Samuel Womack

NFC West Notes: Cards, 49ers, Van, Hawks

Following the Chiefs’ lead, the Cardinals used a position player as their emergency kicker Sunday. Backup running back Eno Benjamin logged a kickoff for the Cardinals against the Panthers on Sunday. That arrangement, similar to the Chiefs’ usage of safety Justin Reid against the Cards in Week 1, will not persist past Week 4. With Matt Prater battling a right hip injury, the Cardinals worked out multiple kickers Monday.

Rodrigo Blankenship, Matt Ammendola — the Chiefs’ first post-Reid solution to fill in for Harrison Butker — Jose Borregales and Jonathan Garibay auditioned for the Cardinals, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. Blankenship, whom the Colts turned to in their first full season without Adam Vinatieri, missed much of last year with an injury and was removed from his gig after struggling in Week 1 this year. Blankenship worked out for the Jaguars last week. Ammendola lasted two games as the Chiefs’ Butker fill-in, being cut after struggling in Week 3, while Garibay was part of the Cowboys’ kicking competition. The rookie UDFA did not make it out of training camp.

Ahead of Monday’s Rams-49ers matchup, here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • Although the 49ers turned to Jaylon Moore to replace Trent Williams in Week 3, Colton McKivitz will start against the Rams on Monday night. An ankle injury prevented McKivitz from replacing Williams against the Broncos, who pounced after the All-Pro’s exit, but he was the team’s swing tackle throughout the summer. With Williams facing a four- to six-week recovery timetable, McKivitz may have the blindside gig for a bit. The 49ers let 2021 swing tackle Tom Compton sign with the Broncos, but McKivitz — who filled in for Williams in a do-or-die Week 18 tilt in Los Angeles — has been with the team since arriving as a 2020 firth-rounder.
  • The 49ers have made a few changes at the slot cornerback spot over the past several weeks. After Darqueze Dennard entered camp with the job, rookie Samuel Womack supplanted him and led to the 49ers releasing the veteran. Deommodore Lenoir has since replaced Womack, with Kyle Shanahan indicating the 2021 fifth-rounder played ahead of the 2022 fifth-rounder due to superior practice work recently, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Lenoir played 29% of San Francisco’s defensive snaps last season but likely does not have a firm grip on the job over Womack, who impressed during training camp, just yet.
  • Staying on the subject of 49ers corners, Shanahan expressed optimism Jason Verrett would practice this week. Verrett’s practice window opens ahead of Week 5, with the 49ers carrying the injury-prone vet on their reserve/PUP list. Should Verrett prove recovered from his September 2021 ACL tear, Barrows notes a starting job should not be ruled out. Verrett played well as a 49ers starter in 2020, showing form that enticed the team to re-sign him in 2021 and this year. Emmanuel Moseley‘s past in the slot could allow for a transition, forming a Verrett-Mosley-Charvarius Ward trio, if Verrett is healthy.
  • Sean McVay did not seem to expect Van Jefferson to miss a third of the season, but that will happen. The Rams placed Jefferson on IR ahead of their Week 3 game, but McVay is adamant the third-year wideout did not suffer a setback upon returning from arthroscopic knee surgery, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com tweets. Jefferson’s IR move was more about roster construction, and The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue adds (via Twitter) the Rams expect their WR3 to be back when first eligible in Week 8 (following the team’s Week 7 bye).
  • Seahawks cornerback Tre Brown will not be ready to return when first eligible to come off the team’s PUP list. Pete Carroll confirmed the third-year corner remains a few weeks away, via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson (on Twitter). Brown missed last season’s first five games and was down for their final seven, with a Nov. 21 knee injury leading to the latter hiatus. Seattle’s cornerback room has changed considerably since Brown last played; it will be interesting to see what role the 2021 fourth-rounder will play upon returning.

