn his hips and adjust for the ball, something a lot of big guys don't do." He comes from the same part of Florida as Anquan Boldin, and like Boldin played at Florida State.

February 13, 2014
Look ahead: wide receiver should top 49ers' offseason priority list

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Over the next few weeks, I'll take a position-by-position look at the 49ers roster with an eye on the upcoming season and beyond. Today we examine the situation at wide receiver.

Signed for 2014: Michael Crabtree, Quinton Patton, Jon Baldwin, Chuck Jacobs, Devon Wylie, Brandon Carswell, David Reed, DeMarco Sampson

Pending free agents: Anquan Boldin, Mario Manningham, Kassim Osgood.

Outlook: The 49ers' first order of business is re-signing Anquan Boldin, who led the team in receiving in 2013 and who was voted - by the coaching staff - as the team's MVP. Even if that occurs, however, the 49ers must start planning for the future at the position. To me, the question isn't whether they should draft a wide receiver early in the upcoming draft. It's whether they should take two receivers over the first two days.

Boldin isn't showing any signs of slowing down. Indeed, his 1,179 yards last year were his best mark since 2006 when he was with Kurt Warner and the Cardinals. But he'll turn 34 during the upcoming season. Crabtree, meanwhile, is going into the final year of his contract and has dealt with three serious foot/lower leg injuries since entering the league in 2009. That is, as potent as the Boldin-Crabtree duo was at the end of the season, you have to wonder how long it will be together.

The 49ers also are likely to extend quarterback Colin Kaepernick's contract this offseason and would be wise to protect that investment by surrounding him with good, young pass catchers. This year's draft is considered one of the best in recent memory and is particularly deep at the wide receiver position. Having a young receiver learn the position next to Boldin for two or three years also would be ideal.

Three of those receivers fit the team's mold for big, physical pass catchers who will fight defensive backs for the ball - Clemson's Sammy Watkins, Texas A&M's Mike Evans and Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin. If the 49ers wanted any of those three, however, they probably would trade up in the first round, perhaps farther than they did last year when they jumped from pick 31 to pick 18 to grab safety Eric Reid.

January 23, 2014
Keeping up with Carroll: 49ers needs in the upcoming draft

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The season is over and it's time to start at least warming up your ice-cold draft muscles. After all, it's only four months away. Here's where I see the 49ers' top needs in 2014:

Wide receiver: This need could diminish somewhat if the 49ers strike a deal with Anquan Boldin, who is a pending free agent. But even with Boldin on board, it's at the top of the list considering A.) He will be 34 in October. B.) Michael Crabtree has been injury prone and is entering the final year of his deal. C.) The 49ers need top-flight receivers to defeat their arch nemesis, the Seattle Seahawks. This is believed to be a good year for receivers although the top name at the position, Sammy Watkins, probably is out of their reach.

Cornerback: This position crept closer to the top spot over the last few weeks. That's when Eric Wright, who at one point seemed like an heir to Carlos Rogers at the nickel spot, fell out of favor with the coaching staff. He was replaced by Perrish Cox, whom the 49ers cut at one point this season. With Chris Culliver recovering from ACL surgery, the only sure thing at the position is Tramaine Brock, who had a very solid season. Earlier in the year, it seemed as if Rogers (huge salary) and Tarell Brown (pending free agent) were gone. Now the door remains open a crack for one of them to return. The good news for the 49ers: Trent Baalke and his staff have shown a knack for picking cornerbacks, especially late (Marcus Cooper) or after the draft has ended (Brock).

Safety: This obviously becomes a bigger issue if the 49ers can't re-sign Donte Whitner. If he goes, the team's duo would be Craig Dahl and Eric Reid. Reid, the rookie, had a very nice season. But his two concussions have to be a concern for the team. And as well as he played, he had a big, third-quarter whiff on a potential tackle of Marshawn Lynch on Sunday that opened the floodgates as far as Seattle's scoring. The only other true safety on the team is C.J. Spillman, who always has teemed with potential but who hasn't won the trust of the coaches.

August 27, 2013
49ers already have 11 picks in 2014 draft

The 49ers, who had a whopping 11 picks in this year's draft, already have 11 in next year's with more on the way in compensatory picks.

The team's strategy for maintaining success is to keep its best free agents, allow others to walk and then replace them through the draft. That was process this year when the 49ers lost safety Dashon Goldson and replaced him with Eric Reid.

2014 draft picks:
1. First round - own pick
2. Second round - own pick
3. Third round - pick from Kansas City (Alex Smith). Selection could turn into a second-round pick if the Chiefs finish 8-8 or better.
4. Third round - pick from Tennessee. Titans moved up in second round this year to take WR Justin Hunter.
5. Third round - own pick
6. Fourth round - own pick
7. Fifth round - own pick
8. Sixth round - own pick
9. Seventh round - own pick
10. Seventh round - pick from Carolina (2012 Colin Jones trade)
11. Seventh round - pick from New Orleans (Parys Haralson)*

*The New Orleans trade is contingent on Haralson making the Saints roster, which he is expected to do. In fact, he could start at outside linebacker.

*The 49ers also are expected to be awarded at least one compensatory pick in the 2014 draft after losing Goldson, Delanie Walker, Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean-Francois and Ted Ginn in free agency. That pick could be as high as a third, which perhaps would give the 49ers six picks in the first 100 selections of the draft.

-- Matt Barrows

August 4, 2013
Fangio: Carradine not close to returning to practice

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When will second-round draft pick Tank Carradine start practicing? Vic Fangio says he doesn't know, but that it won't be soon. "I'm sure I'll be alerted when he's close to coming back and I haven't been alerted yet," the defensive coordinator said Friday.

Carradine, the 40th overall pick in the April draft, is recovering from an ACL tear suffered in November at Florida State. Like fellow draft pick Marcus Lattimore, a running back, Carradine worked furiously in the run-up to the draft on his rehabilitation to show teams that he was on his way toward recovery and that he could contribute this season. But also like Lattimore, the 49ers felt it was prudent to slow down that process.

Carradine and another rookie defensive lineman, fifth rounder Quinton Dial, have been rehabilitating together on a side field during practices. Dial, who tore a toe ligament last season and had offseason surgery, appears to be ahead of Carradine.

All of the injured rookies have been placed on the non-football injury (NFI) list. If they remain on that list when the regular season begins, they cannot practice or play for the first six weeks. After Week 6 and continuing through Week 11, there's a three-week window during which they can join practice. If the 49ers feel they are healthy at that point, they can be moved to the active, 53-man roster.

July 5, 2013
And then there were none: Eric Reid signs with 49ers

The 49ers and their first-round draft pick, Eric Reid, struck a deal on a rookie contract Friday, meaning all 11 of the team's draft picks are signed well in advance of training camp. Reid, a safety from LSU, and the rest of the 49ers' rookies will report to camp July 19.

Reid broke the news on Twitter. "Beyond blessed! Officially a 49ER!" he wrote.

The 49ers traded up 13 spots in the first round to select Reid, an athletic and hard-hitting safety, with the No. 18 pick. San Francisco dealt the Nos. 31 and 74 selections to the Cowboys in order to get Reid. The team lost one of its starting safeties, Dashon Goldon, to Tampa Bay in free agency, and the hope is that Reid -- who has a similar skill set to Goldson -- will be able to step into Goldson's former role.

The 49ers also acquired Craig Dahl, formerly a starter at safety with the Rams, in free agency. Dahl, Reid and Donte Whitner rotated with the first-string defense during the spring practice sessions that wrapped up last month. Reid, however, is expected to start opposite Whitner at some point this season. All of the safeties taken in the first round in the last three years have started all 16 regular season games for their respective teams.

-- Matt Barrows

June 10, 2013
49ers sign draft pick Lemonier; only Reid remains

The 49ers today signed third-round pick Corey Lemonier to a rookie contract, leaving only one member of their 11-man draft class unsigned, first rounder Eric Reid.

Lemonier (6-3, 255) played defensive end at Auburn but is being converted to outside linebacker with the 49ers. With starters Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks nursing shoulder injuries, Lemonier promises to see plenty of action at the three-day minicamp that begins Tuesday.

Lemonier, veterans Parys Haralson and Dan Skuta, and second-year players Darius Fleming and Cam Johnson, are competing for spots on the team. Fleming also has been asked to play inside linebacker. He tweaked his surgically repaired left knee during last week's OTA practice, and his status this week is unknown.

The 49ers also signed tight end/fullback Jason Schepler and parted ways with rookie fullback Alex Debniak, who was waived/injured. Debniak played at Stanford.

- Matt Barrows

May 31, 2013
49ers ink running back Lattimore to four-year deal

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And then there were two ...

