Alex Mack

Latest On 49ers C Alex Mack

While most of the questions surrounding San Francisco’s offense relate to the futures of Jimmy Garoppolo and Deebo Samuel, the decision center Alex Mack makes with respect to his career is significant as well. A final answer to the question of whether or not he will retire appears to be coming soon. 

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that Mack is leaning towards ending his career. Despite the fact that two years remain on his current contract, he writes, “it appears that… Mack is ready to walk away from the game”. Not surprisingly, the team is leaving a final announcement up to him.

“I’ve talked to him here and there” head coach Kyle Shanahan said when asked about Mack’s future. “I’ve been in touch with him throughout the offseason… I’ve got a pretty good idea of what he’s doing… I’m going to leave that up to Alex, but I’ve got a pretty good idea.”

The notion that the 36-year-old could choose to retire this season isn’t new, of course. It was reported in April that Mack was considering doing just that; both Shanahan and general manager John Lynch stated at the time, however, that they were under the impression Mack would return for at least one more season. A retirement announcement in the near future would contradict their line of thought from one month ago, but it would also create a significant hole on the team’s offensive line.

In his first year with the 49ers, Mack earned his seventh Pro Bowl nod and continued his career-long streak of starting every game he was available for. If he were to retire, San Francisco would face even more turnover along their offensive front; left guard Laken Tomlinson signed with the Jets in free agency, while right tackle Mike McGlinchey was limited to eight games last season as a result of injury. The team added Spencer Burford and Nick Zakelj during the draft, but neither project as options at center at the NFL level.

NFC West Rumors: Samuel, Lynch, Cross, Mack, Rams

49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel helped push the narrative that his relationship with San Francisco was deteriorating in early April when he unfollowed the 49ers and removed all references to the team from his social media. Well, according to Michael David Smith of NBC Sports, Samuel has signaled that things may be trending in a better direction lately.

Smith points out that Samuel refollowed the 49ers on Instagram and liked a post that showed general manager John Lynch saying that the issues between the two parties can be worked out.

Samuel is headed into the final year of his rookie contract and is looking for a nice, new payday. Smith makes a good point that new deals to Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and Stefon Diggs are going to make a new deal for Samuel fairly costly for the 49ers.

Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC West, starting with another note from the Bay Area:

  • Jake Hutchinson, the 49ers beat writer for KNBR, released some quotes from an interview with Lynch. Lynch commented on the progress of the team’s efforts to trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, saying, “I felt we were close in some discussions, and then the decision was made to have surgery and it brought things to a screeching halt.” Lynch continued, “We either want to have Jimmy playing for us, which we’re alright with, or we want him to get the value.”
  • During a press conference with Seahawks general manager and executive vice president John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll after the Draft, ESPN’s Brady Henderson released a video containing some of their thoughts on the No. 9 overall pick, Mississippi State tackle Charles Cross. In it, the two specify that they see Cross on the blindside, playing left tackle. They don’t have concerns about him transitioning from Mike Leach‘s spread offense at Mississippi State due to Cross’s athleticism. They also felt very fortunate to have had Cross fall to them at 9, noting that there were opportunities to move up or down.
  • Matt Barrows of The Athletic wrote an article going over the results of the 49ers’ 2022 Draft. He notes that the two Day 3-additions of UTSA tackle Spencer Burford and Fordham tackle Nick Zakelj both played tackle in college, but project as NFL guards, similar to past draft picks Colton McKivitz and Jaylon Moore. While slightly problematic that none of these linemen specialize at guard or tackle, it’s extremely problematic that none of them have experience at center. With current center Alex Mack sitting at 36 and contemplating retirement, it’s important that San Francisco begins to look at options beyond Mack to play center.
  • In a rundown of the Rams’ 2022 Draft, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic unveiled an interesting rumor about how highly Los Angeles valued their third-round draft pick, Wisconsin guard Logan Bruss. With plenty of time before their selection arrived, the Rams knew Bruss was the player they wanted to target at No. 104 overall. Upon the suggestion of now-retired left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who was in the Rams’ draft room, Los Angeles made a few efforts to move up to select Bruss earlier. Unfortunately for them, the teams they called declined. Fortunately for them, though, Bruss found his way to Southern California despite their inability to move up.

49ers C Alex Mack Mulling Retirement

Alex Mack‘s 49ers contract runs through the 2023 season, but the decorated center has not determined if he wants to play the second season of that three-year pact. Mack is considering retirement, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Both Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are operating like Mack will be back, but as the 49ers begin their offseason program, they face the prospect of losing another offensive line starter. A former first-round Browns pick, Mack returning would mean playing a 14th NFL season. Mack has played 204 career games.

We’ve had really good communication. He’s training like he’s coming back,” Lynch said at the league’s recent owners meetings. “I won’t speak for him, but all signs are him coming back and him being part of us.”

