49ers

Three things you need to know from 49ers' first win of 2017 season

Three things you need to know from 49ers' first win of 2017 season

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 31-21 win over the New York Giants in Week 10 on Sunday:

1 YOUTH MOVEMENT
The 49ers broke their nine-game losing streak to open the season with many of their young players – on both sides of the ball – stepping up with huge contributions.

Quarterback C.J. Beathard had his best day as a pro – and, now, maybe it is not such a foregone conclusion that coach Kyle Shanahan will elevate Jimmy Garoppolo to the starting lineup after the bye week.

Some young players provided strong days on the defensive side, too. Reuben Foster led the team with 10 tackles; safety Adrian Colbert has looked like a natural as he patrols center field; and second-year player Ronald Blair injected some pass rush into a 49ers’ defense that has been inconsistent in getting after the quarterback.

“It’s the first of many,” Foster said of the victory. “This team is special. I’m really excited about this victory and how hard our team pushed. This team has a hell of a passion for the sport. No matter how much we lose, this team does not give up. That’s what I love about this team.”

With that youth comes a lot of enthusiasm. There was a large wet spot in the middle of the locker room, where Shanahan was doused with a water bucket to celebrate the victory.

2. EMBATTLED O-LINE WINS BATTLE
Center Daniel Kilgore said his position group was tired of hearing everyone talk about how crappy the 49ers’ offensive line has been this season. (Only, he did not use the word.)

The 49ers’ offensive line paved the way for the club’s second-highest scoring output of the season. Beathard was not sacked and he was hit just twice in 25 passing attempts. That’s a huge improvement over a week ago, when the Arizona Cardinals sacked Beathard five times and knocked him down 16 times.

“I feel like I barely got hit, barely even got touched,” Beathard said. “That’s a credit to everybody. The coaching staff; the play calling; the receivers getting open; the O-line blocking their tails off, and Carlos (Hyde) and tight ends doing their jobs in protections and then obviously getting the ball out. I think they did a great job of that.”

The 49ers did not fall behind, so they could stick with the running game from start to finish. The 49ers ran the ball 33 times and gained a season-high 186 yards on the ground. The 49ers kept drives alive with an impressive 67-percent conversion rate on third downs (8 of 12).

The run set up the pass. And vice versa. Running back Carlos Hyde led the way with 98 yards receiving on 17 rushing attempts. Rookie Matt Breida entered and enjoyed plenty of success, too. Breida gained 55 yards on nine carries, including a 33-yard touchdown run.

3. GEARING UP FOR FINAL STRETCH
The 2008 Detroit Lions do not have to worry about sharing their place in history with the 49ers. (But the Cleveland Browns are still in the hunt to be the only other winless team during a 16-game regular season.)

And the 49ers are guaranteed not to lose next week, either. That’s because they can now enjoy their bye week and rest their bodies after a particularly grueling stretch of games.

The team will report to the practice facility on Monday, but Shanahan will excuse the players for the remainder of the week to fuel up for the final six-week stretch of the regular season.

The 49ers head into the bye week on a high note after experiencing for the first time.

“When you lose nine in a row you learn to savor the moments and enjoy these,” Shanahan said. “It was tough work for us to get our first win and we got it. I think the guys knew how much it meant to me and I knew how much it meant to them. I think we’re a pretty close team and I think we’ve gotten closer through adversity.”

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.