NFC West Rumors: Bosa, McGlinchey, Hawks

It continues to look like the 49ers will wait until 2023 to extend Nick Bosa. The fourth-year defensive end became extension-eligible in January, but unlike 2019 draft classmate Deebo Samuel, Bosa has a fifth-year option for 2023. The 49ers would prefer to wait here, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com, and Bosa has not pressed the issue regarding a 2022 extension. This comes after John Lynch said next year will likely be the window for a Bosa deal, despite the expected $24MM windfall the 49ers are expected to receive when they move Jimmy Garoppolo‘s contract off their payroll — via trade or release — by Week 1. This will not be a DeForest Buckner situation, however. Lynch said this week Bosa will be a long-term 49er.

What I do know, as long as we’re here, Nick Bosa is going to be a part of the Niners and he’s going to get paid handsomely to do so,” Lynch said. “His time is coming, and when it does, he’ll get what he deserves because man, what a special player.”

Bosa will be expected to bridge the gap between Aaron Donald ($31.7MM per year) and the field, with the prospect the NFL has at least two $30MM-AAV defenders by Week 1 2023 looking likely. Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • One of Bosa’s top practice opponents will not be on the field for a bit. The 49ers will hold Mike McGlinchey out of practice for at least this week, Kyle Shanahan said (via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch). McGlinchey, who missed the second half of last season due to a torn quad, experienced knee pain after an eight-snap preseason opener and underwent a PRP procedure. The fifth-year right tackle does not have a timetable for return, making this a must-monitor situation. The 49ers’ offensive line is already set to look considerably different. Alex Mack retired, Laken Tomlinson signed with the Jets and McGlinchey’s 2021 backup — Tom Compton — is now a Bronco. Colton McKivitz, who spent most of 2021 on San Francisco’s practice squad, resides as McGlinchey’s current understudy.
  • Drew Lock missed the Seahawks‘ second preseason game Thursday and remains away from the team. Pete Carroll said the QB trade acquisition is “really sick” with COVID-19, which the team announced he contracted Tuesday. After a solid start (minus a late-game fumble) in Seattle’s preseason opener, Lock is losing ground to Geno Smith by missing time. Smith remains in the lead for the Seahawks’ QB1 post, Eric Williams of Fox Sports writes. This seems like a situation in which both players will start games for the 2022 Seahawks, but Smith remains in pole position to get the Week 1 call.
  • After the 49ers cut Darqueze Dennard, they look set to give their slot cornerback job to rookie Samuel Womack, Branch notes. The fifth-round pick, who had been viewed as behind Dennard in this competition earlier in camp, intercepted two passes in the 49ers’ preseason opener. Charvarius Ward and Emmanuel Moseley are expected to be San Francisco’s outside corners.
  • The Seahawks traded one of their slot options, Ugo Amadi, to the Eagles for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. They may well call on a rookie to man the post as well. Coby Bryant is looking like he will play in the nickel role, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. The Seahawks have not used presumptive outside starters Sidney Jones or Artie Burns during the preseason. Seattle chose Bryant in the fourth round and Tariq Woolen in the fifth; the latter worked as an outside corner in the team’s second preseason tilt Thursday.

CB Rumors: Hill, Sutton, Pats, Colts, Lions

After seeing Troy Hill join the Browns in free agency last year, the Rams entered the 2022 league year eyeing Cleveland’s cornerback decisions. The Rams began discussing the idea of reacquiring Hill in early March, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes, and the team monitored the Browns’ draft to determine if it was a realistic move (subscription required). If the Browns drafted a cornerback on either Day 1 or Day 2, Rodrigue adds the Rams planned to make a move for Hill. Martin Emerson‘s third-round Cleveland arrival led to L.A. brass bringing back the veteran slot cornerback. The Rams, who had lost Darious Williams in free agency, sent a 2023 fifth-rounder to the Browns for Hill. Although Hill spent time in Youngstown, Ohio, growing up, the 30-year-old defender wants to stay with the Rams beyond his current contract — a two-year, $9MM deal that expires after the 2022 season.

