49ers Blog and Q&A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Matt Barrows

March 25, 2014
DeSean Jackson? 49ers typically don't spend big on outside players

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Sure, the 49ers signed Justin Smith to a big-money free-agent contract in 2008. And they traded for a high-profile receiver - Anquan Boldin - and paid him $6 million last year. But the team typically doesn't bring in high-priced players from the outside and pay them more than their locker room leaders.

And if the team were to trade for Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson - and inherit his $10.5 million salary in 2014 - Jackson's allotment would outstrip that of Smith, Boldin, Patrick Willis, Frank Gore and every other long-time 49er.

"Never say never, but history usually repeats itself, right?" general manager Trent Baalke said of bringing in an outsider and giving him a team-high deal. "So historically the answer to that would be no. But we always reserve the right to do what's in the best interest of the 49ers."

Baalke today reiterated that the 49ers have not made any contact with the Eagles, who are reportedly shopping Jackson and who could cut him if they can't find a trade partner. Jackson led the Eagles with 82 receptions, 1,332 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns last year. He theoretically would be desirable for a 49ers offense in need of a speedy, downfield receiver.

But Baalke said the question of how Jackson or any newcomer would affect the chemistry of the 49ers' locker room - from a salary and personalty standpoint - would be paramount.

"There's a lot of thought that goes into every decision," he said. "One key thing we focus on is, 'What is this decision going to do to our locker room?' That's a big part of the decision-making process. We spend a lot of time looking at that, talking through it, thinking about it and making sure that the move we make isn't counter productive to winning. Because that's the ultimate goal - is to win."

- Matt Barrows

March 25, 2014
AFC roundup: Andy Reid thinks Alex Smith is "brilliant"

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Hotcakes with Harbaugh? That's tomorrow when the NFC coaches have breakfast with the media. Today was the AFC's turn. Here are some 49ers-related tidbits from the coaches in that other conference ....

When the Kansas City Chiefs gave up two second-day draft picks for Alex Smith, it seemed like a steal for the 49ers. Smith, however, finished the 2013 season with a career-high 3,313 yards (in 15 starts) and led the Chiefs to a surprising playoff berth after they had a 2-14 record the year before.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid today sounded as if he was more than happy with the deal. "He's a brilliant guy," he said of Smith. "He can digest a lot and not be paralyzed by it. I would say with him you're not going to run out of gigabytes, right? He's got plenty of those. He can still function well with a lot of knowledge."

Reid sounded a lot like Smith's previous coaches, especially Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh, in detailing Smith's strengths. Meyer once talked about how Smith would work late into the night on game plans with the Utah coaching staff.

Said Reid: "He's a gym rat. I mean, you've got to kick him out. I was almost on double-secret probation his first week in the building because he wanted to stay there forever. And I'd have to, like, kick him and out and (tell him) to come back. I said, 'You've got to go.' That's how he approaches the game."

March 25, 2014
Jim Harbaugh to Cleveland? 'I'm his brother! I'm supposed to know,' John jokes

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- If you were in disbelief when you read that the Browns nearly pulled off a trade for Jim Harbaugh last month, you had plenty of company. It caught his own brother off guard, too.

"I laughed," John Harbaugh said today during a breakfast for AFC coaches. "Well, first I got kind of ticked off because he didn't tell me about this. I'm his brother! I'm supposed to know."

The older Harbaugh said he was sitting next to Jim at the scouting combine in Indianapolis when the news broke. "He was kind of incredulous," John said. "I'm sure there was some conversation. I think everybody said there was a dialogue, you know? But how serious it was and what kind of ... I guess it's fun to talk about. So, hey, we talk about it on our team. You always have to make the team better, so I guess the Browns were trying to make their team better."

Did John ever contemplate facing his brother at least twice a season as AFC North rivals? "Only briefly," he said. "Until I found out there was nothing to it. Nah, I never really thought about that because I didn't hear about it until after the fact. It was at the combine when it all broke. I think I might have been sitting next to him. That would be very tough."

March 23, 2014
Report: 49ers have not called about DeSean Jackson

Trent Baalke said the 49ers have not called the Eagles to inquire about receiver DeSean Jackson, according to CSN Bay Area. The 49ers have been one of the teams linked to Jackson, who played at Cal and whom Philadelphia reportedly is shopping to other teams.

