49ers

Ten candidates for 49ers contract extensions

armstead-arik-pensive.jpg
USATSI

Ten candidates for 49ers contract extensions

The 49ers have plenty of salary-cap space – well more than $100 million projected – to sign Jimmy Garoppolo, some free agents and extend the contracts to retain some of their own players with multi-year deals this offseason.

Prior to the 49ers’ season finale against the Los Angeles Rams, we looked at 10 players who are scheduled to be free agents, and how they might fit into the team’s plans for the future.

Here, we turn our attention to 10 players whose contracts are set to expire after the 2018 season. These players are candidates to receive contract extensions this offseason to keep them off the free-agent market in 2019:

S Jimmie Ward
General manager John Lynch does not seem the least-bit concerned about Ward’s scheduled one-year, $8.5 million salary on the fifth-year option. Said Lynch, “We’re excited to have Jimmie back and plan on him being a big-time contributor to this team.”

The 49ers believe Ward can be a good cornerback. But they see him – if he can remain healthy – as a potential Pro Bowl player at free safety. The 49ers could be reluctant to extend his contract beyond this season until they are convinced he can remain injury-free. He missed 22 games in his first four seasons due to a variety of fractures and soft-tissue injuries. He finished 2017 on injured reserve after sustaining a broken forearm.

DE Arik Armstead
A first-round pick in 2015, Armstead can be retained for the 2019 season on the fifth-year option as a defensive end. The hefty one-year deal is guaranteed for injury only, and a decision must be made by May 2 for the 2019 season.

Armstead underwent season-ending surgery on his hand in mid-October. There are still legitimate questions about whether Armstead fits Robert Saleh’s defensive system. He began the season at pass-rush end before moving to the “big end” position. Armstead has six sacks in 30 career games, and he has missed 18 games the past two seasons due to shoulder and hand injuries.

RT Trent Brown
There is no doubt Brown has the size, strength and agility to attract a big contract. But it is highly unlikely the 49ers will make any kind of competitive offer to extend him past the upcoming season.

There are concerns about Brown’s dedication to put in the work necessary to get the most out of his ability. And it is fair to observe that when players change after signing lucrative contracts, it is generally not for the better.

One big test will be to see how Brown comes back from shoulder surgery that cut short his season and will sideline him for approximately six months.

S Jaquiski Tartt
Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Tartt is a prime candidate for a contract extension. The 49ers like Tartt a lot. They like him as a free safety, but they really like him as a strong safety, playing closer to the line of scrimmage as an eighth defender in the box.

When all the safeties were healthy, the 49ers determined their best lineup consisted of Ward at free safety and Tartt at strong safety. Before Tartt sustained a fractured forearm that ended his season, the team decided to move veteran safety Eric Reid to linebacker. Reid was back at safety in Tartt's role to finish the season.

WR Marquise Goodwin
Goodwin was an exceptional veteran pickup for the 49ers, as he signed a two-year, $6 million contract on the first day of free agency. After four pedestrian seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Goodwin became more of a complete receiver in Kyle Shanahan’s system.

Despite experiencing unimaginable tragedy off the field, Goodwin put together an exceptional season with 56 receptions for 962 yards. There are few players faster than Goodwin, who turned 27 in November.

K Robbie Gould
Gould signed a two-year, $4 million contract on the first day of free agency. In his first season with the 49ers, he set the franchise record in field-goal accuracy, making 49 of 51 attempts for 95.1 percent.

However, Gould, a 13-year veteran, is 35 years old. The 49ers might want to see how Gould holds up in 2018 before making a determination whether he fits into the team’s plans for 2019.

LG Laken Tomlinson
The decision for the fifth-year option was transferred to the 49ers when Tomlinson was acquired in the late-August trade from the Detroit Lions. He was the 28th overall pick of the Lions in the 2015 draft.

Tomlinson got better as the season progressed – a sign the 49ers interpret as the potential for him to settle in as a good player once he fully grasps the offensive system and the techniques being coached. The 49ers are likely to pick up the fifth-year option on Tomlinson by the May 2 deadline.

P Bradley Pinion
Pinion is entering the final year of his contract and would appear to be a strong candidate for a contract extension. He has gotten better every season, and he is still young and getting stronger. (He turns 24 in June.)

Pinion was tied for the ninth most-effective punter in the league with a net average of 41.3 yards. He dropped 31 punts inside the 20-yard line with just one touchback.

OLB Eli Harold
Harold, a third-round draft pick in 2015, enters the final year of his rookie contract. He was used primarily on run downs. Harold’s ability to set the edge in the run game is an aspect of his game that Saleh highlighted late in the season.

The 49ers could buy low on Harold this offseason if they believe he is capable of making significant improvements as a pass rusher on base downs.