Here is the latest from the cornerback scene across the league:

  • Cameron Sutton is going into the final year of his second Steelers contract and, with Joe Haden out of the picture, will go into the season as the team’s top cornerback. Sutton expects to go into the season without a new deal, but the now-Omar Khan-led Steelers have extended three contract-year players — Minkah Fitzpatrick, Chris Boswell, Diontae Johnson — in recent weeks. Sutton has confirmed he and the team have not discussed an extension, via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. The sixth-year corner also is expected to spend most of his time in the slot this season, lining up on the outside in base sets and moving inside — with Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon outside — in sub-packages.
  • The Patriots have primarily used Jonathan Jones as a slot cornerback. His 2019 extension came as a result of slot play, and Pro Football Focus graded him as a top-tier cover man in 2020. But New England has been using Jones on the outside in recent days at camp, Doug Kyed of PFF notes, with third-round rookie Marcus Jones working in the slot. The Pats have been searching for an outside corner alongside Jalen Mills, and the recently unretired Malcolm Butler has yet to seize that gig. Marcus Jones is also viewed as the likely Pats punt returner, per Kyed.
  • Will Harris has worked as a safety during his first three seasons, but the fourth-year Lions defender is now battling former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah for an outside cornerback spot, Eric Woodyard of ESPN.com notes. Harris started all 17 games for the Lions last season, but in addition to re-signing Tracy Walker, Detroit added ex-Baltimore safety DeShon Elliott. Okudah losing this competition would be a massive disappointment, given his draft slot, but ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler adds the Ohio State product is not being restricted by his 2021 Achilles rupture and is firmly in the Lions’ plans. Detroit’s first “unofficial” depth chart has Harris ahead of Okudah, alongside corners Amani Oruwariye and slot A.J. Parker.
  • The Colts may be ready to declare a winner in the battle to determine their third primary cornerback. Veteran addition Brandon Facyson is likely to play alongside Kenny Moore and Stephon Gilmore, Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star notes. Facyson, a Gus Bradley-system vet who has been with the new Colts DC with the Chargers and Raiders, appears to be beating out 2020 sixth-round pick Isaiah Rodgers. Largely a backup before starting nine Raiders games last year, Facyson signed a one-year, $3.84MM deal this offseason.
  • Darqueze Dennard spent 2021 with four teams — the Cardinals, Colts, Giants and 49ers — and played in just two games. But the 49ers, with K’Waun Williams now a Bronco, have Dennard in pole position to be their slot corner, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes. A former first-round pick, Dennard spent years as the Bengals’ primary slot. The 31-year-old defender is attempting to fend off rookies Samuel Womack and Qwuantrezz Knight.

NFC West Rumors: 49ers, Cardinals, Metcalf

Not long ago, we wrote about the 49ers’ cornerback depth chart, claiming Charvarius Ward and Emmanuel Moseley were the starting outside corners this spring with Darqueze Dennard and rookie fifth-round pick Samuel Womack competing for the the starting nickel cornerback job, while second-year defender Ambry Thomas slots in as the No. 3 corner on the outside.

A slight alternative to the starting scenarios was proposed earlier this week by Cam Inman of The San Jose Mercury News. He agrees that Dennard and Womack seem to be going head-to-head for the nickel-back role, but posits that, should neither cornerback seize the starting opportunity, San Francisco could formulate a rotation that would see Moseley shift inside and Thomas come in to cover the outside.

If Dennard and Womack can’t convince the coaches that they’re more valuable to have on the field than Thomas, the above situation could unfold. It makes sense that the 49ers would want the best three defenders on the field and could utilize other cornerback combinations to take advantage of specific matchups.