"We've not made any contact with the Eagles relative to a trade for DeSean Jackson," Baalke said. "... As of this moment, those reports are totally misleading and false."

The 49ers have considered several free-agent receivers with speed and with punt-return abilities, which fits Jackson's description as well. But Jackson will earn $10.5 million next season, a price any team that trades for him will inherit. San Francisco currently has less than $4 million salary-cap space. Additionally, the 49ers have used three-wide receivers alignments less than any other team over the last three seasons, suggesting that on a team with Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree, Jackson may not be worth a high price tag.

Perhaps tellingly, Jackson used his Instagram account over the weekend to presumably flirt with possible employers -- a picture of him with Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and another with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, for example. The teams he listed included the Seahawks, Jets, Panthers and Raiders. The 49ers were not part of his array of pictures.

-- Matt Barrows

March 18, 2014
Cold War over? Baalke, Harbaugh appear to be working together

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Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke at each others' throat? Sending snippy emails back and forth? Staring straight ahead when they pass each other in the hallway? Both men are careful not to allow even the slightest peek into their inner sanctum, so it's impossible to say for sure whether any cold war between them has thawed or rages on. But the free-agency period has offered some significant clues that they have been working hand in hand in recent weeks.

* Trading for Jonathan Martin. Baalke is the one who pulls off trades, indeed he's the one that handles any additions or subtractions to the 49ers' roster. But it was obviously Harbaugh who was pushing to add his former Stanford pupil. Harbaugh spoke highly and confidently of Martin when he left the Dolphins in October. He did the same in the independent Ted Wells' report that looked at allegations of bullying and hazing inside Miami's locker room. In short, Harbaugh has been Martin most vocal defender and champion, and his addition to the 49ers' roster has Harbaugh's fingerprints all over it.

* Trading for Blaine Gabbert. As general manager, Baalke is the team's top talent evaluator. But he gives Harbaugh more license when it comes to quarterbacks. Harbaugh took a long look at Gabbert during the 2011 draft. And while we don't know whether Harbaugh lobbied to trade for Gabbert, it's reasonable to assume that Harbaugh had plenty of input before Baalke pulled the trigger on this deal. Quarterback likely was a sore point between the two in the past. In the last three years, the 49ers' backups at the position went from McLeod Bethel-Thompson to Scott Tolzien to B.J. Daniels to John Skelton to McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Baalke would prefer to be less impulsive when it comes to roster maneuvers. That they agreed on adding Gabbert is a positive sign.

March 14, 2014
49ers free-agent tracker: CBs, WRs top the list

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Here's a run-down of where things stand for the 49ers in free agency.

Persons of interest

CB Chris Cook: UPDATE -- SIGNED with 49ers. The ex-Vikings cornerback flew to the Bay Area Thursday and is visiting today. A second-round pick in 2010, Cook has been a disappointment on and off the field for Minnesota. However, he has the size and athleticism GM Trent Baalke is seeking in a cornerback, and his past transgressions may make him more affordable than other options. The 49ers also have perhaps the best defensive backs coach in the league in Ed Donatell.

CB Walter Thurmond: UPDATE -- SIGNED with the Giants. The ex-Seahawk can play both outside and the nickel position, a real asset considering that Carlos Rogers is unlikely to be back. Thurmond is from California. But he also wants to return to Seattle and is hoping the Seahawks increase their offer. He already has visited Jacksonville, where ex-Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is the head coach, and he has other suitors, including the Redskins.

WR Julian Edelman: UPDATE -- SIGNED with the Patriots. He's a Bay Area native the 49ers have had their eye on since he was preparing for the draft in 2009. He's become Tom Brady's top target and the Patriots want to re-sign him. However, their offer to date has been unsatisfactory. Can the 49ers give him more? And can they promise him a big role in an offense that has Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin and which uses three wide receivers only 20 percent of the time?

WR Emmanuel Sanders: UPDATE -- multiple reports say he will SIGN with Denver. He had plans to be in town Saturday. He has the kind of deep speed to stretch defenses, which the 49ers sorely lacked at wide receiver last year. Still, you have to wonder why the Steelers -- who use that type of receiver as well as any team in the league -- haven't made a bigger effort to retain him.

March 13, 2014
Jonathan Martin's odyssey: I feel like I'm back home

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Jonathan Martin said he's exchanged texts with one new linemate, Joe Staley, and had a Twitter conversation with another, Anthony Davis. "I can tell already that I'm going to get along just great with those guys," said Martin, whose trade from the Dolphins to the 49ers became official this afternoon. "I felt a warm welcome from the entire 49ers community, fanbase, coaching staff, everybody."

