49ers introduce new additions, part with Kilgore in trade

San Francisco 49ers’ Weston Richburg, left, and Jerick McKinnon speak during a media conference on Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

SANTA CLARA — Thursday afternoon, the 49ers held a press conference to introduce the recent players they signed in free agency — center Weston Richburg and running back Jerick McKinnon. Cornerback Richard Sherman did not show, but was a major topic of discussion.

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  1. Sounds like they’ve got a couple more players on their radar, maybe another trade on the horizon. Fun times.

  2. Why is it such a bad thing that a team doesn’t get their first target, are you saying if a team doesn’t get their #1 target they fail. That’s kinda how the NFL works I would imagine.

    1. The bigger question is why having players the 49ers were reportedly interested in not signing means the guys the 49ers did get were secondary options. I imagine the 49ers were indeed interested in Norwell and Lewis. Norwell plays a different position to Richburg though. Chances are they were interested in both players.

      As for Lewis, if they really wanted him over McKinnon, wouldn’t they have been willing to offer as much as they offered McKinnon? Yet he signed for $5M a year while McKinnon gets $7.5M a year. I doubt playing for the Titans was worth taking that big a pay reduction. So it is likely the 49ers just wanted McKinnon, and Lewis was a secondary option.

      1. The Niners weren’t going to sign both Norwell and Richburg.

        McKinnon signed a deal with a potential out after one season. I highly doubt Lewis would have accepted a contract like that from any team other than the Patriots.

        1. I disagree on Lewis. I am sure he would have been happy to take a front loaded contract that pays him more the next couple of years than the deal he took.

          I find it hard to believe the team was able to recover and sign their second options so quickly after being knocked back by their first options. They must have been negotiating deals with the players beforehand. Seems to me they got the players they wanted.

          1. Lewis absolutely would not have signed a contract with a one-year potential out. Not with the 49ers.

            They overpaid for their second options — McKinnon and Richburg. That’s how the 49ers landed them. The Niners were desperate after getting turned down by Norwell and Lewis.

            1. Grant… Which is it, panic or desperation? Both? You assigned the label ‘panic’ not long ago.

              Desperation…. “Feeling, showing, or involving a hopeless sense that a situation is so bad as to be impossible to deal with.”

              Wow. The 9ers are being led a panicky, desperate GM/HC combo.

            2. Grant, there are some good reasons a younger player in demand would want more coming to SF, so talk about the Niners overpaying is simplistic.
              1. He is likely to be reluctant to relocate to the West if his roots are in the East, especially his wife’s/significant other’s roots if he’s married. As a guy who grew up on the East Coast, I know that for a fact.
              2. The cost of buying a home, especially in Santa Clara County, is ridiculously expensive. This is widely known.
              3. Maybe even more important are California’s high income, property, and sales taxes, especially starting next year when State income and property taxes will be capped in reducing one’s Federal income tax.

              So if I were a younger player with another suitor, I would want higher compensation.

              1. Howdy George
                Good to see you contributing again.
                You offer some good thoughts. Here are a couple of reactions.
                The FA Deal is the player’s best chance to cash in. The rookie deal is what it is. The FA deal is huge because of its opportunity to escalate and the uncertain future of injuries, etc. Get it while you can.
                The tax bite is a legitimate concern for players (but not so much for agents.)
                Geographic location is probably more important to family men with kids because they need to bring them to the new place. A spouse can just join a guy for the season and then they return home.
                Team affiliation and prospects for team success might have more impact.
                Housing. Within this group of earners even South Bay real estate shouldn’t matter much imo. A guy making $7M/yr can get a fixed rate 15yr mortgage on a $2.5M home to live in and later sell it at a speculative advantage when he’s ready to move back to Mayberry or Montana or Macon.
                Ciao bella

              2. Hullo George,
                Hope you are keeping in good health.
                Your points are valid. Niners have to offer the package deal of Shanalynch, Jimmy G, Bay Area living in general and Silicon Valley in particular, and perhaps a 10-20% bump in pay in order to attract certain younger players they covet.

            3. Pro Football Focus – Early winners of the 2018 free agency period:

              #1) The San Francisco 49ERS:

              The 49ers’ offseason technically started by locking up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo long-term, securing their franchise signal-caller for the foreseeable future. Garoppolo’s small-sample size of success is enough to believe that he’s the right man to build around in San Francisco. They then added cornerback Richard Sherman after his release from the Seattle Seahawks, bringing him in on a team-friendly deal. Sherman is annually one of the best cornerbacks in football, and assuming good health, the 49ers got a steal in securing the tail end of Sherman’s prime. Up front, they added center Weston Richburg who is one of the league’s best when healthy, especially if he gets back to his 2015 form that saw him grade at 86.5. Beyond that, the contract for running back Jerick McKinnon may have been a bit rich, but he’s a good fit for the zone-heavy rushing attack and his pass-game ability adds to his value. He’s coming off a career-year that saw him grade at 84.6 overall.

              Yeah baby.

              My take:

              I believe in ShanaLynch’s claims that they landed their top 2 free agent targets. For the 2nd year in a row, the 49ers aggressively pursued a few players whom they identified as being the best players on the market in terms of everything they were looking for at these specific positions of need. Jimmy Garroppolo was the crowned jewel of course, and the 49ers waisted no time locking him up well ahead of free agency. Signing Jimmy more than a month in advance of free agency might have been the most important NFL signing of the 2018 offseason, league wide. The 49ers also inked 5 of their own additional free agents – LB Brock Coyle to 3-year contract, OT Garry Gilliam to 2-year contract, C Daniel Kilgore to 3-year contract (traded to Miami, while swapping 7th round picks to the 49ers advantage, and walking away without any dead money on the books), DE Cassius Marsh to 2-year contract and LB Mark Nzeocha to 1-year contract.

