Baalke: Remains to be seen if Crabtree a true No. 1


Baalke: Remains to be seen if Crabtree a true No. 1

Programming note: Stay logged on toCSNBayArea.com all week long as 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco files reportsfrom the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS -- General manager Trent Baalke does not need to study the film of the 49ers' season-ending loss in the NFC championship game to know his team needs to add wide receivers."We have only two guys under contract for next year, so it's an area we have to address," Baalke said on Thursday.
"Both Teddy (Ginn) and Josh (Morgan) are unrestricted free agents, so that leaves us with two guys who are under contract. So, yeah, it definitely is an area that needs to be addressed. . . . Obviously, when you have two under contract, it's a need position."RELATED: Maiocco -- 49ers free-agent options at wide receiver
The 49ers have a third receiver -- and, possibly, a fourth -- that Baalke did not originally identify. Rookie Joe Hastings is under contract for 2012, and the 49ers have yet to determine whether special-teamer Colin Jones will go to camp as a backup safety or wideout.The 49ers outside passing game was virtually non-existent in the 20-17 loss to the eventual Super Bowl-champion New York Giants. Michael Crabtree was held to one catch for 3 yards. And that was the only reception from a wide receiver.REWIND: Giants-49ers NFC Championship box score
Baalke admitted that he does not know whether Crabtree, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2009 draft, will become a true No. 1 receiver. But Baalke expressed satisfaction with Crabtree's progress in 2011."Michael works hard. He works hard at the game," Baalke said. "He did a nice job. He certainly had some growth."RELATED: Michael Crabtree 2011 game logs
Crabtree missed all of training camp after surgery to repair a left foot fracture which he sustained during an offseason workout at San Jose State. He sat out the second game of the season, and was finally able to practice every day for the final seven weeks of the season."(Crabtree) still wasn't able to practice every day and take every rep because of the foot," Baalke said. "Hopefully, this offseason he can get that thing rectified once and for all and he can start being an every-day performer for us."Baalke said Crabtree will not require any surgical procedure. He said it will be a matter of the team figuring out the best way to prevent a recurrence of the injury.Crabtree finished the regular season as the team's leading receiver with 70 catches for 874 yards and four touchdowns. But in two playoff games, Crabtree had just five receptions for 28 yards and one touchdown."I like the growth that he had in a new system; like the chemistry he and Alex (Smith) seem to develop through the course of the year," Baalke said. "Whether he can define himself as a true No. 1 in the National Football League or not remains to be seen. But (I'm) certainly happy with the progress he made."RELATED: Q&A with 49ers GM Trent Baalke from NFL combine
Baalke was asked whether he's curious how Kyle Williams will rebound from his two-turnover performance as a return man in the NFC title game:"Not curious at all. I've had great discussions with Kyle. My message to him will stay between us. He's a pro. He's been around it his whole life. His dad (Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams) is in professional sports as a GM. He knows how to handle himself. I was proud of the way he handled himself afterward and I have no doubt that Kyle will come back hungrier and even more prepared than he was a year ago." Baalke on whether Colin Jones, drafted as a safety, will be a receiver:"We're still trying to define his role in the offense or the defense.(Special teams coordinator) Brad Seely did an outstanding job of identifying some of the traits he was looking for in that special teams corps. He brings a couple things to the table. No. 1, he can run. He's a very savvy football player. He understands the game. And he's tough. When you have those qualities. You can run, you got some savvy about you and tough, he's got the makeup of a good (special) teams player."

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals


Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?


49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.