Seven under-the-radar second-year 49ers players


Seven under-the-radar second-year 49ers players

The 49ers saw enough promise in evaluating wide receiver Kendrick Bourne before last year’s draft to sign him as a free agent and patiently wait for him to join the team’s offseason program.

Due to rules governing when rookies are allowed to report full time to their new NFL teams, Bourne could not participate in most of the 49ers’ offseason program last spring due to the late conclusion of classes at Eastern Washington.

Once he arrived in Santa Clara on a full-time basis, the 49ers stuck with Bourne through a couple bumps in the road.

“He was late to a couple of things and I rode him pretty hard,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Florida. “I didn't think he was quite ready to make an NFL roster, but he was too talented for us to lose. We did believe in him, but he needed to grow up a little bit.”

The 49ers received more snaps last season from their rookie class than any team in the NFL. Many of those players have already established themselves as starters or front-line backups, such as Solomon Thomas, Reuben Foster, Ahkello Witherspoon, C.J. Beathard, George Kittle, Trent Taylor, Adrian Colbert and Matt Breida.

But there are plenty of other under-the-radar second-year players who could work themselves into significant roles with the organization. Bourne tops the list.

Former teammate and current Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp overshadowed Bourne during their time together at Eastern Washington. Kupp averaged 107 receptions, 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns per season over four years.

Bourne piled up nearly 70 catches per season for 1,000 yards and eight TDs over the final three years of his career. Despite all the time he missed in the offseason, Bourne flashed enough to open the season on San Francisco's 53-man roster.

“He took a huge step last year,” Shanahan said. “I know he wasn't totally ready at the beginning of the year, but he was a guy that we thought had too much talent to put on the practice squad. We were scared that we’d lose him.

“I think he was a little overwhelmed at first, but he kept battling through it. Even when we would ride him he didn't go into a shell. He kept working. He and our receiving coach, Mike LaFleur, put in a lot of time together in learning the stuff.”

Bourne (6-foot-1, 203 pounds) appeared in 11 games and played 282 snaps as a rookie. He caught 16 passes for 257 yards but is far from a finished product.

“He better not be relaxing right now, just sitting back and enjoying that, though,” Shanahan said. “He’s got to come and prove himself again this year.”

And the same goes for these other six under-the-radar second-year players:

There were questions about Williams' commitment coming out for the draft after he took a leave from the Utah football team during his final year of college. General manager John Lynch admits he removed Williams from the team’s draft board. But Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner fell in love with the film, and Lynch placed Williams' name back on the board just before he was selected in the fourth round.

Said Shanahan, “When he had a lane, he had the ability to score, the ability to make the one guy left miss. . . The burst, the leg strength to run through tackles and hit it and be gone.”

Despite Shanahan comparing him to Atlanta running back Tevin Coleman, Williams has a lot to prove just to make the team. He faces an uphill battle for a roster spot after a less-than-impressive offseason and training camp last year. Williams was stashed away on injured reserve with a minor foot injury for his rookie season.

“I expect him to turn up his urgency level this year,” Shanahan said. “I’ve talked to him about that. He said he has. Looking forward to seeing it.”

A sixth-round draft pick last year, Taumoepenu spent 14 games of his rookie season as one of the team’s seven inactive players on game days. He has potential as a pass-rush specialist that the club will want to see this season. The 49ers declined the option on veteran Elvis Dumervil, in part because they want to open the door for some younger players, such as Taumoepenu, who also adds value on special teams.

Although it appears unlikely he can play his way into the starting lineup, Magnuson has the versatility required for a backup job. He can play any of the interior positions, including center, as well as right tackle. That ability to fill in at any position could make him valuable as one of two backup offensive linemen to suit up for games.

