49ers

49ers' Solomon Thomas shouts out Patrick Mahomes after huge contract

49ers' Solomon Thomas shouts out Patrick Mahomes after huge contract

The 2017 NFL Draft will go down as one of the biggest what-ifs for a number of fan bases, including the 49ers.

The 49ers entered the draft with the No. 2 overall pick and traded down one spot to No. 3 so the Chicago Bears could jump up and select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The 49ers, who at the time still were looking for a franchise quarterback, could have drafted Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson. Instead, they drafted defensive end Solomon Thomas. Mahomes fell all the way to No. 10, where the Kansas City Chiefs gobbled him up and the rest is history.

Mahomes signed a 10-year contract extension Monday worth $503 million, keeping the 2018 NFL MVP in Kansas City until 2031. Thomas gave a shoutout to Mahomes on Twitter after the star quarterback's deal was announced.

While Mahomes has become the face of the NFL, Thomas has struggled as a member of the 49ers. In three seasons, Thomas has recorded just six sacks and 16 tackles for loss. The 49ers declined to pick up his fifth-year option earlier this offseason.

There still is time for Thomas to reach his potential and become a productive NFL defensive lineman, but it's clear that passing on Mahomes was a mistake the 49ers won't soon live down. Blowing a 10-point lead to Mahomes and the Chiefs with six minutes left in Super Bowl LIV was a painful reminder of what could have been.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

With Mahomes and the Chiefs not going anywhere, the 49ers know there is a high probability that their quest for Super Bowl redemption will go through Mahomes, who is looking to create a dynasty in Kansas City.

The 49ers showed in last year's Super Bowl that they have the defensive talent to slow Mahomes down. Unfortunately, he only can be held down for so long.

[RELATED: Keys for 49ers to compete with Mahomes, Chiefs after megadeal]

In order to compete with Mahomes and the Chiefs, the 49ers need quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to take a leap in 2020. Having a defense that can slow Mahomes down is important, but eventually, you need your quarterback needs to be able to answer the Chiefs' haymakers with some big plays of his own. Otherwise, the avalanche occurs and the game can get out of hand in a heartbeat.

Mahomes cemented himself as the best player in the NFL with his Super Bowl heroics against the 49ers. Now, he'll look to live up to the largest contract in professional sports history. There's no reason to believe he won't.

49ers' Fred Warner not surprised peers consider him one of best in NFL

49ers' Fred Warner not surprised peers consider him one of best in NFL

Linebacker Fred Warner was a solid 16-game starter as a rookie for the 49ers in 2018.

Last season, he broke out.

Warner was selected as the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November. He led the 49ers for the second straight season in tackles, returned an interception for a touchdown, broke up nine passes, forced three fumbles, registered three sacks and had seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He capped his season with an interception of Patrick Mahomes in the team's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.

Recently, Warner was announced as the No. 70 player in the game in a vote of players on the NFL Network.

"I wouldn't say I was surprised at all,” Warner said. “I felt like I competed at a high level last year. I think my peers saw that. It probably wasn't reflected in the awards last year when it came to All-Pro and those sorts of things, but obviously we got to the Super Bowl.

“That’s all I care about and continuing to be the best player I can for this team so that we can make it back to that game and make sure the outcome is how we want it.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The 49ers are in the early stages of training camp. Despite all the restrictions and changes to the typical camp routine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Warner said the 49ers are intent on remaining focused on preparations for the regular season, which begins Sept. 13 against the Arizona Cardinals.

“I don’t think a lot has changed,” Warner said. “When we get out there, it’s all business. We’re all hungry to get back at it and get going.”

[RELATED49ers need production from Trent Taylor with Travis Benjamin's opt-out]

The NFL canceled all preseason games this summer. Teams generally do not tackle in practices. But for someone who makes his living tackling, Warner said he is not concerned about lacking precision once the season begins.

“I’m not worried about that one bit,” Warner said. “The way we practice and we prepare is all you need. We do thump in practice, but we’re not bringing guys to the ground. We’re working on our technique and tracking, making sure that we’re working that technique in practice, so that when we do come to the games it’s all natural.”

How Jalen Hurd's physicality has stood out to 49ers' Raheem Mostert

How Jalen Hurd's physicality has stood out to 49ers' Raheem Mostert

Jalen Hurd only played in the preseason last year before a back injury ultimately cut short his rookie season, but the 49ers wide receiver nonetheless flashed intriguing potential with a two-touchdown performance against the Dallas Cowboys.

But Hurd's potential as a blocker is what most excites 49ers running back Raheem Mostert.

"[He's] gonna go out there and he's gonna put his all, especially with what I've seen these past couple years when he's been healthy," Mostert said of Hurd on Wednesday when he was asked about the 49ers' big receivers and their blocking ability. "Going out there, and trying to de-cleat somebody. That's inspiring in itself as a running back because you know that he's gonna do his job to the best of his ability, and he's gonna put his body out there on the line. Why not do the same as a runner?"

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Hurd certainly has the measurables to be an effective run blocker. He also played running back at Tennessee before transitioning to wide receiver when he transferred to Baylor, checking the important "positional versatility" box for coach Kyle Shanahan.

The 49ers spoke openly of how much they value blocking contributions from skill-position players all along the way to Super Bowl LIV, and the role their wide receivers and tight ends played in San Francisco rushing for more yards (2,305) than any team but the Baltimore Ravens in the regular season. Shanahan said George Kittle set the tone in that regard.

“I mean, he had more yards in the pass game as a tight end in the history of the NFL [in 2018],” Shanahan said of the tight end in January. “So, any time you have a guy like that who's one of the best players on your team who's always just talking about running the ball and playing the physicality in the game and giving everything you can, it helps you hold everyone else a lot more accountable, and rarely do you have to."

[RELATED: Mostert knew he would remain with 49ers 'no matter what']

Can Hurd provide similar value during his first full NFL season in 2020? He has the size, and Mostert believes Hurd definitely has the skills.

"It's nice to see those guys out there coming back, especially Jalen, because he is a bigger receiver and he's more physical," Mostert continued. "He's one of -- probably the most physical receiver I've seen, tape-wise and even going out there practicing. It's nice to see him back."