Here are a couple of other rumors from out of the NFC West, starting with a note out of Glendale:

  • A little over two weeks ago, the Cardinals signed two former Chiefs’ defenders in cornerback Josh Jackson and linebacker Ben Niemann. The two have had diametrically contradicting career paths with the former second-round pick, Jackson, slowly falling into obscurity while the former undrafted free agent, Niemann has earned more and more responsibility each year he’s been in the league. Both of their contracts, though, will be worth the league minimum, according to Sports Illustrated’s Howard Balzer. While that’s a hard pill to swallow for Jackson after the high expectations that came with his draft position, Niemann is likely grateful to be heading into his fifth year of NFL football for the second team to give him an opportunity after initially going undrafted.
  • Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf has been pushing the organization for a new contract lately. The 24-year-old is set to head into the last year of his rookie contract and, while he does want to get paid, he’s also providing the Seahawks a head start on the rest of the league on what would be his eventual free agency. While Metcalf is looking at recent deals like that of his former college teammate, A.J. Brown, the absolute floor of Metcalf’s hypothetical extension was set this week when the Commanders extended star receiver Terry McLaurin, Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus writes. Kyed justifies the opinion, saying that, while PFF grades Metcalf slightly lower than McLaurin, Metcalf is over two years younger and has produced at a slightly higher level than McLaurin over their first three years in the league. Whether or not Metcalf undoubtedly deserves more than McLaurin, McLaurin’s new deal sets an intriguing bar as extension talks continue in Seattle.

49ers Sign Entire 9-Man Draft Class

In the middle of their second week of OTAs, the 49ers managed to sign all their draft picks in a day. Each of San Francisco’s nine draftees agreed to terms on their four-year rookie contracts Thursday.

Because no first-rounders were part of this class, because of the 49ers’ Trey Lance trade-up, none of this group has a fifth-year option in his contract. While second- and third-rounders’ deals occasionally cause issues, this year being a moderately interesting one for Round 2 choices due to guaranteed years, each of the three 49ers Day 2 choices is locked in.

The 49ers began their draft by taking USC edge rusher Drake Jackson at No. 61 overall. Jackson, who recorded 12.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss in three Trojans seasons, will be expected to play at least a rotational role for the 49ers this year. Jackson received $3.14MM of his $5.8MM slot deal guaranteed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

San Francisco’s Dee Ford bet largely did not pay off. Ford is expected to be released soon. The team brought back Kerry Hyder, after his one-and-done Seattle tenure, and signed ex-Colts second-rounder Kemoko Turay. Ex-Ram Samson Ebukam also remains on the 49ers’ roster, after signing last year. But Jackson will certainly be expected to be part of the 49ers’ Nick Bosa-fronted edge mix as a rookie.

San Francisco added third-round skill-position players Tyrion Davis-Price (No. 93) and Danny Gray (No. 105) as well. Davis-Price, a 211-pound LSU-produced running back, joins 2021 third-rounder Trey Sermon, starter Elijah Mitchell and veteran Jeff Wilson in San Francisco’s crowded-looking backfield. Davis-Price left LSU after his junior season — a 1,003-yard slate. A 5-foot-11 wideout, Gray played a prominent role in SMU’s pass-happy offense. A former Texas 3A 100-meter champion while in high school, Gray caught 49 passes for 803 yards and nine touchdowns as an SMU senior.

Here are the draft picks the 49ers are set to take into minicamp and training camp:

Round 2: No. 61 Drake Jackson, DE (USC) (signed)
Round 3: No. 93 Tyrion Davis-Price, RB (LSU) (signed)
Round 3: No. 105 Danny Gray, WR (SMU) (signed)
Round 4: No. 134 Spencer Burford, OL (Texas-San Antonio) (signed)
Round 5: No. 172 Samuel Womack, CB (Toledo) (signed)
Round 6: No. 187 (from Broncos) Nick Zakelj, OT (Fordham) (signed)
Round 6: No. 220 Kalia Davis, DT (Central Florida) (signed)
Round 6: No. 221 Tariq Castro-Fields, CB (Penn State) (signed)
Round 7: No. 262 Brock Purdy, QB (Iowa State) (signed)