The 49ers today announced they had signed running back Marcus Lattimore, the second of their two fourth-round picks, to a four-year contract. That leaves only first-round pick Eric Reid and third-round selection Corey Lemonier unsigned.

Lattimore, 21, is considered one of the most talented runners in this year's draft class, but he suffered knee injuries in each of the last two seasons, including a gruesome blow to his right knee which tore three ligaments and dislocated the knee cap. Lattimore has been rehabilitating -- slowly -- with the team's training staff while the rest of the 49ers go through OTA practices.

It is unlikely that Lattimore, a three-time All-SEC selection, will begin the season on the 49ers' 53-man roster. Instead, he could begin on the non-football injury list, which would give the team the option of activating him later in the year. They took the same approach last season with running back Jewel Hampton, who was dealing with bone spurs in his foot.

-- Matt Barrows

May 30, 2013
Whose board was better? Cowboys had differing opinions of 49ers' picks

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When it came to last month's draft, the 49ers reached for safety Eric Reid. And for defensive end Tank Carradine, tight end Vance McDonald and outside linebacker Corey Lemonier.

This, according to the Dallas Cowboys, whose draft board was revealed for the second time in three seasons via draft-day photos that were nicely deciphered by bloggingtheboys.com here. The Cowboys, of course, swapped spots with the 49ers in the first round so that San Francisco could take Reid with the 18th overall pick. The 49ers also traded a third-round pick, No. 74, to the Cowboys, who, judging from their draft board, felt the third and fifth rounds were full of talent.

As you can see from their board, many of the players the Cowboys considered first-round talents already were taken by No. 18. According to their board, they also ended up reaching - but just a bit - for guard/center Travis Frederick, whom they took at the 49ers' former No. 31 position. They had Frederick rated as a second rounder as well.

The draft board indicates Dallas thought Carradine, McDonald and Lemonier were taken one round early. However, Dallas seems to have thought the fourth round was the right spot for receiver Quinton Patton, whom the 49ers took with the 31st pick in that round. Injured running back Marcus Lattimore, whom the 49ers selected three spots after Patton, wasn't on Dallas' draft board nor were Quinton Dial, Nick Moody, B.J. Daniels, Carter Bykowski and Marcus Cooper.

Whose board is better? Three years ago, the Cowboys board indicated they felt tackle Anthony Davis was a reach with the 11th overall pick. They had him ranked as a third rounder. (Davis has started every game since and recently was awarded a contract extension). Then again, Dallas had linebacker NaVorro Bowman rated as a first-round talent that year. The 49ers got him in the third round and Bowman has been a first-team all-pro selection the last two years.

Also in the 49ers' favor: They have been to the championship game the last two seasons and, as far as I know, haven't mistakenly revealed their draft board. Twice.

-- Matt Barrows

May 12, 2013
Kaepernick watches B.J. Daniels shine; Baalke observes Okoye in action

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As if B.J. Daniels and Nate Montana weren't under enough pressure ... Midway through Saturday's rookie minicamp practice, a guy wearing a yellow Warriors cap and a white Warriors jersey walked onto the practice field. It was Colin Kaepernick, who hung around to watch most of the session. (The only other veteran observer has been Anthony Davis, whose brother, Andre, is getting a tryout). What did Kaepernick see?

Both quarterbacks have looked sharp at times, albeit in a shells-only, minimum-pass-rush, don't-touch-the-quarterback context. Daniels in particular isn't shy about flinging the ball downfield, and he connected on long downfield passes to receiver Brandon Carswell and tight end H-back MarQueis Gray. Montana connected deep with receiver Greg Wilson.

Daniels has a quicker release than Montana and is much more active in the pocket. Like Kaepernick, he also is comfortable running with the ball, and he had two long runs around the right side with Kaepernick observing from the sideline.

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As you would expect at this type of camp, there were highlights and lowlights for every player on Saturday. Montana, for example, was late or off target on a few throws. With none of his deep receivers open, he checked down to running back Isi Sofele, who was 10 yards away. The pass, however, may have been too hard, and it went through Sofele's hands and was intercepted by inside linebacker Nate Stupar. Stupar will compete this summer with Dan Skuta, Michael Wilhoite and draft pick Nick Moody for one of the backup roles behind Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.

May 11, 2013
B.J. Daniels concentrating on quarterback ... mostly

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B.J Daniels never played any position but quarterback at South Florida. Quarterbacks, however, are nothing if not studious and prepared. And Daniels figured it was a good idea to diversify his portfolio in the run-up to the draft.

The 49ers' seventh-round draft pick rounded up the school's punter and worked on his punt-return skills throughout the spring in Tampa. That preparation came in handy at the end of Friday's initial 49ers practice when Daniels - he and Nate Montana are the only two rookies playing quarterback this weekend - was told to join a group of wide receivers and defensive backs taking turns at punt and kick returns.

Daniels didn't look at out place. "I'm comfortable with my hands and, like I said, anything I can do to help out is what I'm going to do," said Daniels, adding that he prepared himself for punt returns this spring, "just to keep my options open."

That versatility probably is Daniels' ticket to making the 49ers' roster this summer. The team needs players who can handle punt and kick returns after Ted Ginn signed with the Panthers in free agency. Kyle Williams and Kendall Hunter likely are the frontrunners for both duties, but both players are coming off of season-ending injuries suffered Nov. 25. The 49ers need options.

May 10, 2013
Minicamp notes: Dial's injury means Okoye "starts" at defensive end

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It turns out that four rookies are not taking part in the ongoing minicamp practices. Quinton Dial (toe) was standing next to fellow defensive lineman Tank Carradine (knee) throughout the practice. The others not practicing are running back Marcus Lattimore (knee) and offensive tackle Luke Marquardt (foot).

* There are only two quarterbacks at the session - draft pick B.J. Daniels and Nate Montana. Daniels also took some repetitions at running back early in the session and at punt- and kick returner later in the practice. He looked very natural running with the ball in his hands.

* From the no-duh department: Brit Lawrence Okoye is a project, a long-term project. But he certainly looked the part during today's minicamp. He's tall (6-6), long-armed and muscular. At the very least, he has the prototypical silhouette of a 3-4 defensive end. The question that will be answered over the next year or so is whether he has the demeanor and the drive. With Dial and Carradine out, Okoye was the de facto "starter" today. He certainly received a lot of repetitions and definitely was winded by the end of the 2 1/2-hour session. Prediction: He will be as sore as he's ever been in his life Saturday morning.

* The highlight of the day was the "box jump" drill during which the players first leaped, from a standing position, onto a 2 1/2- 3 1/2-foot-tall box. From there, they were told to immediately leap -- butt first -- onto a huge mattress. It was like watching 315-pound men do cannonballs into a pool. The most impressive leaper -- no surprise -- was Okoye, who got what can only be described as insane height for someone his size. He also excelled at the medicine ball toss at the end of practice, hurling it 18 yards behind him. That was about nine yards farther than anyone else. The tower at San Jose International is still wondering what was showing up on its radar around 5:30 p.m.

May 10, 2013
49ers notes: Early bird Patton misses first flight to SF

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From the department if irony: The 49ers' rookie who was most eager to join his teammates after the draft will be the last rookie to officially join the full squad for offseason workouts.

Jim Harbaugh said that every will be able to join the team on Monday except for wide receiver Quinton Patton. Louisiana Tech's graduation is later than most other schools, and NFL rules forbid Patton from joining his squad until the school session has ended.

Patton became entangled in the NFL rules on April 29 when he bought a plane ticket from Nashville to San Francisco, rented a car and told the 49ers he was on his way to the team facility. Harbaugh had to call back and tell him to turn around - draft picks can visit their new teams 24 hours after they are drafted but otherwise can't arrive until the rookie minicamp, which began today with a morning walk-through.

Patton, meanwhile, missed his initial, 7 a.m. flight to San Francisco this week when he couldn't find his driver's license at the airport. Turns out it was buried deep in his luggage and he took another flight that afternoon.

"I was like 'Man, I tried to come out there early last time and now I can't even get out there this time,'" he said.

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There are two quarterbacks at the 49ers' rookie minicamp, seventh-round pick B.J. Daniels and undrafted free agent Nate Montana, who was given a tryout by the 49ers. Joe's son said he also received a tryout invitation from the Bengals. But Cincinnati's minicamp also was this weekend, and Montana said he thought he had a better chance of catching on with San Francisco.

May 10, 2013
Harbaugh says Lattimore's medical exam yields good news

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Step one for the 49ers' rookie class: A battery of tests and examinations up the road at Stanford Hospital.

For two members of the class, second-round pick Tank Carradine and fourth rounder Marcus Lattimore, the results were promising, Jim Harbaugh said Friday.