That warmth, of course, is in stark contrast to the messy ordeal Martin went through with the Dolphins, the team that drafted him in the second round two years ago. Martin left the squad in October amid allegations of hazing inside the locker room, especially from his fellow linemen. The details - often salacious, vulgar and ugly - were recently laid out in a 144-page, independent report commissioned by the NFL.

In a conference call with reporters today, Martin was determined not to wade into the past. Asked if he felt any regrets about what happened last year, he said, "You can say, 'This or that could have gone differently,' but hindsight is 20-20," he said. "My focus is 100 percent on the future and moving forward." Asked what he would say to those who think he broke a locker-room code and should have toughed it out, he said, "I'm not worried about that. All that's in the past at this point."

Instead he said he was looking forward to joining his new team. Ever since he left the Dolphins, the 49ers seemed like a probable landing spot. Jim Harbaugh, who recruited Martin out of North Hollywood, Calif. when Harbaugh was coaching Stanford, called Martin a "personal friend" when news of Martin's absence first broke five months ago. Harbaugh also spoke highly and confidently of Martin in the independent report.

March 12, 2014
Wednesday morning QB: Analyzing 49ers' busy start to free agency

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Here are some thoughts on Tuesday's additions to the 49ers' roster. All of the transactions - free-agent signings, trades - are contingent on the players passing physicals. There is no reason to believe that any of the players below have any conditions that may scuttle a deal.

Safety Antoine Bethea. The 49ers wanted to retain Donte Whitner but felt that $7 million a year outstripped his value. So they acquired a Whitner-like player at a slightly lower price, between $5 and $6 million a year. As was the case last year when Eric Reid replaced Dashon Goldson, the new safety starter's skills and physical profile are eerily similar to the old starter's. The bottom line is that the 49ers needed a smart and steady veteran at safety as a counterbalance the youth at other positions in the secondary. That's what they had in Whitner but also what they get in Bethea.

Quarterback Blaine Gabbert. You have to assume that Jim Harbaugh, who once attended Gabbert's pro day alongside GM Trent Baalke, had input on this trade. And if Harbaugh had input, you have to assume that he believes he can work his magic with Gabbert. Sure, everything from Gabbert's arm strength to his leadership to his moxy has been questioned since he was drafted 10th overall in 2010. But he has size and physical gifts. And given Harbaugh's track record with quarterbacks, including some (See: Smith, Alexander D.) who had been all but heaped on the trash pile, you have to give Harbaugh and the 49ers the benefit of the doubt at this point. Remember, they did not use a 10th overall pick on Gabbert. They used the 200th pick (or thereabouts) to get him.

Tackle Jonathan Martin. This is another example of parlaying a late-round pick - a conditional 7th rounder in 2015 - on a promising reclamation project. Martin has played both right and left tackle for the Dolphins, which makes him a good candidate to take over the "swing tackle" role for the 49ers. It also will be interesting if they give Martin a look at guard. Mike Iupati is entering the final year of his contract and his price tag promises to be steep if he hits the open market in a year in which the salary cap is north of $140 million. The 49ers must have options. Joe Looney is one. Martin could be another. It must be noted that Martin didn't play well for the Dolphins. Like Gabbert, however, he's someone who showed potential as a college athlete and you can only assume he's motivated to prove his doubters wrong. Harbaugh loves that kind of player. Martin's addition is not-so-great news for a couple of 2013 rookies, Carter Bykowski and Luke Marquardt, who were looking to stick on the roster as swing tackles.

March 11, 2014
49ers trade for ex-Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin

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It wasn't hard to detect the 49ers' interest in offensive tackle Jonathan Martin when Jim Harbaugh, in the report that documented Martin's travails with the Dolphins, insisted his former player could resume a productive NFL career. Today the 49ers followed through with that hint, trading a seventh-round draft pick to Miami for Martin, who was a second-round pick in 2012.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the 49ers traded a conditional seventh-round pick in 2015, which is dependent on Martin being on the 53-man roster in Week 1.

