49ers

49ers enter NFC Championship Game vs. Packers with no new injuries

49ers enter NFC Championship Game vs. Packers with no new injuries

SANTA CLARA – Coach Kyle Shanahan entered the auditorium at Levi’s Stadium where he holds his press conferences and opened his remarks Monday morning with words that sounded so sweet to 49ers fans everywhere.

“Nothing new to report from after the game with injuries, so go ahead,” Shanahan said.

Not only did the 49ers cruise to a 27-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs on Saturday, but San Francisco also exited the game as healthy as they have been all season.

The 49ers advanced to the NFC Championship Game on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium. Their inactive list figures to consist of seven healthy players, just as it was Saturday against the Vikings.

When the 49ers rolled to a 37-8 win over the Packers on Nov. 24, defensive end Dee Ford and linebacker Kwon Alexander did not play due to injuries. Both returned to the lineup against the Vikings and should be in even better shape to face Green Bay.

Ford returned to action and appeared to make it through just fine with a bothersome hamstring that limited him to just four snaps in the 49ers’ final six games of the regular season. Ford registered a sack while playing 22 snaps against the Vikings.

“It should be the same deal for him this week," Shanahan said. "No setbacks, so hopefully he will take a step forward. Regardless, he played at a high level for us and was very impactful when he was in there.”

[RELATEDHow 49ers' D got speed, mojo back in thrashing of Vikings]

Alexander returned to action after suffering a torn pectoral on Oct. 31. The 49ers activated him off injured reserve on Friday in order for him to suit up for the following day’s game. He played 25 snaps, playing primarily in base situations.

“I thought Kwon did a real good job,” Shanahan said. "I knew he was going to be fired up to get out there. I’m always nervous for guys when they are that excited to get out there and they haven’t played in a while.

“You knew he was going to run around and hit. He also did a good job of not making mistakes. He kept his poise on the field.”

The only in-game physical issue that impacted playing time came when running back Raheem Mostert experienced cramps in his calf. Tevin Coleman went out for a series that Mostert was scheduled to play. Shanahan said Mostert is fine and should be a full-go at practice on Wednesday.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday)

Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 5:30 p.m.

49ers roster analysis: Running backs combine to make formidable group

49ers roster analysis: Running backs combine to make formidable group

This is the second installment of a 10-part series that examines the 49ers’ roster coming out of the 2019 season, looks ahead to 2020, and outlines the offseason challenges facing general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan on a position-by-position basis.

Tuesday, a look at the 49ers’ running backs.

Under contract (signed through)

-FB Kyle Juszczyk (2020)
-Tevin Coleman (2020)
-Raheem Mostert (2021)
-Jerick McKinnon (2021)

Juszczyk’s contract includes a club option for $5.55 million, which does not seem to be in question at all for what he gives the team.

Coleman is scheduled to earn $4.9 million in salary and bonuses.

McKinnon, who did not appear in a game in his first two seasons with the 49ers due to a knee injury, will certainly not be back on his scheduled pay of $6.8 million. But the 49ers might be inclined to see if they can work out a low-level one-year deal to keep him around.

Expiring contracts

-Matt Breida (RFA)
-Jeff Wilson (ERFA)

Breida’s salary is scheduled to jump from $645,000 to $2.144 million if the 49ers give him the lowest free-agent tender. That is a decision that could go either way.

Breida can negotiate with other teams beginning March 16. If the 49ers give him the low-level tender, the club would not receive any compensation if another team signs him to an offer sheet and the 49ers decline to match.

As an exclusive-rights free agent, Wilson has no outside negotiating power. The 49ers would retain his rights with a qualifying offer.

What needs to happen

First things first, the 49ers have to figure out what they want to do with the running backs who finished last season with the club.

Juszczyk is a no-brainer. The 49ers could also look to extend him this offseason to lower his cap number for 2020 while also making sure they keep him under club control for a couple more seasons.

Coleman is scheduled to make $4.9 million, which seems reasonable for a player who was the primary starter and came through big in the playoff opener. Breida’s jump in salary never seemed to be much in question until the end of the season when he rarely got on the field.

McKinnon simply cannot come back on his scheduled salary. But he said he wants to return and he’s fully aware the only way that happens if he agrees to a dramatic pay reduction. If McKinnon returns to his pre-injury form, he would give the 49ers the kind of route-runner out of the backfield that they do not currently have on their roster.

Wilson is the best route-runner out of the backfield, so he could get an opportunity to see more action as a third-down back. Or the 49ers could keep their eye on happenings around the league to see if Atlanta parts ways with Devonte Freeman in a cost-cutting move.

[RELATED: 49ers roster analysis: QBs in good shape entering 2020 season]

Expectations

The 49ers found something that worked with Mostert and Coleman. They also learned over the past three seasons that it makes sense to have three or four running backs who are capable of sharing the load.

A year ago, Mostert had his spot on the 49ers’ roster wrapped up because of his ability on special teams. Now, he enters the offseason as a dynamic presence in the backfield. Regardless of the rest of the depth chart at running back, Mostert should get plenty of carries in 2020.

The 49ers had to be pleased with the production from the running backs. Mostert, Breida and Coleman each rushed for 500-plus yards. Wilson was very good when he was given an opportunity, too.

The area where the running backs must improve is in the passing game. Coach Kyle Shanahan wants more options on third downs to take advantage of areas of the defense he feels he can exploit.

Whether it’s bringing back McKinnon, developing one of the other backs or going outside to bring in a proven pass-catcher, the 49ers might not take that next step on offense until they put a great route-runner in their backfield on third downs.

Donald Trump grants full pardon for former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr.

Donald Trump grants full pardon for former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order granting clemency for a full pardon for former 49ers owner Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., according to multiple reports.

In 1998, DeBartolo pleaded guilty to one felony charge of failing to report an alleged extortion attempt by former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards in connection with DeBartolo’s bid for a riverboat gambling license.

DeBartolo was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. Under DeBartolo's control, the 49ers won Super Bowls following the 1981, '84, '88, '89 and '94 seasons.

The NFL ordered DeBartolo to pay a $1 million fine and he was suspended for the 1999 season. DeBartolo never regained control of the 49ers, as he reached a settlement to transfer the organization to his sister, Denise DeBartolo York, and her husband, John York.

[RELATED: Why Goodwin, 49ers parting ways this offseason makes sense]

As part of a plea agreement, DeBartolo avoided jail time but served two years of probation and testified against Edwards during the 2000 trial.

DeBartolo pleaded guilty to a felony charge of failing to report Edwards extorted $400,000 from him to win a casino license. The White House announced the decision to reporters with NFL greats Jerry Rice, Jim Brown, Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley in attendance, according to ABC News.