49ers

49ers appear to have three candidates for No. 2 overall NFL draft pick

49ers appear to have three candidates for No. 2 overall NFL draft pick

If the San Francisco 49ers keep the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, they will get -- at worst -- the player they have rated as the second-best NFL prospect.

The Arizona Cardinals own the top selection, and the speculation since the NFL Scouting Combine has been that new coach Kliff Kingsbury will hand-pick Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray to run his offense.

Does 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan have an idea what the Cardinals will do?

“My gut is probably just like yours, so we’re all just waiting,” Shanahan said this week at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix. “You hear a lot of stuff, so you really try to not pay attention to any of it. If you look at the players the same way they do, we understand their personnel and stuff so you try to make decisions more off that instead.”

If the 49ers remain at No. 2 -- and another team does not blow them away with a trade to move up -- it seems one of these three players will end up in Santa Clara:

Edge Nick Bosa, Ohio State

Bosa likely is the No. 1 player on the 49ers’ draft board. He is a next-level talent with his athleticism, strength, technique, balance and pedigree. Despite missing most of his entire final season in Columbus with a core muscle injury, Bosa might be as close to a can’t-miss prospect as there is in this draft.

Bosa enjoys the art of rushing the quarterback, and he is far more advanced in that respect to anyone else in this draft. The 49ers have a lot of other base-down defensive linemen, but they do not have another outside pass-rusher to complement veteran Dee Ford, whom they acquired in a trade from the Kansas City Chiefs.

If Bosa is the pick, there would be no hurry to get him on the field for every snap. As it is, defensive linemen are constantly rotated in the course of a game. The 49ers would be satisfied if he can make an impact as a rookie only on passing downs. But with his skill level, it probably would not take Bosa long to become an every-down player.

Edge Josh Allen, Kentucky

The 49ers re-signed outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha and also worked out a pay cut to retain veteran Malcolm Smith, who's also capable of playing the strong-side position. If Allen were the pick, he would step in immediately as the starter.

In addition to being a 17-sack performer en route to being named defensive player of the player in the SEC, Allen is long and athletic enough to flip his hips and lock down most tight ends in coverage.

That’s great and all, but Allen is a likely top-four selection in the draft because of his ability to get after the quarterback. He remained in school for his senior year and worked his way into becoming an elite draft prospect.

With the 49ers, he would be a SAM linebacker in the team's base defense. On nickel downs, he would move to defensive end and rush the passer on the side opposite of Ford.

DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama

His Alabama teammate, highly regarded offensive lineman Jonah Williams, describes Quinnen Williams (no relation) as a “300-pound bar of soap.” And if that’s not enough to work the 49ers into a lather ... oh, never mind.

Williams has the agility of an edge rusher with the size and strength of a nose tackle. Pairing Williams on the inside with DeForest Buckner would create a lot of issues for opposing offensive lines.

The 49ers already have such inside players as Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, D.J. Jones and Jullian Taylor, but Williams has a chance to give the team an immediate and dramatic upgrade inside. It is difficult to find anyone who dominated as much as he did in college football last season.

If Bosa is gone, the guess here is that Williams would be the 49ers’ selection.

Roger Goodell says NFL didn't listen, doesn't mention Colin Kaepernick

Roger Goodell says NFL didn't listen, doesn't mention Colin Kaepernick

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted Friday that the league was wrong for "not listening to NFL players earlier" and that they "encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," but his 81-second video didn't mention former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick first sat, then kneeled during the playing of the national anthem before games in the 2016 season to protest police brutality and institutional racism. The QB's protest has recently received renewed attention, as demonstrations against the same issues spring up around the globe following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, in Minneapolis police custody last Monday.

"We, the [NFL], believe black lives matter," Goodell said Friday. "I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no [NFL] and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff.

"We are listening. I am listening. And I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and move forward for a better, more united NFL family."

The commissioner's comments came shortly after the league shared a video of players asking for the NFL to "listen" and admit they were "wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting." Multiple players, including star New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, first shared the video Thursday.

"We will not be silenced," the players said. "We assert our right to peacefully protest."

Protests have taken place nationwide in each of the 10 nights following Floyd's death prior to this story's publication. Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe as Derek Chauvin, a since-fired officer who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. The 46-year-old's death occurred within months of Breonna Taylor, 26, and Ahmaud Arbery, 25, dying, all as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disproportionately affect African Americans. Louisville police fatally shot Taylor in her home while reportedly performing a "no-knock" warrant, and two white men allegedly shot and murdered Arbery as he jogged around his Georgia neighborhood.

Demonstrators have taken the streets to protest the same issues Kaepernick highlighted, nearly four years after he first began protesting. Kaepernick, who agreed to kneel during "The Star-Spangled Banner" after consulting with former Seattle Seahawks long-snapper and Green Beret Nate Boyer, faced criticism for disrespecting the American flag and the country's veterans. Goodell said he didn't "necessarily agree with what [Kaepernick was] doing" in his first public comments after Kaepernick's protest.

“We have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great,” Goodell told The Associated Press on Sept. 7, 2016. “I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement; and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.”

Goodell said in 2017 players had a "responsibility" of demonstrating "at the right time and in the right way." The NFL owners approved a national-anthem policy in May 2018 that would've required players to stand on the sideline as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played, but the league and the NFL Players Association announced in July there would be no new policy.

[RELATED: 49ers' Shanahan wants NFL to fix coaching diversity issue]

Kaepernick argued his protest cost him his career in a collusion lawsuit he settled with the league last February. The quarterback opted out of his contract ahead of the 2017 season, when the 49ers told him he'd otherwise be released, and has not been signed since. The NFL organized a workout for Kaepernick at the Atlanta Falcons' facility last November, but Kaepernick pulled out of the workout after the league barred media access and his lawyers deemed a liability waiver "unusual."

"I've been ready for three years, and I've been denied for three years," Kaepernick told reporters after moving the workout to a high school outside of Atlanta. "We all know why I came out here and showed it today in front of everybody -- we have nothing to hide. So we're waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people."

Goodell said in December that the NFL had "moved on" from Kaepernick after he "chose not to take" the opportunity the NFL gave him by moving the workout.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers' George Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block

49ers' George Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block

George Kittle has never kept his love for run-blocking a secret. Any opportunity to drive a defender into the turf is embraced by the 49ers tight end the same way kids greet the arrival of Christmas morning.

During a recent appearance on the “Bussin’ With The Boys” podcast with fellow NFL players Will Compton and Taylor Lewan, Kittle revealed two blocking assignments he doesn’t exactly live for.

“Khalil Mack’s tough,” Kittle said. “He’s pretty good. (Jadeveon) Clowney is pretty good too.”

Kittle and Mack faced off late in the 2018 season, during a low-scoring dogfight at Levi’s Stadium between the 49ers and Chicago Bears. Mack got three hits in on quarterback Nick Mullens, but didn’t end up with a sack among his five tackles.

[RELATED: Ranking top 49ers plays in franchise's storied history: No. 5-1]

Clowney was a difficult assignment for the Niners in both matchups last season, although Kittle was inactive for the Seattle Seahawks’ win on "Monday Night Football" in Week 10.

The current free agent had six tackles and five QB hits over those two games against San Francisco, not to mention scoring one of his two touchdowns on the season after scooping up a fumble.

Mack and Kittle could face off when the 49ers and Bears meet during the 2020 preseason on Aug. 29, but it remains to be seen where Clowney will wind up signing in free agency. 

Some have even postulated he could be a fit for the 49ers, if no team is willing to meet a reportedly exorbitant asking price.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]