Martin, 24, doesn't have to go far to join his new team. The Studio City, Calif. native and former Stanford lineman, who was recruited by Harbaugh, has been taking classes at Stanford. Martin has played both right and left tackle, and he becomes a top candidate to become the so-called "swing tackle" who can back up either Anthony Davis at right tackle or Joe Staley on the left side. Last year that job fell to guard Alex Boone with Adam Snyder also filling in at times at tackle.

Shortly after the trade occurred, Martin tweeted: "Opportunities are few in the NFL... Can't wait to get to work #9erEmpire." That was followed by two Tweets from Davis: "I'm sure Jonathan will be ready to go. He will help our team. #49ers." "Welcome to the Team Bro."

Martin left the Dolphins in October amid reports of bullying in the Miami locker room. The Ted Wells report, which detailed "a pattern of harassment" among Dolphins offensive linemen, included interviews with Harbaugh and current Stanford head coach David Shaw. Harbaugh said Martin not only fit in well inside the Stanford locker room but that he didn't think the 49ers' locker room was all that different than Stanford's.

"(Harbaugh), told us that he had never doubted Martin's tenacity, work ethic and dedication to the game, and that he had never seen Martin exhibit problems with social adjustment," the independent report said. "Coach Harbaugh told us he believed that Martin likely could continue to have a successful career in the NFL."

March 11, 2014
There's been a trade: 49ers deal for QB Blaine Gabbert

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The 49ers, who three years ago took a look at the eventual 10th pick in the draft, Blaine Gabbert, have acquired him from Jacksonville for a sixth-round selection, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Gabbert presumably will take the place of free agent Colt McCoy as Colin Kaepernick's main backup.

"We thought highly of Blaine as an early entry into the 2011 NFL draft," said general manager Trent Baalke, who chose Aldon Smith seventh overall that year. "He is a high-character individual that will be given every opportunity to develop within our system and we are looking forward to working with him."

Jim Harbaugh attended Gabbert's pro day workout at Missouri in 2011. He's said on several occasions that he likes big, athletic and mobile quarterbacks. That's the case with Gabbert (6-4, 235). Harbaugh reputation as a quarterback whisperer will be put to the test by Gabbert, however. His accuracy dipped below 50 percent last season before he tore his labrum in his non-throwing shoulder and was replaced by Chad Henne. He's thrown more interceptions -- 24 to 22 -- in two and half seasons in Jacksonville, and both his average per completion -- 5.6 yards -- and his passer rating -- 66.4 -- are low. Jacksonville was 5-22 in his starts.

It's notable that Kaepernick, a second-round pick in 2011, has said that he keeps track of the quarterbacks taken ahead of him. Gabbert not only is on that list, he's now on Kaepernick's team. The only other quarterback on the roster is McLeod Bethel-Thompson. The 49ers are now expected to have 11 picks in the upcoming draft. The deal also includes a conditional draft pick next year that is contingent on how much Gabbert plays in 2014.

Gabbert has one year remaining on his original deal with the Jaguars. However, the 49ers are expected to restructure it.

-- Matt Barrows

February 24, 2014
York: 49ers had "no interest" in trading Jim Harbaugh

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Yes, the Browns reached out to the 49ers about a possible trade for Jim Harbaugh, 49ers owner Jed York said today, but the overture was quickly turned down. York, who has had on-and-off contract discussions with Harbaugh, also reiterated what he said in December: "We want Jim to be our head coach, and we've said that very clearly."

When Pro Football Talk's initial report about about a near-trade of Harbaugh to Cleveland first surfaced Friday, York went onto Twitter to say it wasn't true. He elaborated today, confirming an earlier report in The Bee that the Browns, the only team without a head coach when the 49ers season ended Jan. 19, initially called to ask about offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. They followed that by asking about Harbaugh.

How far did the conversation get? "Not far at all," York said. "We had no interest in entering those discussions."

ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported that a first-round pick was not part of the compensation the Browns offered, lending credence to the stance that any trade discussion was short-lived.

Asked why he initially offered a flat denial of the PFT story, York said it's because the story wasn't true. The original story said the two sides nearly pulled off a trade for Harbaugh and that it was Harbaugh who ultimately decided not to leave the 49ers.

Asked why he waited to address the story, York said he and the 49ers have a policy to keep trade discussions private. "We keep calls to ourselves," he said. "I see no reason talking about another team - that's how we do business."