"Everything looks good structurally with all the guys that we drafted," he said. "The ACL looks really good for Marcus. We're just going to have to take a step back in terms of the cutting because we want that inside of the knee, the lateral side of the knee, to heal fully. But we're good."

Lattimore, of course, tore three knee ligaments, including the ACL, last year, and his heroic rehabilitation was one of the biggest story lines in the months before the draft. After the draft, however, Harbaugh said he wanted Lattimore, a running back, to slow down that rehabilitation, and he hinted that Lattimore might not play in 2013.

Lattimore today said he'd accept that scenario if that's what occurs. "I think that would be fine," he said. "Whatever happens, you know, these next three months will probably determine that. I'm just going to continue to keep working hard, and if I'm called upon, I feel like hopefully I'll be ready."

Harbaugh cautioned that no decisions have been made on Lattimore or Carradine, a defensive lineman who tore his ACL in November. He said the team's training staff, led by head trainer Jeff Ferguson, was excited by the challenge presented by the team's 2013 draft class.

"It's the Super Bowl for them," he said. "They're fired up about that."

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Undrafted free agent Luke Marquardt, an offensive tackle, is on crutches and in a walking boot. He is recovering from a broken foot.

-- Matt Barrows

May 10, 2013
49ers lock up Dial, others as rookie minicamp set to begin

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***UPDATE*** The 49ers also signed sixth-round pick Nick Moody to a four-year deal.

On the eve of their rookie minicamp, the 49ers have struck deals with four of their draft picks with several more on their way.

The team agreed to four-year deals with defensive lineman Quinton Dial, a fifth-round pick, sixth-round pick Nick Moody, and seventh-round picks B.J. Daniels, Carter Bykowski and Marcus Cooper. The 49ers currently are working on contracts for the seven players selected between the fourth and seventh rounds.

Dial's deal is unknown, but it promises to be slightly better than the four-year, $2.284 million contract Falcons fullback Bradie Ewing received last year. Like Dial, Ewing was the 157th overall pick. The salaries of most draft picks are slotted, and there is little negotiation, at least not as much as there was prior to the current collective bargaining agreement.

That means teams like the 49ers can complete rookie deals early and in quick succession. Last year, for example, they signed every pick but first rounder A.J. Jenkins by the time of their first May minicamp.

The 49ers are hoping the 6-5, 318-pound Dial, who played at Alabama, will provide depth this year, and he will get looks at all three positions on the line, including nose tackle. Daniels, meanwhile, will get snaps at quarterback, his position at South Florida, but could be used at other positions, including as a return man. Scout.com reported that Daniels' four-year is for $2.206 million and includes a $46,512 bonus.

Moody began at Florida State as a safety but moved to linebacker. He'll play inside linebacker -- as well as special teams -- for the 49ers. Bykowski was drafted to provide depth at offensive tackle while Cooper is the type of big (6-2) and athletic cornerback the 49ers prefer.

-- Matt Barrows

May 8, 2013
Rookies not the only ones attending 49ers rookie minicamp

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The players participating in the 49ers' rookie minicamp this weekend aren't all rookies. The group falls into three categories: draft picks and undrafted free agents; tryout players; and players who were on the roster last year that did not accrue any pension credit.

By my calculation, there are six players in that last category:

OL Al Netter
OL Wayne Tribue
OL Kenny Wiggins
S Michael Thomas
LB Nate Stupar
P Anthony Santella

Here are the incoming rookies:

Drafted:
S Eric Reid (1st)
DL *Cornelius "Tank" Carradine (2nd)
TE Vance McDonald (2nd)
OLB Corey Lemonier (3rd)
WR Quinton Patton (4th)
RB *Marcus Lattimore (4th)
DL Quinton Dial (5th)
LB Nick Moody (6th)
QB/PR B.J. Daniels (7th)
OT Carter Bykowski (7th)
CB Marcus Cooper (7th)

May 7, 2013
49ers sign a dozen undrafted rookies

The 49ers drafted 11 rookies last week and signed 12 more this week. The dozen include former British discus thrower Lawrence Okoye, who will get a chance to play defensive end, and 6-9 offensive tackle Luke Marquardt, who could have a future role as the team's 'swing' offensive tackle.

C Sherman Carter, Tennessee State
FB Alex Debniak, Stanford
HB, TE MarQueis Gray, Minnesota
RB D.J. Harper, Boise State
WR Chuck Jacobs, Utah State
T Luke Marquardt, Azusa Pacific
LS Kevin McDermott, UCLA
CB Darryl Morris, Texas State
DL Lawrence Okoye, no college
G Patrick Omameh, Michigan
NT Mike Purcell, Wyoming
CB Lowell Rose, Tulsa

Marquardt, who is recovering from a broken foot, will not take part in the rookie minicamp that begins Friday. Neither will draft picks Tank Carradine (knee) and Marcus Lattimore (knee).

The team also signed punter Anthony Santella to a one-year deal. The 6-2, 190-pound Santella played at Illinois and entered the league as an undrafted rookie with the Carolina Panthers in 2011. He spent training camp with the team that year before being released. He will provide practice relief for All-Pro Andy Lee as the 49ers attempt to find a punt returner.

-- Matt Barrows

May 6, 2013
Multi-talented MarQueis Gray part of 49ers' post-draft haul

The 49ers this week will release the names of the dozen or so undrafted rookies they signed, and on Friday they will begin a three-day rookie minicamp.

One of the more interesting positions to watch will be tight end. The 49ers, of course, lost their No. 2 tight end, Delanie Walker, to the Titans in free agency, and they seemingly replaced him with Vance McDonald in the second round.

As was the case with Walker, who played wideout at Central Missouri, McDonald spent time at Rice as a wide receiver. While the 49ers' No. 1 tight end, Vernon Davis, primarily lines up at the end of the offensive line, the No. 2 tight end is used all over the formation - sometimes in the backfield as an H-back, sometimes split out as a wide receiver. That is, versatility and route running are required for the job, and McDonald already has a good start in both.

The other newcomer at the position also has a background similar to Walker's. MarQueis Gray was recruited at the University of Minnesota to play quarterback. But when he arrived there, the Golden Gophers already had a solid passer, Adam Weber, and they used Gray as a wide receiver his first two seasons. Gray caught 42 passes for 587 yards and five touchdowns in 2010.

May 6, 2013
Go Alex Smith? KC's 2013 record will affect 49ers' 2014 draft

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For 49ers fans this season, it's root, root, root for the home team ... and the team in Kansas City.

That's because the Chiefs' record will have a bearing on San Francisco's draft. As Peter King reported this morning in Sports Illustrated, the 49ers would get Kansas City's second-round pick in the 2014 draft if the Chiefs, who have one of the easiest schedules in the league this year, finish 8-8 or better. It drops to a third-round pick if the Chiefs finish below .500.

A pick in next year's draft was one of the conditions in the deal that sent quarterback Alex Smith to Kansas City earlier this year. That deal also supplied the 49ers with a second-round pick in the most recent draft, which they used in a draft-day trade with the Tennessee Titans. The 49ers eventually took Florida State defensive end Tank Carradine in the second-round and also got Tennessee's third-round pick in 2014.

The Chiefs finished 2-14 last season and wound up with the top pick in the draft, which they used on offensive tackle Eric Fisher. Of course, if they finished poorly again in 2013, their third-round pick - which would go to the 49ers - would be high in the round. If they were better than .500, the pick that goes to San Francisco would be in the middle or back end of Round 2. The best case scenario for the 49ers: The Chiefs finish 8-8.

May 2, 2013
Monday wasn't first time a coach told Quinton Patton to go home

Monday wasn't the first time one of Quinton Patton's coaches told him to go home.

Former Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes on Thursday said those words were a refrain the last two years on the practice field in Ruston, La. where Patton often would stay late to work on his route running. "We told him that many times," said Dykes, who is now the head coach at Cal. "'We got our work done today, Quinton. Let's recharge our batteries and go back to work tomorrow.'"

Patton's new coach, Jim Harbaugh, told Patton the same thing Monday when Patton unexpectedly flew to the Bay Area to work out with the 49ers. League rules prohibit draft picks from practicing with their new team until the first rookie minicamp, which for the 49ers begins May 10. Harbaugh was impressed by the fourth-round pick's initiative but told him to fly back to Tennessee.

Dykes, meanwhile, said he knew he'd be getting an energetic an enthusiastic player when he watched film of Patton at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas where he played two seasons before arriving at Louisiana Tech. Not only did Patton line up at wide receiver at Coffeyville. He also played defensive back and was the school's punter.

May 2, 2013
Harbaugh tells rookie wideout to go home but loves his initiative

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Showing up late for your first-ever NFL minicamp? Bad. Showing up a week and a half early? It's fantastic, according to Jim Harbaugh, albeit against the rules.

