49ers

Chip Kelly: Colin Kaepernick wants to play for 49ers

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Chip Kelly: Colin Kaepernick wants to play for 49ers

Editor’s note: Matt Maiocco is in Indianapolis to cover the NFL Combine. Check back for his comprehensive coverage and catch his nightly updates on SportsNet Central.

INDIANAPOLIS – New 49ers coach Chip Kelly has not gotten any indication from Colin Kaepeernick that he wants to resume his NFL career elsewhere.

Kelly said every time he has spoken with Kaepernick, there has never been a hint of discontent or any suggestion that he needs a fresh start.

“He wants to be here,” said Kelly, who met with 49ers beat reporters for an hour Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “He’s never expressed to me that he doesn’t want to be here. He expressed to me that he was excited about getting healthy and getting going. And we’re excited about him getting healthy and getting going.”

[MAIOCCO: Baalke: Kap will remain on 49ers in April, 'can't predict tomorrow']

Kaepernick is rehabbing from shoulder, knee and thumb surgeries in Vail, Colorado. Kelly echoed the words of 49ers general manager Trent Baalke, who guaranteed a day earlier that Kaepernick would remain on the 49ers’ roster during the offseason.

There was a lot of speculation the 49ers could work to part ways with Kaepernick, who was benched after eight games last season. Kaepernick’s scheduled $11.9 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed on April 1. Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert are expected to compete for the 49ers' starting job.

“I don’t know what the narrative is that, ‘Is he on the team? Is he not on the team?’” Kelly said. “It’s never been a question. I’m excited to work with Colin. I’ve never thought that, ‘Hey, I’m going to go to San Francisco and he’s not going to be there.’ I don’t know why everybody else looks at it that way, either.”

Gabbert replaced Kaepernick as the 49ers' starter for the final eight games of the season after Kaepernick completed 59 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and five interceptions through the first half of the season. It's been quite a fall for Kaepernick, who lit up the NFL as a dual-threat quarterback in 2012.

“Kap’s really good,” Kelly said. “He had the ball on the 5 yard line, taking the team in to win the Super Bowl. You can just look at the tape and know how talented he is. Our job is acquiring talent, not getting rid of talent.”

Kaepernick’s production has dropped incrementally since the 2012 season when he took over for Alex Smith and was the quarterback of the 49ers’ Super Bowl team. Kelly blamed Kaepernick’s dip in performance on the coaching change and injuries. Jim Tomsula replaced Jim Harbaugh last year, and the 49ers' offense struggled mightily under offensive coordinator Geep Chryst.

“I know he’s injured,” Kelly said. “People forget about that. He had a shoulder, a thumb and a knee that are legitimate. He’s the only guy I know who went on IR and everybody forgot he was injured. There’s a reason he was on IR.”

That’s why Kelly said Kaepernick’s first priority has to be completing his rehab and being 100 percent as the competition begins for the starting job.

“Getting a healthy Kap is an important thing,” he said. “And I’ve talked to him. He seems excited about where he’s heading and how that’s coming.”

Due to restrictions in the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, Kelly is prohibited from speaking to Kaepernick about football until the beginning of the offseason program on April 4.

And because he can’t talk football with his players, he said it influences how he watches film, too. After all, Kelly said he evaluates only the skill of the players because he does not know the individual assignments.

That is something he keeps in mind while watching Gabbert, who oftentimes made the safe check-down throw on third downs that came up short of the yard markers.

“When I’m watching our film right now, I’m just analyzing skill sets,” Kelly said. “Like when I look at Blaine throw a check down, I don’t know what he was told to do and I don’t know what the play call was, so it’s hard for me to say, ‘Look at him, he’s wrong to make this decision.’ ”

2020 NFL Draft: How 49ers' John Lynch prepares while working from home

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AP

2020 NFL Draft: How 49ers' John Lynch prepares while working from home

The 2020 NFL Draft will be held as scheduled -- albeit remotely -- amid the coronavirus pandemic, keeping 49ers general manager John Lynch plenty busy during California's shelter-in-place order.

In-person visits with prospects at the team's facility or elsewhere are off, but Lynch said he is able to make the most of watching film of potential picks while working from his home office.

“People have a lot bigger problems than we do, I can tell you that,” Lynch told NBC Sports' Peter King for his "Football Morning in America" column. “This year’s a lot different than any year scouts and GMs have had, obviously, with all the challenges. But this time of year, what you really need is time.

"The other day, [coach] Kyle [Shanahan] called and said, ‘This is unbelievable! I’m getting so much done.’ And he’s right. He and I, this time of year, would be watching this tape in our offices, and the difference is our doors aren’t getting knocked on 50 times a day. I’m really getting a lot done.”

Lynch and Shanahan have more prospects to examine than they did a month ago. The 49ers acquired another first-round draft pick -- No. 13 overall -- when they traded dominant defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. San Francisco, before then, was scheduled to make its first pick with the No. 31 overall selection.

[RELATED: 49ers' Jones switches agencies entering final year of deal]

That additional prep very well could've included watching Louisville's Mekhi Becton, whose Cardinals were on-screen in footage Lynch was watching during a video posted to social media last week showing how he was preparing for the draft at home. The offensive lineman is projected to be a top-10 pick next month, and Lynch simply wouldn't have had much reason to watch him with the 49ers' first pick set for the very end of the first round.

We'll know some of the players whom Lynch, Shanahan and the rest of the 49ers closely watched when the NFL draft begins April 23. The 49ers currently have seven picks: Two in the first round, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh.

Colts' DeForest Buckner, Sheldon Day driven by 49ers' Super Bowl loss

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USATSI

Colts' DeForest Buckner, Sheldon Day driven by 49ers' Super Bowl loss

Sheldon Day and DeForest Buckner will be teammates on a new team next season, driven by the last loss with their old one.

The defensive linemen joined the Indianapolis Colts this offseason via free agency and trade, respectively, after playing together for the 49ers since midway through the 2017 season. Day and Buckner's final games with San Francisco were in the 49ers' 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, and Day said the pair has additional motivation after not lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy last season.

"It was right there in our hands, and all we had to do was squeeze it and grab it (in Super Bowl LIV), and we let up," Day told reporters on his introductory conference call last week (via Colts.com). "So ultimately we have a chip on our shoulders and we know how to get there, and now we know what to do to overcome that shortcoming that we had."

Buckner sacked eventual Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes 1.5 times in the game, accounting for three of the 49ers' nine QB hits. Day, meanwhile, played a little over half of San Francisco's 76 defensive snaps and picked up a tackle.

[RELATED: 49ers' Jones switches agencies entering final year of deal]

The Indianapolis native played in a career-high 16 games with the 49ers during the 2019 regular season, and Day started each of San Francisco's playoff games. Day credited his growth to playing with Buckner, and he's going to continue picking his brain while they're still teammates.

"DeForest (has) made me detail my game," Day said. "So we would be working on pass-rush moves, bouncing ideas off of each other, just trying to make sure that our game grew together, and we're always giving each other tips. If I see something on film [I'm reaching] out to him, and vice versa. So, man, what a special guy he is."

All the while, the 49ers' Super Bowl LIV won't be far from either player's mind.