49ers Rumors

Examining The 49ers' Backfield

  • If the 49ers add another running back this offseason, they’ll suddenly be staring at a crowded backfield, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. San Francisco thought it had found its No. 1 back last spring, when it signed Jerick McKinnon to a four-year, $30MM pact that contained nearly $12MM in guaranteed money. McKinnon tore his ACL before the 2018 campaign began, but Matt Breida performed well in his absence. Meanwhile, backup RB and special teams ace Raheem Mostert will be tendered as a restricted free agent and could even earn an extension. For what it’s worth, the 49ers could conceivably release McKinnon, and designating him as a post-June 1 cut would make the move financially palatable.

Latest On Raiders’ Oakland Discussions

The Raiders have missed the NFL’s Super Bowl LIII deadline for resolving their 2019 stadium situation, but they may be closing in on finalizing this saga.

The likelihood that, after all of the talk of a move elsewhere following Oakland’s lawsuit, the Raiders will play in Oakland has increased. More discussions are on tap next week, with a near-future resolution in sight.

We’ll talk against next week. Again, this will come to a conclusion one way or another in the next week or so,” Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority Board executive director Scott McKibben said, via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. “It’s fair to say that discussions have been meaningful and productive and, after the update with our board, things are progressing.”

Oakland and the Raiders had been discussing a $7.5MM lease for 2019, the franchise’s final lame-duck season before its Las Vegas move. Although the Raiders previously walked away from that deal after the city’s lawsuit, playing at the Coliseum for the $7.5MM amount is back on the table.

It appears the prospect of the Raiders playing at the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park home has been scuttled. The 49ers refused to waive their territorial rights. Although, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes NFL bylaws indicate the league’s 30 non-Bay Area owners could supersede the 49ers in this case, that is not expected. Normally, relocations require a two-thirds majority vote; in this case, all 30 other teams would have to approve of the Raiders playing in San Francisco. A precedent of teams moving into markets already housing other teams is not one the NFL wants, per Maiocco.

Additionally, the seven opponents set to face the Raiders in the Bay Area may well have objected to sharing a sideline with the Raiders on game day, Maiocco adds. That would have been the case at Oracle Park.

NFL Settles With Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid

The NFL has reached a settlement agreement with Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid regarding their grievances, according to a joint statement from their attorney and the league: 

[RELATED: AAF Reached Out To Kaepernick, Tebow]

“For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL. As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances. The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.”

Kaepernick and Reid accused NFL teams of colluding in order to keep them out of work. Reid eventually found a home with the Panthers in 2018, but Kaepernick has been out of football since the 2016 season. To some, the settlement agreement may signal the NFL’s unwillingness to disclose information that would give credence to allegations from the former 49ers. It’s also possible that both sides reached a compromise after taking a full assessment of the resources that would be needed for litigation.

In recent weeks, Kaepernick’s camp rebuffed NFL settlement attempts, but it appears that the NFL upped its offer to a satisfactory point. It remains to be seen whether the deal will pave the way for Kaepernick to return to the NFL, but Reid has a home thanks to his recent three-year, $22MM+ extension with the Panthers.

The NFLPA also issued a statement on the matter:

Today, we were informed by the NFL of the settlement of the Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid collusion cases. We are not privy to the details of the settlement, but support the decision by the players and their counsel. We continuously supported Colin and Eric from the start of their protests, participated with their lawyers throughout their legal proceedings and were prepared to participate in the upcoming trial in pursuit of both truth and justice for what we believe the NFL and its clubs did to them. We are glad that Eric has earned a job and a new contract, and we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well.”

Kaepernick, 31 in November, has spent his entire NFL career to date with the 49ers. From 2011-2016, he went 28-30 in his starts, though he did take the team to the Super Bowl following the 2012 season and the NFC championship game following the 2013 campaign. Kaepernick’s last start came in January of 2017 as the 49ers closed out a trying season with a loss to the Seahawks.

Since then, clubs have shunned the QB following his national anthem demonstrations. Kaepernick has not played at an elite level in several years, but, from a talent perspective, he is unquestionably deserving of a roster spot given the dearth of quality QB options on the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers To Part Ways With Pierre Garcon

The 49ers will not pick up their option on wide receiver Pierre Garcon, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). The move terminates his five-year, $47.5MM contract just two years into the deal. 

