49ers

49ers will look internally for upgraded pass rush

marshcassius49ersred.jpg
USATSI

49ers will look internally for upgraded pass rush

The collection of edge rushers in the 2018 NFL draft was not an impressive group.

It was clear the 49ers did not believe there were many upgrades over what they already had on their roster. The club did not address one of their biggest needs at any point over the three-day, seven-round draft.

“Those guys are difficult to find, first and foremost,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “We felt like there were a couple guys who had an opportunity to be special there. Just where we were, we didn't have an opportunity or chose not to take them.”

Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan expressed faith that the 49ers can develop an improved pass rush with the players already on the roster. Shanahan mentioned Cassius Marsh and Arik Armstead. The group also includes DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, Ronald Blair, Jeremiah Attaochu, Eli Harold and Pita Taumoepenu.

“We'd love to get a Von Miller, but you only get eight up on game day and you only get nine on our roster,” Shanahan said. “You've got to be pretty good to beat out Marsh. You’ve got to be pretty good to beat out Armstead. You don't just get guys. If you get them, someone else has got to get cut and we’ve got a pretty good group.”

Marsh caught wind of Shanahan’s endorsement. The words meant a lot to a player whom Seattle traded and New England cut.

Marsh wrote on social media:
”This right here gave me chills and almost brought tears to my eyes. To go from never feeling appreciated and having to prove myself every single day. To knowing my Coaching staff and GM have my back and trust my work ethic and talent is an indescribable feeling. I am so grateful but never satisfied! I will never lose this chip on my shoulder and will continue to grind every single day. Because in the league, any day could be your last!

ROSTER SPOTS MORE DIFFICULT TO EARN
The 49ers are scheduled to hold their rookie minicamp Friday and Saturday. There will be a lot fewer players on the field than a year ago. Also, there will be a lot fewer opportunities for draft picks and undrafted rookies to earn roster spots.

Former general manager Trent Baalke left the roster in such shambles that any young player with a choice wanted to come to the 49ers because it offered an easier chance at landing on an NFL roster.

“We're definitely happier that it's going to be a bigger challenge this year,” Shanahan said.

Said Lynch, ““I'm chuckling because last year, the land of opportunity got a little out of control. I think we had 85 at our rookie mini-camp, our tryout camp.”

Lynch mentioned safety Chancellor James and offensive lineman Richard Levy as players who earned rookie contract as tryout players. This year, the 49ers will be a little more selective about the players invited to try out.

“We did a lot of favors last year, I think,” Lynch said. “ ’This guy was my roommate in college and his cousin's son kind of has a shot at being in the NFL.’ They were here.”

Twelve undrafted rookies reportedly have deals to sign with the 49ers, according to various reports.

Offense: RB Jeffery Wilson (North Texas); WR Steven Dunbar (Houston); TE Ross Dwelley (San Diego); OT Jamar McGloster (Syracuse); C Alan Knott (South Carolina); and C Coleman Shelton, (Washington).

Defense: DE Patrick Choudja (Nevada); DT Niles Scott (Frostburg State); CB Tarvarus McFadden (Florida State); CB Emmanuel Moseley (Tennessee); DB Corey Griffin (Georgia Tech); and S Terrell Williams (Houston).

THE DECISION TO TRADE BROWN TO PATRIOTS
Lynch denied the 49ers were looking to trade offensive tackle Trent Brown on Thursday night – shortly after the 49ers selected Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey with their first-round pick. But, truth be told, both Lynch and Shanahan looked completely uncomfortable with the line of questioning.

“Yeah, my fingers were crossed (Thursday) night when I was talking to you,” Lynch said a day later. “I did say, “Never say never.’ We had agreed in principle. But part of these deals, you've got to see them through and, obviously, there was an injury and he had to go pass a physical.”

The 49ers did not envision Brown as a long-term member of the organization due to concerns about his work ethic, physical conditioning, inconsistent film study and execution of his assignments. A club source told NBC Sports Bay Area that Patriots coach Bill Belichick is fully aware of why the 49ers decided to trade him rather than seek a contract extension.

WHAT'S THE FUTURE FOR ARMSTEAD?
The 49ers wanted more depth on their defensive line at the positions described as “big end” and “three technique.” That is why the club used two draft picks to address the need.

The 49ers spent a fourth-round pick on North Carolina State’s Kentavius Street, who recently tore an ACL while working out for the New York Giants and likely will not be available until 2019. Temple’s Jullian Taylor was picked up in the seventh round.

The 49ers could use that depth a year from now. The 49ers have not yet given an indication whether they plan to exercise the fifth-year option in 2019 on defensive lineman Arik Armstead, a first-round pick in 2015. The deadline is Thursday. The one-year price tag for Armstead on the fifth-year option is $9 million. The 49ers also have a decision on guard Laken Tomlinson, whose fifth-year option salary would be $9.6 million.

49ERS FIND IT DIFFICULT TO PASS UP JAMES
In the days leading up to the first round, draft analyst Tony Pauline reported the 49ers coveted linebacker Tremaine Edmunds for the No. 9 overall pick. A day later, he reported the 49ers were also high on safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

As it turns out, the 49ers’ top two choices were McGlinchey and, likely, safety Derwin James.

Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area that three interviews stood out among the many players with whom the 49ers talked. Those players were McGlinchey, James and running back Sony Michel. Lynch indicated it was difficult for the team to pass up James with the No. 9 overall selection.

“Derwin James was just phenomenal,” Lynch said. “That was a hard one because he’s special in his presence, let alone his play."

Watch 49ers WR Dante Pettis crush BP homers in Minute Maid Park

dantepettis49ershoustonbattingpracticeusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Watch 49ers WR Dante Pettis crush BP homers in Minute Maid Park

The 49ers arrived in Houston on Tuesday, where they will hold joint practices with the Texans on Wednesday and Thursday. On Sunday, the two teams will play a preseason game.

With no team activities schedule on Tuesday, rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis took full advantage of the free time. His father is Astros third base coach Gary Pettis, so the younger Pettis donned Astros gear and took batting practice at Minute Maid Park.

In video posted by Fox 26's Mark Berman, Pettis deposited a few balls into the Crawford Box.

Check out the video here:

49ers notes: Practices heat up with Texans in Houston

49ers notes: Practices heat up with Texans in Houston

The 49ers arrived Monday evening in Houston, where temperatures in the mid-90s – and more than a bit of humidity -- await the team’s two practices this week against the Texans.

After 14 practices at the team’s facility in Santa Clara, the 49ers figure to learn a lot more about their roster while facing a different opponent during two-hour practice sessions scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

“We’re very sick of going against the same scheme every day,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It’ll be nice to go against something else, you know? Offensively and defensively, and it gives you two practices where you can go against different stuff, which prepares all your players for what they’re going to see during the year.

“And just for the monotony of camp, it’s good to change it up.”

The 49ers will be a bit short-handed for the practices. Eleven players sat out the team’s practice Monday due to injuries. Running back Joe Williams is scheduled to rejoin the team. The 49ers also plan to sign veteran running back Alfred Morris. The 49ers’ top two running backs, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida, are out for the remainder of the preseason with injuries.

The injuries across the board have impacted how the 49ers practice. Because of thinning depth, the 49ers do not have enough healthy bodies to form a full No. 3 unit.

“Once you start losing those guys, it adds a lot on another person,” Shanahan said. “Once you see a guy having to take reps with the twos and with the threes, it’s just a matter of time before that guy gets hurt. Those are the things you’ve got to pay attention to. You can get away with it for a little bit and you know you’re going to put a lot on a guy, but eventually once you see it’s too much you’ve got to stop the drill and just move on. It’s not worth it.”

After two practices against the Texans, the 49ers will have a day off on Friday before facing Houston on Saturday in the second preseason game for both teams.

McGlinchey Readies for Work vs. Watt

After being satisfied with his performance during his 23 snaps in the exhibition opener against the Dallas Cowboys, 49ers rookie right tackle Mike McGlinchey is bracing for what figures to be his best learning experience since being the No. 9 overall draft pick.

McGlinchey is likely to go up against Texans perennial All-Pro defensive lineman J.J. Watt in two practices. The reports out of Houston is that Watts has looked close to his former self after two injury-plagued seasons. He did not play in the Texans’ exhibition opener, though. McGlinchey could see practice time against Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.

“It’s definitely going to be fun,” McGlinchey said. “It’s why you play in the NFL, to play against the biggest and baddest dudes.”

Morris Steps in to Compete

Part of the reason the 49ers are bringing in Morris to join the team is because he already is familiar with Shanahan’s system. But Morris will also get an opportunity to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster. Morris spent two seasons with Shanahan in Washington, and Shanahan said he should have no problem picking up the 49ers playbook.

“There’s not big changes and it’s not that tough for a back,” Shanahan said. “They’ve got to set their track the right way and you hand it off to them and go run. We have a way that we coach guys and stuff, but everyone, when you’re away from something, it’s going to take some time. He is going to be rusty with that stuff, but he’ll get the hang of it.”

Undrafted rookie OL Alan Knott was waived to make room for Morris. 

This ‘N’ That

Shanahan bristled when asked if the injuries of training camp could have been avoided. “Soft tissue injuries, yeah, they can be prevented by having them not doing anything and sit there and just not get hurt and then it will happen in Week 1,” Shanahan said. “It’s just part of it. I think we are pretty smart with what we do. There’s a fine line, a very fine line. If a player is complaining about being tight, we can sit there and shut him down and then every single person who ever complains about being tight, you can shut down and then ask a group of 90 people in training camp to raise their hands on who’s tight. Ninety people will raise their hand.” . . . McKinnon grabbed behind his right knee after sustaining an injury in practice on Sunday. The fears were alleviated when an MRI revealed a calf strain, which will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the exhibition season. “No one realizes your calf goes that high,” Shanahan said. “So I think he was worried about it just where it was and then once he got the assurance that it was his calf, it made sense that he didn’t have that much pain. I think he felt much better. But at least he feels good that he’ll be ready for Week 1.”