For Buckner, improving 49ers' pass rush is one-step process


For Buckner, improving 49ers' pass rush is one-step process

SAN JOSE -- The 49ers may need just one quick step in order to improve their biggest area of concern this season.

The 49ers ranked tied for 26th in the NFL last season with 30 quarterback sacks. The club declined this offseason to pick up the option on veteran Elvis Dumervil, who led the 49ers with 6.5 sacks. The 49ers have been unable to generate much of a pass rush since the release of Aldon Smith prior to the 2015 season.

So much of the onus for an improved pass rush falls onto the shoulders of DeForest Buckner, the team’s best defensive player. He recorded just three sacks last season but is clearly capable of so much more.

Buckner said the emphasis of his offseason training is to find that extra step. He led the NFL last season with 19 quarterback hits, according to Pro Football Focus.

“I had too many, you know, almosts," Buckner said at a gathering to announce events connected with the college football national championship game, which is coming to Levi's Stadium on Jan. 7, 2019. "And I’m just really trying to find that extra step in my game.

“And I really think it’s going to help me this year, especially working this offseason, finding that extra step – whether it’s footwork, getting my strength up in my lower half. I’m working on everything I can to get that extra step so I can really finish those sacks.”

Buckner has the ability to generate a pass rush from the interior of the line. The 49ers are counting on contributions from a long list of potential pass-rushers, including Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Ronald Blair, Cassius Marsh, Jeremiah Attaochu, Eli Harold and Pita Taumoepenu. The 49ers could also add a pass-rusher -- as early as No. 9 overall -- in the upcoming NFL Draft.

“I think we have the guys, the tools, to do it right now,” Buckner said. “And if they want to go out and get an extra guy to help out the team, it’s a benefit. Right now, we have the pieces to do it. We all know we have to be more consistent.”

Shanahan remains in contact with Reuben Foster, shares his state of mind

Shanahan remains in contact with Reuben Foster, shares his state of mind

SANTA CLARA – A judge will make a crucial ruling on Wednesday that is likely to determine the 49ers' next move with linebacker Reuben Foster, who faces two felony counts of domestic violence.

The decision will be announced at 3:30 p.m. at the Hall of Justice in San Jose whether probable cause was demonstrated last week during a preliminary hearing. Foster faces three felony charges of domestic violence, forcefully attempting a victim from reporting a crime, and possession of an assault weapon.

Foster has not taken part in any of the 5 ½ weeks of the team’s offseason program since the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office filed the formal charges in April. The 49ers opened organized team activities on Monday.

“It’s still ongoing,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said of Foster’s legal issues. “Hopefully, we’ll have some more answers by tomorrow. We’ve been patient this whole time. We’re going to continue to be patient until we get a few more answers. And, then, when the decision does come, I promise you guys, I’ll answer that for you right away.”

The DA's office last week attempted to present evidence in court to justify moving forward to the trial phase with Foster. However, the accuser, Foster’s former girlfriend, recanted her initial statements to policy and gave testimony that supported Foster's defense.

The woman, Elissa Ennis, said under oath last week that Foster did not harm her. She said her injuries were the result of a fight with one or two women following a road rage incident the night before the alleged incident with Foster. She said she was upset because Foster was threatening to break up with her and she wanted to ruin his career. She said she lied about her accusations of Foster's abuse.

The 49ers took no action after the initial reports of the alleged incident, choosing to let the legal process play out. Although Foster has not been showing up at team headquarters, members of the organization are remaining in contact with him.

“I reach out to him about once or twice a week to see how he’s doing,” Shanahan said.

How is Foster doing?

“He’s hanging in there,” Shanahan said. “Obviously, it’s a tough challenge. I think anyone would realize. It’s a very hard thing to go through. We’ll see how this ends up, but just always hope that every situation you’re in, in the long run, it can make you a better person and a better man. And I think Reuben is handling it right.”

Report: NFL teams viewed Kaepernick as a starting QB, collusion case reveals


Report: NFL teams viewed Kaepernick as a starting QB, collusion case reveals

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick opted out of his deal with the San Francisco 49ers last March, and went unsigned for the entirety of the 2017 season. That, reportedly, may not have been because of his playing ability. 

Testimony from witnesses under deposition in Kaepernick's collusion case against the NFL and "internal franchise documents generated as part of the free-agency evaluation process" indicated that multiple teams viewed Kaepernick as good enough to be a starting quarterback, Pro Football Talk reported Monday, citing a source with knowledge of the situation.

Kaepernick filed a grievance under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement in October, alleging that he was unsigned after first sitting, than kneeling, during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality throughout the 2016 season. He started 11 games in 2016, throwing for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns, and four interceptions. His interception percentage (1.2 percent) was sixth-lowest among starting quarterbacks (minimum 10 starts) that year, and he finished 17th in passer rating (90.7).