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49ers inform veteran Earl Mitchell they will not pick up contract option

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USATSI

49ers inform veteran Earl Mitchell they will not pick up contract option

MOBILE, Ala. – The 49ers on Wednesday informed one of their most-respected veteran players he will not return on his current contract.

The 49ers will not pick up the option that would have paid veteran nose tackle Earl Mitchell $3.7 million in salary and bonuses for the upcoming season. 

“Earl’s been a fantastic asset to this entire organization with all the things he’s done,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said before the South team's practice at the Senior Bowl. “It’s an opportunity for other guys to try to step up. It will not be easy to try to replace him, for sure.”

Mitchell was declared inactive down the stretch of the season as the 49ers moved second-year player D.J. Jones into a starting role. Mitchell will be free to sign with any club at the beginning of free agency. The 49ers are keeping the door open for his return at a lower price.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said one day earlier that he has been up front with Mitchell and wide receiver Pierre Garçon about their futures with the team. Garçon is scheduled to earn $6 million in 2019 and is not expected to return to the club, either.

Garçon went on injured reserve this season with a knee injury. He caught just 24 passes for 286 yards in eight games this season.

“Told them both when we know anything that’s for sure, we would tell them,” Shanahan said. “But it’s stuff that’s hard to know for sure. I’ve talked to them about the reality of the business. We have see how our roster is like and how our salary cap plays out. We’re not there yet with our whole plan.

“I think we’ll have the results sooner than later.”

The 49ers are continuing to have talks with some of their scheduled free agents, but Shanahan said he does not believe any contract extension is imminent.

“There are a few guys we’re talking about,” Shanahan said.

Kicker Robbie Gould, defensive back Jimmie Ward, guard Mike Person and punter Bradley Pinion are the team’s top free agents. The 49ers hold sole negotiating rights with their scheduled free agents until March 11, when teams are allowed to negotiate with free agents from other teams.

One guy Shanahan is not discussing, however, is disgruntled Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice is publcly trying to facilitate a connection between Brown and the 49ers. But there are no signs the 49ers are interested in making a trade for Brown, who turns 31 in July.

Shanahan, of course, is not allowed to comment on Brown, who remains under contract to the Steelrs. The NFL trade window opens on March 13, and Brown does not appear to have a future in Pittsburgh.

“It’s my easiest response there is,” Shanahan said. “I’m not allowed to talk about someone who’s under contract.”

Shanahan said, however, that the 49ers will “always explore everything.”

Why Kendrick Bourne is thrilled 49ers put second-round tender on him

Why Kendrick Bourne is thrilled 49ers put second-round tender on him

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has become a staple of the 49ers' offense, and the team is looking to keep him around.

Back on March 17, the 49ers placed second-round tenders on Bourne and running back Matt Breida.

Appearing on the 49ers Insider Podcast with NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco last week, Bourne was asked for his thoughts on the 49ers' decision.

"Definitely thrilled," Bourne said from his parents' home in Portland, Oregon. "Just kind of relieved a little bit, just feeling the respect coming around a little bit on my name, respect from the league and all that, the whole nine yards. Especially going to the Super Bowl, my team being a great team, us making it that far helps everybody, period, on the team. So just thrilled and thankful for the Niners for still believing in me after three years, believing for Year Four and just ready to attack it.

"It just sucks that our OTAs have been postponed. Really excited to get back and get to work, be around the guys again, but just a little more time to work and get a little more polished before OTAs, so I guess that's cool now."

As a restricted free agent, Bourne is allowed to negotiate a contract with another team. If he signs an offer sheet and the 49ers choose not to match, the team would get a second-round draft as compensation.

[RELATED: Impact Sanders had on 49ers' receivers]

Undrafted out of Eastern Washington, Bourne signed with the 49ers in 2017. This past season, he caught 30 passes for 358 yards and five touchdowns.

NFL Draft 2020: Agents share how coronavirus changes impact prospects

NFL Draft 2020: Agents share how coronavirus changes impact prospects

The 2020 NFL Draft might favor players who were able to able to attend the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine, because of pro days and in-person meetings being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But some agents believe teams have all the information they need to proceed on schedule.

Leigh Steinberg and Chris Cabott, from Steinberg Sports and Entertainment, spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area about how their preparation for the draft has been consistent to what they’ve done in the past. Their agency represents Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, among other draft hopefuls.

Both longtime agents believe players who attended an All-Star event or the combine have an advantage, but that always has been the case. As in every draft, there will be players who exceed expectations and those who don’t live up to them.

“When I first started in the industry in 1975 with Steve Bartkowski, there were no pro days, no team meetings, no combine,” Steinberg said. “If you look at statistics from players then, to those selected in 2005, the players in 1975 were more successful and productive. 

“Teams obviously believe that the more information they have, the better, but at some point, it’s enough. I believe they have enough information to make educated and prudent choices.”

Brett Tessler, who represents 49ers running back Raheem Mostert, believes players who weren’t able to attend or weren’t invited to the combine are at a disadvantage across the board. An off-the-radar player won’t have the chance to catch a scout or coach’s eye at a local pro day and jump up a team’s draft board.

“For most non-combine guys, it's going to put everybody at an equal disadvantage,” Tessler told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Teams will rely more on the spring testing numbers that they got prior to this season.

“But, the biggest disadvantage for non-combine guys trying to get drafted is the lack of being brought in for pre-draft visits, where the medical staffs can do all the background work on these guys that they need to do.”

Just like everyone across the nation, players, agents and teams are taking advantage of video conferencing technology such as Zoom and Skype for their 30 one-on-one pre-draft visits. This actually might be the one advantage for players who have grown up with video calls as the norm.

[RELATED: Why Kentucky's Bowden is intriguing for Shanahan, 49ers]

As in the past, teams still have the ability to ask players schematic questions using a virtual chalkboard, and go over game film during video conferencing sessions. Cabott also believes one resource could be more important than in previous pre-draft research.

“Trainers,” Cabott said. “Those guys who were working with players, getting them ready for pro days will have information that will be important for teams. They can give projections, send videos of testing and have insight to a player’s work ethic.”