              ShanaLynch jumped on long time nemesis, and former all-pro CB Richard Sherman, and they landed him on their terms. They followed this transaction up with a couple more aggressive moves for their top 2 FA targets in Richburg, who they believe is a prototype OC for Kyle’s scheme, and McKinnon, whom seems to be an ideal fit to be a featured RB, and duel threat offensive weapon working within Kyle’s outside zone concepts. The 49ers then made a move to shore up the edge of the defense, inking Jerry Attaochu to a 1-year deal, allowing for more flexibility during the first 2 days of the draft.

              In Summery: Neither Richburg nor McKinnon came cheap, but the 49ers have the luxury of excessive cap space and money to burn this offseason. The Center position holds more value in Kyle’s system, than the position typically holds in others, and Richburg brings strong leadership qualities to go along with his prototypical skill set for Kyle’s offense. Front loading McKinnon’s contract made sense, and the addition of Attaochu on a 1 year prove-it-deal also made sense, IMO, considering the lack of quality pass rushers on the free agent market.

              Once the pundits have dug deeper into the contract details of these free agent signings, I would expect the league-wide praise to continue for the 49ers front office and I am giving them an overall grade of A- at this stage of the offseason. John, Kyle, Paraag, and the rest of the 49ers front office have made some bold moves to start of the 2018 offseason, improving their roster and smartly taking advantage of their enviable salary cap situation while leaving themselves enough cap flexibility moving forward, thanks to front loading contracts, and keeping the guarantees at a reasonable level beyond this season.

              Bravo! GO NINERS!

              1. Yesterday, you hated their signings. This morning, you gave them a B-plus. Now, an A-minus. By lunch, you’ll give them and A-plus. :)

              2. Trading Kilgore (with no dead money) gave us much needed clarity Grant, and Kyle’s reassurance that McKinnon will be the featured back (Shanny: McKinnon is the guy they brought in to be the starting running back, the guy they feature in the offense), has swayed me. It sounds like Kyle’s going to use McKinnon all over the place , and he will essentially be the yin to Kyle Juszczyk’s yang, with Breida sprinkled in.

                Plus, I’ve got a better grasp of their contract details now, and am pleased with the structure of McKinnon’s in particular, now that he’s going to be given the opportunity to be the featured RB, and will lining upwherever they think they can find mismatches. I was always on board with Sherman’s deal, which could end up being the best CB bargain in the league.

              3. My grades are always subject to change early on, as things come into better focus. Isn’t that the way it should be?

                You almost had me convinced that McKinnon might be splitting touches fairly evenly with Breida. After listening to yesterday’s presser, it sounds like Jerick McKinnon will be given an opportunity to line up all over the field, and be the featured back, and proverbial OFFENSIVE WEAPON. I think Kyle is already dreaming of ways he can scheme this kid into 20-plus touches per game.

                Kyle: “What is a huge bonus on him (Jerick) is when you talk about the pass game. When it comes to separating and beating linebackers and safeties in man-to-man coverage, I definitely think he’s an issue for teams. I think this league, when it comes to third downs and things like that, you move the chains based off of matchups, which allows you to get points in the long run.”

              4. Of course, it’s yet to be seen if McKinnon is durable enough to handle 20-plus touches per game. While he’s certainly not the biggest guy, he seems to be very strong and durable for a 205 lbs RB. He runs through a lot of tackles and seems to come out on the better end of a lot of hard contact and collisions. Don’t get me wrong, he’s no Saquon Barkley, but he understands leverage and seems to have a knack for contorting his body to be in the best position for taking contact, and delivering contact. And that’s a great quality.

                Dion Lewis on the other hand, seems to be the opposite. He’s been injured a lot through the last 4 years. He missed an entire season due to a broken fibula in 2013, and also had a knee issue forcing him to miss a number of games and requiring 2 surgeries.

                Besides Grant, Dion Lewis ran an official 4.57 40 yard dash. At 5’7″ and change, and a buck ninety five, while he is elusive, that’s not exactly the kind of speed Kyle covets at the position, right?

              5. Measurables are very important for college prospects. But for pros, you can look at the tape. Lewis played in a similar offense and averaged 4.8 yards per carry in the NFL for his career. McKinnon hasn’t had anywhere near that kind of success.

              6. Again though Grant, doesn’t it come down to scheme fit?

                Sure, Dion Lewis found success in the Patriots more traditional down hill, power scheme last season (though Brady/McDaniels do go to an empty backfield set more often than many teams). However prior to landing in NE, Lewis had a grand total of 171 yards rushing over 4 seasons, granted, he didn’t get on the field in 2 of those 4 seasons. In fact, Lewis has really only produced anything of note in 1 season, albeit it was last season. His first 2 seasons in NE (2015-2016) weren’t exactly noteworthy, as he rushed for a total of 517 yards. And if you look at his combined stats over the last 2 seasons, he hasn’t exactly been a dynamic duel threat, with 49 total receptions, 308 yards receiving, 6.1 AVG per reception, and 3 TD’s.

                So how exactly would Lewis, who stands 5’7.5″ and weighs 195 lbs soaking wet, with a history of injuries, and marginal top end speed, be a better RB fit for Kyle’s system than McKinnon, who is bigger, faster, and frankly a better receiver? I’d love to hear hear the logic there.

              7. Lewis fits the scheme — that’s why the 49ers tried to sign him before they signed McKinnon. That’s why John Lynch liked a tweet urging Lewis to come to the 49ers.

                The Patriots run outside zone. James White ate into some of Lewis’ receiving production.

