Matt Breida

49ers Work Out Five Running Backs

With Matt Breida unlikely to suit up for Monday’s game against the Packers, the 49ers auditioned several running backs today. Veteran NFL reports Howard Balzer reports (via Twitter) that the team worked out Matthew Dayes, Andre Ellington, Jeremy McNichols (as was reported yesterday), Shane Vereen, and Charcandrick West. The 49ers ended up adding Dayes to their practice squad.

While Breida was able to avoid a high ankle sprain, he’ll likely miss Monday’s contest. With Jerick McKinnon already out for the season, this leaves the 49ers with a pair of healthy running backs: Alfred Morris and Raheem Mostert. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said the team could end up promoting Jeff Wilson from the practice squad for some extra depth, or maybe they’ll look outside the organization for reinforcement.

Breida has stepped up during McKinnon’s absence, compiling 369 rushing yards and one touchdown on 49 carries. His 7.5 yards per attempt is currently the best mark in the NFL, and he’s yet to commit a fumble this season. On the flip side, Morris and Mostert have been underwhelming, combining for 3.5 yards per carry.

The team may be willing to ride it out with Morris as their starting running back, especially since the majority of the auditionees have served as third-down backs throughout their careers. Vereen was the most productive in 2017, as he hauled in 44 receptions for 253 yards (he also had another 164 rushing yards on 45 carries). West finished last season with 27 receptions in 13 games with the Chiefs, while Ellington had 39 receptions during his stints with the Cardinals and Texans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Olsen, Eagles, Breida, Giants

Greg Olsen opted against undergoing surgery on his refractured foot this season, but the Panthers tight end does expect to need a corrective procedure done on it. The Pro Bowl tight end said (via The Athletic’s Joe Person, on Twitter) he likely will need a surgery to fix his Jones fracture. However, he will try to make it through the season before doing so. Olsen’s missed the past four Panthers games but could be in line to return on Sunday, Ron Rivera said. He’s been ramping up his workouts in recent weeks and views Wednesday as the key day in determining his Week 6 availability, per the Charlotte Observer’s Jourdan Rodrigue.

As one of the finest quarterbacks in the NFC’s history continues his coronation night, here’s the latest from the conference:

  • The ACL Jay Ajayi tore is in his left knee, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane reports (on Twitter). This is key because Ajayi’s past issues have been with his right knee. Ajayi tore his right ACL while at Boise State, and his draft stock took a hit because of reports of chronic issues with that knee. The Eagles running back will undergo surgery on Thursday, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). He’s not believed to have torn any additional knee ligaments. Rapoport adds this injury came while Ajayi was working in pass protection, but the fourth-year veteran played through it until game’s end.
  • Philadelphia has engaged in “exploratory” conversations regarding Le’Veon Bell, according to Rapoport (video link), but those talks haven’t really gotten off the ground. The Bell-to-Philly subject has been a disputed topic thus far this month, with some outlets reporting the Eagles aren’t going down that road and others indicating they have strongly considered doing it.
  • Fletcher Cox‘s restructured contract gave the Eagles $6.5MM in 2018 cap space, pushing that total to around $10MM. The veteran defensive tackle will see $8.19MM in base salary converted to a roster bonus, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets, adding that his 2019 base will be reduced to $930K. An option bonus of $14.76MM will be included in Cox’s contract now, per Yates, though it’s unclear when that option would vest. But Cox accepting the restructure would indicate he’s not in danger of losing that money he transferred from his 2018 and ’19 base salaries.
  • The 49ers will likely have another starting running back when they take the field against the Packers on Monday night. Matt Breida is going to be doubtful to suit up in Green Bay, Kyle Shanahan said (via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch, on Twitter). The good news on Breida, though, is he didn’t suffer a high ankle sprain. Instead, it’s a less severe mid-ankle sprain, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Alfred Morris would be in line to start, with Raheem Mostert possibly backing him up. Shanahan said the team will consider bringing Jeff Wilson up from the practice squad. The 49ers intended to deploy Jerick McKinnon as their starter, and they turned to Breida after the initial first-stringer’s season-ending injury. But Breida should be expected to return fairly soon.
  • Pat Shurmur wants to add a kicker to the Giants’ practice squad, Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com tweets. Big Blue will need another offensive tackle soon as well, being set to end the Ereck Flowers era on Tuesday. Aldrick Rosas serves as the Giants’ kicker, and the second-year UDFA is 100 percent (11-for-11) on field goals thus far.
  • Prior to signing Bryan Witzmann, the Bears visited with offensive lineman Willie Beavers, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Beavers was a fourth-round Vikings pick in 2016.

NFC Notes: Lions, Vikings, Bucs, Kelley

With more teams debuting their preseasons Friday night, here’s the latest out of the NFC, beginning with one of the teams that indeed begins its 2018 run tonight.