The 49ers do not have much depth at cornerback, so more players will certainly be coming to the team via the draft and its immediate aftermath. Mabin bounced around as a rookie. Tampa Bay and Buffalo waived him before he landed on the 49ers’ practice squad. He ended up playing 44 snaps of defense. His size (6-2, 200) is ideal for the 49ers’ scheme. The 49ers have a high opinion of Mabin, who should pull up a chair to Richard Sherman's locker and learn as much as possible from the prototype cornerback for this scheme.

Before going down with a torn ACL, James looked the part in training camp and was in position to win a spot on the 53-man roster. The 49ers have no intention at this point of re-signing Eric Reid to a backup position. (And, for Reid, there's no reason for him to accept a one-year, low-money contract at this point in the offseason.) The 49ers could add a safety in the draft, but James will still have a solid chance to make his mark this season.

Williams showed enough to earn a spot on the practice squad before his promotion to the 53-man roster for the final eight games. The 49ers must look to the future at offensive tackle. Trent Brown enters the final year of his contract. Brown has to prove his commitment to all facets of the job before the 49ers will even consider offering a lucrative contract extension. Joe Staley enters his 12th season, so it’s uncertain how much longer he can play at a high level. Williams must take a significant step forward this year to prove he is part of the future.

49ers 2018 schedule released: Analysis and predictions

49ers 2018 schedule released: Analysis and predictions

The 49ers released their full 2018 schedule on Thursday evening. Here's the slate:

Sunday, Sept. 9, at Minnesota, 10 a.m. (FOX)
There was a time when we thought the Vikings’ quarterback would be suiting up for the road team in this matchup. But, thanks to Bill Belichick’s generosity, Jimmy Garoppolo will be wearing the road whites while Kirk Cousins and his talented supporting cast will be decked out in purple. Garoppolo’s undefeated run as a starting quarterback is put to the test in the opening week. And San Francisco newcomer Jerick McKinnon gets an early chance to prove to his former team that he should have been an every-down running back. Prediction: L.

Sunday, Sept. 16, vs. Detroit, 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
First-year Lions head coach Matt Patricia – and the pencil behind his ear – travel to the Bay Area for the organization’s first visit to Levi’s Stadium. Prediction: W.

Sunday, Sept. 23, at Kansas City, 10 a.m. (FOX)
Alex Smith’s five-year run as Kansas City’s starting quarterback came to an end. Arrowhead Stadium is now Patrick Mahomes’ home, and it remains a difficult environment for road teams. Prediction: L.

Sunday, Sept. 30, at L.A. Chargers, 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
Fans of the 49ers travel well. The challenge is on to snap up as many of the 27,000 tickets in the Charges’ temporary home venue as possible. The 49ers will need a lot of help against a talented team that finished last season with a lot of momentum. Prediction: L.

Sunday, Oct. 7, vs. Arizona, 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
The Cardinals have undergone a facelift with the retirements of head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer. The new crew of coach Steve Wilks and Sam Bradford – or whoever ends up at QB – inherits a six-game head-to-head win streak against the 49ers. Prediction: W.

Monday, Oct. 15, at Green Bay, 5:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Aaron Rodgers did not get any say in Packers personnel matters this offseason, and we’re hearing the NFL schedule-maker did not consult him, either. But he certainly will not complain about this prime-time matchup against the team for which he rooted as a child growing up in Chico. Prediction: L.

Sunday, Oct. 21, vs. L.A. Rams, 5:20 p.m. (NBC)
This could be a pivotal mid-season matchup featuring two franchises that took different approaches during the offseason. The 49ers were measured in free agency, while the Rams played fantasy football. L.A. general manager Les Snead went all-in during the offseason with the additions of cornerback Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, along with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and receiver Brandin Cooks. Prediction: L.

Sunday, Oct. 28, at Arizona, 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
After back-to-back three-point losses in the desert the past couple of seasons, the 49ers will need to take care of business against the Cardinals to be serious contenders for a playoff spot. Prediction: W.