That's what 49ers rookie receiver Quinton Patton discovered after paying for a flight from Tennessee to San Francisco International Airport on Monday and then renting a car. Patton was halfway down Highway 101 on Monday when he called the 49ers to tell them he was minutes away from joining their offseason program.

That wasn't exactly welcome news. Draft picks have a 24-hour window to visit their new team, according to the new collective bargaining agreement, but are not allowed to visit beyond that. Patton was the 49ers' first pick in the fourth round on Saturday, and if he had arrived in Santa Clara he might have forfeited his chance to take part in the team's rookie minicamp that begins next Friday.

"He calls us two days ago and he said he's here," Harbaugh said on KNBR radio Wednesday. "He's on his way. He'd just landed at the airport. He's in his rental car. He's coming over to the facility, and he can't wait to get started. And we had to go, 'Where? Which airport did you fly into? You're in a rental car driving here?' 'Yeah, coach, I'm 20 minutes away.'"

The instructions from the 49ers: Turn around immediately and go back home.

May 1, 2013
RB D.J. Harper part of 49ers' all-ACL team

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A talented running back whose college career was marred by nasty knee injuries in back-to-back seasons? The 49ers now have three players who fit that description.

Frank Gore's and Marcus Lattimore's stories are well known. You probably haven't heard as much about Boise State running back D.J. Harper, one of the undrafted free agents the 49ers signed this week.

Harper tore his ACL in successive seasons. Unlike Gore and Lattimore, who tore ligaments in different knees, both of Harper's injuries occurred to his left knee and both occurred in the third game of the season in 2009 and 2010. He was granted a rare sixth season of eligibility at Boise State, and last season ran for 1,137 yards and scored 15 touchdowns.

GM Trent Baalke wants a stable of running backs with varied skills, and Harper (5-9, 209) fits the mold of the outside runner. He's a good receiver out of the backfield, and he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 and 4.49 seconds at Boise State's pro day in March.

Of course, ACL injuries are a theme this year for the 49ers. Three veteran players - Darius Fleming, Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams - are recovering from the injury. So are Lattimore and fellow draft pick Tank Carradine. Lattimore also tore his PCL and LCL and dislocated his kneecap.

April 30, 2013
Live chat replay: 49ers post-draft analysis with The Bee's Matt Barrows

April 30, 2013
Arms race: 49ers draft picks have something in common

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You can't tell the true measure of a man until you put a tape measure to his arm.

This appears to be the 49ers' draft motto. For the second time in three years, Jim Harbaugh spoke at length about, well, length when discussing individual members of his 11-man draft class. Two years ago, you'll recall, both Harbaugh and Trent Baalke were positively giddy about Aldon Smith's wingspan.

Smith's arms measure 35 3/8 inches from shoulder to the end of his middle finger, giving him one of the longest reaches of any player, including offensive tackles, in the 2011 draft. It's the reason I wanted to call him, "The Condor," (which somehow hasn't really caught on. Yet.)

None of the 49ers' draft picks have overtaken Smith in terms of lever length. But as you see, many of them - indeed, most of them - stand out in this category. Even quarterback B.J. Daniels measures up at 32 inches, which is pretty long for someone who stands 5-11.

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S Eric Reid - 33 5/8 inches
DL Tank Carradine - 34 ¾
TE Vance McDonald - 34 ½
OLB Corey Lemonier - 34 ½
Quinton Patton - 31 3/8
Marcus Lattimore - 32 ½
Quinton Dial - 34 ½
Nick Moody - 31 5/8
B.J. Daniels - 32
Carter Bykowski - 33 ¾
Marcus Cooper - 32 ¾
Lawrence Okoye - 34 ½
Luke Marquardt - 34 1/2

April 29, 2013
49ers draft notes: WR Patton thrived under the bright lights

Still trying the digest after the 49ers' draft bacchanalia? I am, too. Here are some notes and observations on the 11 picks and the undrafted free agents the team has acquired.

* First a quick summation. As we all know, it takes three years and blah, blah, blah to fully assess yadda, yadda, yadda. But the first blush on this draft class is that it is very, very good. The 49ers had a tricky situation heading into Thursday. They had to reconcile a league-high 13 picks with perhaps a league-low number of roster openings. I thought they handled that well by drafting some talented but injured players - Tank Carradine, Marcus Lattimore - who aren't needed right away and others, Nick Moody (special teams) and B.J. Daniels (jack of all trades) who could make the roster because they have varied roles.

* Receiver Quinton Patton got short shrift on Saturday because just a few minutes after the 49ers selected him they took popular South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore. But Patton is interesting for a number of reasons, including the fact that his best game didn't come against one of the weak sisters of college football but against one of the nation's powerhouses. Patton caught (and this isn't a typo) 21 passes for 233 yards and four touchdowns against Texas A&M last year.

"I did a stop at Texas A&M this year and happened to watch that game while I was at Texas A&M and that's where he kind of caught my eye, personally," general manager Trent Baalke said. "Certainly the scouts that went through there really liked him, liked him as a competitor, liked him just as a football player and felt that from a character standpoint he was a good fit as well. Then he jumped out at us at the Senior Bowl. Went into the Senior Bowl, just as you said, Matt, the lights weren't too big, they weren't too bright for him. He got off the bus ready to go, competed very hard, showed very well there, so another big stage. That always helps in the evaluation of these guys."

April 28, 2013
Nate Montana to get another tryout with 49ers

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Nate Montana hasn't gotten a contract offer from the 49ers, but he has received an invitation.

Montana, the son of the 49ers' famous quarterback, will attend the team's rookie minicamp that runs May 10-12 on a tryout basis. Montana, who played most recently for West Virginia Wesleyan, attended the team's "local" pro day earlier this month. At the time, Montana said he figured he wouldn't be drafted this weekend but said he hoped to be offered a free-agent contract.

That's what he and his agent, Marty Magid, are concentrating on now, and their hope is that the 49ers offer him a deal after the minicamp. Magid said other, unnamed teams also have shown interest in Montana and that he was trying to secure an invitation for one of the rookie minicamps being held during the upcoming weekend, May 3-5. "A couple of teams have asked about him," Magid said. "We'll find out this week."

Montana, 6-4, 215, was one of 57 pro prospects on hand for the 49ers' local pro day April 17. He's had a roundabout college career that took him from Notre Dame to Pasadena City College to Montana and finally to Division II West Virginia Wesleyan, where he played last season.

While the 49ers took Joe Montana in the third round of the 1979 draft, Nate Montana -- he wore No. 13 at the recent pro day -- said he hoped to join an NFL team as an undrafted free agent and was eyeing the Canadian Football League or the Arena League if there are no NFL offers.

"Coming back here where my dad played, you've just got to put your head down and make your own name," he said April 17. "It's like a blessing and a curse. You just try to ignore the, 'Oh, that's Joe Montana's son. That's Joe Montana's son.' You just go work and show them that you're a different player from your dad."

The 49ers have three quarterbacks on their roster, Colin Kaepernick, Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien.They drafted another, B.J. Daniels, in the seventh round Sunday. Daniels will start out as a quarterback but may get practice repetitions at running back, receiver and punt returner as well.

-- Matt Barrows

April 27, 2013
Jim Harbaugh to Marcus Lattimore: Slow down

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Jim Harbaugh is impressed that Marcus Lattimore had the drive and determination to get himself drafted after experiencing such a devastating injury just six months ago.

But now he wants Lattimore to slow down, and he told the South Carolina running back as much today. "We're going to slow the aggressive, physical (rehabilitation) down and make sure that Marcus is going to be 100 percent healthy before he's out there on the field," Harbaugh said. "I've told him that, shared that with him, shared that with his mother, and if he doesn't play this year, he doesn't play this year."

Lattimore seemingly is a candidate for the non-football injury list. That would allow him to continue to rehabilitate his right knee with the 49ers without having him count toward the 53-man roster. Another running back, Jewel Hampton, spent most of the 2012 season on the NFI list last year.

Hampton is another reason why the 49ers can afford to take their time with Lattimore. They have depth at the position, including him, Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Anthony Dixon. Hunter should be back for training camp after tearing his Achilles tendon Nov. 25.

Lattimore, meanwhile, tore three ligaments in his right knee late in the second quarter in October. He said he has been sprinting for the last two weeks and has vowed to be ready for the 2013 season.

Harbaugh, however, says there's no rush and that Lattimore would not be on the practice field anytime soon.

In fact, he said he's concerned that some draft-eligible players coming off of injuries push themselves too hard in the run-up to the draft to impress teams. Second-round pick Tank Carradine, for example, went through a gauntlet of drills this month just 135 days after ACL surgery.

"These guys are competitive and (they have) the opportunity to show what they can do, all the people coming in to work you out - as a competitor you want to take it to the limit," Harbaugh said. "Yes, that does worry me."

-- Matt Barrows

April 27, 2013
Discus thrower Okoye lands with 49ers

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British discus thrower Lawrence Okoye, who visited the 49ers before the draft, will sign with the team as an undrafted free agent, he announced on Twitter. The 49ers also signed 6-8 offensive tackle Luke Marquardt, who played at Azusa Pacific, according to a league source.

Okoye, 21, turned heads at the super regional combine in Dallas this month with his combination of size -- 6-6, 305 pounds -- and speed. However, he's never played American football in his life and it will be up to defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, who has a background in coaching European players, to teach him his new craft. He will start out as a defensive end for the 49ers.

Asked what he thought of Okoye, Jim Harbaugh said, "Inadequate -- that was my first impression standing next to him." Harbaugh called Okoye "an Adonis, a great physical specimen of a man" and said, "Our creator created a beautiful man."

Harbaugh noted that Okoye didn't start throwing the discus until he was 18, and two years later was in the Olympics. " ... That he's taking on football in this time of his life, I can see this guy doing it."

To read more about Okoye, click here.

The 49ers also have signed:

TE-HB Marqueis Gray, Minnesota (played QB at Minnesota)
G Patrick Omameh, Michigan.
LS Kevin McDermott, UCLA (Scout.com)
OL Sherman Carter, Tennessee State
DT Mike Purcell ,Wyoming
CB Darryl Morris, Texas State
WR, Chuck Jacobs, Utah State
LB, Alex Debniak, Stanford
CB Lowell Rose, Tulsa
RB DJ Harper, Boise State

-- Matt Barrows

April 27, 2013
Night kap: 49ers take mobile USF quarterback in final round

Some observers figured the 49ers might select a mobile quarterback who, one day at least, might be able to substitute for Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco's diverse offense. Few thought it might be B.J. Daniels.

The former University of South Florida product has worked out for teams at wide receiver and running back, but he said Jim Harbaugh today told him he'd be given a chance to compete at quarterback for the 49ers. He'll likely vie with Scott Tolzien for the role of third quarterback, and his athleticism would seem to give him value on the practice squad as well. He certainly would offer a good show-team look for Seattle's Russell Wilson.

Daniels (5-11, 222 pounds) rushed for 426 rushing yards and five touchdowns in 2012 before a broken ankle ended his season in November. He has recovered from the injury and was running for scouts before the draft. He had 601 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns in 2011.

Daniels said he's familiar with Kaepernick and thinks he can do some of the things that allowed Kaepernick to take the league by storm last season. "Very comfortable," he said when asked about the read-option offense. "It's something I've done dating back to my freshman year in high school."

He's also very familiar with 49ers linebackers coach Jim Leavitt, who was the head coach at USF until 2011. Leavitt recruited Daniels. "He's a really good friend and a close friend of the family, and I have a lot of respect for him," Daniels said.

-- Matt Barrows

April 27, 2013
49ers address special teams with linebacker Nick Moody

The 49ers drafted a potential special teams ace in the sixth round in Nick Moody, a safety-turned-linebacker from Florida State. "I expect to contribute immediately on special teams," said Moody (6-1, 237). "I knew that coming into the draft."

After a steller 2011 season, the 49ers' coverage units declined last season, and they gave up a Super Bowl record 108-yard kickoff return to open the second half against the Ravens. The 49ers began addressing that area in free agency by signing Dan Skuta, a linebacker, and Marlon Moore, a wide receiver.

Moody, meanwhile, played three seasons as a safety at Florida State before switching to inside linebacker last season. He said that because of the recent conversion he feels he's got plenty of room to grow and that he looked forward to learning from Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Willis, in fact, was his inspiration when he learned he would become a linebacker.

Moody started 10 games at linebacker in 2012, finishing with 20 tackles. He had three tackles and his first sack in the Orange Bowl against Northern Illinois.

The Florida State product, of course, is very familiar with Tank Carradine, whom the 49ers selected in the second round. He said he and Carradine became close in part because they both love pitbulls.

"They're getting an animal, to be frank," Moody said of Carradine. "He's an extremely hard worker. ... he's strong as an ox, he loves the game."

-- Matt Barrows

April 27, 2013
More d-line depth: 49ers select Alabama's Dial in Round 5

The 49ers, who had not drafted a defensive linemen since 2009, have taken two in the last two days. The latest came in the fifth round with Alabama's Quinton Dial, who at 6-5, 318 pounds has the prototypical size to play defensive end in San Francisco's 3-4 scheme.

Dial, however, said he played all over the defensive line for the Crimson Tide and figures the 49ers will use him in multiple spots, including at nose tackle. "I'm a versatile defensive lineman that can play multiple positions," Dial said.

Dial also received plenty on unwanted attention following a vicious blindside hit on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray following an interception in the SEC championship game.

"Well, the quarterback threw an interception and the guy that intercepted the ball was running down the sideline and the quarterback was running toward the play," Dial said. "So, I just threw a block and hit the quarterback, and everybody made a big deal about it. That was what I was taught to do, is take out anybody I can see. So, I saw the opportunity and took it."

Dial visited Santa Clara earlier this month, the only one of the team's picks so far who visited the team in the month before the draft. In the second round,. The 49ers took defensive lineman Tank Carradine out of Florida State. It's unknown when Carradine, who suffered an ACL tear Nov. 24, will be able to return to full practices.

-- Matt Barrows

April 27, 2013
Latter-day Gore? 49ers take South Carolina runner Lattimore in Round 4

The advantage of having an already-loaded roster on draft day is that a team can take gambles needier opponents can't afford to make.

The 49ers did that in the fourth round Saturday, selecting one of the most talented running backs in the nation but one who suffered perhaps the most gruesome injury of 2012.

South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore already had scored a touchdown and gained 65 yards in the second quarter on Oct. 27 when he was submarined by a Tennessee defender and immediately began clutching his right knee. The hit left him with three torn knee ligaments, a dislocated knee cap and six months of intense rehabilitation.

The injury was doubly painful considering that he suffered a torn ACL in the other knee the previous season. "Right after it happened I doubted myself," Lattimore said Saturday when asked if he ever gave up on making it to the NFL. "I did do that, and I lost hope."

April 26, 2013
49ers envision Tank Carradine as a 290-pound defensive end

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While some teams that scouted Tank Carradine envisioned the 273-pounder as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, the 49ers see him putting on weight and putting his hand on the ground as a defensive end. General manager Trent Baalke said Carradine could play a range of positions - defensive end (like Justin Smith and Ray McDonald) in the team's base defense or any of the four defensive-line spots in the sub package.

"He's going to play down," Baalke said. "He's not an outside linebacker. In our system - it's one of the things we really like is his versatility. He's a little bit bigger than Ray was when Ray came out."

McDonald was listed as 6-4, 276 pounds when he came out of college. He now weighs about 290 pounds. Smith, meanwhile, was a 267-pound defensive end out of Missouri. He now weighs closer to 300 pounds. Baalke said he thought Carradine could get into that range.

"We think he has the frame to do that," he said. "We definitely think there's room for growth, but you never know until you get your hand on him."

The bigger question, for the start of 2013 at least, is Carradine's surgically repaired knee. Baalke said the Florida State product was actually "a little cleaner" medically than McDonald, who also had knee issues coming out of college.

"That remains to be to seen," Baalke said. "We're very confident in what we know of the condition. Our medical staff has taken a close look at him, and we spent several hours yesterday reviewing his file and going through it with all the doctors up in Stanford. The time frame - that's really up to the medical staff."

One more note on Carradine: The Florida State web page lists his birthday as 2/18/1989, which would make him 24 and thus a bit older than most rookies. In fact, his birthday is actually 2/18/1990, which makes him 23.

- Matt Barrows

April 26, 2013
Pass rush ade: 49ers select Auburn's Lemonier in the 3rd Round

After taking Tank Carradine in the second round, the 49ers beefed up their pass rush a little further in the third round. They selected Corey Lemonier, who played defensive end at Auburn but who projects to outside linebacker in the 49ers' 3-4 defense.

Lemonier said he had no idea the 49ers were interested and that he's had little interaction with them in the run-up to the draft. "It's a great defense," he said. "And I'm humbled to be a part of it."

Lemonier certainly sounded surprised. During a breathless conference call with reporters, he said that John Harbaugh called to tell him he had been picked by the 49ers. "Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry!" he said when told of the error.

For the second time Friday, the 49ers made a deal with Green Bay to make the pick. They gave the Packers a third-round pick (No. 93) and seventh-round pick (No. 216) to move up five spots to No. 88.

Lemonier, listed at 6-4, 240 pounds, had 9 1/2 sacks for Auburn in 2011. Those numbers dipped a bit last year. He started three fewer games and finished with 5 1/2 sacks to go along with 34 tackles. Like Carradine, Vance McDonald and Eric Reid, Lemonier has very long arms -- 34 1/2 inches each.

