Josh McDaniels humbled to interview for head-coaching jobs

Josh McDaniels humbled to interview for head-coaching jobs

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick gave his assistant coaches one day to conclude head-coaching interviews, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels narrowed down his list to three teams.

McDaniels spent three hours apiece with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams before capping his busy Saturday with 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe.

"It's humbling and it's a privilege to have an opportunity to do any of those things," McDaniels said Monday via the Providence Journal. "(I) feel very fortunate to have an opportunity to sit in front of those people that they would listen to me and spend time with me so just try to do the best you can and represent yourself, your team, the organization you come from, your family as best you can and all the rest will play out how it's supposed to play out."

McDaniels previously interviewed with the 49ers in two years ago. The 49ers announced the firing of coach Chip Kelly just hours after the team’s final game of the season. The 49ers will have a fourth head coach in four seasons.

McDaniels, 40, appears ready for his second NFL head-coaching job. He was fired late in his second season with the Denver Broncos in 2010 after compiling an 11-17 record. But McDaniels is back as a hot candidate after serving as Patriots offensive coordinator the past five seasons under Belichick.

On Monday, McDaniels was asked if he goes to Belichick for advice during the process.

“He's the best," McDaniels said. "He's very unselfish and cares for us all. If there's something that we need or we would ask of him, I'm certain he would do it and give it to us, whether it's advice, wisdom, counsel. He's not only somebody we take our queue from in terms of getting ready for the next opponent but he's a mentor in a lot of different areas of our lives.

“This will be no different. I couldn't ask for people to mentor me any better than he's done. Robert [Kraft], Jonathan [Kraft], same thing. They're there to offer anything they can as a resource to help people that are working for them and I hope they know how much we appreciate that."

McDaniels is not permitted to have a second meeting with any of the teams with which he interviewed until the Patriots have been eliminated from the playoffs. If New England advances to the Super Bowl, a second interview could occur during the week after the AFC Championship, but no later than the Sunday preceding the Super Bowl.

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.”