49ers DC O'Neil responds to discussion surrounding his job security

49ers DC O'Neil responds to discussion surrounding his job security

Through half of the season, the 49ers are on an inglorious pace to be among the worst defenses in NFL history.

The 49ers have allowed 260 points. If they continue their pace and give up 520 points on the season,  the defense would rank second-worst all-time, ahead of only the 1981 Baltimore Colts, who surrendered 533 points.

The 49ers’ run defense has allowed 1,544 yards. The pace of 3,088 yards would rank only ahead of the 1978 Buffalo Bills (3,228) and the 1980 New Orleans Saints (3,106).

First-year defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil has received support from 49ers coach Chip Kelly, but his job results have sparked the conversation of whether his job should be in jeopardy.

“People can have their opinions. That’s fine,” O’Neil said on Tuesday. “There’s been three different coordinators here now in three years.

“I believe in what we’re doing. I believe in coach Kelly. Consistency wins in this league.”

O’Neil followed Eric Mangini, who served in that role on Jim Tomsula’s staff, and Vic Fangio, who was defensive coordinator under Jim Harbaugh for each of their four seasons with the 49ers.

“I think that is hard,” O’Neil said. “We can talk for hours about that and my beliefs, but I think when you’re consistent with guys and you allow guys to hear the same message and get coached the same way, there’s a reason the good teams in this league are really good.”

Kelly on Monday deflected criticism away from O'Neil, saying he does not believe just one person is to blame for the 49ers’ defensive struggles.

“Every coach we have is involved in it,” Kelly said. “I’m involved in it. Our D-Line coach, our linebacker coach, our secondary coach, Jimmy, our outside linebacker coach, we’re all involved in what goes on on the defensive side of the ball. So, I don’t look at it that way that there’s one person.

“I don’t think any of us are doing a good job on the defensive side of the ball.”

O’Neil said he agreed with Kelly’s assessment of the dire situation.

“We’re 1-7,” O’Neil said. “I do think we’re growing each week, but when we’re 1-7, nobody’s doing a good job.”

49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks


49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks

The 49ers hosted two veteran cornerbacks on free-agent visits the past two days and could be signing either Jaylen Watkins or LaDarius Gunter as they wind down their activity on the free-agent market.

“We’re really pleased with what we’ve done,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday. “I’ll never say never. We’ve had a couple of guys visit in the last couple of days. Perhaps we’ll do something there. But for the most part, we’re wrapped up and pleased with what we’ve been able to do.”

The 49ers do not have much depth behind presumptive starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. The team is also likely to add to its depth in the draft.

The 49ers met with Gunter (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) on Thursday. Gunter, 25, started 15 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2016. He recorded 54 tackles and broke up 12 passes. He signed with the Packers in 2015 as an undrafted rookie from Miami.

Gunter was waived at the beginning of last season and the Carolina Panthers claimed him. He appeared in just four games with Carolina, which did not tender him as a restricted free agent.

The 49ers on Wednesday met with Watkins, 26, a versatile defensive back who appeared in 36 games with five starts in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Watkins (5-11, 195) played three snaps on defense and 17 plays on special teams in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. He entered the NFL in 2014 as a fourth-round draft pick from Florida.

Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'


Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'

STANFORD – Free-agent safety Eric Reid chatted with 49ers general manager John Lynch on the sideline, then moved into position onto the field for an up-close view of his brother’s pro day workout Thursday at Stanford University.

Younger brother, Justin, is aiming to be a first-round draft pick like Eric, whom the 49ers selected with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Both football futures of the Reid brothers remain uncertain. Justin's fate will be determined on draft day. Eric Reid remains in limbo as an NFL free agent. He has not gotten any action in the first week of free agency, and the 49ers have not made him a contract offer, he said.

But Lynch said the 49ers are closely monitoring Reid’s situation. However, the organization already has three safeties they like: Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert.

“Eric played and played well for us last year,” Lynch said. “I think he’s stuck in a safety market that’s been quiet. And I would anticipate things starting to shake for him and we’ll see.

“I’d never say never. I really do think opportunities will start to come his way. We’ve been monitoring it closely and we’ll see how that shakes out.”

Reid, 26, a six-year NFL veteran, said his agent has spoken recently to “a couple of teams,” but no contracts or visits have been proposed.

Reid’s market might be impacted by his up-front role in the protests of racial inequality of the past two seasons. Reid and Colin Kaepernick were the first players to take a knee during the national anthem at the beginning of the 2016 season.

Reid said he would probably not take part in any future protests during the national anthem.

“From the beginning, Colin has been flexible,” Reid said. “He started by sitting. He changed it up. We decided to kneel. And we understand that you got to change with the times. So I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active, because I won’t. I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country to improve on.

“I don’t think it’ll be in the form of protesting during the anthem. And I said ‘during’ because it’s crazy to me that the narrative got changed to we were protesting the anthem, because that wasn’t the case. But I think we’re going to take a different approach to how to be active.”

Reid said he has no regrets. He said he is willing to deal with the consequences of how NFL teams viewed his role in the protests.

“I stand by what I’ve done,” Reid said. “I know why I’ve done it. My faith in God is the reason. I can go to sleep at night confident I did what I was called to do. I’m just gong to stay positive and keep trying to stay in shape and wait and see what happens.

“I said at the end of last season I’m OK no matter what happens.”