Shanahan: 49ers will show patience at QB, 'don’t want to gamble'

Shanahan: 49ers will show patience at QB, 'don’t want to gamble'

Coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch arrived together with the 49ers under six-year contracts.

The length of those contracts suggests the two top football people atop the organization will be afforded plenty of time to turn the 49ers around.

And Shanahan said Friday morning he and Lynch plan to exercise patience in charting the future at the quarterback position.

“You’re not trying to commit everything to one year,” Shanahan said on KNBR’s “Murph and Mac Show.”

“Yes, you want to win right away. That’s the goal of everybody. But you don’t want to do that at the expense of hurting your future. You don’t want to gamble. You want to be aggressive in everything, but you got to do what’s right. You have to build your team the right way and that’s what I mean by being patient.”

Shanahan added, “If we can build this the right way, it could be right away. It could be in this first year. It could be in the second year. But that depends on what’s available. And what’s available is through trades, it’s through free agency and it’s through the draft. And we’ll explore all three of those.”

The 49ers own the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. But seven weeks before the 49ers have the opportunity to add players through the draft, the start of the new league year on March 9 marks the beginning of free-agent signings and trades.

Quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins are among the veteran starters who could become available early in the offseason. Regardless of which veterans the 49ers acquire before the draft, Shanahan said the team will not lock into selecting a quarterback early in the draft.

“If there is a quarterback there that we believe can match that criteria and we believe he can be a franchise quarterback for us, of course, you don’t hesitate on that,” Shanahan said. “But if you don’t see that and there are other good players – if there’s a pass-rusher, a linebacker, if there’s an O-lineman, whatever it is – you need to get the best player possible who can help your team for the next 10 years.

“The worst mistake you can make is you take a guy who isn’t that good of a player or not worthy of that and the expectations change. You put a guy in a position that is really unfair to him and you set your organization back and then you try to commit to a guy who really, it’s unfair to him because he shouldn’t have been put in that position. You have to study these guys hard. “

Shanahan said he and Lynch are continuing to study the players the 49ers already have under contract. That includes Colin Kaepernick, who can opt out of his contract in March and become an unrestricted free agent.

If Kaepernick does not opt out, the 49ers would be expected to release him – whether or not they ultimately wish to re-sign him – to avoid being on the hook for his scheduled $14.9 million pay for the 2017 season.

Shanahan said he has communicated with Kaepernick via text message and figures to meet with him at some point.

“The players are all off,” Shanahan said. “Some guys have randomly stopped by. We have time. It’s their vacation time, except for guys who’ve been rehabbing and stuff. Anybody who stops by, my office is always open and (I’m) available.”

49ers set aside cap space with an eye to the future


49ers set aside cap space with an eye to the future

The first wave of free agency is over, and the 49ers struck quickly.

The club identified two players coach Kyle Shanahan tabbed as fits for his offense and they paid the money it took to get them.

General manager John Lynch said there were five teams seriously interested in free-agent running back Jerick McKinnon. Even more teams were going after center Weston Richburg, he said.

That drove up the prices on McKinnon and Richburg to the point that they rank behind only quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo ($37 million) as taking up the most cap space among the 72 players currently under contract to the 49ers.

McKinnon and Richburg account for $10.5 million and $9.26 million, respectively, on the 49ers' salary cap. Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman's deal takes up $6.175 million on the 49ers' cap this season.

The big spending to attract free agents to the team is likely over. The 49ers have $45.1 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association. That figure does not include a projected $8.3 million to sign their 2018 rookie class, according to overthecap.com.

The major spending for this offseason is over because the 49ers have apparently looked to the future and set aside cap space with the idea of retaining some of their own players whose contracts are winding down.

The first decisions for the future must occur by May 3, the deadline for picking up the fifth-year options on first-round picks from the 2015 draft. The 49ers have decisions to make on defensive lineman Arik Armstread and left guard Laken Tomlinson, who was acquired from Detroit in a trade just prior to the start of the 2017 regular season.

It is still unclear how or if Armstead’s skills fit into the 49ers’ defense. He opened last season at the team's pass-rush end before moving to the "big end," which also appears to be first-round pick Solomon Thomas' best position.

Tomlinson showed reasons for the 49ers to be optimistic about his future as his play got better as he acclimated to the offense. Among the guards already on the 49ers’ roster, Tomlinson appears to be the most likely to be a starter in 2018.

Presumptive starting safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents next offseason. Ward’s fifth-year option deal of one-year, $8.526 million became fully guaranteed last Wednesday. But in order for the 49ers to make a multi-year commitment, Ward would likely have to prove he can remain healthy and available for a full season.

DeForest Buckner is likely the target for the next blockbuster contract extension. Buckner has emerged as one of the top young defensive linemen in the league. Next offseason will be the first time the 49ers are permitted to negotiate a multi-year extension with him.

With a scarcity of offensive linemen available in the draft and free agency, right tackle Trent Brown could be set to cash in with an enormous deal next offseason – either with the 49ers or some other team.

DL Arik Armstead
FS Jimmie Ward
SS Jaquiski Tartt
RT Trent Brown
LB Eli Harold
LG Laken Tomlinson
K Robbie Gould
P Bradley Pinion

DL DeForest Buckner
LT Joe Staley
OG Joshua Garnett
DL Ronald Blair
TE Garrett Celek
RB Matt Breida (RFA)
WR Kendrick Bourne (RFA)

Deepest position in the NFL Draft? 49ers VP of Player Personnel weighs in


Deepest position in the NFL Draft? 49ers VP of Player Personnel weighs in

The 49ers concluded the first wave of the free-agent signing period with the signings of players to fill the team’s biggest offseason needs.

--Cornerback. Aqib Talib would have been the answer in a trade with the Denver Broncos, but he wanted to play elsewhere. Instead, the 49ers signed veteran Richard Sherman, whom the Seattle Seahawks cut a day earlier.

--Interior offensive line. Center Weston Richburg was the player the team had rated as their top target in free agency, and they signed him to a lucrative five-year deal.

--Running back. The team decided Jerick McKinnon was a better fit than Carlos Hyde. They wrapped him up with a four-year contract.

--Edge rusher. Lacking many options in free agency, the 49ers signed Jeremiah Attaochu to a one-year contract in hopes he will earn a spot on the team and make a contribution at the “Leo” position.

The 49ers can still use more help at a number of different positions, including cornerback, wide receiver, offensive line, linebacker and edge rusher. While the 49ers might add some role players in the second wave of free agency, most of the major acquisitions at this point are likely to come in the draft.

On the 49ers Insider Podcast, 49ers vice president of player personnel Adam Peters addressed what positions he believes are strong in this year’s draft.

“I think running backs, absolutely. It’s a deep position,” Peters said. “Quarterbacks at the top is deeper than it was last year. Secondary, corners, it’s not deeper than it was last year, but it’s a strong class of corners. Those are the main ones. The offensive line class is a little better than last year, too.”

The 49ers got major contributions from their rookie class last season. Tight end George Kittle, receiver Trent Taylor, quarterback C.J. Beathard, running back Matt Breida, defensive lineman Solomom Thomas, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, linebacker Reuben Foster and safety Adrian Colbert each played more than 300 snaps.

The 49ers feel good about Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, as a starter with Sherman on the other side. Peters said a lot of the team’s rookies played larger roles than expected in 2017, but Witherspoon might have been at the top of the list.

“I don’t think he was active for the first four games,” Peters said of Witherspoon. “And he ended up playing at a high level at the end. Really driven, conscientious player who wants to be great. 

"We were lucky we got a chance to play a lot of rookies because that’ll help us moving forward.”