Thursday, Nov. 1, vs. Oakland, 5:20 p.m. (FOX/NFLN)
Levi’s Stadium was built as a two-team facility, just in case the Raiders were interested in moving to the South Bay. In the building’s fifth year, the Vegas-bound Silver and Black finally get a look inside. Facing the 49ers during a short week is ideal for the Raiders, as Jon Gruden and Co. do not have to step on a plane. Kyle Shanahan will match wits against the man who gave him his first NFL job. Shanahan was Gruden’s offensive quality control coach in 2004-’05 with Tampa Bay. Prediction: W.

Monday, Nov. 12, vs. N.Y. Giants, 5:15 p.m. (ESPN)
The 49ers have a short week, followed by a long week. A year ago, the Giants’ trip to Levi’s Stadium resulted in the end of the losing streak of 49ers’ franchise-worst start. C.J. Beathard was under center that day, and Marquise Goodwin provided one of the highlights of the season with an 83-yard touchdown catch just hours after he and his wife lost their baby boy due to complications from pregnancy. Prediction: W.

Bye week

Sunday, Nov. 25, at Tampa Bay, 10 a.m. (FOX)
The 49ers will have to go light on the tryptophan from their Thanksgiving feasts to be ready for the cross-country travel and their matchup against Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers. The 49ers will be making just their second trip to Tampa of the past 14 seasons. Prediction: W.

Sunday, Dec. 2, at Seattle, 5:20 p.m. (NBC)
Is there any doubt Richard Sherman will be a little bit hyped to go back to Seattle with something to prove to Pete Carroll and John Schneider? The “12s” will find out what it’s like when Sherman is not on their team. It’s a different Seattle team, but Russell Wilson is as elusive as ever. Prediction: L.

Sunday, Dec. 9, vs. Denver, 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
These teams are skipping their annual exhibition game in lieu of the regular-season matchup. The Broncos’ last meaningful visit to Levi’s Stadium turned out pretty well – a victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Prediction: W.

Sunday, Dec. 16, vs. Seattle, 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
It’s not a rivalry until the 49ers prove they can actually beat the Seahawks, who hold a nine-game head-to-head win streak. (It could be 10 at this point.) The Seahawks’ dominance began in the NFC Championship game in January 2014, when Sherman broke up Colin Kaepernick’s pass and Malcolm Smith got the interception. Now, both Sherman and Smith are wearing the other uniform. Prediction: W.

Sunday, Dec. 23, vs. Chicago, 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
These teams should know each other pretty well. It will be the fifth consecutive season in which the 49ers have played against the NFC North team. The teams have split the previous four meetings, as the 49ers evened the score last season with a 15-14 victory in Garoppolo’s first start with the 49ers. There is no threat of a snow storm or freezing rain in this locale. Prediction: W.

Sunday, Dec. 30, at L.A. Rams, 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
The 49ers have not lost to the Rams in Southern California since 1986. The stakes could be higher this season than we’ve seen in a long, long time as the 49ers could offer the defending NFC West champs their stiffest competition. This could be a huge game – or it could be like a year ago when the Rams rested every significant starter to get ready for the playoffs. Prediction: L.

Report: 49ers will play at Packers on Monday Night Football


Report: 49ers will play at Packers on Monday Night Football

We won't know the full 49ers 2018 schedule until 5pm, but we are starting to learn some specifics.

The 49ers will play at the Packers on Oct. 15, according to ESPN's Rob Demovsky.

That will be in prime time on Monday Night Football.

We already know of another prime time game for the 49ers: Thursday, Nov. 1 at home against the Raiders.

San Francisco and Green Bay did not play in 2017 or 2016.

The last meeting between the franchises was on Oct. 4, 2015 -- a 17-3 Packers win at Levi's Stadium.

Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers opened the 2012 season with a 30-22 win at Lambeau Field.

The 49ers then beat the Packers 45-31 in the divisional round of the playoffs.

In 2013, the 49ers beat the Packers in the season opener, 34-28.

Four months later, San Francisco prevailed in a wild card game, 23-20.

Check back at 5pm as 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco will provide analysis and a prediction for every 2018 regular season game...