49ers Rumors

NFC West Notes: Rams, Ramsey, Seahawks, 49ers

On Tuesday, Rams star Jalen Ramsey confirmed that he won’t hold out this year if he doesn’t get the new deal that he’s seeking. Meanwhile, head coach Sean McVay tells reporters that he has every intention of keeping the standout cornerback for the long haul.

We went and got this guy with the hope that it’s not a short-time thing,” McVay said (Twitter link via Andrew Siciliano of NFL.com). “I sure hope he’s not leaving.”

McVay went on to say that he sees Ramsey as the type of player who can reset the market as his position (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Jordan Rodrigue). Currently, Darius Slay is the leader in the CB clubhouse with an average annual value of $16.7MM. As McVay suggests, Ramsey’s AAV could easily exceed $17MM, even though he was less-than-stellar in his half-season with L.A.

Here’s more out of the NFC West:

  • Speaking of Ramsey, new Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley intends to move him around this year by giving him some reps in the slot and possibly at safety (via Rodrigue). “He’s got command of all the positions in the defensive backfield,” Staley said. “You know, I do not look at him just as a corner. I look at him as a (defensive back). This guy can do anything. He thinks like a quarterback.”
  • Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times would be surprised if the Seahawks didn’t add a veteran lineman or two before the start of the season. As it stands, the Seahawks are set to trot out a defensive end rotation of Rasheem Green/Benson Mayowa/rookie Darrell Taylor plus Poona Ford and Jarran Reed on the interior. The defensive end group, in particular, could use some reinforcements. With Quinton Jefferson in Buffalo and Jadeveon Clowney unlikely to be re-signed, GM John Schneider will probably be scanning the market for the next few months. On the plus side, the return of Bruce Irvin should help in the edge rushing department, but Pete Carroll has him listed as a linebacker.
  • The 49ers might not have world-class depth in their secondary group, but Matt Barrows of The Athletic isn’t overly concerned with how the depth chart looks behind Richard Sherman, Jaquiski Tartt, Jimmie Ward, and the rest of the starters. However, if they do look to make an upgrade in that area, strong safety could be worth a look. As it stands, Marcell Harris is the only backup who has previous experience in SF’s scheme.
  • The Cardinals are keeping an eye on former Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen. He’s provide experience to Arizona’s young DE group, not to mention an impressive track record of getting to the quarterback. The 32-year-old has 74.5 career sacks to his credit.

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Kittle, Seahawks

The 49ers already know that they want to keep George Kittle for the long haul, but they also know that it won’t come cheap. Kittle is on course to become the league’s highest-paid tight end of all-time. As Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com explains, Kittle’s value goes beyond the gaudy yardage and touchdown totals.

In Kittle’s 14 games last year, the Niners averaged 4.83 yards per carry and tallied 23 TDs on the ground. Without him? They averaged just 2.63 yards per carry with zero rushing scores.

What’s amazing about him is what he does in the running game,” former NFL GM Mike Tannenbaum said. “He’s a dominant blocker and he’s been dynamic in the passing game. He’s a rare weapon that I think is more valuable than just a regular tight end because he can block so effectively.”

Then, of course, there are the obvious drivers behind Kittle’s value. Since 2017, Kittle has amassed 2,945 receiving yards, the most of any TE inside of their first three pro campaigns. in NFL history. And, in the past two seasons, he’s totaled 1,464 yards after the catch, good for No. 2 in the league.

It’s pretty much a given that Kittle will top Hunter Henry‘s $10.6MM average annual value, as well as Austin Hooper‘s four-year, $42MM watermark for the largest total contract among TEs. How much further will it go? Wagoner expects Kittle and the Niners to settle for a four-year deal in the range of $68MM-$72MM with roughly $40MM in guarantees.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

NFL Lists Colin Kaepernick As Retired, Changes Him Back To Free Agent

This week, the NFL redesigned its website and designated Colin Kaepernick as “retired” on his player page. Kaepernick’s girlfriend Nessa took notice and at-mentioned the league in a tweet on Friday. But, on Saturday morning, the league updated Kaep’s page to show that he is a UFA (an unrestricted free agent).

[RELATED: Checking In On Eric Reid]

Kaepernick did not retire from professional football, but it’s hard to see him getting another opportunity in the NFL at this point. The quarterback will turn 33 in November and he hasn’t played in more than three years – his last live snap was on January 1, 2017.