                Lewis has proven he can flourish in the role the 49ers have in mind for McKinnon. McKinnon hasn’t proven that.

            4. “Lewis absolutely would not have signed a contract with a one-year potential out. Not with the 49ers.”
              So he signed a contract with a 2 year out, that would pay him less money, than he would have made with the niners for playing only 1 year? If that is true, he is absolutely an idiot.

              1. I’m sure the 49ers didn’t offer him as much as the Titans did. The Titans offered him more security.

              2. “I’m sure the 49ers didn’t offer him as much as the Titans did. The Titans offered him more security.”
                That’s possible but that would indicate that the niners preferred McKinnon considering what they gave him.

                McKinnon’s first contract year.
                2018
                Base salary: $4.2 million
                Roster bonus: $5.5 million
                Per game roster bonus: $250,000
                Workout bonus: $50,000
                Prorated SB: $500,000

                Cap hit: $10.5 million

                Dion Lewis contract details
                2018 Contract details by year 27

                Base salary: $2,000,000
                Signing bonus: $562,500
                Roster Bonus: $1,750,000
                Cap Hit: $4,312,500
                Dead Cap: $5,750,000
                Yearly Cash : $6,000,000

                2019 Contract details by year 28
                Base salary: $4,000,000
                Signing bonus: $562,500
                Roster Bonus: $300,000
                Cap Hit: $4,862,500
                Dead Cap: $1,687,500
                Yearly Cash: $4,300,000
                Two year total : ($10,300,000)

                sources
                https://www.ninersnation.com/2018/3/14/17121618/jerick-mckinnon-contract-details-49ers-free-agents-2018
                http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/tennessee-titans/dion-lewis-7868/

            5. “They overpaid for their second options — McKinnon and Richburg. ”
              Grant,
              Are you implicitly accusing Lynch of lying when he says that Norwell was never an option and that McKinnon and Richburg were always the ones they targeted, i.e. first option?

              1. It’s only a 14 month sample with Lynch, but he doesn’t seem to equivocate, deflect, or mislead AFTER the fact of what he’s talking about. He plays poker before the fact.
                Just my subjective take as an observer.

            6. He signed a contract with an out in the 2nd year that pays around the same in those two years as McKinnon gets in 1. Of course he would have taken the deal.

              1. The 49ers probably didn’t offer Lewis what they offered McKinnon. They were terrified of coming up empty handed, so they overpaid the second option once the first option was off the table.

              2. Lol! So rather than just increasing their offer to Lewis, they decided to pay their second option that money instead?

                I’m not going to say it is impossible. It may have happened like that. But surely you can admit that you are 100% basing this on conjecture. And I would suggest that the (considerably?) more plausible scenario is they just wanted McKinnon more, which is why he got offered what he did, and why they didn’t offer that money to Lewis instead.

              3. I’m surprised I have to explain this to you, Scooter. This happens all the time.

                The Niners probably made Lewis an offer and the Titans beat it with more money and more long-term security. The 49ers declined to beat it, because they thought they could get McKinnon for cheaper. But, they miscalculated the interest he would have. The pot got richer than they expected, and they couldn’t fold. They were all in. They had to get their second choice. Happens all the time.

              4. Given that all of this happened before players could officially sign contracts, if the 49ers found out McKinnon could only be had for much more than what Lewis was offered, but Lewis was the guy they really wanted, they would have just gone back to Lewis and said “ok, here is our final offer”.

              5. Maybe they offered Lewis X amount of money knowing they would get outbid. But letting it be known that they offered Lewis a deal. Leverage in the McKinnon talks?

              6. If someone came in late, before you had signed, offering 50% more than you had a handshake agreement on, you would take it. You are searching for reasons to believe the 49ers didn’t get the players they targeted.

              7. Teams don’t do that. Once the agreement is in pace, the deal is done.

                Plus, McKinnon is earning only $1.7 million more than Lewis in guaranteed money, and has less long-term security, so the 49ers didn’t have enough to interest Lewis.

              8. Teams don’t do that because they offer what they are willing to offer before a deal is agreed to. Given how quickly McKinnon got done after Lewis, I am sure they already knew it was going to cost more for McKinnon. If they wanted Lewis more than McKinnon, they would have offered Lewis more.

                As for the contract terms, any player would prefer getting the same amount in year 1 as they would get over two years, especially if the two contracts allow for an opt out after that point. If McKinnon’s contract is voided after 1 year he gets to negotiate a new deal and make more money again. There is absolutely no upside on the deal Lewis took over the one McKinnon got. None.

              9. The McKinnon deal got done more than 12 hours after Lewis. That’s an eternity.

                It’s obvious the 49ers were offering Lewis a deal with a one-year potential out and he didn’t want it. He got $10.3 million guaranteed over two years from Tennessee. I’m sure the 49ers thought they could get McKinnon for cheaper. But they miscalculated and had to give him $12 million guaranteed after competition from other clubs. Even if the 49ers upped their offer by $1.7 million, Lewis wouldn’t have backed out of his deal with Tennessee. Not enough to make it worth his while to burn a bridge. Plus, he wants the security. McKinnon gets no security. If he gets hurt, he’s cut.

        2. Anyone who has eyes, a brain and insight can see that McKinnen has more potential with in Shanahans system. Grant you have generally been clueless in respect to Shanahan and Lynch’s mind set. Now just because it was better than a lot of the posters on this site does not mean much. Both Lynch and Shanahan tend to think way outside the box so that comparing them to most GM’s an coaches just does not work. It’s going to take you a while before you get some sort of handle on them but you could accelerate the process by not being so confident that you know what their thinking.

