49ers

Knapp excited to return as part of new Raiders regime

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Knapp excited to return as part of new Raiders regime

INDIANAPOLIS -- Within hours of joining Dennis Allen's staff, new Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp made a phone call to his quarterback.

Initially, there were questions about Carson Palmer's future with the Raiders after Hue Jackson, the man who brought him to Oakland in a blockbuster trade, was fired.But there is no longer any uncertainty about Palmer's role with the Raiders in 2012. Both Allen and Knapp have come out in strong support of the Raiders incumbent quarterback.

"I've heard all these great things about him before I got here and since I've been here," Knapp told CSNBayArea.com before returning from the NFL scouting combine.

"Talking to him on the phone about a half-dozen times, and I think I'm just as excited to work with him as he is to work in our offense."

Knapp, who previously worked for the Raiders during the forgettable Lane Kiffin era, is excited, all right. He used a form of the word six times in a six-minute interview.What's not to be excited about?Knapp spent the past three seasons as quarterbacks coach with the Houston Texans. The allure of returning to California was great, but he said he was even more eager to sign on with Allen and new general manager Reggie McKenzie.

"There's a definite positive vibe going on," Knapp said. "I was very excited to see what Reggie's plan was when I came in and initially met with him.

"D.A.'s energy is contagious with everybody. The players are feeling it. The guys who have been in the building for a long time -- equipment guys, trainers, video guys -- are feeling it. It's neat to be a part of something at the ground level and build this thing."

There isn't a whole lot of building that needs to happen on offense, as Knapp already has the main component of a passing game with a veteran quarterback. And he is reunited with one of the more dynamic running backs in the league.

"I was here last in 2008, and Darren McFadden was a rookie that year," Knapp said. "I'm excited to get back with him. He really fits our run scheme well, as far as the zone scheme which I'll be implementing with our coaches. That's a great starting point for me."

While Knapp has been in the NFL, he has been on staffs that regularly enjoyed success on the ground with such running backs of varied styles, such as Garrison Hearst (49ers), Warrick Dunn (Atlanta), Justin Fargas (Raiders) and undrafted Arian Foster (Houston).And Knapp believes McFadden has the perfect running style for the offense the Raiders will employ.

"He doesn't mess around when he runs," Knapp said. "When he makes a cut, he's going north and south. And he has the ability to go the distance any time the ball is in his hands. That's hard to find in this business because there is so much speed on the field on defense. Darren has the attributes to be able to take the ball all the way and score."

Knapp said in addition to Palmer and McFadden, he has also spoken with pending free agent running back Michael Bush, backup quarterback Terrelle Pryor and guard Cooper Carlisle. Due to new NFL rules, his first chance to begin coaching the new system to the players will be April 2.

"There will be a learning curve," he said. "I think that happens with any transition with a new team. But we'll have plenty of time to get it implemented. Whenever we're in a start-up mode like we are here, like a start-up company, it's my job to make sure that we don't do everything at once but piece it correctly together. We'll have building blocks, so to speak, to implement the offense."

And he'll have plenty of help.Steve Wisniewski was retained from the former staff as an assistant offensive line coach. Knapp added Frank Pollack, with whom he coached with the Houston Texans. Pollack knows the zone scheme from his training with legendary line coach Alex Gibbs and Texans line coach John Benton.

The Raiders also retained running backs coach Kelly Skipper, who served on the same Oakland staff with Knapp in 2007 and 2008. Another key individual retained is veteran coach Al Saunders, who held the title of offensive coordinator under Jackson and is back as "senior offensive assistant."

"It was great to be able to retain Al Saunders, who knows football and football's football," Knapp said "And he has enough years of experience, and he'll be very helpful in game-planning and talking about personnel."

With Allen's background on the defensive side, Knapp figures to have autonomy to run the show on offense. But Knapp said he does not look at it that way.

"I want Reggie's input on personnel and D.A.'s input on football stuff," Knapp said. "Those are two bright minds. That was a big reason I came here. The environment of how Reggie and D.A. envision the building and the team really coincides with what I believe it takes to play winning football. So I'm looking forward to getting a chance to work with those guys to help implement our offense and work together to win a championship."

Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

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Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

The 49ers recently re-signed eight of the 10 players who finished the season on the team’s practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who was not among the first wave of 49ers signings to 2018 contracts, signed Wednesday with the Indianapolis Colts, ending his three-season association with the organization.

Smelter was one of general manager Trent Baalke’s redshirt draft picks. The team selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft despite a torn ACL that ended his final season at Georgia Tech.

Smelter spent his first season on an injured list. He was waived at the beginning of the past two seasons, finishing both years on the 49ers’ practice squad. Smelter appeared in two games in 2016 and caught one pass for 23 yards.

Last season, the 49ers signed wide receivers Louis Murphy and Max McCaffrey to spots on the 53-man roster instead of Smelter, who remained on the practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Carter, who also spent the entire season on the practice squad, was signed recently to the team’s 90-man roster.

Others who finished the season on the 49ers practice squad to remain on the team’s offseason roster are: quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Cole Wick, offensive linemen Andrew Lauderdale and Pace Murphy, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, and defensive backs Trovon Reed and Channing Stribling.

The 49ers also signed fullback Malcolm Johnson, who spent last season on injured reserve with the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson appeared in 19 games over the 2015 and ’16 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was a sixth-round draft pick in ’15.

Offensive linemen Cameron Hunt, who finished the season on the 49ers’ practice squad, remains unsigned. Guard JP Flynn is also unsigned. He sustained a torn patellar tendon in November and underwent surgery that was expected to keep him out up to nine months.

An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations

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An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations

If the 49ers and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are unable to reach a multi-year contract extension by March 6, the 49ers have no other choice but to designate him as their franchise player.

The estimated one-year salary for the franchise tag would be $23.307 million, according to former NFL agent Joel Corry, whose work now appears at CBS Sports. (That is assuming a 2018 league-wide salary cap of $178.1 million per team.)

There is a lot to consider for both sides as they look to enter into a long-term contract. Corry said if a deal is struck, he would expect it to be in the neighborhood of Derek Carr’s five-year, $125 million deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason.

“And then there’s the other dynamic, which I would not undersell or I think may not be appreciated as much as it should be,” Corry said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “(Garoppolo’s agent) Don Yee has a reputation – no fault of his own – of doing team-friendly deals.”

Yee also represents New England quarterback Tom Brady, whose average of $20.5 million annual pay ranks 15th among NFL quarterbacks. Brady is underpaid by design, Corry said, because one of the great quarterbacks of all-time realizes it helps the Patriots to maintain a strong supporting cast.

“That’s because Tom Brady dictates, ‘I want to do something good for the team, take less money so we can improve the roster to win Super Bowls.’ That’s not Don Yee who wants to do that,” Corry said.

“The agent works for the player, so he’s executing Tom Brady’s wishes. But he gets that held against him in recruiting. So this is his opportunity to erase that perception if Garoppolo allows him to do his job and gives him latitude to strike the deal that he feels is appropriate.”

For more on the potential negotiating strategies of both sides, listen here to the 49ers Insider Podcast.