Shanahan brought his former Falcons charge to San Francisco last year, and Mack earned his seventh Pro Bowl nod — albeit as an alternate — after playing all 17 games. The 49ers have right tackle Mike McGlinchey coming off a season-ending injury and will be breaking in a new left guard, after Laken Tomlinson‘s Jets defection. Mack coming back would certainly help the contending team, one set to begin the Trey Lance era after four-plus seasons with Jimmy Garoppolo under center.

Mack surprising the 49ers with a mid-offseason retirement would remind of Joe Staley‘s decision to hang up his cleats in April 2020. The 49ers traded for Trent Williams to patch that hole. A Mack successor could come in the draft, should it be necessary. Center should certainly be a position the 49ers consider with an early- or mid-round pick, given Mack’s hesitancy ahead of his age-37 season.

49ers Sign C Alex Mack

Trent Williams isn’t the only notable lineman headed to San Francisco. Free agent center Alex Mack also agreed to join the 49ers in the wee hours of Wednesday morning (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport).

Mack’s deal is a one-year pact worth $5.5MM, according to Rapoport (on Twitter).

It’s a return to sunny California for the UC Berkeley product. The deal also marks a reunion with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. Mack previously played for Shanahan with the Browns and Falcons. Mack, 36 in November, comes with serious credentials — six Pro Bowls and a track record for durability. He’s played in and started in just about every possible game since 2009, save for his injury-plagued 2014.

The 49ers needed a quality middle-man in the worst way. While Williams turned in a stellar season, the interior line struggled to hold the line. That’s part of the reason why the Niners’ offense sagged and the club needed a new solution in the wake of Weston Richburg‘s retirement. Journeyman Ben Garland was given a chance to start, but the journeyman wound up with an injury of his own.

Mack, who made the NFL’s most recent all-decade team, can officially put pen to paper at 4pm ET today.

Alex Mack Interested In Joining 49ers

Falcons center Alex Mack is 35 now, but it doesn’t sound like retirement is anywhere near his mind. In fact, the impending free agent appears to already be thinking about destinations, and has an interesting one in mind.

Mack called playing for the 49ers “very enticing” when speaking with Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports this past week. Mack specifically singled out Kyle Shanahan, who he played under in 2014 with the Browns and 2016 with the Falcons. “Kyle is an incredible coach,” Mack said. “He’s an incredible coach, great person, strong motivator and runs an offense that is something that I’d know really well and that I performed very well in.”

The interest is clearly there on Mack’s side, and since the 49ers have a lot of uncertainty at center right now, it could be a perfect match. Weston Richburg, San Francisco’s normal starter, missed this entire past season after suffering a devastating knee injury late in the 2019 campaign. He has two years left on his deal but it’s unlikely he’s back at his hefty $8MM+ salaries, and as Maiocco points out the team can save nearly $5MM by cutting him this offseason.

Ben Garland became the 49ers’ starter, but he’s a journeyman who got himself injured as well after just a handful of games. A first-round pick out of Cal back in 2009, Mack is a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro who made the NFL’s all-decade team for the 2010s at center.

Despite his somewhat advanced age he’s been durable, starting 14 games this past year and all 16 in 10 of the previous 11. Mack got five years and $45MM from Atlanta last time he hit free agency and while his next contract won’t be quite as lucrative, he should still command a decent amount of money from the 49ers or any other team.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/13/21

Today’s minor transactions:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

  • Activated off reserve/COVID-19 list: C Alex Mack

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/31/20

Here are the minor moves from 2020’s final day:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: C Alex Mack

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

Extra Points: Bennett, NFLPA, Cap, Kirksey

Although Michael Bennett went through a nomadic late-2010s stretch after the Seahawks traded him in 2018, he remained productive. The veteran defensive lineman has registered 15.5 sacks over the past two seasons and is a free agent for the first time since 2013. Bennett, who signed with the Seahawks in 2013, would like to return to the team to which he’s most linked. Asked if he would want to play for the Seahawks again, the 34-year-old defender said “hard yes.” Bennett, though, has not yet committed to playing a 12th NFL season.

I would love to end my career in Seattle,” Bennett said, via Joe Fann of NBC Sports Northwest. “It’s not up to you, though. It’s up to the team.”

The Seahawks gave Bennett two contracts, including a three-year, $31.5MM extension in 2016. That contract was set to run through 2020, but after the Eagles and Patriots traded him, Bennett and the Cowboys restructured the deal to direct him toward free agency this year. Seattle has most of its pass rushers — including Jadeveon Clowney and Jarran Reed — as impending free agents, so the franchise will have critical decisions to make in the next week and change.

