Joe Staley: 49ers know there will be changes heading into 2017

Joe Staley: 49ers know there will be changes heading into 2017

SANTA CLARA – The longest-tenured 49ers player has been down this road before.

The 49ers snapped a franchise-worst 13-game losing streak on Saturday and head into the final game of the regular season Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks in need of a victory to avoid matching the worst record in the organization’s 71-year history.

“You never want to have a situation where, at the end of the year, your record kind of says there have to be some kind of changes,” 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. “Whatever that is, I have no real idea. It’s unfortunate. You work really hard to win football games, and when you don’t, there’s got to be someone – players or whatever it is. We know there’s going to be some kind of change.”

Whenever changes must be made, the first places most look are general manager, head coach and quarterback. And those spots are certain to be among the positions with uncertain futures.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is scheduled to make $16.9 million next season in salary and bonuses, is expected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent in March. If he does not opt out, the 49ers would likely release him. He said he refuses to look beyond the team’s final game of the season.

“For us, looking ahead is Sunday,” Kaepernick said. “So that’s where our focus is right now. That’s where all of our energy is going.”

Many inside and outside the organization expect CEO Jed York to part ways with general manager Trent Baalke at the conclusion of the season. York has not made a final decision, sources have told CSNBayArea.com.

The person calling the shots as 49ers general manager will likely determine the future of coach Chip Kelly. Staley said it’s “awesome” to have continuity on a coaching staff – a luxury he has generally not been afforded during his 10-year career. Staley has played for five different head coaches.

“I’d love to have Chip back,” Staley said. “Chip’s a great football coach. Look at the team. He’s done a great job of keeping us together. We got to hold up our end of the bargain as players, as far as executing better. You see the stuff we’re doing, and a lot of it is self-inflicted wounds. I think he’s been awesome for us this year, and I’d love to have him back.”

But, Staley added, “We’re in a results-based business, and I’d much rather have a team that’s fractured and apart and be 13-3, than be a team that’s together and be 2-14. At the end of the day, it’s all about coming out of it with a win, and we have to do a better job of winning, obviously.”

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.”