Day 3 of free agency: On to second tier of WRs


Day 3 of free agency: On to second tier of WRs

The second day of free agency was mostly quiet for the 49ers, who entertained massive free-agent guard Leonard Davis on Wednesday while Adam Snyder signed a five-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals.

NEWS: Snyder agrees to deal with Cardinals
Nothing happened on the Alex Smith front -- here or around the league.The holdup on a new deal for the quarterback is curious, but neither side appears to be panicking. The 49ers have an offer on the table -- "The ball's in his court" is the way CEO Jed York described it this week. Smith promised over the weekend that a deal "will get done."
Receiver Mario Manningham, who caught a crucial fourth-quarter touchdown pass for the New York Giants in their NFC championship game victory over the 49ers, is scheduled to visit Santa Clara on Thursday.NEWS: Manningham to visit 49ers Thursday
(Just a note: A lot of people ask about these "workouts." Free agents generally do not work out for teams on visits. After all, the 49ers know all they need to know about Manningham from 20112012 game film. Randy Moss worked out because he did not play in 2011, and he had to prove to the 49ers he could still run.)We are officially into the second wave of free-agent wide receivers -- and that's where the 49ers seem most comfortable. Joshua Morgan (Washington), Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay), Pierre Garcon (Washington), Marques Colston (New Orleans), Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis), Laurent Robinson (Jacksonville) and DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia) have their multi-year deals.
One would think that Manningham's deal would come in well under what the San Diego Chargers paid for receiver Robert Meachem, who is two years older but two inches taller. Meachem and the Chargers agreed to a reported four-year, 25 million deal that includes a 7.5 million signing bonus. And don't forget . . . Pittsburgh receiver Mike Wallace is still available, too.Traditionally, the restricted free agent market moves slower because it is more complex. The sides must get together and arrive at a deal while also structuring the contract in a way that discourages the team that holds the restricted rights from matching the offer sheet.Also, Wallace is not bound to take the best deal he is offered -- like an unrestricted free agent. He has the trump card of returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers on a one-year, 2.7 RFA tender. Then, he'd be eligible for unrestricted free agency next year, when he could conceivably cash in big-time with a multi-year contract.Of course, the Steelers could also clear the cap room next year and designate Wallace as their franchise player. So there are risks either way.If the 49ers decide to go down that road, they could receive some competition from the New England Patriots.The team that signs Wallace to an offer sheet must part with their first-round pick to land him. The 49ers own the 30th selection; the Patriots have the 31st. Cornerback Carlos Rogers has yet to sign his new 49ers contract. But he has agreed to terms on a four-year deal with the total package reportedly worth between 29.3 million and 31.3 million.
NEWS: Rogers expected to re-sign with 49ers
Earlier on the first day of free agency, the 49ers were going "huge" after cornerback Eric Wright, it was reported here and elsewhere. It looked as if the 49ers had turned the page on Rogers. What happened is that both sides agreed they should stick together. It became clear that the 49ers would have to pay more for Wright and the market was quickly drying up for Rogers. Wright's deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was for five years, 38 million with 15.5 million guaranteed. Things to watch for Day 3 of free agency . . . --Manningham is definitely an option for the 49ers -- depending on what it'll take to sign him. Also, receiving options Early Doucet (Arizona) and Eddie Royal (Denver) remain available. The 49ers have already visited with Chaz Schilens and Brandon Lloyd, according to sources. Ted Ginn visited the Detroit Lions on Wednesday, and the 49ers have nobody reliable right now to handle kickoff and punt returns. Royal, a skilled return man, is scheduled to visit San Diego on Thursday.
--The 49ers are in the market for help at running back. Mike Tolbert (San Diego) is slated to visit with the Kansas City Chiefs, who signed Peyton Hillis to a one-year deal. If Tolbert remains out there, he's someone who could interest the 49ers.--Right now, Daniel Kilgore is the front-runner for the 49ers' starting job at right guard. But expect the 49ers to bring in some veteran to compete with the youngster.--Alex Smith.

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.