  • A fourth-round pick two years ago, Miles Killebrew may be moving to a different position in order to increase his chances of making the Lions‘ 53-man roster. The third-year safety’s been working exclusively as a linebacker in practice as of late, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. Killebrew started three games at safety for the Lions last season, but Birkett adds that the Southern Utah product was working as the fifth safety during camp in a unit that’s now including former full-time cornerback Quandre Diggs. Rookie Tracy Walker was also running ahead of Killebrew.
  • Nick Easton‘s season-ending injury now has the Vikings down three starters, with Pat Elflein still on the PUP list and Mike Remmers also sidelined. Tom Compton is the favorite to fill in for Easton at left guard, and ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin notes the Vikings were eyeing the former Redskins and Bears blocker in the past prior to signing him this offseason. Compton, though, has only made 16 starts in six seasons. The Vikings are likely to keep Compton at guard rather than have him also work at tackle, Mike Zimmer said. Second-year man Danny Isidora looks to the the top insurance option at the other guard spot in case Remmers, down with an ankle injury presently, doesn’t return soon, per Cronin. A fourth-year UDFA out of Portland State, Cornelius Edison is currently working as Minnesota’s first-team center in Elflein’s absence.
  • The Buccaneers will be without Vernon Hargreaves for a bit, potentially the rest of the preseason, with a groin injury. Dirk Koetter, however, doesn’t expect the former first-round pick to miss any regular-season time because of this malady (Twitter link, via the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud).
  • The 49ers will be dealing with similar timelines involving key personnel. Likely tight end starter George Kittle and No. 2 running back Matt Breida suffered separated shoulders in San Francisco’s preseason opener Thursday night, per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. Both will miss the remainder of the preseason calendar. Kyle Shanahan said the earliest either will return is Week 1.
  • Derrius Guice‘s ACL tear deprives the Redskins of a potential impact player being part of their 2018 offense, and they will likely turn to former starter Rob Kelley in his place, Rich Tandler of NBC Sports Washington writes. He expects Samaje Perine, who was in danger of not making the roster prior to Guice’s injury, to work in off the bench on early downs. Tandler adds the Redskins could go after a veteran back, and while many are available, it’s not certain the team will move in that direction just yet. Kelley rushed for 704 yards (4.2 per carry) in 2016, a season that featured him start down the stretch, but gained just 194 last year (3.1 per tote) in seven games as Washington’s starter.

NFC Notes: Hyde, Ngata, McAdoo, Bucs QBs

Despite the noise of a Carlos Hyde trade, Kyle Shanahan attempted to put an end to those rumors during a media session today. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee passes along that the first-year 49ers head coach said that the reports of a speculative trade involving the running back were “absolutely, absolutely 100 percent false.” The rumors started to pick up after San Francisco was making calls to teams about now-former 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman. Despite the pushback, rookie Matt Breida has slowly started to cut into Hyde’s touches in recent weeks. The former Georgia Southern running back had his first double-digit carry game two weeks ago against the Colts, even though the rookie touched the ball just six times this past Sunday. Nevertheless, the 49ers are still winless through six weeks, which means that the trade winds will continue to swirl around the team with the deadline just a few weeks away.

  • Building off the news that Ben McAdoo gave up play calling to offenisve coordinator Mike Sullivan for their Sunday night contest against the Broncos, it is now known that neither owner John Mara nor Giants executive chairman Steve Tisch asked the head coach to give up the offensive playbook, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. It would seem that McAdoo made this decision on his own with the results being positive thus far as the team shocked many by going into Denver and winning by double digits.
  • Now that Haloti Ngata is out for the season with a torn biceps, the question remains: Just how long will the 33-year-old continue to play in the NFL? The Lions defensive lineman told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that he has not made any decision about the future yet. “We’ll have to see. To be determined,” Ngata told the pressThe veteran has not been the same player he was with the Ravens since he joined Detroit in 2015. Ngata did show signs of life this seasn, racking up two sacks in the team’s first five games, which matched the halfway mark of the number of QB takedowns he put up in the two seasons prior.
  • Although Jameis Winston left last Sunday’s game because of a shoulder injury, the Buccaneers still don’t expect to sign another QB for this week’s affair against the Bills, tweets Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. Auman reports that Tampa Bay seems to be comfortable with Winston suiting up as an emergency backup for Ryan Fitzpatrick, if he can’t start. The move sounds a bit risky considering that the team still does not have a third-string QB with Ryan Griffin currently working to get off the IR. However, the news may be encouraging to some as it seems Winston has most likely avoided a long-term injury.

49ers Sign Five Draft Picks, 16 UDFAs

The 49ers are making quick work of their 2017 draft class, as the club announced today that they’ve signed defensive back Adrian Colbert, defensive lineman D.J. Jones, tight end George Kittle, defensive lineman Pita Taumoepenu, and wide receiver Trent Taylor to rookie contracts. San Francisco also confirmed the previously-reported signing of fourth-round running back Joe Williams.

Additionally, the 49ers have announced the signing of 16 undrafted college free agents: