Colin Kaepernick tops list of 49ers' offseason decisions

Colin Kaepernick tops list of 49ers' offseason decisions

When the 49ers’ next general manager and coach settle into their offices in Santa Clara, among their first decisions will be to determine which of the team’s pending free agents are worth keeping around.

Team’s executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe have a window to speak with Super Bowl-bound Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan beginning Friday evening and concluding Saturday night.

During that time frame, the 49ers hope to determine which of the team’s general manager candidates is the best fit with Shanahan to collaborate all of the organization’s football decisions. Shanahan is not allowed to be hired officially until after Super Bowl 51 on Feb. 5.

The 49ers have exclusive negotiating rights with all of their scheduled free agents through March 6. The window for open negotiating for all teams with all free agents runs from March 7 at 9 a.m. until March 9 at 1 p.m. The free-agent signing period begins after that.

Here is a look at the 49ers’ scheduled free agents:

QB Colin Kaepernick: He is in a different situation. Kaepernick is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract. If he does not, it would seem likely the 49ers would release him to avoid being on the hook for his scheduled $14.9 million pay. Statistically, Kaepernick had his best season since his first full season as a starter. The question is whether a new coach and a new GM, who are given the power to tear down the roster, would want to stick with the same quarterback?

QB Blaine Gabbert: Gabbert got his opportunity to start the season, but his subpar play prompted Chip Kelly to bench him after five games. Toward the end of the season, Gabbert had sunk to No. 3 on the depth chart behind Kaepernick and Christian Ponder.

QB Christian Ponder: He turns 29 next month and has not played in an NFL regular-season game since 2014, when he attempted 44 passes for the Minnesota Vikings. There is not much evidence to support the argument for a contract offer.

QB Thad Lewis: He’s already 29. And he has not attempted a pass in an NFL regular-season game since 2013, when he appeared in six games with the Buffalo Bills. His season ended after the first exhibition game with a torn ACL.

RB Shaun Draughn: He is a good special-teams player and a solid pass-catcher out of the backfield, but Draughn averaged just 2.6 yards on 74 rushing attempts as Carlos Hyde’s primary backup. The 49ers will look to upgrade this position.

WR Quinton Patton: The 49ers need more playmakers on the outside. It’s doubtful a fresh set of eyes will come to the 49ers and place a high priority on retaining Patton, who caught 37 passes for 408 yards with no touchdowns while making 14 starts.

WR Jeremy Kerley: When slot receiver Bruce Ellington sustained a season-ending hamstring injury in the exhibition season, the 49ers responded with a trade to acquire Kerley. He turned out to be the team’s only consistent pass-catching threat with 64 receptions for 667 yards and three TDs. He was also a safe option on punt returns. Kerley is definitely worth considering for the next regime.

WR Rod Streater: The veteran receiver, who the 49ers acquired in a trade just before the start of the regular season, was underutilized. The 49ers will unquestionably consider all upgrade opportunities via free agency and the draft.

TE Jim Dray: A late-season pickup due to injuries, Dray does not figure to be a priority to re-sign.

G Andrew Gardner: Gardner came to the 49ers late in the season due to injuries because he was already familiar with Kelly’s system. When he saw significant playing time in the season finale, it was his first action since appearing in three games with the Eagles in 2015.

K Phil Dawson: He turned 42 on Monday, but he can still kick. With extra points moving back to 33 yards, accuracy is more important than ever. There should be a spot for Dawson in the NFL – if he chooses to continue his career.

NT Glenn Dorsey: He will turn 32 in August, and his body appears to be breaking down. He battled injuries throughout the season after returning from a severe knee injury in 2015. When healthy, he’s still a good player. But can he remain healthy for an extended period of time?

DL Tony Jerod-Eddie: He was near the bottom of the depth chart throughout the season, as the 49ers deactivated him for seven games. He does not figure to be a priority for a new personnel department.

DL Chris Jones: Claimed off waivers from Miami for the final six games of the season, Jones played very well in his brief stint with the team. He deserves a chance to show what he can do in training camp – with some team.

LB Michael Wilhoite: Through all the problems the 49ers had at inside linebacker, Wilhoite was unable to hold onto a starting job. This position will be one of the areas the organization must address with the uncertainty of NaVorro Bowman’s attempted return from a torn Achilles.

LB Gerald Hodges: The organization is trying to build a new culture. Hodges left the team short-handed for the game at Atlanta due to his violation of team rules.

LB Nick Bellore: He came to the 49ers because of his special-teams play. He ended up starting 10 games in place of Bowman, and things did not go well for the 49ers’ defense during that time.

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In addition, guard Andrew Tiller, running back DuJuan Harris, and defensive backs Marcus Cromartie and Chris Davis are scheduled to be restricted free agents. The 49ers can retain contract rights to those players with minimum tenders.

49ers injury report: Jaquiski Tartt, K'Waun Williams remain sidelined


49ers injury report: Jaquiski Tartt, K'Waun Williams remain sidelined

SANTA CLARA – Defensive backs Jaquiski Tartt and K’Waun Williams remained out of practice Wednesday, as the 49ers began preparations to face the Seattle Seahawks.

Tartt (shoulder) and Williams (knee) sustained injuries in the 49ers’ Dec. 2 game at Seattle. Both players were inactive in the 49ers’ 20-14 win Sunday over the Denver Broncos.

