49ers LB Lynch worked on specific aspect of his game during suspension

49ers LB Lynch worked on specific aspect of his game during suspension

UPDATE (1:05pm) -- The 49ers activated Aaron Lynch and placed NaVorro Bowman on injured reserve, the team announced.


The 49ers have until 1 p.m. to activate outside linebacker Aaron Lynch to the 53-man roster in order to be eligible to play Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals.

In order for Lynch to play Thursday, the likely corresponding move would send linebacker NaVorro Bowman to injured reserve. Bowman is out for the season due to a torn left Achilles tendon.

“It’s a horrible loss,” Lynch said of Bowman's absence. “We hope he comes back healthy, and takes as long as he needs to take. But he was one of the leaders of our defense. Everybody knows who NaVorro Bowman is, so he’s always one of the players on the field that they game plan for, so losing him on the defense, it’s horrible.

“But as far as mindset, it doesn’t change. We’re still going to go out there and play our defense. We’re going to miss him, but now we have to go play for him.”

[MAIOCCO: Lynch sheds 30 pounds after gaining weight during wife's pregnancy]

Lynch served a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse to open the season. Lynch recorded 12.5 sacks in his first two professional seasons, and was expected to be the team's best pass-rusher this season. The 49ers have seven sacks in the team’s first four games. Eli Harold started in Lynch's place. Tank Carradine also saw time as a nickel pass rusher. Neither Harold nor Carradine recorded a sack in four games.

Although Lynch was not allowed to practice with his teammates or work on football activities with the coaching staff, he was able to attend meetings and work out daily at the team’s headquarters in Santa Clara during his suspension. He got his weight down to approximately 270 pounds, he said.

“I’ve lost a lot of weight,” Lynch said. “I’ve been able to run every day. We’ll know Thursday if I’m in game-ready shape, but I feel good. I’ve got the weight down about 30 pounds. I feel ready to go.

“I think what I’ve improved most on the field is the mental aspect of football. Because I couldn’t do anything physically, I really had to be in the books and I’ve learned when I went out to practice (Monday), the plays came a little easier than I thought they would. I prepared myself mentally because I couldn’t do the stuff physically.”

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.”