The 49ers, who were short on outside linebackers a year ago, now have an abundance of them. They have Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Parys Haralson, Darius Fleming, Cam Johnson and Lemonier. Haralson, Fleming and Johnson all had surgery before the 2013 season; Smith had surgery after it.

-- Matt Barrows

April 26, 2013
Walker replacement: 49ers grab Vance McDonald in Round 2

The 49ers made their third trade of the draft, this time trading up six slots to grab Rice tight end Vance McDonald.

As was the case Thursday, the 49ers used a high pick to replace a player who departed via free agency. Delanie Walker was in on 57 percent of the team's offensive snaps last season before signing with the Titans in March. McDonald (6-4, 262 pounds) will be expected to fill Walker's role and perhaps become a red-zone threat the 49ers have been missing in recent seasons.

In fact, McDonald and Walker have similar backgrounds. Walker played wide receiver in college before the 49ers drafted him in the sixth round in 2006. McDonald, meanwhile, was used as a slot receiver as a junior at Rice. As a senior, he was used more as a traditional tight end. He had 36 catches for 458 yards and two touchdowns last season and is a good blocker.

Asked about his blocking, McDonald said it's a work in progress. "I know I'm very underdeveloped and I have a lot of raw potential," he said from his home Winnie, Texas. "And that's (blocking) is one area I put a lot of emphasis on."

That the 49ers used the No. 55 pick on a No. 2 tight end also shows how important two-tight end sets are to the team. In a league in which three-wide receiver formations are becoming standard, the 49ers are committed to a power-based formation from which they can both run and throw.

The 49ers dealt their remaining second-round pick, No. 61, and a sixth-round pick (No. 174) to the Packers so that they could take McDonald.

-- Matt Barrows

April 26, 2013
Think Tank: 49ers grab Florida State's Carradine in second round

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Sometimes draft crushes come true.

After trading down in the second round, the 49ers selected Florida State defensive end Tank Carradine, 6-5, 273 pounds, with the 40th overall pick. Carradine, who is recovering from a ACL tear suffered in late November, is expected to play outside linebacker initially in the 49ers' 3-4 scheme.

The 49ers sent defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to Cincinnati last week for Carradine's private workout, which occurred just 135 days after knee surgery. Tomsula and Carradine had dinner the night before the workout.

Carradine, 23, was a first-time starter last year, filling in when the regular starter went down with a foot injury. He had 80 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 11 sacks before going down with his own injury against Florida. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews cleared Carradine to begin running before his Saturday workout.

April 26, 2013
There's been a trade: 49ers loading up in 2014

The 49ers now have 10 picks in the 2014 draft after a trade with the Titans early in the second round. The 49ers gave up the no. 34 pick for the Titans' no. 40 pick and no. 216 pick (7th round) this year as well as a third-round pick next year.

The 49ers already had two extra picks next year after trading Alex Smith to the Chiefs and safety Colin Jones to the Panthers. The Smith pick is a third-round selection that could improve to a second-round pick if Smith and the Chiefs excel next season.

The Titans ended up drafting Tennessee wideout Justin Hunter at pick no. 34. The Eagles selected Stanford tight end Zach Ertz at no. 35.

-- Matt Barrows

April 26, 2013
Soaking it in: New 49er Reid in search of Donte Whitner

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Hey, Donte Whitner. Eric Reid is looking for you.

No, the 49ers' first-round draft pick isn't gunning for the veteran's job. Instead he wants to pick Whitner's brain. Whitner, after all, has played seven years in the league and calls the plays for the 49ers' secondary. "I'm going to be a sponge, just learn as much as I can from him," Reid said at his introductory press conference today. "He's a vet, a guy that's going to show me how to get stuff done."

After trading up 13 spots, Reid is expected to take over the starting role opposite Whitner at some point this season. In fact, every safety taken in the first round in the last three years - Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, Mark Barron and Harrison Smith - started all 16 games their rookie seasons.

Safety, however, is more nuanced and demands more study than perhaps any other spot on defense. And Reid seems to recognize that a starting role won't be handed to him. The 49ers also signed Craig Dahl to a modest, three-year deal, and he is expected to be a placeholder for Reid while he learns the position.

April 26, 2013
Matt Barrow hosts live chat on NFL draft and the 49ers

The NFL draft is in full swing. Join Matt Barrows in a live chat at 11 a.m. today as he breaks down what it means for the team's future. Jason Jones follows with the Raiders at noon.

April 26, 2013
Hunt, Hunter, Hankins? 49ers' Round 2 targets

Unless he gets an offer he can't refuse, Trent Baalke says he's staying put with his next pick and he knows "absolutely" who he's taking. He won't have to wait long. The 49ers have the second pick in Round 2, No. 34. The Jaguars, who went with offensive tackle Luke Joeckel in the first round, pick first, and the expectation is that a quarterback will be taken in that slot.

Who do the 49ers take? Choices abound. They can go with a local player, Stanford tight end Zack Ertz or Cal receiver Keenan Allen. They can opt for a risk-reward pick in Florida State pass rusher Tank Carradine, who is recovering from an ACL tear. Or they could go with a mystery candidate who hasn't been linked very often with the 49ers such as cornerback Jamar Taylor or outside linebacker Corey Lemonier from Auburn. The 49ers also have pick No. 61 (2nd) and No. 93 (3rd) today.

I spoke with CBS Sports analyst Rob Rang who said the strength of the draft as Round 2 begins is at receiver. He highlighted Tennessee's Justin Hunter as someone who would be a nice fit for the 49ers. "Because Randy Moss at least presented you with the threat of a downfield receiver," Rang said. "And that's what Justin Hunter would provide early on. He's an excellent athlete."

April 26, 2013
Baalke expected more trading in the first round

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Here's the post-Round 1 press conference with Trent Baalke, who talks about Eric Reid and about how the trade with the Cowboys came about.

How did the trade go down with Dallas? Is this something you had planned the last couple of days, figuring that might be the slot where you actually go and get S Eric Reid?
TB: "Yeah, it's something I was visiting with [Dallas Cowboys chief operation officer/director of player personnel] Stephen Jones about the last couple of days. We had worked out the details really this morning, as to if our guy was there and if they were still willing to move back, we had the parameters worked out. It was really an easy trade on the clock."

When you talked about that, do you tell him who you want?
TB: "No. We don't talk about who we want. If our player was there we would be willing to move up, if he wasn't then we would have stayed pat or maybe looked at a different option."

Did you have different spots in the draft and different conversations with teams like the ones you had with the Cowboys?
TB: "We had a lot of conversations. This was a busy week. There were a lot of teams that were looking to do different things. Obviously in our case, teams wanting to move back and other teams calling us to see if we were willing to move up. There was a lot of talk. Probably thought there was going to be a few more trades that happened than really did, but it was an active week."

April 25, 2013
Day 1 of draft offers glimpse of 49ers' future

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The 49ers on Thursday offered an example of how they'll conduct business in coming years.

In March, they allowed a pricey veteran, safety Dashon Goldson, to sign elsewhere in free agency. In April, they replaced him in the draft.

San Francisco traded up 13 slots in the first round for LSU safety Eric Reid, who at 6-2, 210 pounds will be expected to take over Goldson's long-time role as the team's enforcer out of the secondary.

"We feel good about his ability to insert and play a physical brand of football," said general manager Trent Baalke. "Heady ball player. He triggers fast on the run, he reacts well to the pass. It's about learning the angles to the pro game and learning the speed of the pro game. But we feel very confident he's going to be able to do that and do it quickly."

A bonus for the 49ers - Reid, 21, already was very familiar to coach Jim Harbaugh, who recruited him heavily to play at Stanford. Harbaugh said he figured he'd have a hard time convincing Eric Reid, Sr., a three-time All-American hurdler at LSU, that his son should go to school in California. But he thought he had an in with the player's mother, Sharon, who stressed academics to her son and who exchanged a number of emails with Harbaugh four years ago.

The younger Reid, who was was born in Baton Rouge and who was rated the state's top defensive player in high school, said he "bled purple and gold" and ultimately chose his hometown university. Still, he noted that Stanford was the only team that recruited him as energetically as LSU.

"The story comes full circle that he ended up drafting me," said a jubilant Reid, via phone, from New York.

Said Harbaugh: "This time Eric had no choice in the matter, and it feels good to have him."

April 25, 2013
In Reid, Harbaugh finally lands his recruit

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Eric Reid did not visit Santa Clara in the run-up to the draft. But he did have a long conversation with Jim Harbaugh at the scouting combine in February. The topic: Why Reid, whom Harbaugh and Stanford energetically recruited, decided to play at LSU instead.

