- The Broncos have been heavily tied to quarterback’s heading into this week’s draft. Helping pick that signal-caller, if they do indeed go that route, is new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, who learned how to pick the position from 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran writes. “Kyle had a lot of success (evaluating quarterbacks) and (he) showed me some things that I use in the evaluation process,” Scangarello said. “It’s a tough position to evaluate. You just get them in (the meeting room) and you try and find out what you can about them.” Denver has been linked with Drew Lock, but Daniel Jones, Murray and Dwayne Haskins could all fit the bill at No. 10 if everything falls right.
- The 49ers have been heavily tied to either Bosa or Williams with the No. 2 pick on Thursday, but the team is looking to the skill positions for their Round 2 pick, NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco writes. At the top of the list is wide receiver, where they are looking to find a starter-level pass catcher to complement second-year wideout Dante Pettis and veteran Marquise Goodwin. Maiocco notes the receivers who have been in for a visit include Harry, A.J. Brown, Hakeem Butler, Jalen Hurd and Deebo Samuel.
Joe Staley has had an accomplished career. The offensive tackle has made six Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams during his 12 seasons in the league, all with the 49ers. Staley, 34, is heading into his 13th year in the league, and is apparently undecided about a 14th year.
Staley, who is heading into the final year of his contract, hasn’t had any conversations with 49ers brass about a new deal and hasn’t decided about playing beyond this year, according to Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee. The longest-tenured member of the 49ers, Staley got a pay raise from the team last April in a gesture of good will.
“I still love the game, still feel like I can play at a high level. Still feel like I’m valued on the football team. I know it’s my last year under contract, but I’m not worried about that. I’m just going to go out there and try and do everything I can to help us win games with this team,” Staley said.
In Biderman’s piece, Staley also talks about mentoring fellow offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, the 49ers’ first round pick last year. Staley referred to McGlinchey, the ninth overall pick in the 2018 draft, as his “little brother”, which is surely a welcome sign for 49ers fans. San Francisco went through a chaotic period a few years ago, changing coaches seemingly every season, before things finally settled down with Kyle Shanahan. Last year, Staley revealed for the first time that he considered retirement amidst all the dysfunction in the organization.
Staley had another strong season last year, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ sixth-best tackle in the NFL, so the 49ers would surely welcome him back if he wants to play in 2020. For now though, San Francisco needs Staley to help keep Jimmy Garoppolo upright. Garoppolo is coming off a torn ACL, and the 49ers need him to stay healthy if they want to be competitive in 2019.
A first round pick all the way back in 2007, Staley is a 49ers legend and is of massive importance to the team. He’s set to make just over $8MM in 2019, which is a steal for the team. Given that he’s considered it in the past, retirement seems like a real possibility following this season.
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49ers scout Reggie Cobb died Saturday morning of an apparent heart attack, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. He was 50. Cobb had been with the 49ers for more than 10 years.
Following a lengthy NFL career as a running back, Cobb entered the scouting profession. He broke into the field as a Redskins scout in 2001 and joined the Buccaneers — the team that drafted him in 1990 — after two years in Washington. Cobb found his way to San Francisco after working as a southwest-area scout for the Bucs.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance honored Cobb as its 2011 NFC scout of the year. Cobb served as a San Francisco scout under the Scot McCloughan, Trent Baalke and John Lynch GM regimes. Lynch and Cobb were Bucs teammates during the 1993 season. This was Cobb’s 11th year with the 49ers.
“We are devastated by the sudden loss of a tremendous teammate and loyal friend, Reggie Cobb,” Lynch said in a statement. “Reggie was an enthusiastic and passionate person who had a special ability to brighten up a room with his personality and infectious smile. For 10 years, the 49ers were better because of Reggie and these unique qualities that he possessed. He was a top-notch scout and an exemplary man whose years of service to this organization and the National Football League will not be forgotten.”
A second-round pick out of Tennessee, Cobb enjoyed a four-season run as the Bucs’ starter. In 1992, he rushed for a career-high 1,171 yards and nine touchdowns. He signed with the Packers in 1994 and spent a year as their starter, wrapping up his career — which included 3,743 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns — after playing the 1995 season with the expansion Jaguars and the 1996 campaign with the Jets.
Assuming the Cardinals select quarterback Kyler Murray with the first-overall pick, it’s expected that the 49ers would subsequently take Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa with the second-overall pick. However, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes that this perception could be the 49ers’ way of throwing rival teams off their trail.
Florio says that “some in league circles believe that the extent to which the 49ers are allowing that perception to exist unchallenged could mean, in reality, that the 49ers are planning to do something else.” If this is truly the case, and the 49ers aren’t 100-percent focused on selecting Bosa with the second pick, then this could vicariously lead to a pair of draft scenarios.
For starters, the 49ers could simply be eying Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. If the organization is looking for an Aaron Donald-type player who they could easily throw in to the interior of their defensive line, then Williams would seemingly be the perfect choice. Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily explain why the 49ers aren’t doing anything to decrease the Bosa-to-San Francisco talk. If the team intends to take Williams with the second pick, they could just publicly refute the Bosa rumors. On the flip side, perhaps they’re keeping their mouths shut until they get clarity on Arizona’s pick.