Defensive lineman Cassius Marsh did not practice, as he remains in the NFL’s return-to-play protocol after sustaining a concussion on Sunday. Marsh was evaluated for a concussion the following day.

Linebacker and special-teams player Mark Nzeocha did not practice due to a groin injury.

Running back Matt Breida (ankle) returned to limited practice on Wednesday. He was inactive against the Broncos.

Offensive linemen Weston Richburg (knee) and Laken Tomlinson (hip), defensive tackle D.J. Jones (back), and linebacker Malcolm Smith (Achilles) were limited.

49ers practice report

Did not practice
DE Cassius Marsh (concussion)
LB Mark Nzeocha (groin)
T Joe Staley (not injury related)
S Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder)
CB K'Waun Williams (knee)

Limited practice
RB Matt Breida (ankle)
DT D.J. Jones (back)
C Weston Richburg (knee),
LB Malcolm Smith (achilles)
G Laken Tomlinson (hip)

Jeff Garcia: Nick Mullens continues to do what's asked of him


Jeff Garcia: Nick Mullens continues to do what's asked of him

Editor’s note: Former 49ers Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia, now an NBC Sports Bay Area analyst, shares his thoughts on the team each week throughout the season. This week, he takes a look at two impressive young guys on offense.

The 49ers turned to their young players against the Denver Broncos, and those guys stepped up.

As much as the Broncos were coming in on a three-game win streak, they had some issues with young guys taking more prominent roles on the field. The 49ers turned to their own group of youngsters, and those guys played well. It was good to see.

Rookie defensive backs D.J. Reed Jr. and Marcell Harris played really solid football. They were involved. They were all over the field, combining for 19 tackles.

Harris made two big stops on back-to-back, third- and fourth-down plays in the fourth quarter. That was a big sequence, as the 49ers were protecting their lead.

The 49ers led 20-0 at halftime. The offense did not score in the second half. They will need four good quarters to hang with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Nothing to knock with Nick

Every week we’re trying to pick apart Nick Mullens’ game and figure out his weakness that can be exposed as he moves forward. But every week, he steps up and does his job. There has not been any noticeable drop-off.

The Tampa Bay game was the worst showing for the entire team this season. But in four of his five starts, Nick has played some pretty good football. He has been very efficient and makes good decisions with the football.

Against the Broncos, the second half was nowhere near the first half. They pulled the reins back a little and tried to focus on the running game. The big mistake was the interception, but even that was not his fault. It was a pass that should have been caught, but it was deflected into the defender’s hands.

Nick continues to play good, clean football. It is hard to say anything negative about him, especially because he is not surrounded by a bunch of elite weapons. There really is no No. 1 wide receiver out there, though Dante Pettis is doing a lot of good things. It’s good to get Marquise Goodwin back out there.

[RELATED: Pettis leads 49ers receivers in snaps]

The 49ers are playing a running back, Jeff Wilson Jr., who is essentially the fifth man in line. Of course, tight end George Kittle is doing some great things. Nick is doing a great job of getting the ball into the right guy’s hands. He is making plays and moving the chains.

For being on a big stage in his first opportunity in the NFL, Nick Mullens is doing everything the 49ers are asking of him.

Kittle channeling his inner T.O.

George Kittle is fun to watch. He’s got a great attitude. You wish more guys had his attitude and his approach to the game. He is refreshing.

Of course, he has a lot of athletic ability. But what I see most from Kittle is the fight within him. He is not going to be denied. It’s his mental and physical toughness. He takes the approach into every game that he is going to be the difference-maker. He is going to battle every single play, whether he is blocking or running a route. He wants to be the best player on the field.

When he gets the ball in his hands, you see can see how he runs. It’s like when T.O. used to run those slant routes or take those quick throws and turn them into big gains. T.O. ran with purpose, with anger and with an attitude that showed, “I am going to get to the end zone.” You see that with Kittle, too.

The guy can move. When he starts getting down the field, he does not want to be stopped. You see the same approach when he blocks on the line of scrimmage. He takes pride in his work. That’s what makes him so good.

It’s too bad he did not get the ball in the second half to get the single-game yardage record for a tight end. That is a record that has stood for a long time, and it’s unfortunate he did not get that opportunity to break Shannon Sharpe’s mark.

Closest thing to the playoffs

The Niners have to be feeling good about themselves coming out of last week with a win. Denver had a lot riding on that game. They were competing for a playoff spot, and the Niners knocked them off.

Seattle comes to Levi’s Stadium playing some really good football, especially on defense. What they did Monday night against Minnesota and all their weapons across the board was very impressive.

The 49ers know what they’re up against. They know what it’s going to take to win this game. In Seattle, the offense played well in the second half. They have to match that.

They must be better on the defensive side. You know Seattle is going to come in and play smash-mouth football with their three-headed monster rotation at running back. Obviously, the defense has to contain Russell Wilson. They must keep him in the pocket, and force him to throw over defenders and not through lanes.

Seattle is one of the hotter teams in the National Football League right now. It would be a great opportunity to play with a nothing-to-lose mindset. There is nothing on the line for the 49ers in this game, outside of playing for pride and showing they can knock off a playoff team.

And if they can do that with their young players just two weeks after getting blown out in Seattle, it would serve as a great building block for the future.