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49ers, Raiders staffs to coach Senior Bowl ahead of 2019 NFL Draft

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AP/USATSI

49ers, Raiders staffs to coach Senior Bowl ahead of 2019 NFL Draft

The Bay Area is headed to Mobile, Ala., in January, as the 49ers and Raiders staffs will coach the two teams at the 70th annual Senior Bowl.

Kyle Shanahan and his 49ers staff will lead the South team. The 49ers have coached in the Reese's Senior Bowl five previous times -- Mike Nolan (2006-08), Bill Walsh (1981) and Dick Nolan (1975). Shanahan has coached twice in the game as an assistant.

Gruden and Co. will have control of the North team. The Raiders previously have coached five times in the game -- Dennis Allen (2013), Lane Kiffin (2008), Norv Turner (2005), Gruden (1999) and Art Shell (1992). This is Gruden's fourth time coaching in the Senior Bowl.

“The opportunity to coach these young men is an invaluable asset to our evaluation process and one that we are excited to have," 49ers general manager John Lynch said. "We look forward to getting to know these guys personally while working with them on the practice field, in meetings and even in the dining facilities.”

The Raiders reportedly hired draft guru Mike Mayock as their next GM on Monday. He had a strong presence at previous Senior Bowls to evaluate prospects. 

Working with the top seniors before the NFL draft will be huge for the 49ers and the Raiders. With the regular season over, we know San Francisco has the No. 2 pick, and Oakland (2019 location TBD) will select two spots later before going to the podium two other times in the first round.

Senior Bowl rosters will not be announced until Jan. 16, but a number of top prospects already have accepted invites to the game. Here are Senior Bowl players who could be options for the 49ers or the Raiders in the first two rounds of the draft: EDGE Josh Allen, DE Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE Jalen Jelks, EDGE Chase Winovich, EDGE Montez Sweat, DE Zach Allen, WR Deebo Samuel, WR Anthony Johnson and ILB Te'Veon Conley

The Senior Bowl will be played Saturday, Jan. 26, and be televised on NFL Network. The teams also will practice on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before the game.

NFL preview 2019: Five bold predictions for 49ers' upcoming season

NFL preview 2019: Five bold predictions for 49ers' upcoming season

It's about that time, folks. 

Football is back as the 49ers open training camp on Friday, July 26, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. And expectations are high. 

After two straight disappointing seasons, coach Kyle Shanahan enters Year 3 with his most talented roster. Could the 49ers go from the No. 2 pick to the playoffs in the same year? 

Crazier things have happened. 

Here are five bold predictions for the 49ers this season as training camp is set to start. 

Click for five bold predictions for 49ers' 2019 season

49ers training camp questions: Who will win backup quarterback job?

49ers training camp questions: Who will win backup quarterback job?

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan will face a lot of questions, and much will be written and said about one competition in particular during training camp.

But if things go as the 49ers hope, the result of this training camp battle will have no impact on the season as the winner will not step on the field for a meaningful snap after the exhibition season.

Nick Mullens was more impressive than C.J. Beathard last season, but they will open training camp this week with an equal chance at winning the backup quarterback role.

The competition for the 49ers' backup quarterback job probably will not be settled until the final cuts before the start of the regular season. The organization must also determine whether the loser of the battle will remain on the team's 53-man roster or end up on the waiver wire.

Mullens had a historically impressive eight-start opening to his NFL career last season. But he opens camp on equal footing with Beathard for the right to serve as the 49ers' No. 2 quarterback behind starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

“I know both of them so well because we’ve been here two years with them and we’ve gotten a chance now to see both of them in practice and both of them in games,” Shanahan said.

Mullens piled up big passing yards after taking over for Beathard at the midseason point, averaging 284.6 yards passing per game. In fact, Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton are the only players to throw for more yards in their first eight starts. The Southern Mississippi product compiled a respectable 90.9 passer rating while putting up big numbers after taking over for Beathard prior to the 49ers’ Week 9 game against the Raiders.

And Shanahan seems to be pleased with both players, based on what he witnessed during the nine-week offseason program.

They arrived at this point through different modes of transportation.

Beathard was a third-round draft pick in 2017. The 49ers signed Mullens immediately following that same draft as an undrafted rookie. Mullens was among the final cuts before the beginning of the ’17 and ’18 seasons. After he cleared waivers both years, Mullens was immediately signed back to the 49ers’ practice squad.

Beathard has made 10 NFL starts over his first two seasons in the league. He's proven his toughness, but he has to do a much better job of getting the ball out quicker and avoiding hits. Beathard took one sack for every 10.4 dropbacks. At the time Mullens replaced him in the Week 9 game against the Raiders, Beathard needed a break mentally and physically. In two seasons, Beathard has thrown 12 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions.

Mullens might not have all the physical attributes, but he knows the system as well as anyone and does not back down from a challenge. Statistically, Mullens was better last season. He averaged 8.3 yards per attempt while completing 64.2 percent of his pass attempts. Beathard averaged 7.4 yards per attempt and completed slightly above 60 percent of his passes.

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The big question about Mullens is his ability to connect on the deep ball, which is a major component of Shanahan's offensive blueprint.