49ers will look internally for upgraded pass rush


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!

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).

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.

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.

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."

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud


Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

When the 49ers selected inside linebacker Fred Warner of BYU in the third round of the draft, it was easy to see how he fit into the team's plan with the degree of uncertainty surrounding Reuben Foster.

While Foster remained away from the team’s offseason program for five weeks, Warner felt a need to get up to speed quickly if he was needed to be a starter for Week 1 of the regular season. Warner said he was determined to learn as quickly as possible at whatever position he lined up.

“They want consistency over a guy who can make a play here and there,” Warner said on The 49ers insider Podcast. “Because if you’re a liability and you’re out there missing assignments, stuff like that, that’s going to get you cut. You have to be able to retain this information very quickly and be able to produce on the field and put a good product out there. That’s the biggest thing.”

The 49ers consider the middle linebacker (mike) and weakside linebacker (will) positions as nearly interchangeable. The major difference is the mike position is the player who communicates in the huddle. Malcolm Smith is lining up with the first team at mike, while Foster is at will. Warner is leading the second team at mike.

Foster joined the 49ers’ offseason for the final four weeks after a judge dismissed two felony charges of domestic violence. Warner knew all about Foster, the player, before meeting him as a teammate.

“He’s a very physical player, and something I didn’t know about him that I know now, he’s probably the smartest guy in the room,” Warner said. “This dude has the memory of an elephant. He doesn’t have to write notes down. He just retains things very quickly. And I think that’s what allowed him to play at such a high level as a rookie last year, aside from his physical talent.”

Warner has also learned a lot from Smith, who played six NFL seasons before sitting out last year with a torn pectoral.

“We’ve worked after practice on man coverage on tight ends and running backs.,” Warner said. “Even though that might not be something we touch on in practice or a meeting, he just wants to touch on that with me because he said, ‘If you can do this, you can play on any team in the NFL.’ “

One of the few critiques of the rookie during the offseason program is that Warner, who said he was a quiet kid as a youngster, has been a little too loud.

“He’s very smart and he plays like it on the field,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said during the first week of OTAs. “He doesn’t hesitate. He’s a rookie out there, but he’s calling the plays maybe even too loud because I can hear him from the offensive side. But, he doesn’t mind speaking up. He’s confident in what he’s doing.”

Warner said he wanted to win the confidence of his teammates, so that might have contributed to his increased decibel level.

“I want to make sure that when I get in that huddle and I’m talking to these guys, that they know that I know what I’m doing and I’m ready to go,” Warner said. “I’m the one who’s going to set the tone in the huddle before the play even happens.”

Former 49ers lineman Keith Fahnhorst, 66, passes away


Former 49ers lineman Keith Fahnhorst, 66, passes away

Keith Fahnhorst, who played 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and started on two Super Bowl-winning teams, died on Tuesday. He was 66.

Fahnhorst was among a large group of players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl championship team that gathered at Levi’s Stadium in October in a celebration of Dwight Clark. Fahnhorst and Clark were teammates for the 49ers’ Super Bowl-titlle teams of 1981 and 1984. Clark passed away on June 6 from ALS.

Fahnhorst, who was in a wheelchair during his trip to the Bay Area last season, battled many physical ailments since his career ended in 1987. He was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and underwent a kidney transplant in 2002. Fahnhorst was also later diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

A second-round draft pick of the 49ers in 1974 from the University of Minnesota, Fahnhorst was a mainstay at right tackle as the organization struggled in the mid-to-late 1970s, then found success in the 1980s under coach Bill Walsh.

“Everybody knew they could count on Keith,” Walsh said in the 2005 book, “San Francisco 49ers: Where Have Gone?”

Fahnhorst appeared in 193 regular-season games, ranking behind only Len Rohde among offensive linemen in 49ers history. He started 170 games, including all 10 postseason games in which he appeared. He was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team and was selected as a first-team All-Pro after the 1984 season. He was a two-time winner of the Bobb McKittrick Award for best representing the courage, intensity and sacrifice displayed by the longtime 49ers offensive line coach.

Keith Fahnhorst and his younger brother, Jim, were 49ers teammates for the final four years of Keith’s career. Jim Fahnhorst, a linebacker, played for the 49ers from 1984 to 1990. Neither Keith nor Jim Fahnhorst played for any NFL team other than the 49ers.