      2. First and second options… Expanded further, there are multiple FA options for each position–first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and on. And these options–for the most part–aren’t equally spaced in terms of value to a team. The ‘value’ difference separating options one and two may be much less than the value differences separating options four through six.

        For me, the good news is the 9ers are not panicking (to use a Grant characterization) and signing fifth and sixth level options–so it would appear.

  3. Lynch’s presser comment:
    * “Richburg was the only interior offensive linemen the 49ers pursued in free agency, Lynch said.. The team did not even place a call of interest to the agent of free-agent guard Andrew Norwell, who was not considered a fit for Kyle Shanahan’s blocking scheme.”
    * If OG Andrew Norwell was not considered a fit for Shanahan’s ZBS, would the 9ers consider Quenton Nelson a good fit in Shanahan’s blocking scheme?

  4. Wow, the Jet’s contract is basically a two-year deal with large cap hit on year 1 ($11M), dramatically lower cap in second year ($4.5M) and sizable cap hit on year 3 and 4 ($7.5M) , but years 3 and 4 are heavily incentivized. If he meets those goals, he’s more than earned his money. But the dead money is small after first year because most of the guaranteed money is paid out in the first year. The dead money after year 2 is only $1M in total. Typical Marathe “rip-cord” contract structure.
    https://overthecap.com/player/jerick-mckinnon/3035

  5. It would be awesome if they could land Pugh. Not likely as it appears he’s lined to AZ, but that would really set them up for the draft.

  6. Grant…. You stated “According to Dr. Gary Furness, who works for the California Athletic Commission, 30 percent of pro football players who tear their Achilles never play again. Two-thirds of pro football players who do return from an Achilles tear do so at a diminished level.”

    How far back does the good doctor’s data go–10 years, 25, 40, 70? Would be interesting to determine the numbers since 2005. Orthopedic medicine and rehab techniques have advanced significantly over time–and continue to do so. I hope you’re not basing your assertions on recovery stats which originate in the 1940s. Am I predicting 100% recovery for Sherman? Nope. Do I think he is likely to be difference maker on the field and in the locker room? Yup.

        1. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e317/3ccc09746df5436b59cbc38a135e67e72428.pdf

          It’s a bit dated (study done between 1997-2002), but rehab for achilles injuries hasn’t dramatically changed in the 16 years after the results of this study. Figure 2 offers a pretty stark picture of the odds against Sherman returning to play at a high level, or even a serviceable one. Clearly, the study has some limitations, and injuries can have outliers, but achilles ruptures usually spell the end of a WR’s or CB’s career.

  7. OK, after further evaluation, I’m giving the 49ers a B+ through this stage of free agency. If they sign Prior, or if they can find a quality ILB or OG before the draft, my grade is likely going to go higher. Excitement is brewing down at 4949 Centennial Blvd, and 4900 Marie P DeBartolo Way. Santa Clara is heating up!

    GO NINERS!

    1. I’m seeing a very solid B so far.

      A strong draft, a few good UDFAs, and continued development of players on IR and ‘the taxi squad’ (like that term) should bring a good season. Coaches settled in, expectations clear. Yeah, could be a nice fall and winter.

  8. For those who may be interested, here’s a look back at the arrivals and departures of our “Inside the 49ers” blog moderators. From Matt Maiocco, Phil Barber, Eric Branch, Bob Padecky, to the one and only Grant Cohn.
    Note: I couldn’t locate a Phil Barber goodbye post and Bob Padecky’s final post was a strange one (he never posted a goodbye). Maybe Grant can share some inside scoop on how it went down, when he took over the blog.

    Thank you for 11 great years (Matt Maiocco departure… April, 2010)

    In April 2006, I was asked if I would occasionally write a “web log” to supplement my 49ers newspaper coverage. It sounded interesting enough, but I wondered if anyone would find it, read it and come back.

    With a fair amount of skepticism, I agreed to give it a shot. Then, I proceeded to type up a few notes about several draft-eligible players who had visited the 49ers in recent days. It was the kind of information that wasn’t considered “newsy” enough to get into the paper, but my hope was that hard-core 49ers fans would find it informative.

    Quickly, I became addicted to the timeliness of the blog, which had been given the apt title, “Instant 49ers.” It also enabled readers to share their viewpoints and ask questions that I could attempt to answer.

    The blog has changed formats a couple times since then. And, to my knowledge, all posts prior to late in 2008 have disappeared from the Internet. While I will remain in the Bay Area and not disappear, this will be my final blog entry in this space. Last night, I sent in my last newspaper article.

    Effective today, I am leaving The Press Democrat after 11 years.
    It’s been a pleasure to work for this company. I owe major debts of gratitude to all the terrific individuals at The Press Democrat who supported me and provided me with invaluable assistance. I was paid to do something that rarely seemed like a job, and the company picked up the tab as I traveled to every NFL city, as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame twice and a regular-season game in Mexico City.

    You found the blog, read it and kept coming back. And, for that, thank you.

    This blog provided me an opportunity to communicate directly with the readers. I’ve gotten to know many of you. So, thank you, for all the comments, the invitations to tailgate parties or for just shouting “hello” when I pass through the stands at Candlestick Park.

    Less than a year ago when my father passed away, I found it therapeutic to sit at my computer and, through a stream of tears, write about the man I knew as a great dad, husband and grandfather. I wasn’t sure whether it was appropriate to post the tribute on the blog.

    I’m glad I did. The outpouring of kindness was overwhelming. Many of you shared your poignant memories about your own parents. Your words served as comfort for my entire family. My mother told me, “There are a lot of really good people out there who read your stories.”

    This should not be interpreted as a “farewell.” I will resurface shortly. But I will not be writing for a print publication.