Despite Garcon’s past accomplishments, his release does not come as a total surprise. Last year, he played in just eight games and finished out with just 24 catches for 286 yards and one touchdown. In 2016, the season before he signed with the Niners, Garcon put up 79 catches for 1,041 yards and three touchdowns, which is the kind of production SF expected.

Unfortunately, injuries slowed Garcon during his time in SF, limiting him to just eight games in each of the last two years. But, in 2017, Garcon showed promise with a 40/500 line that had him on pace for a very solid season.

Garcon will enter a thin free agent WR market, which could enable him to land a solid deal. However, with his 33rd birthday coming up in August, he’ll have to brace for a lesser salary and a shorter deal than his last pact.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Release OL Garry Gilliam

The 49ers have released offensive lineman Garry Gilliam, according to a team announcement. The move will save the club $5MM in cap space. 

We would like to thank Garry for his contributions to the team the last two seasons,” 49ers GM John Lynch said in a statement. “He filled in admirably when called upon and was a consummate teammate. We wish him and his family all the best.”

Gilliam came to the Niners in April of 2017 and went on to appear in 24 games over the past two seasons. He started in only one of those contests, so a $5MM salary for 2019 was pretty much untenable for SF brass. He’ll now hit free agency once again, but he’s unlikely to match his would-be 2019 paycheck.

On the plus side, Gilliam now gets an early jump at free agency, rather than waiting until March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Unlikely To Get First-Round Pick For Antonio Brown?

Steelers star wideout Antonio Brown tweeted a farewell to Pittsburgh fans today, which once again worked the football world into a frenzy. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, though, says that outside of the tweet, there have been no major developments in this saga (video link). Indeed, a report earlier this month indicated that Brown had reiterated his prior trade demand, and the substance of that report remains valid. Brown’s camp has not gone back to the Steelers to yet again reaffirm his desire for a fresh start, and the Steelers have still not given Brown and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, permission to seek a trade on their own.

But Brown’s goodbye certainly seems to suggest that there is no going back now, and that Pittsburgh will end up trading him and giving him the fresh start he is seeking (although Rapoport is clear that the Steelers continue to hold all the cards and do not have to cede to Brown’s demands). But assuming the Steelers do end up moving him, what can they expect in return?

The team understandably wants to net at least a first-round draft pick in any Brown trade, but in a separate interview, Rapoport suggests that a second-round pick may be more plausible (video link). After all, the acquiring team would probably need to give Brown a new contract, which will surely be an expensive proposition, and his alleged involvement in a domestic dispute — not to mention the fact that he does not look like a positive clubhouse presence at the moment — could impact the Steelers’ return.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, who describes Brown’s deteriorating relationship with the Steelers in excellent detail, also said Pittsburgh may have to settle for a second- or third-round selection (or even a fourth-rounder, depending on the results of the league’s investigation into the domestic dispute).

Veteran NFL reporter Ed Werder believes the Steelers — assuming they have comparable offers from multiple clubs on the table — will deal Brown to the team that he is least likely to succeed with and that cannot hurt the Steelers, which would be reminiscent of what the Packers did when they traded Brett Favre to the Jets (Twitter link). At the very least, Pittsburgh wants to ship Brown to the NFC, and NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco says that the 49ers — who are apparently Brown’s preferred destination — have internally discussed the idea of acquiring him.

But Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggests (via Twitter) that Brown has not done himself any favors by saying he wants a new deal if traded. As indicated above, his contract demands could scare some teams away, as part of the appeal in trading for Brown is his cap-friendly deal.

One way or another, we should have a resolution by March 17, when Brown is due a $2.5MM roster bonus. If he is still on the Steelers’ roster on March 18, then he is likely to still be on it come Week 1.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers To Add Philadelphia Flyers Assistant

  • An NHL assistant will make a move to the 49ers‘ staff. They are hiring Philadelphia Flyers sports science director Ben Peterson to oversee their medical and training staffs, Matt Barrows of The Athletic reports (subscription required). This is a new position Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch conjured up, with Barrows noting the rash of injuries the 49ers endured the past two seasons prompted the unorthodox move. While Peterson’s position has not been announced, his primary role is to ensure better cohesion exists between the 49ers’ medical and training staffs, Barrows adds. The 49ers have been using sports science since the Chip Kelly regime, and Peterson’s arrival will surely increase the franchise’s investment in this area.

