49ers

Scot McCloughan discusses Smith over Rodgers, 49ers QB situation

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AP

Scot McCloughan discusses Smith over Rodgers, 49ers QB situation

When coach Mike Nolan and personnel chief Scot McCloughan inherited a two-win team more than a decade ago, their first act together was to draft a player they envisioned as the 49ers’ quarterback of the future.

The 49ers under Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch took a different approach this offseason. They determined it was best to bring in a bridge quarterback, improve the roster at other positions and push back their hunt for their franchise signal-caller until the second year.

That’s how the 49ers ended up with Alex Smith in 2005 and Brian Hoyer in 2017.

McCloughan, this week’s guest on The 49ers Insider Podcast, spoke about Alex Smith’s steady and consistent rise to being a standout NFL starter and the decision long ago to select him with the No. 1 overall pick – 23 spots ahead of Aaron Rodgers.

“It was partly my fault, if I could’ve traded back two or three spots, which I was trying to do, but no one would come up, I would’ve taken Aaron at three or four, hands down,” McCloughan said.

Instead, Rodgers was still available when it was the Green Bay Packers’ turn to select at No. 24. Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson called McCloughan, who previously worked with Thompson in the personnel departments of the Packers and Seattle Seahawks.

“They’re on the clock,” McCloughan said. “And he’s like, ‘What’s going on here?’ And I was like, ‘Ted, the guy is a really good football player.’ He said, ‘What do you think?’ I told him, ‘If I were in your spot, I’d take him at three or four, and they’re sitting at where they were.”

McCloughan selected Smith with the belief he was not a quick-fix answer. Shortly after drafting Smith, who had yet to turn 21, McCloughan stated that Smith would not begin to hit his peak until his seventh NFL season.

Sure enough, Smith’s seventh season in the NFL was in 2011 – two seasons after McCloughan was no longer with the 49ers. After never having the same coordinator or offensive system in full back-to-back seasons, Smith started to find continuity in 2011, and his career has flourished.

In 25 starts with Alex Smith under Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the 49ers went 19-5-1. After Harbaugh benched Smith following a concussion in 2012, the 49ers traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs to clear the way for Colin Kaepernick.

“The plan was with (then-49ers offensive coordinator Mike) McCarthy and with coach Nolan, the first year, we were going to sit him,” McCloughan said. “Of course, we weren’t going the right way, and guys were getting hurt and he ended up playing solid his rookie year.

“I always knew with him he’d fight through adversity, which he did. I’m so proud of him. First of all, he’s a great person. Second of all, he’s a really good quarterback and he’s having the success he deserves.”

Smith’s career has taken off since Andy Reid and then-Kansas City general manager John Dorsey acquired Smith in a trade from the 49ers. In Smith’s 65 starts with the Chiefs, the team is 45-20. Kansas City (4-0) is currently the only unbeaten team remaining in the NFL this season.

McCloughan knows Reid and Dorsey very well, and they called him to get his assessment of Smith before making the deal with the 49ers before the 2013 season, McCloughan said.

“You can’t miss on this guy from the standpoint, he shows up every day and he’ll be the same guy every guy,” McCloughan said. “He’s A-class character, and he’s got talent. Now, if you want him to throw it 35, 40 times a game, he might not be your guy. But he’s going to get everybody lined up, get them in and out of the huddle, and they’re going to respect him from a leadership standpoint (and) a toughness standpoint.”

Meanwhile, the 49ers’ new regime decided to postpone their quest for a long-term answer at quarterback until next offseason – when there are likely to be better options available on the veteran and rookie markets.

Of the 32 quarterbacks who have attempted 90 or more passes through Week 4, only rookie Deshone Kizer (50.9) and Joe Flacco (65.0) have lower passer ratings than Hoyer (67.9).

McCloughan said Hoyer is the kind of quarterback who has the ability to manage a game and give his team an opportunity to win against most teams. But Hoyer is not likely to ever carry a team to victory.

“The thing with Hoyer, he reminds me of Colt McCoy,” McCloughan said. “He’s not a front-line guy, but he’s played a lot of football and is intelligent. If the guys around him are good enough, you’re going to win more than you lose because of what they say about Alex. He’s a game manager.”