    A friend asked me last night if I was sad to be leaving the world of newspapers. My answer was, “I’m trying not to think about it or I’d cry.” I think she thought I was kidding.

    It’s all I’ve ever done. My eighth-grade teacher, Mr. Steffan, asked if I’d write a game story on my elementary school’s flag football game to turn into the local newspaper. (Yes, I grew up in a very small community.) The article was published, and I immediately knew what I wanted to do when I grew up.

    I consider my routine of going to the gift shop to buy the morning paper(s) among the highlights of every trip I’ve ever taken – or will take in the future. I’m sad to be leaving the newspaper business. But I’m excited about the possibilities for the future.

    April 26, 2010 (Phil Barber)

    Replacing a legend

    Hi, Niners fans, I’m Mike Bordick. No, wait, I’m Phil Barber. Mike Bordick is the man who replaced Cal Ripken at shortstop with the Baltimore Orioles, and that’s pretty close to how I feel stepping in for Matt Maiocco, who redefined the role of the sports beat writer during his 11 years with the Press Democrat.

    Matt will resurface shortly, and I know that you will continue to follow his reporting. It would be folly to think I could replace him in the hearts of 49ers fans. Rather, I hope to become just one of the sources you regularly use to stay up-to-date on your favorite team.

    I have spent the past seven years covering the Raiders for the Press Democrat. I know, the migration usually works in the other direction (Ronnie Lott… Roger Craig… Jerry Rice…). But I’m not just a Raiders guy. I have done a ton of writing for NFL Publishing and for the Sporting News and others, covering the whole league rather than a single team. I wrote the book “We Were Champions: The 49ers’ Dynasty in Their Own Words” (Triumph Books, 2002) and ghostwrote the foreword with Bill Walsh.

    In short, I have a grasp of 49ers history and I know the NFL. I just have a LOT of catching up to do when it comes to the current team. It will be fun to get there. I hope you come along.

    September 07, 2010 (Eric Branch)

    Maiocco to Barber to New Guy

    Wow, do we even have time for introductions? Kickoff in Seattle is 102 hours away and I’m arriving, in effect, as a rookie who missed training camp.
    Before tracking down a rumor that the Seahawks are on the verge of signing R.C. Owens, though, it’s probably wise to let you know who I am.
    Fortunately, many of us met during the preseason. But for those of you who never saw this, here goes: My name is Eric Branch, I’m the new 49ers beat writer at the Press Democrat and you can follow me at twitter.com/Eric_Branch.
    I’ve worked at the PD since 2006, but I’ve been unwittingly training for this job since, as a 7-year-old with a bowl haircut, impossibly snug shorts and zero soul, I practiced Billy “White Shoes” Johnson’s Funky Chicken Dance in our family room.
    I’ve loved the NFL since Brent Musburger first told me I was looking live at some exotic locale like East Rutherford, N.J. and I first learned, from Pat Summerall, that 60 Minutes was coming up next except on the West Coast. I’ll spare you the dream-job stuff, but it’s fair to say I’m excited to get started.
    I’m also fully aware that the bar has been set high.
    If Matt Maiocco was Joe Montana in this role, Phil Barber did a neat impression of Steve Young during his brief tenure. Phil is a brilliant NFL writer, but he’s an even better person. And his reasons for stepping down give you an insight into just what type of person he is. At the risk of sounding trite, it’s an honor to follow Phil on this beat.
    It’s also a privilege to follow in a long line of other Pro Bowlers who have had this job.
    It started with Ralph Leef, who covered the team from 1972-1989. In his final days on the beat, prior to Super Bowl XXIII, Ralph broke the story that Bill Walsh was retiring. That was kind of a big scoop.
    After Leef came more heavyweights: Mike Silver (Sports Illustrated, Yahoo!), Mark Fainaru-Wada (ESPN and Mr. BALCO), Brian Murphy (KNBR), Maiocco and Barber.
    Not a bust in the bunch.
    As for myself, I arrive, like Brian Murphy, with no previous NFL beat-writing experience. But I will bring passion and dedication. And I solemnly pledge to be driven by an all-consuming fear to not be the only screw-up to have this job.
    As a longtime follower of this blog, I know there has been some concern about the turnover around here.
    I understand. And I expect to hang out for a long time. My family (wife and two young daughters) will be moving from Santa Rosa to as close to Santa Clara as my bank.

    June 30, 2011 (Eric Branch departure)

    Saying goodbye to a great newspaper
    This is my final blog for The Santa Rosa Press Democrat. I will resurface at another publication in the near future.
    How did this happen? Good question. I began this beat about 10 months ago — a few days before the season opener in Seattle — and my head was spinning. How do I re-tweet? Parys Harlason or Parys Harralson? What, exactly, just happened on that fourth-down pass to Moran Norris? Latte orders in the press box!? Wait, Paris Harelson?
    And on and on.
    Thankfully, my employer wasn’t riddled with so many questions. The Press Democrat gave me the opportunity to cover the 49ers and I’m indebted to the decision-makers for having faith in me. It was a bit of a leap to entrust this beat to a rookie following in the footsteps of big-timers such as Mike Silver (Sports Illustrated, Yahoo!), Mark Fainaru-Wada (ESPN), Brian Murphy (KNBR), Kevin Lynch (San Francisco Chronicle) and Matt Maiocco (CSN Bay Area).
    The Press Democrat, clearly, has a rich history, and not just when it comes to covering the 49ers. I’ve been fortunate to work here since 2006 while learning from a newsroom stuffed with talented — and hilarious — colleagues and friends.
    On the theme of gratitude, thank you to those who have read and/or contributed to this blog during the past season and beyond. You welcomed me into a neighborhood created by Master Blogger Maiocco in 2006 and have been kind, supportive and completely obsessed with Alex Smith. The comments on sports blogs aren’t generally known for their literacy levels, but the discourse here has typically been elevated, civil and grammatically correct – “I” before “E,” except after “Z” (Zeigler, Dominique).
    By the way, this blog will continue, so there’s no need to pack up your encyclopedic knowledge of the Ted linebacker position and leave.
    As for me, hopefully this isn’t goodbye, but it’s see you in the future.
    And, hopefully, we’ll be discussing the impending start of football — on the field — when we meet again.