Here is the latest from around the league, moving first to the reconfigured NFLPA:

  • Russell Okung has enjoyed an eventful March, being traded from the Chargers to the Panthers and filing an unfair labor practice charge at the NFLPA staff. As for Okung’s status with the union, he will no longer be part of the NFLPA’s executive committee, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Okung dropped his bid for NFLPA president, throwing support behind Michael Thomas in a race that went to Browns center J.C. Tretter. Both of the players Tretter beat out for the job — Thomas and linebacker Sam Acho — will stay on as executive committee members.
  • Calais Campbell, Malcolm Jenkins and Wesley Woodyard will replace Mark Herzlich, Zak DeOssie and Adam Vinatieri on the executive committee. They will join Tretter, Acho, Thomas, Richard Sherman, Ben Watson, Alex Mack, Lorenzo Alexander and Thomas Morstead on the 11-man committee, the union announced.
  • Rumblings about the salary cap rising to around $230MM by 2021 have surfaced, but the 2020 cap will not move too far from the previously estimated $200MM amount. If the players approve the CBA proposal, the highest the cap would surge to in 2020 would be $206MM, per Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic (subscription required). While the salary ceiling could climb significantly by 2023, if the league’s TV negotiations go well, those spikes will not come until at least 2021.
  • Christian Kirksey may have a chance to land on his feet before free agency. Recently released by the Browns, the veteran linebacker has three visits scheduled, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets. Kirksey’s travel itinerary is not yet known, but the 27-year-old defender’s first visit is scheduled for Wednesday morning.
  • The Texans will take a look at a notable wide receiver soon. They will work out former Broncos rotational cog Jordan Taylor, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. Taylor has not played since the 2017 season. He spent 2018 on the Broncos’ PUP list, and though he caught on with the Vikings last year, the 28-year-old target did not see game action.

NFC Notes: Rams, Donald, Falcons

No surprise here, but Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is expected to miss Sunday’s season opener against Indianapolis as he continues his holdout, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Donald is presently at home with his family on the east coast and the two sides are not close to an agreement.

Holdouts typically do not drag into the regular season, but Donald has less to lose by staying home than other players fighting for a better contract. Le’Veon Bell, in theory, could have tried to drum up leverage by taking his holdout into mid-September, but that would have meant forfeiting game checks on a $12.12MM salary. Donald, meanwhile, is slated to earn only a fraction of that – $3.225MM – in 2017.

While we wait to see how things shake out between Donald and the Rams, let’s take a look at more news from the NFC:

  • The Falcons converted $1MM of center Alex Mack‘s $6.75MM base salary into a signing bonus, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The move creates $750K of cap space for the current season. The Falcons are near the bottom of the league in terms of cap space this year, so every bit of flexibility will help them.
  • Cardinals punter Andy Lee‘s new contract calls for base salaries of $1MM per year in 2017 and 2018, Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM tweets. Arizona is hoping that Lee, 35, will help to turn around one of the league’s poorest punting units from 2016.
  • The Bears auditioned eight players on Wednesday, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune: wide receivers Mario Alford, Montay Crockett, Frankie Hammond, and Darreus Rogers were joined by defensive backs Dante Blackmon, Alex Carter, Brian Dixon, and Damian Swann. While Hammond and Dixon have played in the most NFL games, Carter might the most notable name on the list. A third-round pick of Detroit only two years ago, Carter has been limited by injuries and poor play and has only appeared in one pro contest.
  • The Cardinals worked out running back Darius Victor on Wednesday, according to Herbie Teope of the Times-Picayune (Twitter link), who reports Victor has another audition on Monday for an unidentified team. Victor, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Towson, spent a month on New Orleans’ roster earlier this summer but was waived during final cutdowns. He’s likely a candidate for Arizona’s practice squad.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.

Julio Jones May Need Offseason Surgery; Latest On Alex Mack

Falcons star receiver Julio Jones may need toe surgery this offseason, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. However, even though recovery from such a surgery would take months, it would not be expected to delay his 2017 season.

Julio Jones

Of course, Jones has been battling a toe injury all year, and he missed two games during the regular season as a result. But he still managed to put up 1,409 receiving yards, the second-best total in the league, and six scores. The injury is not expected to impact offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan‘s play-calling in any way during Super Bowl LI.

Per Rapoport, Jones will receive a full evaluation after the Super Bowl, and depending on the source, surgery is either likely or possible. The procedure would fix torn ligaments associated with turf toe.

Jones has dealt with foot injuries in the past, but the present injury is unrelated to his prior ailments. He is also battling a sprained ankle, although that will not require surgery. He has admitted that he is in pain, but he has done his best to downplay it, calling himself “full go” for the Super Bowl even though he was officially listed as a limited participant in practice.

Perhaps even more troubling for the Falcons’ immediate prospects is the fact that starting center Alex Mack will play Super Bowl LI with a fracture in his left fibula that he suffered in the NFC Championship Game. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that, if this were the regular season, Mack could miss six to eight weeks, and while the Falcons are confident Mack will hold up in pass-blocking, they are uncertain whether he will be effective on downfield blocks or whether his leg will even hold up for a full four quarters.

The fracture occurred above the plate that Mack had inserted in his left leg after he broke his fibula in 2014, though Schefter does not mention what the offseason holds for Mack. Mack will join an impressive list of players who played in the Super Bowl despite a similar injury. Jack Youngblood played in Super Bowl XIV with a broken fibula; Charles Woodson played in Super Bowl XXVII after having surgery for a crack in his right fibula a month earlier; and Terrell Owens played in Super Bowl XXXIX with a fractured fibula and torn ligament in his right ankle.