July 19, 2013
49ers knew about Wright's arrest before trading for him

The 49ers say they weren't snookered by the Buccaneers in trading for cornerback Eric Wright, who was arrested last week on suspicion of DUI, a misdemeanor. The arrest wasn't made public until after news of the trade broke this afternoon, leading to speculation that the Buccaneers unloaded a troublesome player onto the unwitting 49ers.

A team source said that Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik told his 49ers counterpart, Trent Baalke, about the arrest before the trade was consummated. The 49ers officially acknowledged the transaction this afternoon, and Baalke's quote signals that he knew about Wright's recent incident.

"We are pleased to add Eric to our team," Baalke said in a statement. "As an organization, we have done our due diligence and anticipate Eric working hard to contribute to the 49ers."

Wright, 27, was pulled over at 5:15 p.m. last Friday on the corner of Crenshaw and 30th street in Los Angeles, the LAPD said. His attorney, Jeremy Lessem, noted that Wright has not been charged and that it may be weeks until the L.A. City Attorney's office makes a ruling on the case. Wright was given a chemical test to determine his blood-alcohol limit. The results of that test are not public.

Lessem also noted that Wright was arrested nearly a year ago in Los Angeles for felony DUI but never was charged. He said a breath-test taken at that time registered 0.0. Wright is tentatively scheduled to have his initial court date on Aug. 7, a day before the 49ers host the Broncos in the team's exhibition season opener. Wright does not have to be present on that day.

The 49ers traded a conditional late-round draft pick in 2014 for Wright. That means that if Wright does not make the roster, the team won't owe the Buccaneers anything. The transaction won't be completed until Wright passes a physical next week. The 49ers currently have 10 picks in the upcoming draft.

-- Matt Barrows

July 19, 2013
49ers continue to load up at cornerback, trade for troubled Eric Wright

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The 49ers today agreed to trade a conditional, late-round draft pick in 2014 to Tampa Bay for cornerback Eric Wright, a player they briefly had pursued when Wright was a free-agent last year. Wright, 27, is the ninth cornerback on the roster and one of several veterans at the position. However, five of those cornerbacks, including Wright, are scheduled to be free agents after this season, and it is an area of concern for the team moving forward.

Wright, who is a San Francisco native, signed a five-year, $37.5 million deal with the Buccaneers last year. Tampa Bay almost immediately regretted the acquisition.

Wright was arrested for felony DUI last July in Los Angeles after being involved in an accident with another vehicle that resulted in an injury to the other driver. He was never charged in the case. Last week, however, he was arrested on misdemeanor charges in Los Angeles, according to the LAPD, and posted a $5,000 bond. The Tampa Bay Times reported that he was arrested on suspicion of DUI, a misdemeanor.

Wright is now one of four 49ers to be arrested for DUI in the last year and a half. The others are Aldon Smith, Demarcus Dobbs and Al Netter. The timing of the Wright trade raises questions, especially since Jim Harbaugh warned players late last month to stay out of the police blotters during the seven weeks before training camp begins. Rookies reported for camp today; veterans will report Wednesday.

Wright must pass a physical next week before the trade can be finalized. Because it's a conditional trade, if he didn't make the 49ers' regular-season roster, they would not owe the Buccaneers a draft pick.

Wright also was suspended for four games during the season for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. He tested positive for Adderall, he said at the time. (You may have heard that Harbaugh recently tweaked the arch-rival Seahawks for their rash of allegedly Adderall-related suspendions). Wright's contract recently was renegotiated, and the 49ers are on the hook for $1.5 million this season.

In 10 games last year, Wright had 37 tackles and returned his one interception 60 yards for a touchdown. He'll join a group of veterans that includes starters Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, No. 3 cornerback Chris Culliver as well as veterans Nnamdi Asomugha, Tramaine Brock and Perrish Cox. Asomugha, Brown, Brock, Cox* and Wright are scheduled to be free agents in March while Rogers is due to count a team-high $8.1 million against the 49ers' salary cap next season.

The team also has two rookies, seventh-round pick Marcus Cooper and undrafted free agent Darryl Morris. The 49ers waived another undrafted rookie, Lowell Rose, this morning. The 49ers had 10 draft picks, not including expected compensatory picks, in 2014 before today's trade.

To read more about the 49ers' cornerback conundrum in 2014, click here.

*Cox is scheduled to be a restricted free agent.