    July 05, 2011 (Bob Padecky takes over)

    Bob Padecky, name may be familiar
    For the time being I will not be writing as much as I have been about Sonoma County sports but instead will be tracking the 49ers through this blog. It will not be an easy chore since the lock-out has locked things down, in which the most mundane of activities becomes newsworthy.

    July 22, 2011 (Bob Padecky’s final post)

    And exactly why shouldn’t I have opinions?

    Everyone commenting on any of posts definitely has. Yes, a blog should contain facts and, in my view, opinion as well. Not to incite but to illuminate. Of course, facts about the 49ers or the NFL in general have been in short supply the last week or so. My posts would then contain more opinion than facts. Seems ludicrous otherwise.

    Grant’s first post (July 24, 2011)

    Top 5 49er storylines

    This is Grant Cohn, but some people call me Iggy. You can call me whatever you’d like. I’m your new 49ers blogger. I’ll be reporting and tweeting every day from training camp in Santa Clara as soon as it opens, whenever that may be.
    Until then, I’ll join Bob Padecky and Phil Barber in providing you with some blogging snack food to whet your appetite for the upcoming NFL season.
    And away we go!
    Let’s start by asking the relevant questions: What are the top five storylines for training camp?
    Here’s my list first. Please post your own in the comment section.
    5. Can Frank Gore still bring it? He broke his hip last November against Arizona and missed the rest of the season. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, says the hip is 100 percent healthy. Is it? Has Gore lost a step? If he has, the 49ers are toast.
    4. Can rookie pass rusher Aldon Smith get to the quarterback? New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio wants to pressure the quarterback. Trent Baalke drafted Aldon Smith to do just that, dreaming one day Smith will become the 49ers’ next Charles Haley. But is he really better right now than Manny Lawson, the outside linebacker he’s replacing? Remember, Smith played defensive end last year at the University of Missouri, and the Niners are asking him to be an outside linebacker. Can he make the transition?
    3. Can Michael Crabtree become a part of the team? We know he likes to work out on his own. Can he find it in himself to attend team practices this August? Will he actually play in the preseason games? It’s time for Crabtree to show he’s a No.1 wide receiver and a grownup. If he isn’t, the 49ers need to replace him.
    2. Can Alex Smith beat out rookie Colin Kaepernick for the starting quarterback job? Smith has never won a quarterback competition in his professional career – he lost out to Shaun Hill in 2009 and J.T. O’Sullivan in 2008. Will Alex Smith actually win for once this August? Will he look better than mediocre in the process?
    1. Can the new 49er coaches coach? There’s already been a coronation for the triumvirate – Jim Harbaugh, Greg Roman, and Vic Fangio. But all three coached in college last year, and while Vic Fangio has been a defensive coordinator in the NFL, Roman has never been an NFL offensive coordinator, and this is Harbaugh’s first NFL head-coaching job. As we know, the transition from college to pro is enormous. How good will Harbaugh and Roman be? How do they conduct their practices? Who calls the plays in games? In what ways are they better than the Singletary bunch?
    Bonus Question: How does Jim Harbaugh deal with the media? He’s never had to face the amount of scrutiny he will face every day this year, so how will he handle it? We know he has a mercurial personality. Will he deal with a loss better than the head coach he replaced? Can he keep his pants on?
    Those are the questions pre-training camp. Let’s talk after training camp to see if the questions have changed.
    Follow me on twitter @grantcohn. I’ll be tweeting like a magpie once training camp opens.

      1. Great WKRP reference!
        Grant was out of the gate running at full speed with his gloom-and-doom on Gore’s not-so-quick hips!

      2. Thanks Cassie, Mood, Leo, One and AES!….YOU LIKE THAT!?….YOU LIKE THAT!?
        TGIF fellas!! I’ll be sippin on Gin and Juice tonight….laid back…with my mind on my Niners and my Niners on my mind. 😜

    1. Crab15,
      Good “roll-back” Friday stuff!
      I find it hard to believe that we have been on this site since the early days of Maiocco.
      Top PD blog argument in last 10 years:
      Alex Smith opposition vs Alex Smith support. Some serious angst on this subject.

      Matty – great communicator.
      Phil – raider guy (not a good fit)
      Bob – raider guy (desperate move by the PD)
      Grant – has carved out his own style.

      Wonder which poster has been here the longest?

        1. One,
          Yup, you’re right.
          Guess I got caught up in the CK excitement like so many did when he was almost unstoppable.
          You and I had some crazy moments re Alex Smith. When all is said and done, I’m happy that Alex has had good success and longevity and that we’re both still passionate 49ers fans.

          I also remember Prime’s prophetic words when he wrote that CK’s success would be short-lived once D-Cords figured out how to stop him.
          Looks like we all have come a long way since then.

  9. Clocked Attaochu at 4.58 and a 4.63 forty. 37.5 VJ, 7.28 3-cone, 4.64 short shuttle. 1.55, 1.60 ten yard split.

    That 3 cone time is a red flag for me. 6.89 is the cutoff for edge success.

