49ers

Eric Reid signs three-year Panthers contract; Colin Kaepernick still unsigned

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Eric Reid signs three-year Panthers contract; Colin Kaepernick still unsigned

Eric Reid didn't have to wait nearly as long for a contract this time around. 

The former 49ers safety signed a three-year contract extension with the Carolina Panthers on Monday, the team announced. The deal is worth up to $24 million, NFL.com's Mike Silver reported. 

Reid became a free agent last year after the 49ers did not re-sign him following the 2017 season. He did not sign with the Panthers until Sept. 27, just ahead of Week 4, for reasons that might or might not have had much to do with his ability to play football.

The 27-year-old was the first player to kneel alongside then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem in order to protest police brutality and racial injustice. Reid remained vocal on social-justice issues in San Francisco after Kaepernick opted out of his 49ers contract ahead of the 2017 season, and then in Carolina last season.

Despite the murmurs about Reid's activism being a "distraction," he posted 71 combined tackles -- the second-most of his career -- in just 13 games. Veteran Panthers tackle Matt Kalil called Reid an "incredible teammate." and apparently it wasn't enough of a distraction to prevent the Panthers from making a multi-year commitment to Reid.

Kaepernick -- whose 49ers teammates awarded him the Len Eshmont Award in 2016 -- was never afforded the same opportunity. 

The QB has been unsigned for nearly two years since he opted out with the 49ers, who ultimately would've released Kaepernick if he hadn't. Reid's signing indicates his vocal activism for social and racial justice wasn't a problem, so why does it seem to be one for Kaepernick?

He -- and his lawyer -- would argue it's a result of collusion among NFL owners bowing to political pressure from the White House. Kaepernick formally filed a grievance against the league in 2017, and a hearing reportedly was scheduled for early this year.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell argued ahead of Super Bowl LIII that a team would have signed Kaepernick if they thought he could "help their team win," -- after teams signed quarterbacks who hadn't. Coaches have expressed concerns about Kaepernick's ability to fit in their offenses ... after signing QBs who didn't. 

No collusion? Next, NFL owners might have you believe they're victims of a witch hunt. 

Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown? 49ers have need, and decision to make

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Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown? 49ers have need, and decision to make

The 49ers have an obvious need at wide receiver, and that was before they decided to move on from Pierre Garcon last week.

There's been an abundance of reports regarding current Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown's displeasure with the Steelers, as well as his potential fit with the 49ers, and their publicly professed appreciation for his talents.

Still, Brown can't seem to stay out of the news these days, and usually for the wrong reasons. It's unclear if that would make him less attractive to San Francisco, or more, in that his trade price could theoretically drop further.

If the 49ers are intent on acquiring a star receiver this offseason, they aren't necessarily limited to Brown. In fact, a pairing with the Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. -- who, at 26 years old, is considerably younger than Brown -- could make more sense for San Francisco, and be less messy.

According to a report from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, the 49ers remain interested in acquiring the Giants' dynamic receiver. And, New York may be more willing to listen to offers now than they have been in the past.

"The 49ers have had real interest in Beckham for nearly a year," Florio writes. "The only question is whether the Giants are willing to pull the trigger. As reflected by last week’s bold offseason prediction from Jay Glazer, the Giants may indeed be ready to do so."

So, what would it cost San Francisco in a trade for Beckham Jr.? The 49ers hold the second and 36th overall picks in the upcoming NFL draft, but Florio insists some additional compensation would likely be headed back to San Francisco if they gave up their top overall selection.

[RELATED: Who Mel Kiper Jr. has 49ers, Raiders picking in first round]

"The No. 2 overall selection would seemingly be a high price to pay, possibly requiring the Giants to send maybe a third- or fourth-round pick back to the 49ers to balance it all out."

If the 49ers choose not to throw their chips in on either Brown or Beckham Jr., they face the possibility of a direct competitor acquiring one of the best pass-catchers in the league. In a way, San Francisco adding either of them could also be seen as 'playing defense' in roster construction.

For instance, Florio mentions that the Los Angeles Rams had interest in trading for Beckham Jr. last year, but instead opted to acquire Brandin Cooks.

"But if the Rams want to make a big splash in 2019," he continues, "they could (in theory) dangle someone like receiver Robert Woods to the Giants as part of the package."

The Rams, of course, lost to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. The talent gap between Los Angeles and San Francisco isn't as wide as it seems, but it would surely get wider if the Rams added the kind of dynamic receiver the 49ers so desperately need.

Ultimately, the 49ers have to decide what makes sense for them. They clearly need to upgrade the receiver position, and with both Brown and Beckham Jr. seemingly available for trade, the opportunity is there, should they choose to pursue it.

It can't hurt San Francisco to have multiple options. But you could make the argument that the only option the 49ers don't have in this situation is to miss out on this opportunity entirely.

NFL Free Agency: 49ers expected to use franchise tag on Robbie Gould

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NFL Free Agency: 49ers expected to use franchise tag on Robbie Gould

A year ago, the 49ers avoided using their franchise tag as a last resort on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo when the sides agreed to a five-year contract extension that, for about a month, made him the highest-paid player in the NFL.

The two-week window during which time NFL teams may designate a franchise player opens on Tuesday. And for the first time in seven years, the odds appear high the 49ers will use that option.

If the 49ers are unable to work out a multi-year contract extension with kicker Robbie Gould, it would be a major surprise if the club did not use the tag to restrict his ability to sign with another team.

The 49ers have not used the franchise tag designation since 2012 with safety Dashon Goldson.

The 49ers have plenty of salary-cap space to absorb a significant pay raise for Gould. The club is expected to have $67.5 million in cap room at the start of the new league year, according to figures from the NFL Players Association and overthecap.com.

The franchise tag for a kicker is expected to be approximately $5 million for one season. Gould signed a two-year, $4 million contract with the 49ers on the first day of free agency in 2017.

Gould was exceptional in his two seasons with the 49ers, making 72 of 75 field-goal attempts. He ranks as the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history, making 87.745 percent of his field-goal attempts in his 14-year career.

What makes Gould’s accuracy even more impressive is that he spent 11 seasons in notoriously difficult Soldier Field with the Chicago Bears. His family remained in Chicago last season, and the Bears could be interested in re-signing Gould, if the 49ers do not tag him as a franchise player.

The 49ers figure to be in a lot of close games next season, and their kicker could be in a position to decide games. Levi’s Stadium has proven to be a tough place to kick due to his wind issues from the opening in the northwest corner of the facility. The 49ers appear to value the importance of employing a veteran kicker who is capable of dealing with the challenges.

Toward the end of the season, Gould seemed receptive to the idea of working out a deal to return to the 49ers. Gould’s impact was also felt off the field. He was also selected as the 49ers’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.

“It’s been a really, really awesome two years here,” Gould said on the 49ers Insider Podcast in December. “Obviously, the records haven’t been what people might think they’d be. But as an older player, you can understand what they’re building. You can understand what it looks like, just because you’ve seen all types of situations in the last 14 years.

“I think these young guys getting playing time is something that we need for next year because if we didn’t have it this year, and it just so happens to start next year, some of those mistakes that could be made ... can cost you a football game.”

[RELATED: If 49ers add running back in offseason, who drops off the depth chart?]

Here is a look at the 49ers’ history of the franchise tag:

2012: Safety Dashon Goldson
2010: Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin
2004-2005: Linebacker Julian Peterson
1999: *Wide receiver Terrell Owens
1993: *Quarterback Steve Young

*-Signed long-term contract extensions.