49ers Hire Miles Austin

Former NFL wide receiver Miles Austin is joining the 49ers as an offensive quality control coach, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. Austin, 34, spent the majority of his playing career with the Cowboys and then joined the Dallas scouting staff after announcing his retirement in 2016. The Cowboys interviewed Austin for their vacant wide receivers job last offseason, but that gig ultimately went to Sanjay Lal. Austin will join recent retirees Wes Welker (receivers) and DeMeco Ryans (inside linebackers) on the San Francisco staff.

Raiders Rumors: Oakland, SF, Carr, Cook

An offer for the Raiders to play in Oakland in exchange for $7.5MM in rent remains on the table, as Michael Gehlken of the Review-Journal writes. The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is willing to honor the agreement, despite the fact that the city of Oakland has filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NFL.

We have always wanted them to come back and play the last season here,” McKibben said Tuesday. “Keep in mind the Coliseum Authority that I work for and represent is not in this lawsuit. The lawsuit has been filed by the city of Oakland. The role that I have taken is I’ve got a lot of jobs to save for a season or two. We would love to see them play here for the fans and the sponsors and the media exposure and all the various constituents that are impacted by this.”

Here’s more out of Oakland:

  • The 49ers are still not expected to waive their territorial rights for the Raiders to play in San Francisco, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). On top of that, the mayor of San Francisco has come out against the Raiders playing at Oracle Park, which makes SF even more unlikely. At this point, it’ll be either Oakland or Levi’s Stadium for the Raiders, Rapoport hears.
  • Derek Carr’s $19.9MM base salary for 2019 became fully guaranteed on Wednesday, as Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes. The Raiders could explore other QB options this offseason, but a Carr release is not a real possibility anymore.
  • Jared Cook is unlikely to return to the Raiders, Vic Tafur of The Athletic opines. Coach Jon Gruden indicated that Cook was in the team’s plans at the Super Bowl, but Tafur believes that he likes tight ends Darren Waller, Lee Smith, Derek Carrier and practice squad TE Paul Butler enough to let Cook go elsewhere in free agency. Talent-wise, the Raiders might like to have Cook back, but he should find a competitive market in March. Cook was named to the Pro Bowl as an alternate after he hauled in a career-high 68 catches for 896 yards and six TDs.

Latest On Raiders, San Francisco

The prospect of the Raiders playing at the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park has produced some notable reactions, none of which pointing to a solution having been reached yet.

The Raiders remain without a 2019 home, and now San Francisco mayor London Breed came out against another team playing in the city. She has also directly informed the Giants about her view on this matter, according to Lisa Fernandez of KTVU.

As far as I’m concerned, the Oakland Raiders should play in Oakland,” Breed said. “We don’t need another layer to add to what we already have — and that’s an area that’s really congested filled with construction and will host a number of basketball and baseball games over the coming months.”

In addition to the Giants, the Golden State Warriors’ new arena, Chase Center, is scheduled to become a San Francisco sports site this year. Breed’s stance further complicates Raiders plans of potentially playing at Oracle Park. They entered into discussions with the Giants about this in December, but hurdles — from logistics, to league approval, to the 49ers’ San Francisco territorial rights — remain.

The NFL prefers the team share Levi’s Stadium, a site that could accommodate two teams, with the 49ers. This is the hopeful outcome of the NFC’s Bay Area team as well, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Raiders have discussed this option, but Mark Davis has thus far balked at being a one-year tenant at the 49ers’ stadium, per Albert Breer of SI.com.

No deal between the Raiders and Oracle Park has been finalized, but negotiations appear to have picked back up. However, considering the obstacles impeding this move, Davis might have to settle on one of the two traditional Bay Area NFL sites. A path back to Oakland for one more pre-Las Vegas season remains possible, but nothing significant has transpired between the Raiders and the city that is suing them in recent weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.