49ers

49ers tackle Joe Staley doesn't have looming retirement on his mind

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USATSI

49ers tackle Joe Staley doesn't have looming retirement on his mind

A lot of times for athletes, it's not up to them whether or not they want to retire -- it's up to their body. For 49ers tackle Joe Staley, it's really no different.

"I like to think that I can continue to play football for as long as they'll have me," Staley said in an interview with 95.7 The Game on Thursday. "And that's my mindset. I've never thought about when an end is going to be."

The 35-year-old signed a two-year contract extension with San Francisco in June which ultimately means he could spend the entirety of his NFL career as a member of the 49ers. And while that seems like a long time, he's still soaking up the everyday grind of his job even with the setbacks he's faced this season.

"The challenges of this season have been different than seasons past," he said. "I love the adverse situations and you kind of learn a lot about yourself -- how you respond and challenge yourself daily with different goals ... "

Staley sustained a fractured left fibula earlier in the season during the Week 2 matchup against the Bengals and with a smile tried to remain positive but admitted: "it sucks." He was emotional after the injury but said that had a lot to do with how special the team was and the guys he was surrounded by.

Still, you can't fake the passion the six-time Pro Bowler brings to the 49ers and it appears you would have to pry the game away from his hands if you anticipate him hanging up his cleats any time soon.

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"That love for the game is still there, burning," Staley said.

He finished the statement saying he doesn't have an honest answer as to just how much football is left in his body, but it's not something he's concentrating on at the moment.

NFL Draft 2020: Baylor's Denzel Mims believes his skills match with 49ers

NFL Draft 2020: Baylor's Denzel Mims believes his skills match with 49ers

INDIANAPOLIS -- General manager John Lynch believes the 49ers have built a culture that is attractive to veteran players who have their choice where to play.

Under coach Kyle Shanahan, they also have built an offense that makes young skill players want to play for the 49ers, too.

There is no shortage of talented wide receivers in the 2020 draft class, and the 49ers figure to take advantage of the abundance of talent at some point. There are receivers to fit every profile. The 49ers could certainly use a player who is big, fast and a threat in the red zone. Oh, yeah, he also has to be a willing blocker.

Baylor receiver Denzel Mims fits the profile of a player whom the 49ers covet for their offense. And Mims believes he would be a perfect match for the 49ers’ offense, too.

"I love it. I feel like I fit in good with that type of offense,” Mims said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “They want to block. I'm going to go block. If they want me to catch the ball. I'm going to go catch some balls. Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to go do it."

Mims has the size at 6-foot-2 7/8 and 207 pounds. He ran a blazing 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Shanahan values fluidity and change of direction, and Mims has that, too. His time of 6.66 seconds in the three-cone drill was nearly 3/10th of a second faster than anyone else at the combine.

He also produced on the field. In his final three seasons at Baylor, Mims averaged 60 receptions for 967 yards and nearly 10 touchdowns.

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Shanahan always has considered the team’s wide receivers a big part of the running game with an importance placed on their willingness and ability to block. Mims checks that box, too.

"I had seen that it would separate my game from a lot of receivers in this league, and, so, I took pride in it,” Mims said. “And I knew that if I were elite at that, then I'd be an elite receiver.

"I take blocking very serious. I feel like you have to run the ball in this game. You can't just pass every single down. And, so, if I open up the blocking game, it will open up the passing game. And, so, if I block for my teammates, then they'll block for me and the quarterback so I can get the ball.”

Mims does not shy away from contact. He said his favorite route is the slant, which he works the middle of the field and has the ability to make a defender miss for a big gain.

Kyle Shanahan explains why Dante Pettis was not 49ers' punt returner

Kyle Shanahan explains why Dante Pettis was not 49ers' punt returner

INDIANAPOLIS -- No punt returner in the history of college football was as dynamic as Dante Pettis.

But in two seasons since the 49ers traded up to take him in the second round of the 2018 draft, Pettis has gotten only 11 opportunities to return punts.

All of Pettis’ chances came during his rookie season. While his play time at wide receiver dwindled to non-existent over the second half of the recently completed season, he was not even able to make a contribution special teams.

Why? Coach Kyle Shanahan said it was as simple as this: Richie James was better.

“We didn’t think he was our best guy,” Shanahan said of Pettis at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Pettis set the NCAA record with nine punt returns for touchdowns. After Pettis visited the 49ers, the club selected him with the No. 44 overall draft pick. As a rookie, he fumbled twice while averaging just 3.0 yards on nine returns. He also sustained a knee injury on an early season return against the Los Angeles Chargers.

In 2019, James was reliable. He was fifth in the NFL in return yards and did not have a fumble on 33 punt returns while averaging a respectable 8.0 yards per return.

Shanahan said he wants Pettis to put up a battle to compete with James for the job in 2020. He said he has expressed that expectation to Pettis, too.

“He knows that,” Shanahan said. “I think he’s got a chance to be (the punt returner). But we felt more comfortable with Richie. And I hope Dante tries to take that job from him.

“It’s his decision. He’s got to show it. I guess, it comes down to my decision, but he should make it for me.”

Pettis averaged 17.3 yards on 27 receptions and caught five touchdown passes as a rookie. But his production dropped off in his second season, as he caught just 11 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. He will be fighting for a spot on the 2020 team.

Shanahan said he wants Pettis to be on a mission during his second offseason to come back as a stronger, better and more-focused player. He said Pettis took a “documented” step back in his second season.

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Shanahan said second-year players who struggle after promising rookie seasons can go either way.

“They keep being like that, and they usually filter out,” Shanahan said, “or it’s a wakeup call for them and they come back and you see It in April. They treated January to April so much different than the year before, and then it usually changes their career.”