Late last year, the league organized an open workout for Kaepernick, which took the entire football world by surprise. The planned audition caught Kaepernick off-guard, too – they didn’t give much notice to the longtime 49ers star, and he responded by no-showing the showcase at the Falcons’ facility and holding his own personal combine at a different location in Georgia. The NFL’s original workout reportedly would have seen executives from 25 teams in attendance. At the new location, attendance was sparse.

Afterwards, Kaepernick’s camp sent footage of the workout to all 32 teams. There were no bites, and it’s hard to imagine that his chances of landing a deal have improved. Still, Kaepernick says he wants to return to the NFL.

My desire to play football is still there,” Kaepernick said in February. “I still train five days a week. I’m ready to go, I’m ready for a phone call, tryout, workout at any point in time. I’m still waiting on the owners and their partners to stop running from this situation. So I hope I get a call this offseason. I’ll be looking forward to it.

In the meantime, Kaepernick says he will continue his initiatives for social justice. Later this year, he’ll release a memoir in conjunction with Audible.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Joe Staley To Count $2MM Against The Cap In 2020

  • Retired 49ers offensive lineman Joe Staley will count $2MM against the cap next season, observes Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. The veteran was set to earn more than $10MM in salary and bonuses before the 49ers released him with an injury settlement. Staley will get $1MM via that transaction, and he’ll receive another $1MM stemming from the contract extension he signed last offseason.

Latest On Jerick McKinnon’s Recovery

After not seeing a snap of regular season action in either of his first two years with the 49ers, running back Jerick McKinnon was rumored as a potential cap casualty a few months ago. But in March, he agreed to a pay cut to stay with the club, and now that San Francisco has traded Matt Breida to the Dolphins, McKinnon once again has a good opportunity to be a major contributor in the Niners’ offense.

It appears as if 2019 breakout performer Raheem Mostert will head up the team’s RB depth chart, with Tevin Coleman and Jeff Wilson also in the mix. But McKinnon’s abilities as a receiver out of the backfield and his precise route-running — which prompted head coach Kyle Shanahan to push for him in the 2018 offseason — would be a welcome addition to the 49ers’ attack, and the team is cautiously optimistic that he can finally make an impact.

“We’re pulling for Jerick and it would be huge for us because we had a clear vision of what he could bring to us,” GM John Lynch recently said on the 49ers Insider Podcast (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area). “We thought he’d be excellent in terms of (being a receiver) — really, a tough guy to match up with in space. And our (coaches) are really good about putting our guys in space. So that would be tremendous for us.”

McKinnon tore his ACL prior to the 2018 season, and Maiocco says McKinnon was shelved for the 2019 campaign because the ACL graft did not fill back in as hoped. Instead, “Jet” needed to go under the knife again to pack the ACL graft with bone marrow from his hip.

The 28-year-old is reportedly making good progress in his recovery, but Lynch is tempering his expectations for the time being.

“I think there’s always that critical last juncture of a rehab where you go from running straight ahead and even trying to simulate some of the cutting that goes on at (running back), specifically,” Lynch said. “Then, you go play football and it becomes much more reactive. And that’s where he struggled. He’s continued to put in work. There are some positive signs that we’re on a better track.”

Of course, no one knows if training camp will unfold as normal this year, so we may not be able to accurately gauge McKinnon’s status until closer to September. But if he can perform anywhere close to the level the 49ers were hoping for when they signed him to a lucrative free agent deal, the defending NFC champs will be that much harder to beat.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On 49ers' DeForest Buckner Trade

With DeForest Buckner‘s asking price starting at $20MM per year, the 49ers gave the Pro Bowl defensive tackle’s agent permission to seek a trade at the Combine, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Lynch told Joel Segal, Buckner’s agent, that the four-year San Francisco starter had earned a megadeal. But in order for the 49ers to sign off on a trade, a first-round pick had to be involved. Segal found a taker in the Colts before the Combine’s conclusion.

