49ers

49ers' DeForest Buckner to meet with agent about contract extension

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AP

49ers' DeForest Buckner to meet with agent about contract extension

49ers defensive lineman DeForest Buckner is in the middle of a breakout season, and the time remaining on his rookie deal is numbered. 

The 49ers can pick up Buckner's fifth-year option this offseason, and keep him under contract through 2021. Buckner and the 49ers can also begin to negotiate a new contract extension as soon as the regular season ends, and the 24-year-old seems to be preparing for that possibility. 

Buckner would appear to be in line for a big raise. His rookie deal was worth just over $18 million over four years. If the 49ers and Buckner to do reach a contract extension, the 49ers can retain him for the 2020 season by picking up the fifth-year option. Because he was a top-10 pick, he would be paid the equivalent of the transition tag. This year, the fifth-year option would have been just over $11.4 million.

His production could warrant more than that, assuming he and the 49ers work out a new deal. The Oregon product has 11 sacks this season -- two more than his first two years combined -- and his 128 career tackles (so far) are the seventh-most by a defensive lineman in the first three years of their career since the stat was first consistently recorded in 1994. 

Rams superstar Aaron Donald set the market for interior defensive linemen this offseason, signing a deal worth $50 million guaranteed and as much as $22,500,000 annually. Buckner likely won't see a Donald-sized payday, but with over $64 million in salary-cap space (per Over The Cap) this offseason, the 49ers would certainly be in position to make him one of the highest-paid players at his position. 

Whether or not that happens before the 2019 season is kicked off remains to be seen, but Buckner's potential contract figures to be one of the prevailing stories of the 49ers' upcoming offseason. 

How Emmanuel Sanders trade helped 49ers, likely hurt Patriots' offense

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USATSI

How Emmanuel Sanders trade helped 49ers, likely hurt Patriots' offense

Two of the NFL’s best teams in 2019, the New England Patriots and 49ers, both faced a similar problem as the trade deadline approached.

The seemingly well-oiled machines had identified an identical issue: A lack of consistent play from the wide receivers.

While both teams attempted to rectify their passing-game issues at the deadline -- the 49ers dealt a pair of draft picks to the Denver Broncos for Emmanuel Sanders while the Patriots used a second-round pick to acquire Mohamed Sanu from Atlanta -- the results weren’t exactly analogous for the two contenders.

Sanders just completed a dominant performance in New Orleans, catching seven passes for 157 yards and a touchdown -- he threw for one, too. Meanwhile, Sanu caught just one pass for 13 yards in Week 14 as New England suffered a home loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Since Oct. 22, the day both players found their new homes, Sanders is averaging 10.44 receiving yards per target. Sanu? The former Falcon is averaging just 4.66 yards per target.

The 49ers reportedly balked at the price Atlanta wanted for Sanu, but the Patriots might have been better off bringing Sanders in, according to The Athletic’s Mike Sando.

"Sanu has been a solid receiver for a long time, but not as much of a downfield threat. Over the past four seasons, Sanders holds a 67-44 edge over Sanu in passes gaining more than 15 yards, despite Sanu playing four additional games. Sanu could have been a natural fit in San Francisco given that Shanahan was previously his offensive coordinator in Atlanta. He might even be flourishing there, given San Francisco’s superior surrounding talent, including George Kittle. The fit has been questionable in New England.”

The 49ers also have an obvious advantage in fielding George Kittle, who continues to cement his status as one of the NFL’s top tight-ends week in and week out.

[RELATED: Where 49ers, Raiders stand in NFL power rankings now]

But imagine what Josh McDaniels, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady could have whipped up with Emmanuel Sanders stretching the field.

This might go down as a rare mistake in player personnel from the Patriots’ front office, and it also might just be the move that propels the 49ers into playing February football.

Chris Simms breaks down George Kittle's catch in 49ers' win vs. Saints

Chris Simms breaks down George Kittle's catch in 49ers' win vs. Saints

George Kittle made the most significant play of the NFL’s Week 14 slate, catching a short fourth-down pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and willing his way into field-goal range.

The herculean effort from Kittle set kicker Robbie Gould up for a game-winning 30-yard field goal to give San Francisco a crucial 48-46 victory in New Orleans that propelled the 49ers back to the top of the NFC standings.

Unsurprisingly, coach Kyle Shanahan diagrammed this play for Kittle to be the No. 1 option, and that’s exactly what happened.

“The rookie [C.J.] Gardner-Johnson is matched up 1-on-1 with Kittle,” NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms said. “The beauty of this play is, a lot of times the 49ers will run an in-breaking route off of this, but here he had the option to break out and he breaks out.

“Gardner-Johnson, who’s kind of laying inside for it, now is at a disadvantage and he’s trailing behind and that becomes the completion to George Kittle.”

[RELATED: Injuries continue to pile up for 49ers after extended trip]

Kittle’s wise decision to break outside put San Francisco back into the driver’s seat for the NFC playoffs, but the 49ers will need to keep the momentum going as the final weeks of the season roll on in order to secure the home-field advantage NFL teams so desperately crave come postseason time.