-- Matt Barrows

April 1, 2013
Backup position: 49ers deal for Browns QB Colt McCoy

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The 49ers added depth to what had been a shallow quarterback corps today by dealing two late-round picks to Cleveland for Browns quarterback Colt McCoy and a sixth-round pick, a league source confirmed. McCoy started 21 games in Cleveland in 2010 and 2011 but lost his starting job to first-round pick Brandon Weeden last year.

He was due to earn $1.5 million -- too much for the Browns, who also acquired quarterback Jason Campbell in free agency last week. The trade first was reported by CBS Sports.com.

McCoy now will battle Scott Tolzien for the right to back up Colin Kaepernick in the upcoming season. While Tolzien has yet to throw a pass in a regular-season game, McCoy, 26, has thrown 702 passes, completing 58.3 percent of them with 21 touchdowns against 20 interceptions. He has a career 74.8 passer rating.

Tolzien is a little taller than McCoy -- 6-3 vs. 6-1 -- but McCoy has more mobility. He rushed for 1,589 yards and scored 20 rushing touchdowns at the University of Texas and finished second to Sam Bradford for the Heisman Trophy in 2008. Tolzien, meanwhile, rushed for -9 yards overall at Wisconsin. Both players do not have strong arms and fall under the "game manager" category for quarterbacks.

McCoy was a third-round pick by the Browns in 2010. He missed three games that season with an ankle injury and the final three games of the 2011 after sustaining a concussion in a game against Pittsburgh. He is the second Texas-by-way-of-Cleveland product the 49ers have acquired this offseason. The team signed ex-Browns kicker Phil Dawson last month.

The 49ers dealt their fifth-round pick (no. 164 overall) as well as the earliest of four seventh-round picks (No. 227) to Cleveland. In return, the 49ers got McCoy and the Browns' sixth-round pick (No. 173 overall). The 49ers now have 13 total picks in this month's draft, and they still could take a quarterback. The only other passer they have looked at is free agent Pat White, who worked out for the team last week but left without a contract.

-- Matt Barrows

March 13, 2013
Alex Smith: Everything pointed to Kansas City

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After the 2012 season ended, the 49ers made it clear to Alex Smith that they were not going to release him. Smith, in turn, made it clear to the team that he didn't want to be a backup quarterback. The only option left was a trade, and Smith today said he had no doubt where he wanted to go.

"It wasn't close," Smith said at his introductory press conference in Kansas City. "Everything pointed here for me, and I was excited about that, and I'm so thankful it worked out, thankful it got done."

New Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he followed Smith since the quarterback was at Utah under Reid's good friend Kyle Whittingham, who was then the team's defensive coordinator.

"When I was at Philadelphia, for whatever reason we seemed to play (the 49ers) every year, and I got to see him first hand," Reid said. "He was somebody if I had the chance, I would want on my team. So I did inquire about him periodically with the 49ers."

Smith will wear No. 11 for the Chiefs, and he'll run a West Coast offense like he did the last two years in San Francisco. Smith said he only arrived last night and has not had time to look at the playbook or to talk to new teammates, such as receiver Dwayne Bowe. He acknowledged that it was awkward to have known about the deal for two weeks and not been able to communicate with his new team. But he said quarterback buddies around the league all assured him he would love working with Reid.

"From all the quarterbacks I've ever known and have gotten to play for him, they only had good things to say," Smith said. "His pedigree, I think, speaks for itself."

Reid, meanwhile, made clear that Smith's intangibles were just as important as his on-field ability when it came to making the decision to trade with the 49ers.

"You'll find out in time what you've got here," Reid said. "From a coaching standpoint, what a tremendous addition to a locker room. He's a fine football player, but even a better person. That's welcome here - his leadership."

Reid even took it a step further.

While acknowledging former Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson at the press conference, he said he wanted to give the Chiefs another hall-of-fame passer. "We're going to work on getting Alex into the Hall of Fame," Reid said. "I'm privileged to be in a room with two great ones."

-- Matt Barrows

March 12, 2013
Alex Smith is now a Chief ... pending a physical

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It's official ... sort of. The 49ers today announced two trades. One occurred yesterday when the team agreed to send the second of its two sixth-round picks to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for receiver Anquan Boldin.

The second occurred last month, and it ends a roller coaster, eight-year run in San Francisco for Alex Smith, the player the 49ers chose No. 1 overall in 2005. The 49ers announced they received from Kansas City an "undisclosed" draft pick (it's the Chiefs' second-round selection, No. 34 overall) as well as a conditional pick in next year's draft. The trade won't be executed until Smith passes a physical.