"The story comes full circle that he ended up drafting me," Reid said, via phone, from New York.

The reason he chose the Tigers over the Cardinal, Reid said, is because he is from Louisiana. He was born in Baton Rouge and "bled purple and gold." Still, he noted that Stanford was the only team that recruited him as heavily as LSU. Reid was rated as the top defensive player in Louisiana by Rivals.com. Asked to describe his style of play, the first word Reid used was "cerebral." Indeed, he was named to the SEC academic honor roll the last two seasons, and his high school transcript passed muster for Stanford.

Reid also said that his mother, Sharon, hoped he was picked by the 49ers. Why? Because Sharon Reid is a traveling nurse who makes regular trips to San Jose. The 49ers' practice facility is just a few miles away in Santa Clara, and the team will begin playing its home games there in 2014.

"She's been going back and forth to California since I was in middle school," he said.

Reid also said he looked forward to playing for assistant secondary coach Greg Jackson, who played safety at LSU from 1985-88.

-- Matt Barrows

April 25, 2013
Safety check: 49ers trade up for LSU's Eric Reid

The 49ers sprung ahead for Dashon Goldson's replacement today, moving up 13 spots for LSU safety Eric Reid. Like Goldson, who departed via free agency, Reid stands out for his size, 6-2, 210, and his reputation as a big hitter. Free-agent pickup Craig Dahl may start the season opposite Donte Whitner but Reid, 21, will be expected to take over at some point, especially since the 49ers gave up extra picks to get him.

San Francisco traded its 31st overall pick and its first of two third-round picks, No. 74 overall, to Dallas at pick No. 18 to get Reid, who left school after his junior season. A two-year starter who called the defensive plays for the Tigers, Reid finished the 2012 season with 91 tackles, seven pass break ups and two interceptions.

"It really stands out," coach Jim Harbaugh told the team's web site. "He believes that he's a winner all the way and champion kind of guy and football player. I can't wait to have him here in our home in Santa Clara. I'm sure he's excited to have the process start and know the team that wanted him the most."

General manager Trent Baalke prefers players from big schools, and Reid fits that criterion. The 49ers reportedly spent a lot of time scouting Reid this season and one of their top scouts, Justin Chabot, attended Reid's pro day. In selecting Reid, the 49ers passed over Florida defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd, who is falling farther than prognosticators predicted.

The 49ers have an abundance of safeties on the roster, though only Whitner and Dahl have any real experience. In addition, they have C.J. Spillman, Darcel McBath, Trenton Robinson and Michael Thomas.

Reid is attending the draft in New York and is scheduled to speak with Bay Area reporters around 7:45 p.m.

-- Matt Barrows

April 25, 2013
Attn: Carlos Rogers -- 49ers to face speedy Austin twice a year

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A 49ers squad that has been flummoxed by small, shifty slot receivers will have to deal with another one - twice a year, once on turf - starting in 2013. The Rams traded up eight slots to take West Virginia receiver/running back Tavon Austin, who presumably will replace Danny Amendola as Sam Bradford's top third-down weapon. The 49ers did not beat the Rams last season. Both games went to overtime; the teams tied once and the Rams won the other.

Austin, who weighs just 173 pounds, was one of the players who visited the 49ers before the draft, and there was some speculation that San Francisco could trade up to select him. Instead the rams made the move. Austin had 1,289 receiving yards last season and scored 12 touchdowns. St. Louis gave up the No. 16 and No. 46 overall picks to Buffalo, and the teams swapped picks in the third round.

Starting cornerback Carlos Rogers has played very well against outside receivers in two seasons in San Francisco. However, he's had trouble with slot receivers like Victor Cruz, Amendola and Percy Harvin, who is now with the division-rival Seahawks.

The 49ers currently have five cornerbacks on the roster and are expected to take at least one in the next three days. They have shown a lot of interest in former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who likely will be taken in the third round.

Meanwhile, the pass-protection-challenged Cardinals selected a guard, UNC's Jonathan Cooper, with the No. 7 overall pick. That likely means that ex-49er Chilo Rachal, obtained via free agency, is not pegged to start for Arizona.

-- Matt Barrows

April 25, 2013
Spring ahead: Who would the 49ers target by trading up?

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There's an increasing amount of chatter this morning that the 49ers will trade up in the first round into the top 15, presumably for a defensive linemen. The most plausible spot is No. 13, which is currently held by the Jets. Why does this make sense? First, the Jets have a lot of holes to fill and could use the extra picks from a trade. Second, the 49ers would need to get ahead of the Panthers at pick No. 14 because they also could use a defensive linemen.

Who's the target? My guess - as it's been for nearly a month - is Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. He's very athletic for his size - 6-3, 290 - has long arms (Trent Baalke loooooves long arms) and played in the best conference, the SEC, last year. Richardson could be a situational pass rusher this year while spelling starters Ray McDonald and Justin Smith. Next year he could perhaps take over Smith's starting role at right defensive end.

Another possibility is Utah's Star Loutoleile, another big but light-footed lineman who could play all three defensive line spots for the 49ers. A safety - Kenny Vacarro from Texas - would address the team's biggest immediate need. The 49ers probably would have to get ahead of the Rams at No. 16 for a shot at Vaccaro. My sense is that another possible target, West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin, will be gone before the 49ers are ready to pounce.

Let's say the 49ers trade with the Jets for No. 13. What would the 49ers have to give up? According to the draft trade chart, the 13th overall pick is worth 1,150 points. San Francisco's 31st pick is worth 600 points and its 34th pick is worth 560, so the team's first two picks are possible compensation. But there are plenty of other combinations. A package of 31, 61 and 74 and so on would get the 49ers close.

49ers picks:
(1st round) 31; ( 2nd) 34, 61; (3rd) 74, 93; (4th) 128, 131; (5th) 157; (6th) 173, 180; (7th) 237, 242, 252.

-- Matt Barrows

April 24, 2013
Crystal ball: Seven-round look at 49ers' draft

One idea on which everyone seems to agree when it comes to the 49ers' draft: Despite having 13 picks today, they will not have 13 prospects by the end of Saturday. The team has moved up, moved back and traded into future drafts in recent years, and they are expected to do each of those things - perhaps more than once - this week. With that in mind, there's no sense in a 1-13 prediction of whom they'll take. Instead, let's go round by round.

First (No. 31): There's now a lot a chatter that the 49ers will move up, and if they do, it's easy to see them targeting a defensive lineman. Stay put, and a safety or cornerback or maybe even a wide receiver makes sense.
Targets: Sheldon Richardson, DL, Missouri; Star Lotuleile, DL Utah; Tank Carradine, DE/OLB Florida State; Datone Jone, DL, UCLA, Sylvester Williams, DL, North Carolina; Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International; D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston; Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State; Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia; Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee.


This is the video from Tank Carradine's recent workout. He's obviously not 100 percent recovered from ACL surgery 4 1/2 months ago (Notice he dips well on his left knee but not his injured right). Also notice the guy filming in the background. It's 49ers DL coach Jim Tomsula. Nice red shoes, Jim.

Second (Nos. 34, 61): It's quite possible the 49ers also could trade down at No. 31 or No. 34 with a team seeking a quarterback. If they stay put, this seems like a spot for safety, cornerback or tight end.
Targets: Cyprien; Eric Reid, S, LSU; D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina; Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut; David Amerson, CB, N.C. State; Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford; Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati; Kawann Short, DL, Purdue; John Jenkins, DL, Georgia; Jesse Williams, DL, Alabama.

April 23, 2013
Live chat replay: Matt Barrows hosts: NFL draft and the 49ers

The NFL draft takes place April 25 and the 49ers have 13 picks, including two in the second, third and fourth rounds. This year's draft is thought to be lacking in sure-fire stars at the top but crowded with good players in the middle rounds. Join Matthew Barrows for a live chat on the draft and the 49ers at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Jason Jones follows with the Oakland Raiders at noon.


April 23, 2013
49ers send Donatell to check out Houston CB D.J. Hayden

Not only did the 49ers attend the Monday workout of Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden, they sent one of their top assistant coaches, Ed Donatell. This according to NFL.com's Gil Brandt, who wrote that 15 teams were on hand to watch Hayden (5-11 ½, 192 pounds).

Hayden is considered one of the top two or three cornerbacks in the draft. Indeed, NFL.com's Mike Mayock recently moved him ahead of Alabama's Dee Milliner as his No. 1-rated cornerback. The reason Hayden could drop as far as No. 31 and the 49ers is because some teams might be concerned about his medical background.

Hayden was rushed to the hospital in November after suffering a hit in practice that tore a major vein - the inferior vena cava - that feeds his heart. The injury normally is associated with car crashes, and Hayden spent six days in the hospital, initially in critical condition, before he was released.

