49ers

49ers strongly considering Quinnen Williams with No. 2 NFL draft pick

49ers strongly considering Quinnen Williams with No. 2 NFL draft pick

SANTA CLARA -- It would have to take a special talent for the 49ers to, once again, invest their top draft pick in a defensive tackle.

Quinnen Williams could be that person, according to 49ers general manager John Lynch.

The 49ers have the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night, and the top candidates to hear their names called in that spot are Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa and Williams, who started just one season at nose tackle at Alabama and finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

And, yes, just because the team has selected Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas in the first rounds of drafts the past five years, Williams still is considered a legitimate option.

“Just because he’s an excellent football player,” Lynch said. “The season he had may have been as good of a college football season that I’ve ever seen. He was just dominant.

“What a season he had. He’s a spectacular player. When you look at how your roster is currently comprised, when you have an opportunity to take a talent like that, you certainly look at every avenue to improve your team.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban told Williams he would have to gain weight in order to realize his goal of being the team’s starting nose tackle in 2018. That is what Williams did. In addition to recording 19.5 tackles for loss, he also registered eight sacks on the season.

Lynch said he does not necessarily consider Williams a nose tackle or a three-technique, a position that lines up on the outside shoulder of the opposing offensive guard.

“He can play anything, that guy,” Lynch said. “He’s special.”

[RELATED: The Choice -- Williams leans on family, football after great loss]

Lynch said he foresees no negatives to adding a player such as Williams to the team’s existing group of interior defensive linemen, which includes Pro Bowl player DeForest Buckner, who recorded 12 sacks last season.

“If he ended up here, there’s room for all those guys,” Lynch said of Williams. “We really feel like that. The one thing we’ve tried to do is take some versatile players that can have the flexibility to play inside, outside. And I think that gives you flexibility in who you bring in.

“Philosophically, coming in waves. We like having strength in numbers and strength in the quality of those numbers.”

Fewer snaps works out to more production for 49ers' rookie Deebo Samuel

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AP

Fewer snaps works out to more production for 49ers' rookie Deebo Samuel

SANTA CLARA – It was no reflection of what the 49ers think of rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel when coach Kyle Shanahan said after Week 1 he wanted him on the field for fewer plays.

Samuel played 59 of the 49ers’ 68 offensive snaps against Tampa Bay. He caught three passes for 17 yards.

In the 49ers’ 41-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, Samuel played just 27 of the team’s 70 snaps. But his production increased significantly.

Samuel caught five of the seven passes quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw his way. Samuel, a second-round draft pick from South Carolina, accounted for 87 yards and a touchdown. Garoppolo likes what he has seen from the rookie.

“It’s moving in the right direction, especially when a guy, he just has the right mindset on the field, you see it in the huddle, you see it in his eyes,” Garoppolo said. “The moment is not too big for him. So as a rookie, you’ve got to appreciate seeing that.

“He’s raw and has so much talent that we’ve got to bring out of him. He’s just moving in the right direction, so that’s the fun part.”

Samuel and Marquise Goodwin started the first two games for the 49ers. Dante Pettis and Goodwin shared the most playing time, with each playing 50 percent of the team’s snaps. Goodwin caught three passes for 77 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown. Pettis did not see a pass thrown his way, though he completed a 16-yard pass on a gadget play.

Pettis got off to a slow start in training camp and Shanahan repeatedly challenged him to show more urgency and step up his game. Pettis said he feels good about the direction he is moving.

“I think I’m pretty much there,” Pettis said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “It’s hard to tell, obviously, in the games, but I think in practices I’m not where I need to be, but I’m on my way.”

Why Justin Skule is thankful for 49ers O-line before first NFL start

Why Justin Skule is thankful for 49ers O-line before first NFL start

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers left tackle Justin Skule, who will take over for injured six-time Pro Bowler Joe Staley at the position in Sunday’s home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, is just a rookie. But Skule already has a huge supporting cast to help him prepare. 

The 22-year-old is an unknown to most in the Niners fanbase. The rookie has quietly kept his head down since he was selected in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the 49ers in April. Staley, who has vowed to help Skule adjust to his new responsibilities, has already made an impact on his replacement. 

“He’s been awesome since I’ve been here just taking me under his wing and giving me little tricks of the trade,” Skule said Wednesday of the veteran left tackle, who is out six to eight weeks after breaking his fibula in Week 2. “He’s done a phenomenal job just these past couple days giving me pointers just showing me how he goes through his process and everything like that. I couldn’t ask for a better mentor.” 

Staley isn’t the only offensive lineman to offer Skule helpful advice. The rookie had to fill in for Staley in the 49ers' 41-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and Skule said Mike Person imparted some wisdom when the two shared the field at Paul Brown Stadium. 

“He’s like, ‘Take a deep breath it’s still just football,'" Skule recalled. "So, I think that’s something that I’m really going to focus on this week. It’s still the game of football. Just take a deep breath, and don’t let anything get too big for myself.” 

Skule apparently has taken that advice to heart during his first week of practice as the team's starter.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t notice the nerves that were brewing in his newly appointed left tackle. Garoppolo that Skule appeared unfazed when he first filled in for Staley and has been the same ever since. 

“He’s been very consistent,” Garoppolo said. “Smart guy, came into the huddle during the game, didn’t blink or anything. Just one of those guys, he does the right thing and he’s in the right spot. He’s been the same guy every day, and you’ve got to appreciate that.”

[RELATED: Chris Simms explains why unbeaten 49ers might be for real]

Thus far, Skule has taken it all in stride. Even with more than 20 media members surrounding him in front of his locker for the first time in his pro career, Skule seemed calm and deliberate. The rookie didn’t hesitate when answering any questions, and his replies seemed genuine. 

Still, Skule knows that even though he feels calm now, the nerves undoubtedly will come before his first start Sunday at Levi's Stadium. 

“No matter who you are replacing, you’re going to go in with some nerves,” Skule said. “Everyone has that competitive edge where you’re going to be nervous when you’re going in. The older guys and everyone in the huddle have just done a great job taking me under their wing and just making sure I’m good and relaxed and ready to go.”