"We would like to thank Alex for his contributions to the 49ers organization over the past eight years," general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. "He is a true professional who represented the 49ers with class on and off the field."

Also: Smith shows that nice guys don't always finish last.

-- Matt Barrows

March 11, 2013
Hands twins: Thoughts on Boldin, Crabtree and the 49ers 2013 offense

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This wasn't the first time the 49ers tried to trade for Anquan Boldin.

Back in 2009, they dialed the Cardinals, who had the expensive problem of having both Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald on the roster, to see what Arizona was seeking for Boldin. The Cardinals, however, weren't willing to trade the big, bruising wideout in the division.

Soon after, the 49ers drafted Michael Crabtree, whom then-general manager Scot McCloughan said was the "closest thing I've seen to Anquan Boldin in college."

Said McCloughan on draft day of Crabtree: "He's got excellent hands, and he's got the physical attributes to play on the NFL level and to make plays. He's a highly competitive guy who's not afraid, whatsoever. There are faster guys in the draft, no doubt about it. There will be faster guys in the NFL. But he brings a unique quality to play physical and make plays on the NFL level."

Which raises a question: Can the 49ers prosper with two, similar starting wideouts, neither of whom is known for stretching defensive secondaries? Last year, Crabtree had a career-best season with fleet-footed Randy Moss - at the end of the season, anyway - opposite him. In Baltimore, Boldin was complemented by burners Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones.

The situation certainly is not unprecedented. Fitzgerald isn't a track star, either, and he and Boldin were the NFL's top receiving tandem when they were in Arizona. The 49ers also have one of the fastest tight ends in the league, Vernon Davis, and surely will work in a third receiver - whether it's A.J. Jenkins or Kyle Williams or, eventually, Mario Manningham - who does have speed.

Boldin's role also is interesting to consider. Unlike Moss, he's an excellent blocker and has been one of the most physical wideouts in the NFL for the last decade. He's also made a career out of catching passes over and across the middle of the defense. (See: 2012 playoffs; opening-drive score in Super Bowl).

In that way, he acts a lot like a tight end. No, he's not as good a blocker as the 49ers' Delanie Walker, who is poised to test free agency. And Walker does not have Boldin's pass-catching prowess, as his multiple drops in 2012 illustrated. But you have to wonder whether Boldin could take over some of Walker's roles in the 49ers' offense should Walker land elsewhere.

-- Matt Barrows

March 11, 2013
Harbaugh to Harbaugh: 49ers trade for WR Anquan Boldin

anquan.jpg

If you can't beat him, trade for him.

That's what the 49ers did today with receiver Anquan Boldin, agreeing to send a sixth-round pick to Baltimore for the veteran wideout, who gave the 49ers fits in the Super Bowl. The Ravens were pressed against the salary cap and would have had trouble accounting for Boldin's $6 million salary.

The trade is pending a physical, which won't be completed until Boldin, 32, returns from a trip to Africa. By then, the 49ers ostensibly will have completed a deal to send Alex Smith to the Chiefs, giving them plenty of salary-cap space to accommodate the trade and Boldin's $6 million cap figure.

News of the deal was first reported by The Baltimore Sun. The 49ers do not comment on transactions until they are complete. However, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, appearing on NFL Live, said he welcomed another weapon to the offense. "We'll be happy to take him," Kaepernick said of Boldin.

March 6, 2013
Revis-related: Exactly how bad was the 49ers secondary in 2012?

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The clamor for Darrelle Revis is almost as intense as it was for Nnamdi Asomugha two years ago. Would a healthy Revis improve the 49ers secondary? Of course he would. With apologies to Richard Sherman, Revis is the best cornerback in the league. But his health is not guaranteed in 2013 after Revis tore his ACL last year. Not every player has the Wolverine-like healing ability of Adrian Peterson.

The bigger question is whether the 49ers secondary needs to be upgraded. San Francisco allowed 200 passing yards a game during the regular season, which tied for third-best in the NFL.

Of course, that number jumped to 306 yards per game in the playoffs, and that's what's fresh in the mind of fans. There was poor communication between cornerback and safety that led to a long touchdown for the Falcons. And cornerback Chris Culliver had a terrible outing against the Ravens in the Super Bowl.



MATTHEW BARROWS

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

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