Shanahan said on Monday he is sticking with Hoyer as the 49ers’ starter ahead of rookie backup C.J. Beathard. McCloughan said has a high opinion of Beathard as a player who can ultimately develop into a starter down the road.

“I liked him a lot,” McCloughan said of Beathard. “He’s one of those guys, kind of like Matt Hasselbeck. Right away, he wasn’t a starter. It took a couple of years.”

Hasselbeck was a sixth-round draft pick of the Packers in 1998 who did not become a starter until 2001 with Seattle.

“They’re just intelligent guys,” McCloughan said. “It’s so important at that position, don’t make mistakes. It’s not bad to punt. You have third and 8, and everything is covered, don’t force it. I think that’s the way Hoyer is for sure, and I think Beathard has really good upside.”

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

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USATSI

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

The 49ers’ coaching staff made its feelings known to center Daniel Kilgore throughout the season.

But, in the past, that would not have necessarily meant everyone in the organization had the same thoughts about Kilgore, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

“The whole season, coaches and I had a good relationship,” Kilgore said Wednesday on conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Just talking and having one-on-ones with various coaches, I had a positive outlook for the future.

“But that’s just one thing. The coaches have an opinion of you, but then there’s also the front office. That’s two totally different things. And I think for the first time in a long time, our coaches and the front office are on the same page.”

Kilgore was working out back home in Tennessee on Wednesday when he signed a three-year contract to avoid hitting the free-agent market. Kilgore, 30, a seven-year NFL veteran, described the contract as a team-friendly deal.

The 49ers presented Kilgore with a contract offer during the season but negotiations did not get serious until just recently. While the 49ers expressed interest in retaining Kilgore, he said he did not know what the future held for him when he packed his belongings from the locker room on the day after the season ended.

“It kind of makes you nervous because in this profession, people like the younger guys,” Kilgore said. “You just never know what will happen at any time, any given day, in the NFL. So toward the end, that last day of clearing out the locker, I didn’t know if I’d be back. I didn’t know if the Niners would want me back.”

Kilgore was named the winner of the organization’s top honor for an offensive lineman. Kilgore won the Bobb McKittrick Award for best exemplifying the dedication, excellence and commitment of the long-time 49ers offensive line coach. Kilgore started all 29 games in which he appeared the past two seasons, including a career-high 16 games last season.

"I've been here seven years and I consider the Bay Area my second home,” Kilgore said. “To be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team is heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it."

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

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Matt Maiocco

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

When Jimmy Garoppolo signed a contract that could pay him up to $137.5 million over the next five years, he was asked what convinced him during his nine weeks with the organization that he wanted to be with the 49ers for the long term.

“I think it was a number of things,” Garoppolo said last week. “The team, the acceptance that they had of me when I first got here from the get-go, the coaching staff, Kyle and Rich. It was a very welcoming environment, and I really liked that. We had some success down the stretch, and you could see that pieces were falling into place. We've got a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction.”

Kyle, of course, is head coach Kyle Shanahan. Rich Scagarello is the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, and the person from whom Garoppolo spent the most time after arriving in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 after a trade with the New England Patriots.

Garoppolo earned $3.5 million in his first four NFL seasons. His new contract makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player, making an average of $27.5 million per season, with $48.7 million fully guaranteed.

Scangarello, appearing this week on The 49ers Insider Podcast, talked about what he learned about Garoppolo from working so closely with him to teach him Shanahan's offense. Scangarello said there is no question in his mind the money will not change Garoppolo’s approach to his work.

“That’s why it was easy for the organization and everyone to invest in somebody like Jimmy Garoppolo,” Scangarello said. “I just think that’s not the kind of person he is. If you met his family, you know where he comes from, what he’s about. His brothers, his parents, are just good, solid people people. He’s made of the right stuff and I just don’t see that affecting him in that way.

“It’s just not who he is. That’s the fun part of working with somebody like that every day. When they’re really talented and they appreciate everything and they work at it, you have a chance to be a successful organization and they can be a great player. And I don’t think those things will ever affect him.”