49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan seeks more than just big frame from WRs


49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan seeks more than just big frame from WRs

The 49ers have a need for a big wide receiver, but few NFL teams are not in the market for player that fits that description.

Coach Kyle Shanahan made it known recently that size matters – but only if a receiver has a lot more in his tool box.

“If his only elite trait is size, you can only put him in at the 5 yard line to throw a jump ball,” Shanahan said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “We need good receivers, and they come in all shapes and sizes.”

The 49ers had a visit in Santa Clara this week with Florida State receiver Auden Tate, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area. He is one of the biggest receivers available in the draft. Tate showed an ability to go up and get the ball, as he accounted for 10 touchdowns last season.

Shanahan wants receivers who can get open. That could mean the ability to separate with speed and route-running ability. Tate can get open by simply going up higher or using his catch radius to grab passes beyond the reach of smaller defensive backs.

The 49ers apparently do not view wide receiver as an urgent need.

The team did not make a play for any receivers on the free-agent market. Pierre Garçon was on pace for 1,000 yards before sustaining a neck injury in the eighth game of the season. Marquise Goodwin fell just short of 1,000 yards, as his game reached another level after quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took over as the starter.

Trent Taylor had a promising rookie season as the slot receiver. Kendrick Bourne and Aldrick Robinson are slated as reserves.

“If we can bring in guys who beat out our starters, that means we’re bringing in some pretty good guys,” Shanahan said. “I also know I’m happy with our guys. I think they did a good job and got better throughout the year. And I expect Pierre to come back healthy.”

The 49ers are likely to draft a wide receiver, then take the time to develop a player who will not be needed to make a major contribution as a rookie. And there are plenty of options in the upcoming draft for the 49ers if they are looking for a player 6-foot-3 or taller after their scheduled pick in the first round.

Courtland Sutton could be the first big target selected – at some point late in the first round or early in the second. He averaged 16.5 yards per reception with 31 touchdowns over his final three seasons. Sutton has worked with former 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin to refine his route-running.

“You want all your routes to look exactly the same,” Sutton said at the combine on what Boldin stressed to him.

“That means the DB never should be able to pick what you’re supposed to run. Other than alignment, he should never be able to tell where you’re supposed to run. That’s really huge and for a bigger guy all people think I can do is just go over the top, so I need to be able to be deceiving in my routes and making sure all my routes look exactly the same.”

Here’s a look at some of the draft-eligible big receivers with draft projection from NFL.com:

Courtland Sutton, SMU (6-3, 218). Round projection: 2
D.J. Chark, LSU (6-3, 199). Round projection: 2
Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame (6-5, 214). Round projection: 3-4
J’Mon Moore, Missouri (6-3, 207). Round projection: 3-4
Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State (6-4, 216). Round projection: 4-5
Auden Tate, Florida State (6-5, 228). Round projection: 4-5
Allen Lazard, Iowa State (6-5, 227). Round projection: 4-5
Simmie Cobbs, Indiana (6-3, 220). Round projection: 5

Eric Reid presents Colin Kaepernick Ambassador of Conscience Award

Eric Reid presents Colin Kaepernick Ambassador of Conscience Award

AMSTERDAM — Amnesty International gave former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick its Ambassador of Conscience Award on Saturday for his kneeling protest of racial injustice that launched a sports movement and might have cost him his job.

Onetime San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid presented Kaepernick with the award during a ceremony in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

In his acceptance speech, the award-winner described police killings of African Americans and Latinos in the United States as lawful lynchings.

"Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation — the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex," Kaepernick said.

Kaepernick first took a knee during the pre-game playing of the American national anthem when he was with the 49ers in 2016 to protest police brutality.

"How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates, 'freedom and justice for all,' that is so unjust to so many of the people living there?" he said at Saturday's award ceremony.

Other players joined his protest in the 2016 season, drawing the ire of President Donald Trump, who called for team owners to fire such players.

In response to the player demonstrations, the NFL agreed to commit $90 million over the next seven years to social justice causes in a plan.

Kaepernick wasn't signed for the 2017 season following his release in San Francisco.

Reid, a safety who is now a free agent, continued Kaepernick's protests by kneeling during the anthem last season. Reid has said he will take a different approach in 2018.

Kaepernick paid tribute to his friend for his own role in the protest movement.

"Eric introducing me for this prestigious award brings me great joy," Kaepernick said. "But I am also pained by the fact that his taking a knee, and demonstrating courage to protect the rights of black and brown people in America, has also led to his ostracization from the NFL when he is widely recognized as one of the best competitors in the game and in the prime of his career."

Amnesty hands its award each year to a person or organization, "dedicated to fighting injustice and using their talents to inspire others."

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty called Kaepernick "an athlete who is now widely recognized for his activism because of his refusal to ignore or accept racial discrimination."

Previous recipients of the award include anti-Apartheid campaigner and South African President Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who campaigned for girls' right to education even after surviving being shot by Taliban militants.

"In truth, this is an award that I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force," Kaepernick said.

Five NFL Draft options if 49ers make first-round trade

Five NFL Draft options if 49ers make first-round trade

The 49ers have their starting and backup quarterbacks on the roster for at least the next three seasons. That luxury opens up their draft options to concentrate on other areas.

Quarterbacks Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen could be selected within the first eight picks of the draft. If those four quarterbacks are chosen, it means the 49ers will get – at worst – the fifth-ranked player on their draft board.

And if there is still one of those quarterbacks available when the 49ers go on the clock at No. 9 overall, it invites the possibility of a trade-back option.

The 49ers could trade back and still get one of the five players – Tremaine Edmunds, Roquan Smith, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport – highlighted as first-round draft options.

But if the 49ers move further back or acquire an additional pick in the first round, here are some of their options...

OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
The 49ers must start thinking about a time when two new offensive tackles are going to be required. McGlinchey (6-8, 312) began his career at right tackle before shifting to the left side. That versatility could come in handy for the 49ers, as right tackle Trent Brown enters the final year of his contract and might not be back in 2019. Moreover, six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley is 34 years old, and it is uncertain how much longer he can play at a high level. McGlinchey has the athleticism that Shanahan covets. He began high school as a tight end and also played on the basketball team.

OT Kolton Miller, UCLA
Miller is an exceptional athlete who should get better and better. He ran the third-fastest time among offensive linemen at the combine and placed near the top of all the other agility drills. Miller started off his college career on the right side before shifting over to protect the blind side of quarterback Josh Rosen. With any offensive lineman the 49ers select, the club could consider having him begin his career at guard before moving him to tackle whenever the need arises.

CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
Jackson was among the 49ers’ final pre-draft visits to Santa Clara. The team needs another cornerback to join presumptive starters Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. At 6-0 3/8, Jackson is not as tall as initially advertised, but his style of play and long arms would fit well within the 49ers’ scheme. He has great instincts, as shown by his nation-leading eight interceptions and 26 pass breakups.

WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
The consensus best wide receiver in the draft could provide Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan with another option in the passing game to join starters Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin. Garçon is the possession receiver and Goodwin is the deep threat. Ridley is versatile and polished, which makes him a nice chess piece to utilize early in his career for specific matchups.

WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
It should be noted that the 49ers like their receiver corps, a group that also includes Trent Taylor, Aldrick Robinson and Kendrick Bourne. But Sutton (6-3, 219) would give the 49ers more size to exploit matchups. He gets high marks off the field. There is no rush to get him out there before he is ready. The 49ers can take their time to develop him, as they would have him under their control contractually for five seasons. He has spent time learning from Anquan Boldin.