The other scenario revolves around a trade. As Florio points out, it was only two years ago that the 49ers acquired an extra pair of third-rounders and an extra fourth-rounder for simply moving down one spot in the draft. If, say, the Jets are particularly enamored with Bosa, the 49ers could use their own “interest” in the Ohio State standout to get more out of a trade. Either way, if the 49ers are hoping to make a trade and draft Williams, they probably won’t be able to drop much further than fourth-overall; the majority of mock drafts have some combination of Murray, Bosa, Williams, and Kentucky edge defense Josh Allen in their top-four.
- Another first-round hopeful, Marquise Brown, also looks like a lock to hear his name called Thursday. The Oklahoma-honed speedster may be the only guaranteed wideout to go off the board in Round 1, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report notes, after speaking with NFL staffers. Said execs then place Ole Miss alums D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown as possible first-rounders, per Miller. That would stand to make the second round potentially filled with receiver investments. The 49ers have some names in mind.
- On the subject of the 49ers, they visited with tight end Noah Fant recently, per Sirius XM Radio’s Alex Marvez (on Twitter). This profiles as an interesting use of a visit, with the 49ers closely connected to Nick Bosa at No. 2 and not needing a tight end. But San Francisco did do well with its past Iowa investment at this position, with George Kittle breaking out in a major way in 2018.
- 49ers tight end George Kittle posted a whopping 1,377 receiving yards last year, and as Matt Barrows of The Athletic (subscription required) writes, Kittle recorded 797 of those yards while injured. Barrows reports that Kittle suffered fractured cartilage in his rib cage early in the team’s Week 9 win over the Raiders, and that he wore two large rib protectors for the rest of the season. It sounds as if Kittle is (or will be) fully-recovered, and he is prepared to build on his monster 2018 campaign.
We heard towards the end of 2018 that the 49ers and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner would be discussing an extension this offseason. After all, now that the 2016 first-round pick has three years of service time, he is eligible for a new contract, and he appears to be coming into his own after a breakout 2018 campaign.
But Matt Barrows of The Athletic (subscription required) says it’s unlikely that the two sides agree to a new deal before the season begins. Buckner’s standard four-year rookie contract keeps him under club control at a bargain salary of $720K this year, and San Francisco will soon pick up his fifth-year option that ties him to the club through 2020. It’s unclear whether Buckner or the team chose to table an extension for the time being, but speculatively, it could be that Buckner wants to put together a 2019 season that builds on his 2018 production and further enhances his value before he and his agent get serious about a new deal.
Buckner himself said, “We’ve had conversations here and there. Honestly, it’s very early. Just because I’m eligible for a new contract going into my fourth year, it’s still very early in the process.”
Buckner’s ability to generate pressure from the interior of the defensive line will make him a highly-desirable commodity should he ever hit the open market, and if he produces another double-digit sack season — he posted 12 sacks in 2018, the first time he recorded double-figures — he will almost certainly land a contract paying him over $20MM per season, whether that comes from the 49ers or from some other club. His abilities as a run stopper will only increase his asking price.
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Today’s minor moves:
- Signed: OL Brant Weiss (Alliance of American Football)
Kansas City Chiefs
- Re-signed: DB Jordan Lucas (restricted free agent)
- Re-signed: K Harrison Butker, DT Justin Hamilton (ERFAs)
Los Angeles Chargers
- Re-signed: CB Trevor Williams (RFA)
Los Angeles Rams
- Re-signed: S Blake Countess (RFA)
- Re-signed: DE Morgan Fox, DB Dominique Hatfield, WR KhaDarel Hodge, WR JoJo Natson, DB Kevin Peterson (ERFAs)
New York Giants
- Re-signed: WR Corey Coleman (RFA)
- Re-signed: TE Xavier Grimble (RFA)
San Francisco 49ers
- Re-signed: DB Greg Mabin (ERFA)
The 49ers will host Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown and South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel on Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Neither player is in the mix for the Niners at No. 2 overall, but both could be an option further down the line.
Right now, it seems likely that Brown will be a first rounder, making him unlikely to be available when the 49ers pick again at No. 36 overall. Still, crazier things have happened and the Niners could always trade up if they want Brown badly enough. Samuel, meanwhile, seems to be right in range for that pick. After watching Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham head elsewhere this offseason, the Niners are undoubtedly in the hunt for receiver help in the draft.
Here’s the latest draft buzz:
- Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford will meet with the Panthers on Tuesday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. This marks Ford’s ninth and final visit, and five of those teams pick between No. 11 and 20. With that in mind, it’s fair to wonder whether Ford will be available for Carolina at No. 16 overall.
- Washington safety Taylor Rapp – widely pegged as a late-first round or second round prospect, will also visit the Panthers on Tuesday, according to Rapoport. Rapp also recently met with the Seahawks.
- West Virginia quarterback Will Grier and Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell are visiting the Redskins, Rapoport tweets. Grier figures to be available in the middle rounds, but the Redskins will probably have to pounce in the second round if they want Campbell.
A former three-year starter for the Eagles, Thornton signed a four-year deal with the Cowboys prior to the 2016 campaign but lasted only a single season. He latched on with the Bills just before the 2017 season got underway and ultimately appeared in 15 games, playing on roughly a third of Buffalo’s defensive snaps. In 2018, he signed a lost-cost deal with the Niners, only to hang ’em up in August.
It’s not clear why Thornton retired in the first place, but it sounds like he has the itch to play once again. If he makes the Niners’ cut, Thornton will count for about $915K on the books.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.