49ers

49ers ponder signing another running back, third quarterback to roster

49ers ponder signing another running back, third quarterback to roster

SANTA CLARA -- Two weeks ago, the 49ers brought in seven quarterbacks to work out after Jimmy Garoppolo sustained his season-ending knee injury.

While Tom Savage and Matt Simms appear to be quarterbacks the 49ers would strongly consider as the No. 3 behind starter C.J. Beathard and backup Nick Mullens, the team shifted focus to running back Monday.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said the 49ers brought in a group of running backs to work out with Matt Breida looking doubtful to play next Monday against the Green Bay Packers.

Shanahan confirmed that Breida did not sustain a high ankle sprain, but he described the injury as “still a serious sprain.” Breida sustained a mid-ankle sprain, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area. He might not be available to play in Week 6.

“It’s better news than anticipated, but it’s still not great news,” Shanahan said. “We’ll see the next couple of days.”

Veteran Alfred Morris is the only other true running back on the 49ers' roster. The No. 3 back, Raheem Mostert, primarily is a special-teams player who fumbled on his first carry Sunday in the 49ers’ 28-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Among the other running backs the 49ers worked out Monday was Jeremy McNichols, who spent last season on the practice squad and was cut this summer after training camp. The 49ers do not appear to have any interest in bringing back Joe Williams, a 2017 fourth-round draft pick who spent last season on injured reserve and was cut before the start of the regular season this year.

The 49ers also will consider promoting undrafted rookie Jeff Wilson from the practice squad, Shanahan said.

The 49ers have not made a move to sign a No. 3 quarterback because of injury concerns at other positions. After all, any quarterback added at this point likely would be used on the scout team at other positions, such as wide receiver and safety, until the player is needed in place of Beathard or Mullens.

“I see a similar situation now as last week,” Shanahan said. “We talk about this stuff every Monday.”

Wide receiver Dante Pettis (knee) will not play against Green Bay, Shanahan said. The 49ers are unsure whether receiver Marquise Goodwin (hamstring/thigh) will be available. The club also has injury concerns on the offensive line with Joe Staley, Weston Richburg and Mike Person all nursing knee injuries.

Tight ends George Kittle (knee) and Garrett Celek (quadriceps), defensive backs Richard Sherman (calf) and Jimmie Ward (hamstring), and linebacker Reuben Foster (shoulder) might be limited in practices, too.

Rob Gronkowski happy 49ers' George Kittle takes position to 'another level'

Rob Gronkowski happy 49ers' George Kittle takes position to 'another level'

MIAMI, Fla. -- Last season, perhaps the best tight end in NFL history called it a career after winning the Super Bowl. 

Rob Gronkowski walked away from the game at the age of 29 last season, but his throne wasn't left unoccupied as 49ers tight end George Kittle and Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce have taken the mantle from Gronk. 

Like Gronkowski, Kittle and Kelce have helped propel their teams to the biggest stage in sports as the 49ers and Chiefs will meet Sunday at Super Bowl LIV in Miami. Both star tight ends also have big personalities, like Gronk, and the former Patriots star likes seeing two star talents who can be themselves both on and off the field. 

"Possibly," Gronkowski told the media Tuesday when asked if he might have influenced Kittle and Kelce. "It's good to see that, though. To see the personality of Kelce and Kittle, both on and off the field. They are a lot of fun to watch while playing the game and also they are a lot of fun off the field. I met them both, they are fantastic guys. I bet you they are fantastic to work with and I bet you they are fantastic teammates too. They just bring it in all aspects, which is great to see. And If I influenced them in that way, to just be themselves, then that's great to hear and that gives me that motivation to keep on going and being that way. Hopefully, they stay true to themselves because they are great players and great dudes. It's going to be fun to watch."

Gronkowski's rise with the Patriots put the tight end position back on the map after Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates exited their primes. The way the Patriots used an athletic, do-it-all tight end, who also loved to be a bulldozer in the run game, inspired other teams to put more of an emphasis on that position.