      1. Yea, I’d say that’s not the norm. 6.89 is supposed to be the benchmark for predicted edge success according to the analytics I’m reading from….

        1. I think these Seattle coaches care more about the 10-yard split than the 3-cone from the edge-rushers. A Leo lines up so wide, he takes a more direct path to the quarterback.

          1. you’re cracking me up with this “LEO” stuff…as if it’s relevant. despite it’s traditional use, the “LEO” is a run based defender. most pass rushing comes from the Nickel or Dime where being a “LEO” is irrelevant.

              1. sure, and they likely will. but a wide 9 alignment doesn’t make for a “LEO”.

                Lining up wide is fine if you’re expecting a pass in obvious passing situations. It’s stupid against the run (unless you have your alley players adjust to fill the wide gaping holes on the edge…which weakens the defense elsewhere).

              2. A “LEO” is flexed out in some way that is most advantageous for (traditionally) the DE to get to the QB. That doesn’t mean it has to be from the 9 technique. It could even be backed off the line a bit. The LEO could even be moved to a whole different position (like the traditional Elephant)

        2. Razor,
          In the words of the legendary Bruce Lee; “boards don’t hit back.”
          In this case, “cones don’t block!”

          All combine numbers have their place and value. But the fastest, strongest and smartest combine participants do not guarantee pro-bowl or HOF status.
          Half of HOF’s likely would have failed at combine events.

          1. Outside of the set of explosion drills, the three-cone drill is the most important drill for edge defenders at the combine.

        3. Where are you getting that info from razor? I saw an article showing that Landry would be in rarified air if he is a first round draft pick, as he would be one of I believe only 6 edge defenders with a 3 cone below 6.9 taken in the first round, and all but 1 of the others have been successful. However, there has been far more than 5 successful first round edge players drafted. So 6.89 as the cut off seems very low.

          1. Verified account

            @JoshNorris
            Follow Follow @JoshNorris
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            6.89 is the number you’re looking at for EDGE rushers at the NFL Combine.

            Verified account

            @JoshNorris
            Follow Follow @JoshNorris
            More
            Important NFL Combine events…

            Since 2006, 14 of the top 19 3-cone times for edge rushers were recorded by productive players or promising prospects. If you’re looking for an individual measurement that can project success, this is one.

            1. Thanks. So there is a correlation between high 3 cone and pass rush production, which is something I have increasingly been paying attention to. Nice to know there is some evidence behind it! In saying that, doesn’t mean players with lower scores can’t be productive.

              1. Nope. You’re right, Scooter. Doesn’t mean that at all, but it may indicate more elite potential.

              2. Harold Landry 1st unofficial 40: 4.65, 10 yd of 1.59 is sure to get the attention of the 49ers. I believe they already had a chat with him….

  10. i am with Grant on this – they did overpay for their second options….

    how anyone can justify that amount of $$ for a RB who will run the ball less than 10-15 times in a game is mind boggling….reading through KS – all he kept saying was he would be a good receiver……we could have found a RB who fit bill in the draft…..

    impressed with video of the new center…but still that much money for a C who couldn’t protect Eli…..just saying

    and don’t get me started on the CB who we don’t even know will be back to 100%

    1. My opinion….let’s have this debate in late November. So much happening over the next several months to build a roster–draft, UDFA signings, evaluating available talent from roster cut downs across the other 31 teams, the existing pool of practice squad players. And we can count on badly timed training camp and preseason injuries which could turn everything inside out.

    1. “Additions: George and htwaits.
      Grade A+.
      Welcome back guys.”

      Pretty funny, 80. But thanks.

      This has always been a great group of guys. For a while I gave up the NFL. Why isn’t important. Actually it was Jimmy G and a good buddy of mine who brought me back.

      It’s been interesting to watch how Lynch and Shanahan have demolished the House That Was Baalke. Very excited about McKinnon. He’s gonna be a busy bee. If they can continue to protect Jimmy and mount a decent run game, I think the offense can average 35-40 points. The pass catchers have become a strength.

    1. Again, the 49ers can say whatever they want. They traded with the Seahawks last year. I’m sure the Seahawks would have preferred to get something for Sherman instead of nothing. And I doubt they care which team Sherman plays for. They think he’s done.

      1. And I doubt they trade Sherman to a rival. It would be like the Packers trading Jordy Nelson to the bears. Not happening. But there is always that guy that says I doubt the Packers care who Nelson plays for, they think he’s done.

        1. He was going to end up here anyway. They’d prefer the picks. Saying the Seahawks would have turned them down without first calling and asking is pure silliness.

  11. Again, your an outsider looking in. With a straight face have the nerve to say they can say whatever they want, but people should believe what you say on this subject. Again, an outsider telling people that the Front office didn’t want a certain player, but settled on a backup.. hmmm

  12. I do not think the signing of Richburg had anything to do with their efforts to sign Norwell. It seems pretty clear that they want Richburg to play Center. Norwell is a Guard…and I’d say the Niners have needs at Guard.

    Grant keeps saying that the Niners are overpaying. But they’re simply paying a premium for the right to walk away from contracts with little consequence in the future. They’re paying to avoid future dead money as much as possible.

    1. Good take. And, anyway, who can say they overpaid? There is no multiple listing service in football. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Did they take risks? Sure. But it’s the owners money, and he owes it to the fans for all the years of incompetence.

          1. You love to argue, young man. By the way, they’re still posting your Alfred E. Newman picture. What’s up with that?

          2. Actually Grant, taking your approach, the 9ers would have traded Garoppolo away, thereby making Pouncey the best offensive player. Yay!

      1. uh…yeah…sure…so Norwell is a better Guard than Richburg is a Center…okay…..uh…apples to oranges anyone?

