The 49ers went out and filled a couple needs at running back a year ago. They got an every-down style back in the third round of the draft. And they got their explosive, change-of-pace man in free agency (undrafted free agency, that is).
Coffee (209 pounds) is a mature kid. He’s a no-nonsense runner. He thrived during the exhibition season, and the club likes him a lot – despite very little production as Frank Gore’s backup during the season.
Sheets (199 pounds) ran a blistering 4.39 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine. He went undrafted. The 49ers signed him. But they were never enamored of his size, and his ability as a blocker. So he was cut before the first regular-season game. Then, they put up little resistance when the Dolphins came calling to pluck him off their practice squad.
The 49ers are not going to take a running back at No. 13 or No. 17 overall if they do not believe he will be an every-down back. Frank Gore is their every-down back right now. He is signed through 2011. The belief with the 49ers is that Coffee can be an every-down back.
C.J. Spiller (196 pounds) of Clemson could be a great change-of-pace back as a rookie. He could handle the return duties. He could be a valuable asset, no question. But there is some question if he could be the every-down guy. He’s 5-11 ½ and 196 pounds. His upright running style has some concerned about his ability to take a pounding at the NFL level.
It sure seems as if there’s a consensus that 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan, coach Mike Singletary and running backs coach Tom Rathman all prefer bigger-bodied running backs. And if they’re going to take a running back early in the draft, he’s going to be a big man.
Said McCloughan, “What I learned early from (former Raiders and Packers executive) Ron Wolf is if you draft an exception then next thing you know, you have a team of exceptions. You can’t go against your philosophy.”
The 49ers must decide whether they have a plan in place that would allow Spiller to earn his money. The 49ers will have to pay the No. 13 pick more than $13 million guaranteed, while the No. 17 pick will make more than $10 million guaranteed.
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Tackles Barry Sims and Tony Pashos are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents at 9 p.m. (PT) Thursday. Both players have spoken to new 49ers offensive line coach Mike Solari. The 49ers stated a desire to re-sign Pashos, though he is an option only at right tackle. Sims can play both sides, as he filled in admirably when Joe Staley went down. If the 49ers envision Pashos as the starting right tackle, that’s one thing. But a backup must be able to play both sides. Teams generally suit up only seven offensive linemen. That means one backup has to be responsible for both tackle positions, and the other must be available for duty at center and both guard spots.
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Some have asked about 49ers who have confirmed Twitter accounts. Here’s the list (let me know if you know of others):
Patrick Willis @PatrickWillis52
Dashon Goldson @thehawk38
Joe Staley @jstaley74
Takeo Spikes @TakeoSpikes51
Nate Clements @NateClements
Ricky Jean-Francois @Freakyjean
Dominique Zeigler @Dzeigler17
And, if you haven’t already done so, you should add this guy, too.
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Willis will take part Thursday in the NFL’s Take-a-Player-to-School day. He will pick up fourth-grade student Nicholas Billmire in a limo and take him to Vallejo Mill Elementary in
Willis will speak to the students about the importance of good health. During the visit, Willis will lead kids in fitness activities, as part of NFL’s PLAY 60 campaign, helping youth get 60 minutes of exercise a day. The NFL and JCPenney will make a donation to support the in-school and afterschool physical fitness programs. The NFL will donate all fitness equipment used during the Ultimate P.E. Class for future use. The school also will receive an equipment donation from
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