49ers

Five NFL Draft options for 49ers at No. 9

Five NFL Draft options for 49ers at No. 9

The 49ers always knew there was a chance they would be without Reuben Foster for at least a portion of the 2018 season.

But, now, after the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office last week filed two felony domestic violence charges and one felony charge of possession of an assault weapon, the 49ers must prepare as if they will never see him on the football field again.

The 49ers signed veteran inside linebackers Brock Coyle and Korey Toomer during free agency. And there figure to be plenty of options as the 49ers look to fortify the middle of their defense in next week’s draft, too.

There could be two enticing possibilities at linebacker in front of the 49ers when their turn comes up in the first round with the No. 9 overall pick. Here are five legitimate options for the 49ers if they remain in their original draft slot:

1. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
There might not be a player in the draft with more upside than Edmunds, who is big (6-5, 253), exceptionally athletic and will not turn 20 until the week after the draft.

Any team that Edmunds him will have the opportunity to mold him into their system at whichever of the many positions he has the skills to play. He can line up at any of the linebacker spots, and he also has untapped potential as a pass-rusher.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh could have a lot of fun with the options of how to deploy Edmunds in the 49ers’ scheme.

2. LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
The advantage Edmunds has over Smith is his size. Smith is a bit on the small side (6-1, 236). But that’s about the only knock on him.

In addition to his unique athleticism (he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds at the NFL scouting combine), Smith also is a leader with great instincts and football smarts. While he probably could step in and play middle linebacker, he is likely a better fit for the weakside position.

3. DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
The 49ers like Jimmie Ward because of his ability to play all five positions in the secondary. Fitzpatrick is much the same way -- but only bigger, better and, seemingly, more durable.

Ward and Jaquiski Tartt are entering the final seasons of their contracts, so the addition of Fitzpatrick would make sense. He can step and in immediately compete with K’Waun Williams at nickel back or linebacker in the 49ers' sub packages. He play either of the 49ers’ safety positions. In a pinch, he might also be able to play cornerback. Fitzpatrick would be an outstanding asset within the 49ers’ three-deep zone due to his ability to make game-changing plays.

4. DE Harold Landry, Boston College
The more time the 49ers spent on Landry, the more they were sure to like him. He had his breakout season as a junior, recording 16.5 sacks. But his return for his senior season did not turn out as planned.

Teams were left scratching their heads about how his production fell off so dramatically. But a lot of his decline can be traced to an ankle injury that limited his effectiveness. Landry recorded five sacks in eight games.

His stock rose with an exceptional workout at the combine. His size (6-3, 252) is not a huge concern for the 49ers, who would play him at their pass-rush end position. He has all the other attributes of an elite edge rusher with his eye-popping 20- and 60-yard shuttles and three-cone drill.

5. DE Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio
Do the 49ers really need another tall defensive lineman? They selected Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in back-to-back years, then drafted another defensive lineman, Solomon Thomas, with the No. 3 overall pick last year.

Davenport, however, is different. He is a legitimate pass-rush threat. And that’s an element the 49ers need to add to their defense. Davenport (6-6, 264) was a stand-up rusher in college. He got away with simply being the biggest and best at his level in college.

The star potential is there. He could be a home run. But there is probably a lower downside than with many of the other players the 49ers will consider with the No. 9 overall pick.

Kyle Shanahan explains why Dante Pettis was not 49ers' punt returner

Kyle Shanahan explains why Dante Pettis was not 49ers' punt returner

INDIANAPOLIS -- No punt returner in the history of college football was as dynamic as Dante Pettis.

But in two seasons since the 49ers traded up to take him in the second round of the 2018 draft, Pettis has gotten only 11 opportunities to return punts.

All of Pettis’ chances came during his rookie season. While his play time at wide receiver dwindled to non-existent over the second half of the recently completed season, he was not even able to make a contribution special teams.

Why? Coach Kyle Shanahan said it was as simple as this: Richie James was better.

“We didn’t think he was our best guy,” Shanahan said of Pettis at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Pettis set the NCAA record with nine punt returns for touchdowns. After Pettis visited the 49ers, the club selected him with the No. 44 overall draft pick. As a rookie, he fumbled twice while averaging just 3.0 yards on nine returns. He also sustained a knee injury on an early season return against the Los Angeles Chargers.

In 2019, James was reliable. He was fifth in the NFL in return yards and did not have a fumble on 33 punt returns while averaging a respectable 8.0 yards per return.

Shanahan said he wants Pettis to put up a battle to compete with James for the job in 2020. He said he has expressed that expectation to Pettis, too.

“He knows that,” Shanahan said. “I think he’s got a chance to be (the punt returner). But we felt more comfortable with Richie. And I hope Dante tries to take that job from him.

“It’s his decision. He’s got to show it. I guess, it comes down to my decision, but he should make it for me.”

Pettis averaged 17.3 yards on 27 receptions and caught five touchdown passes as a rookie. But his production dropped off in his second season, as he caught just 11 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. He will be fighting for a spot on the 2020 team.

Shanahan said he wants Pettis to be on a mission during his second offseason to come back as a stronger, better and more-focused player. He said Pettis took a “documented” step back in his second season.

[RELATED49ers' receivers could change in 2020]

Shanahan said second-year players who struggle after promising rookie seasons can go either way.

“They keep being like that, and they usually filter out,” Shanahan said, “or it’s a wakeup call for them and they come back and you see It in April. They treated January to April so much different than the year before, and then it usually changes their career.”

Tyrann Mathieu explains how Chiefs stopped 49ers at end of Super Bowl

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AP

Tyrann Mathieu explains how Chiefs stopped 49ers at end of Super Bowl

The 49ers entered the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV with a 10-point lead over the Kansas City Chiefs, before eventually falling, 31-20. Even as they began squandering their lead, San Francisco had its chances to become champions. 

Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers found themselves in a 24-20 deficit with 2:44 remaining. The eight-play driving ended in four straight incomplete passes and Jimmy G being sacked on fourth down. 

After the Chiefs scored on a two-play drive to increase their lead to 11 points, Kansas City cornerback Kendall Fuller intercepted a Garoppolo pass intended for rookie Deebo Samuel down the field with only 57 seconds remaining. The rest is history. 

"We knew that obviously they were gonna try to get the ball to [George] Kittle," Chiefs defensive back Tyrann Mathieu said Thursday on Fs1's "First Things First." "But most importantly I felt that Deebo Samuel was their guy." 

[RELATED: Five defensive backs 49ers should watch during combine]

Mathieu said he and Fuller actually went over the route where Garoppolo was picked off ... one series prior to their prediction coming true. 

"On the interception that Kendall Fuller caught, we had actually communicated the series before about that same route concept," Mathieu explained. "We just thought that they were gonna put Kittle at No. 3 and try to force him the ball down the middle."

General manager John Lynch reiterated his confidence in Garoppolo on Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine, and coach Kyle Shanahan certainly has gone over every situation from his latest Super Bowl loss this offseason. The two know they can't dwell on the past, though. 

It's time to look ahead and focus on making another run at the Lombardi Trophy.