        It’s debatable if Pouncy is better than Richburg. Both were injured last year and Pouncy wasn’t too good. But Pouncy didn’t become available until after they signed Richburg…so what’s your point?

        Should the Niners go after Pouncy as a Guard? Maybe, I don’t know the specifics about Pouncy and scheme fit. But again, saying (debatable) that Pouncy is better than Richburg….I don’t get your point.

          1. Norwell is a better player than Richburg. That’s Norwell is getting more money than Richburg.

            Drew Brees and Suh are better players than Richburg…in fact according to ESPN (take that for what it’s worth) there are 31 players better in FA than Richburg….again what is your point?

    2. That’s what I have been saying. Different positions. They may well have wanted Norwell. But Richburg I am sure was their #1 choice for centre.

      As for Pouncey, I have said this before and will say it again, even if he had been available at the time, I doubt the 49ers would have been interested. Look at the guys they give big money to. They are all reputed high character guys. Pouncey is not that.

      1. TBH, I don’t think Shanny was ever going to pay Norwell that kind of money. Center is the key upfront to his offense.

          1. Sometimes on the blog you seem to obsess about certain opposing players. I recall much hand wringing about ‘nobody will be able to cover Tavon Austin’, or some other scatback on the Seahawks. You cant’t build a mirror team by counter-punching.
            Most every opponent has some outstanding player(s) that have to be schemed against. SF will need competence across from Donald, but Shanny wants to build his team and make the defenses reactive to him.

    3. “They’re paying to avoid future dead money as much as possible.”

      This is an excellent point. Just look at the $22 million in dead cap space that the Dolphins incurred when they released Suh.

      I think the strategy that the niners are using will also work well because KS and JL’s team have shown that they can find talented players later in the draft.

  13. Been saying James would go before Fitzpatrick.

    http://walterfootball.com/NFLHotPress

    “In a Hot Press article at the NFL Scouting Combine, two teams picking in the top 10 told me they didn’t view Fitzpatrick as a dynamic talent. In speaking to team sources, some teams have graded Florida State’s Derwin James as the top safety prospect in the 2018 draft.”

    “The draft is always a beauty in the eye of the beholder, but multiple teams picking in the top 10 that could use help at safety have told me that James is the highest-rated safety on their draft board.”

          1. Even of that is the case, why Miller? He is an OT. Doesn’t provide the flexibility to play OG. Unless they are contemplating moving Staley to OG? Sure hope not. This would therefore be a long term pick. But they need an immediate upgrade at OG.

            Speaking of OGs, what are your thoughts on picking up Jonathan Cooper? Obviously he has been a disappointment to date, but he has the requisite athleticism for outside zone, has been getting better the past two years, and OL is a position that has become notorious the past decade for early career struggles. I think he could be a good pick up on a short term prove it type deal.

              1. Pugh and Mewhort still available and should be affordable. What’s Lynch waiting for, what is the strategy? Tomlinson and Beadles underperformed, Garnett questionable if his new body will be effective, Magnuson is raw.

                Help!!

              2. Would love to get Pugh, but doesn’t sound like the 49ers are after him. Mewhort otoh is a phone booth player. Bad fit for the system. Don’t see them being interested in him.

    1. When Barrows pointed out Miller as a potential Shanny pick, I took a closer look at this guy. He’s quite athletic but not enough strength and technique. The latter two can be substantially improved but not the first trait.

      1. Strength and technique can be improved, but you would like to see better fundamentals from a player expected to go day 2. He needs a lot of work, in particular in terms of balance and bend. Despite his athletic abilities he doesn’t seem to bend well or have good balance, which means he is basically a really tall guy that stays tall and simply asks to lose the leverage battle.

        1. Agree that his bend seems inadequate. But some of that loss of balance may be ascribed to trying to compensate for insufficient strength.

  14. Overthecap has then at 44 million in room. 9 would go to draft picks. Leaving then would 35 Lettie Beadles and some other dead weight go this would go up to 40 after draft picks. Could afford to spend 10-15 million more on FA and still rollover 25 to extend our own guys.

  15. “When it comes to separating and beating linebackers and safeties in man-to-man coverage, I definitely think he’s (McKinnon) an issue for teams. I think this league, when it comes to third downs and things like that, you move the chains based off of matchups, which allows you to get points in the long run.

    Richburg’s former team, the New York Giants, used a power-based rushing attack. In San Francisco’s outside zone-running system, he’ll be asked to move more in space, something at which the 300-pound Richburg – he ran hurdles in high school – should excel. Shanahan brought in a high-end center, Alex Mack, when he was the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator. He said he sees similar qualities in Richburg.

    “I didn’t know a ton about him until I turned on the tape and it was as good as I’ve seen,” he said.

    http://www.sacbee.com/sports/nfl/san-francisco-49ers/article205394094.html

  16. Lots of blog buzz on cone drill times.

    What does it all mean? A snapshot sampling…check these numbers based on the top 11 sack leaders in 2016…

    Rank Player Pos Sacks Cone Time (3)
    1 Vic Beasley Jr. LB 15.5 6.91
    2 Von Miller LB 13.5 6.70
    3 Lorenzo Alexander LB 12.5 7.53
    4 Markus Golden LB 12.5 7.39
    5 Danielle Hunter DE 12.5 6.95
    6 Cliff Avril DE 11.5 6.90
    7 Cameron Wake DE 11.5 7.12
    8 Ryan Kerrigan LB 11.0 7.18
    9 Chandler Jones LB 11.0 7.07
    10 Erik Walden LB 11.0 NA
    11 Khalil Mack DE 11.0 7.08

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