With Kittle and Kelce, along with Raiders star Darren Waller and Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, Gronk's position now has become one of the most vital in the NFL, something he's excited to see. 

"Talking about the tight end position, it's definitely evolved over the last 10 years or so," Gronkowski said. "If you really think about it man, there were some great tight ends. But now, there are offenses focused around tight ends. I would say it started with Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, those guys started it off. Then, guys like myself took the reins. Now you have Kelce and Kittle taking it to another level. The top two tight ends -- I won a Super Bowl last year and now the top two tight ends are in the Super Bowl. The tight end position just keeps on transcending up, it just keeps on getting the recognition it deserves. I feel like back in the day it didn't really get the recognition, but now it is. It's great to see players like Kelce and Kittle out there doing what they need to do."

While both Kittle and Kelce are all-world players, the 49ers star is the one who most reminds Gronkowski of himself due to his love of eviscerating people in the running game.

[RELATED: How Alex Smith helped develop Patrick Mahomes during rookie season]

A year after his record-breaking season, Kittle battled through ankle, knee and shoulder injuries to be one of the key cogs for a 49ers team that went 13-3 and now is one win away from the Super Bowl. He hasn't been asked to do much in the passing game during the playoffs, but has been quite content to stick his hand in the dirt and pave the way for Raheem Mostert and the 49ers' dominant running game. 

Frank Clark might not care about his matchup with Kittle on Sunday, but he's certainly going to have his hands full trying to beat a guy who relishes in demoralizing opponents with his blocking. 

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 3 p.m. Saturday).

Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.

Why Kyle Shanahan 'freaked out' on Robert Saleh with 49ers game in hand

Why Kyle Shanahan 'freaked out' on Robert Saleh with 49ers game in hand

MIAMI, Fla. — With a few minutes left on the game clock in the NFC Divisional Playoff, the 49ers were up 27-10 over the Minnesota Vikings. Hosting the NFC Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium was a lock. 

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh wanted to lighten the load of his starting linemen and get the backups some reps. It was the first playoff game for the 49ers since 2013, but Saleh was feeling confident that the game was in the bag. Little did he know, Kyle Shanahan did not approve.  

“I freaked out at Saleh when he tried to take the starters out in Green Bay, or was it Minnesota?” Shanahan said Tuesday. “Yeah, it was Minnesota when we were up like three scores with two minutes to go and I freaked out. 

“And then I did the math and I thought it was alright, but you get some scars from that stuff.”

Shanahan still feels the effects of the Falcons’ collapse in Super Bowl LI when he was the offensive coordinator for the club. Blowing the infamous 28-3 lead left a traumatic mark on the 49ers coach that likely will never disappear. 

“Everybody asks what I learned from that Super Bowl and everything,” Shanahan said. “I wish I could say there was some easy answer that would have fixed us not blowing that lead but you know, I go back and am hard on myself about everything. 

“I know the plays I wish I would have called differently, especially the second-and-11 pass once we got down there that led to a sack, so I wish I called a run there, but that was about it.” 

Shanahan will never take the foot off the gas again, especially when facing top quarterback, like Patriots Tom Brady. Shanahan felt similar pangs of stress in the NFC Championship Game with a 14-point lead on the Green Bay Packers knowing all too well what Aaron Rodgers is capable of.  

[RELATED: Shanahan convinced Sherman to sign with 49ers over Lions]

The situation will be no different on Super Bowl Sunday against the speed of the Kansas City Chiefs' offense and the incredible talents of Patrick Mahomes, who quickly racked up 41 unanswered points on the Houston Texans in the divisional round after falling behind 24-0. Shanahan will want to keep the 49ers' starters on the field no matter what the scoreboard reads. 

“You realize when playing against good teams and good quarterbacks that you can never relax.”

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 3 p.m. Saturday).

Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.