LS Kyle Nelson
The long-snapper is the most anonymous player on any football team. . . until he sails a ball over the head of the punter or holder. Nelson, 31, has been very good since his arrival in 2014. He is entering the final year of a four-year extension he signed in March of 2015.

Eric Reid presents Colin Kaepernick Ambassador of Conscience Award

Eric Reid presents Colin Kaepernick Ambassador of Conscience Award

AMSTERDAM — Amnesty International gave former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick its Ambassador of Conscience Award on Saturday for his kneeling protest of racial injustice that launched a sports movement and might have cost him his job.

Onetime San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid presented Kaepernick with the award during a ceremony in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

In his acceptance speech, the award-winner described police killings of African Americans and Latinos in the United States as lawful lynchings.

"Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation — the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex," Kaepernick said.

Kaepernick first took a knee during the pre-game playing of the American national anthem when he was with the 49ers in 2016 to protest police brutality.

"How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates, 'freedom and justice for all,' that is so unjust to so many of the people living there?" he said at Saturday's award ceremony.

Other players joined his protest in the 2016 season, drawing the ire of President Donald Trump, who called for team owners to fire such players.

In response to the player demonstrations, the NFL agreed to commit $90 million over the next seven years to social justice causes in a plan.

Kaepernick wasn't signed for the 2017 season following his release in San Francisco.

Reid, a safety who is now a free agent, continued Kaepernick's protests by kneeling during the anthem last season. Reid has said he will take a different approach in 2018.

Kaepernick paid tribute to his friend for his own role in the protest movement.

"Eric introducing me for this prestigious award brings me great joy," Kaepernick said. "But I am also pained by the fact that his taking a knee, and demonstrating courage to protect the rights of black and brown people in America, has also led to his ostracization from the NFL when he is widely recognized as one of the best competitors in the game and in the prime of his career."

Amnesty hands its award each year to a person or organization, "dedicated to fighting injustice and using their talents to inspire others."

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty called Kaepernick "an athlete who is now widely recognized for his activism because of his refusal to ignore or accept racial discrimination."

Previous recipients of the award include anti-Apartheid campaigner and South African President Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who campaigned for girls' right to education even after surviving being shot by Taliban militants.

"In truth, this is an award that I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force," Kaepernick said.

Five NFL Draft options if 49ers make first-round trade

Five NFL Draft options if 49ers make first-round trade

The 49ers have their starting and backup quarterbacks on the roster for at least the next three seasons. That luxury opens up their draft options to concentrate on other areas.

Quarterbacks Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen could be selected within the first eight picks of the draft. If those four quarterbacks are chosen, it means the 49ers will get – at worst – the fifth-ranked player on their draft board.

And if there is still one of those quarterbacks available when the 49ers go on the clock at No. 9 overall, it invites the possibility of a trade-back option.

The 49ers could trade back and still get one of the five players – Tremaine Edmunds, Roquan Smith, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport – highlighted as first-round draft options.

But if the 49ers move further back or acquire an additional pick in the first round, here are some of their options...

OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
The 49ers must start thinking about a time when two new offensive tackles are going to be required. McGlinchey (6-8, 312) began his career at right tackle before shifting to the left side. That versatility could come in handy for the 49ers, as right tackle Trent Brown enters the final year of his contract and might not be back in 2019. Moreover, six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley is 34 years old, and it is uncertain how much longer he can play at a high level. McGlinchey has the athleticism that Shanahan covets. He began high school as a tight end and also played on the basketball team.

OT Kolton Miller, UCLA
Miller is an exceptional athlete who should get better and better. He ran the third-fastest time among offensive linemen at the combine and placed near the top of all the other agility drills. Miller started off his college career on the right side before shifting over to protect the blind side of quarterback Josh Rosen. With any offensive lineman the 49ers select, the club could consider having him begin his career at guard before moving him to tackle whenever the need arises.

CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
Jackson was among the 49ers’ final pre-draft visits to Santa Clara. The team needs another cornerback to join presumptive starters Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. At 6-0 3/8, Jackson is not as tall as initially advertised, but his style of play and long arms would fit well within the 49ers’ scheme. He has great instincts, as shown by his nation-leading eight interceptions and 26 pass breakups.

WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
The consensus best wide receiver in the draft could provide Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan with another option in the passing game to join starters Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin. Garçon is the possession receiver and Goodwin is the deep threat. Ridley is versatile and polished, which makes him a nice chess piece to utilize early in his career for specific matchups.

WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
It should be noted that the 49ers like their receiver corps, a group that also includes Trent Taylor, Aldrick Robinson and Kendrick Bourne. But Sutton (6-3, 219) would give the 49ers more size to exploit matchups. He gets high marks off the field. There is no rush to get him out there before he is ready. The 49ers can take their time to develop him, as they would have him under their control contractually for five seasons. He has spent time learning from Anquan Boldin.