Most teams have cleared Hayden medically during the pre-draft process. He was unable to finish his workout at Houston's pro day last month not because of his heart, but because of a pulled hamstring. Hayden broke up 11 passes and made two interceptions in 2011. He had eight pass break ups and four interceptions in nine games a year ago.

April 22, 2013
And the rose goes to ... 2013 draft crush revealed

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You had me at 'Tank Carradine.'

I mean, the name alone is out of central casting for a defensive lineman.

Idea for movie: Long-armed defensive end comes out of nowhere to lead college team in sacks, goes down with devastating injury only to bounce back and become a first-round NFL pick. Main character's name should be something masculine. Maybe Rock Stockton? Or Rhino McSwett? R.J. Hammerheart? I know - Tank Carradine!

Ah, but the armor-plated nickname is not the only reason Cornelius "Tank" Carradine gets my draft-crush rose this year. Finding a crush at pick No. 31 is no easy task. There are no obvious choices that deep in the first round. The winner has to have the rare mix of specialness, which secures him the title, and flaws that would send him nearly out of the first round.

Carradine has that blend. He's a one-year starter who only got his starting role at Florida State when Brandon Jenkins went down with a Lisfranc injury in the season opener. Most of Carradine's college experience came at Butler (Kansas) Community College. That alone should give teams pause.

More than that, however, is the elephant in the room: Carradine isn't even five months removed from ACL surgery. He tore his right ACL Nov. 24. Carradine will sign a four-year deal with any team that drafts him, and a reasonable question is, how effective can he be his rookie season? If a quarter of his first-contract production is spent rehabilitating, is he worth a first-round pick?

April 20, 2013
49ers defensive coach on hand for Tank Carradine's workout

Just 135 days since surgery to repair a torn ACL, Florida State defensive end Tank Carradine ran a 40-yard dash reprtedly in 4.75 to 4.85 seconds. To put that in perspective, 4.75 seconds would have been one of the better 40 times posted by a defensive end at the scouting combine in February. Fellow Florida State defensive lineman Bjoern Werner, for example, ran his 40-yard dash in 4.83 seconds at the combine.

Carradine worked out in his native Cincinnati, and the session was attended by scouts from a dozen teams, including the 49ers. In fact, San Francisco sent defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to the workout, and he and Carradine had dinner on Friday night, according to a league source. The Chiefs, Lions, Browns, Saints, Bengals, Vikings, Colts, Broncos, Patriots, Falcons and Ravens also attended the workout.

Carradine, who measures 6-5, 273 pounds, played right defensive end for the Seminoles and was the team's leader in sacks (11) and tackles before he went down with an ACL tear in November. He had surgery in early December, and now teams must figure out how to rate him in the draft.

April 17, 2013
49ers already have "nine or 10" draft picks in 2014

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One of the biggest stories in the upcoming draft is that the 49ers have more picks - 13 - than any other team in the draft. They're already looking at a nice haul for next year as well.

"We've already got, I believe, it's nine or 10 (picks) for next year," general manager Trent Baalke said today.

In addition to having one pick each in the first seven rounds, the 49ers have an extra pick, believed to be a seventh rounder, from the trade that sent backup safety Colin Jones to the Panthers a year ago. Another is from the March trade that sent quarterback Alex Smith to the Chiefs. As of now, it's a third-round pick, but it could improve to a second rounder if certain parameters are met.

Presumably the possible 10th pick Baalke referred to would come if the team were awarded a compensatory pick for the free agents it lost this year.

It's impossible for good teams to keep all of their top players for the long haul. Indeed, several prominent 49ers, including quarterback Colin Kaepernick, receiver Michael Crabtree, guard Mike Iupati and linebacker Aldon Smith will be eligible for free agency in two years, and the team is not expected to keep all of them.

April 16, 2013
In the Tank: 49ers to get close look at FSU defensive lineman Carradine

The 49ers will attend the Saturday workout of Florida State defensive lineman Tank Carradine, a legitimate possibility for the team in the first round. Carradine was leading the Seminoles in sacks (11) when he suffered an ACL injury that ended his season. He had surgery Dec. 6 and has not been able to run for scouts until now.

It's not known whether Carradine is one of the 30 players who have visited the 49ers over the last month. (Wednesday is the last day prospects can visit). However, he fits the parameters of someone the team might bring in so that officials can gather more information. That is, he is coming off an injury, he was only a one-year starter at Florida State after beginning his college career at Butler (Kansas) Community College and he plays defensive line, a position the 49ers could stand to bolster in the coming years.

Starting defensive lineman Justin Smith is recovering nicely from triceps tendon surgery, and he should be at full strength for the start of the season if not training camp. However, he's entering the final year of his contract, turns 34 this season, and the 49ers would be wise to find an heir who can pair with Aldon Smith on the defensive front and help protect two other long-term 49ers investments, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, in the running game.

April 16, 2013
Ertz, not Allen, among potential draftees at 49ers "local" pro day

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Perhaps as many as 10 players who either grew up in the Bay Area or played here in college will be drafted next week. All of them at least are eligible to attend the 49ers' so-called "local" pro day on Wednesday.

The player in that group who could be drafted the highest, Cal receiver, Keenan Allen, will not be on hand, his agent said this week. Allen, who still is recovering from an October knee injury, is making several pre-draft visits this week. His brother, Cal quarterback Zach Maynard, will be on hand.

Citing league sources, ESPN's Adam Schefter today reported that Allen was red-flagged after taking a drug test at the combine and was re-tested this month. His agent told ESPN that the receiver did not fail a drug test and that the reexamination was due to his knee injury. Allen is expecting to be taken some time in the first round.

The other local player with first-round potential is Stanford tight end Zack Ertz. He will attend Wednesday's session but will not work out, his agent said. There was a heavy 49ers presence at Stanford's pro day last month.

The 49ers have not released a list of attendees. However, here are the draft-eligible players from the three major local universities:

Cal: RB C.J. Anderson, CB Marc Anthony, DB Josh Hill, QB Zach Maynard, DL Kendrick Payne, C Brian Schwenke, RB Isi Sofele, FB Eric Stevens, G Matt Summers-Gavin, DT Aaron Tipoti, CB Steve Williams

April 12, 2013
Walker redux? 49ers to host Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce

The 49ers will be weekend hosts to Travis Kelce, perhaps the best blocking tight end in the upcoming draft. The younger brother of Eagles center Jason Kelce, Travis only recently recovered from a sports hernia that kept him out of the combine and The University of Cincinnati's pro day.

Kelce (6-5, 255 pounds) had a private workout on Monday in which he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.61 seconds. Even then he wasn't fully healthy. He was battling a viral infection at the time and couldn't complete the workout.

The 49ers are looking for another tight end after losing Delanie Walker to the Titans in free agency this year. Jim Harbaugh's power-based offense calls for plenty of two-tight-end sets, and the team ostensibly is looking for someone with Walker's versatility to play along with No. 1 tight end Vernon Davis. Walker played 57 percent of the 49ers' offensive snaps last year.

Kelce is considered one of the more complete tight ends in the draft, and he was athletic enough to get snaps as a Wildcat quarterback at Cincinnati.The 49ers also showed interest in him at the scouting combine. Kelce missed the Bearcats' 2010 season due to a violation of team rules. That and his recent medical history likely prompted the 49ers to bring him in for a visit. Kelce is expected to be drafted in the second round.

-- Matt Barrows

April 12, 2013
Safety check: 49ers schedule workout with Florida prospect

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Perhaps the closest 'sure-thing' when it comes to the 49ers' upcoming draft: At some point, they will take a safety. After all, the team lost one of its starters at the position, Dashon Goldson, to free agency while the other, Donte Whitner, is scheduled to be a free agent next year.

Meanwhile, this year's draft is considered very solid solid from top to bottom, and the 49ers have taken close looks at prospects who likely will be taken both early and late in the draft. One of the safeties who has gotten a lot of attention from San Francisco: Josh Evans, who played opposite the more heralded Matt Elam for the Gators. Here's the list:

* John Boyett, Oregon. The 49ers sent a scout and an assistant coach to Boyett's workout at Napa High on Wednesday. Boyett still is a month away from full recovery from patella surgeries in September and October but still ran his 40-yard dash in the 4.5- and 4.6-second range, which bodes well for his recovery. How the 49ers and other teams view Boyett, who had an impressive 276 tackles and nine interceptions in three seasons in Eugene, will boil down to their medical evaluation of his knees.

* Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International. He is a distinct possibility to the 49ers at either pick No. 31 or pick No. 34. Cyprien played at a small school and has been climbing draft boards since an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl. The 49ers probably did not have as extensive a scouting report on Cyprien as they did, say, Elam, which would explain his visit.