The 49ers opted to extend Arik Armstead at $17MM per year, instead trading Buckner to the Colts and drafting defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw 14th overall. Buckner signed a $21MM-AAV deal with Indianapolis. Here is more from San Francisco as well as some news from the AFC West:

  • Lynch called Ron Rivera before the draft, hoping to finalize a Trent Williams trade before the virtual event began, Breer adds. The Redskins HC informed the 49ers GM “too much interest” was coming Washington’s way for the long-disgruntled tackle to have a trade done before the draft. While the 49ers rated Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs rated “incredibly high,” they preferred Kinlaw in an effort to keep their defensive line as one of the NFL’s deepest position groups. Allowing the Buccaneers to draft Wirfs at No. 13, via one-slot trade-down, preceded the 49ers winning the Williams sweepstakes. Rivera called Lynch Saturday morning to inform that San Francisco’s Friday offer of third- and fifth-round picks was enough to close a deal, according to the 49ers GM.

Joe Staley Addresses Retirement Decision

Joe Staley said during the 49ers’ playoff run he was not considering retirement, but a March report indicated he had opened the door to walking away after 13 seasons. The 49ers now have Trent Williams installed as their left tackle.

Williams’ predecessor confirmed injuries forced him to retire. Staley received more information about his injuries this offseason, leading the six-time Pro Bowler to walk away after playing in a second Super Bowl. During a recent interview with Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan, Staley said he is dealing with herniated disks and spinal stenosis.

It was a bunch of stingers,” Staley said on Lewan’s Bussin’ With the Boys podcast (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle). “… It got to the point where in the Super Bowl, I’d make contact with my head with anybody (and) I’d have — from the base of my head down to my back — I’d have just a zing and my arms would go numb. I had herniations at a bunch of different levels and really severe stenosis.”

Staley suffered a broken fibula and a fracture finger in 2019, limiting him to a career-low seven games. But he was on the field for San Francisco’s three playoff tilts. However, he was battling more discomfort than what was previously reported. He met with several doctors this offseason, indicating a visit with Los Angeles-based spine specialist Dr. Robert Watkins provided extensive clarity on the risk he would take by returning for a 14th season.

[Watkins] “was like, ‘If you’re going to continue to play football, you’re probably going to have to have fusion surgery on multiple levels,’” Staley said. “I was like, ‘I’m 35. I’ve got kids. I don’t want to not be able to turn my neck for the rest of my life.’

When I went and saw these doctors, I realized how serious it was. They were like, ‘If you continue to play, you’re going to really do some long-term damage.”

Staley started 181 games for the 49ers. That ranks fifth in team history, and his Week 17 start against the Seahawks moved him past Randy Cross for the most by an offensive lineman in franchise history. Staley did miss time for various injuries, missing seven games during the 2009 and ’10 seasons and sitting out three in 2016.

He also signed a through-2021 extension last June. Ten months later, the 49ers turned to Williams and will hope he can shake the various health issues that have dogged him in recent years. Williams has not played 16 games in a season since 2013.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Looking For Backup Tight End

Clay Matthews will file a grievance against the Rams over more than $2MM in unpaid guarantees, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Todd Gurley, however, will not submit one, per ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure. Gurley is owed a $7.55MM roster bonus, though offset language from his Falcons deal can reduce that to nearly $5.05MM, per McClure. The Rams, who released both players in March, said each player will receive his respective bonus payment. But the team believes neither payment is due for some time. Matthews’ two-year Rams deal included a $5.5MM guarantee, and Fowler adds that his contract contained $2MM in offset language. That would explain the reason for the delay. The Rams are likely waiting to see if another team will end up signing the veteran pass rusher. That would save the Rams the $2MM.

  • Although the 49ers drafted Georgia tight end Charlie Woerner in the sixth round, he projects as more of a blocking tight end. The team is looking to add a receiving tight end to play behind George Kittle, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes (subscription required). UDFA Ross Dwelley filled in for Kittle while he missed time due to injury last season, but the ex-San Diego Torero averaged just 6.1 yards per reception on 15 grabs. The top free agent available is former 49er Delanie Walker, but the Titans released him after two injury-marred seasons. Jordan Reed, who played under Kyle Shanahan with the Redskins in 2013, may be a name to monitor as well. But Reed has dealt with numerous injuries during his career.
  • With the 49ers trading Matt Breida, their backfield group looks clearer. Once rumored as a trade candidate, Tevin Coleman now appears a lock to be back with the 49ers in 2020, Barrows adds. Coleman and special-teamer-turned-breakout back Raheem Mostert are almost certain to return, with the 49ers still rostering Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson. McKinnon will be the obvious wild card, given that he’s missed two full seasons.