49ers could talk QB trades at scouting combine

49ers could talk QB trades at scouting combine

Four years ago at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, the 49ers agreed to the trade that sent quarterback Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Next week, the 49ers could have similar discussions. Only this time, they figure to be in the market to acquire a starting quarterback.

General manager John Lynch during an appearance this week on KNBR said he was excited about the talent he sees on the 49ers' offensive and defensive lines. But he made no secret of the organization’s intention to upgrade the quarterback position.

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely,” Lynch said. “And we’re committed to doing that.”

Seven weeks before the 49ers can add a quarterback in the draft, the team will have ample opportunities to find a solution in the veteran market. Free agency and the trade window open for all NFL teams on March 9.

Free-agent quarterback Matt Schaub, who had his best seasons under Kyle Shanahan with the Houston Texans, is a logical, low-price option for the 49ers to add as a backup. Schaub attempted just three passes last season as Matt Ryan’s backup with the Atlanta Falcons.

The 49ers could solve their long-term quarterback need with a blockbuster trade to acquire Washington’s Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo from New England.

Shanahan was part of the Washington regime that drafted Cousins in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. Shanahan disclosed during Super Bowl week that he had a high draft grade on Garoppolo, whom he scouted in 2014 while with the Cleveland Browns.

Paraag Marathe, the 49ers’ chief strategy officer and executive vice president of football operations, intimated this week on “The 49ers Insider Podcast” he has provided the team’s decision-makers with information on previous trades.

“Here are all the other examples of when this position was traded for, and what people gave up to trade,” Marathe said. “That would establish the range for us if we are curious about a player at that position. And then we have a discussion from there.”

Cousins will be 29 next season, while Garoppolo, who has just two NFL starts, will be 26.

Here’s a look at the significant trades in the past decade that have involved quarterbacks acquired to take on starting roles:

Sam Bradford, 29, from Philadelphia to Minnesota
--2017 first-round pick (No. 14 or 15)
--2018 fourth-round pick (TBD)

Alex Smith, 29, from 49ers to Kansas City
--2013 second-round pick (No. 34)
--2014 second-round pick (No. 56)

Carson Palmer, 32, from Cincinnati to Oakland
--2012 first-round pick (No. 17)
--2013 second-round pick (No. 37)

Kevin Kolb, 27, from Philadelphia to Arizona
--2012 second round pick (No. 51)
--CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Donovan McNabb, 34, from Philadelphia to Washington
--2010 second-round pick (No. 37)
--2010 fourth-round pick (No. 104)

Jay Cutler, 26, and 2009 fifth-round pick (No. 140) from Denver to Chicago
--2009 first-round pick (No. 18)
--2009 third-round pick (No. 84)
--2010 first-round pick (No. 11)
--QB Kyle Orton

Matt Cassel, 27, and LB Mike Vrabel from New England to Kansas City
--2009 second-round pick (No. 34)

Matt Schaub, 26, and 2007 first-round pick (No. 10) from Atlanta to Houston
--2007 first-round pick (No. 8)
--2007 second-round pick (No. 39)
--2008 second-round pick (No. 48)
Source: Pro Football Reference

Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season


Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season

Frank Gore is returning home to, in all likelihood, finish his professional football career.

Gore, 34, signed a one-year contract to enter his 14th NFL season with his hometown Miami Dolphins, the team announced Friday.

Gore grew up in Coconut Grove, Florida, and attended Coral Gables High School before playing collegiately at the University of Miami.

He played the first 10 NFL seasons with the 49ers and is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. Gore ranks fifth in NFL history with 14,026 rushing yards – just 75 yards behind No. 4 Curtis Martin.

After rushing for 11,073 yards and 64 touchdowns with the 49ers, the club declined to offer him a multi-year contract following the 2014 season. Gore played the past three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Gore remains one of the most popular players in 49ers history. When asked recently if he would be willing to “retire” as a member of the 49ers after his final game, Gore reacted enthusiastically about the possibility.

1, Emmitt Smith 18,355
2, Walter Payton 16,726
3, Barry Sanders 15,269
4, Curtis Martin 14,101
5, Frank Gore 14,026

49ers increase competition for starting guard positions


49ers increase competition for starting guard positions

The 49ers are the fifth team to give Jonathan Cooper a chance after he arrived in the NFL as the No. 7 overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2013 draft.

Cooper, 28, caught the attention of the 49ers with his career-high 13 starts last season with the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers signed him to a one-year, $4.95 million contract this week.

“We signed him to compete for one of the guard spots as a starter,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday at Stanford's pro day. “He played very well in our minds for Dallas last year and kind of resurrected his career. He’s battled injuries, but we really like the way he played, and we think he’s a very good fit for what we do. So we were pleased to add him.”

The 49ers plan to take it slowly this offseason with Cooper, who underwent surgery after tearing the medial-collateral ligament in his left knee during the final game of the season. The 49ers report for the offseason program in mid-April.

The 49ers are certain to have at least two new starters on the offensive line. Former New York Giants center Weston Richburg was signed to replace Daniel Kilgore, who was subsequently traded to the Miami Dolphins. Brandon Fusco, who started 16 games at right guard, signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an unrestricted free agent.

Laken Tomlinson has a chance to hold onto a starting job. Acquired shortly before the start of the regular season in a trade from the Detroit Lions, Tomlinson quickly moved into the starting lineup at left guard and started the final 15 games. Tomlinson was a first-round draft pick of the Lions in 2015.

“Laken played very well the longer he was there,” Lynch said. “I think people forget with Laken, he came here in Week 1. He was kind of force-fed. We didn’t have many options. But we saw a guy get better throughout the season. He’ll get his opportunity.”

Joshua Garnett, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2016, spent last season on injured reserve due to an a knee injury sustained in training camp. The 49ers challenged Garnett to get in better physical condition. He has been cleared for football activity.

“Joshua Garnett has been working extremely hard, so he’ll be in that mix,” Lynch said. “He did a great job embracing the time he has last year to improve as a player. He remade his body and we're looking forward to see him get after it in the offseason.

“I think he’s excited about it. He’s feeling sexy, as he says.”

Erik Magnuson, 24, won a spot on the 49ers’ roster after signing as an undrafted rookie from Michigan. Magnuson could enter into the competition at guard. He displayed unique versatility in his first season, starting two games at right tackle before sustaining a season-ending foot injury. He can also serve as a backup center.

And, perhaps, the 49ers are not finished adding to the competition. The team owns the No. 9 overall selection, and Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson could be on the radar in the unlikely event he is not selected within the top eight picks.

When asked if the 49ers could also add another player to the mix with a draft pick, Lynch answered, “We’ll see. We’re always looking to get better there.”