49ers

Four important questions about 49ers' first-round pick

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AP

Four important questions about 49ers' first-round pick

The 49ers do not control their own draft destiny.

With the No. 9 overall pick, the 49ers’ selection will, in part, be based on what happens in the first eight draft slots. Of course, they could move up or back. But that would involve finding a trade partner.

The answers to these questions will shape the 49ers’ actions on Thursday in the first round of the NFL draft:

Will a linebacker be best on the board?
Reuben Foster’s time with the 49ers might not be over, but it is unclear how much time he is going to miss or how much the 49ers can rely on him to be a long-term member of the organization.

Roquan Smith (Georgia) and Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech) are considered the top two options at linebacker, and either one of them could be the best available player on the board when the 49ers select.

Smith is a high-character, instinctive, athletic player who can step in and immediately become the team’s leading tackler. Edmunds is big, young and raw. Smith is close to a sure thing. Edmunds’ upside is unlimited.

Could Chubb or Nelson be around?
The 49ers have struggled to find a pass rush since Aldon Smith’s departure. Bradley Chubb (North Carolina State) is the best edge rusher in the draft, and would be a nice fit for the 49ers’ scheme. But the 49ers should not hold their breath. Chubb and running back Saquon Barkley (Penn State) are expected be the first non-quarterbacks selected.

Although unlikely, it is possible guard Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame) could still be on the board when the 49ers select. The 49ers believe they have strengthened their guard positions – or at least strengthened the competition – with the signing of Jonathan Cooper. Laken Tomlinson and Joshua Garnett are slated to compete, along with Cooper, for the starting jobs.

Nelson is big and powerful. He is also athletic enough to fit into Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, which places a lot more responsibility on the shoulders of the guards that most systems. Nelson could be chosen at any of the three spots (Indianapolis, Tampa Bay or Chicago) before the 49ers are scheduled to go on the clock. If he remains there at No. 9, the guess is the 49ers would gladly call his name.

Who is the best fit in the secondary?
There are some very good defensive backs who will be drafted within the first dozen picks. But which of those players gives the 49ers what they need or want?

Cornerback Denzel Ward (Ohio State), and safeties Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama) and Derwin James (Florida State) are the consensus top defensive backs available in this draft.

Ward’s speed and coverage skills are outstanding. But his size (5-11, 183) and non-physical style do not match what the 49ers want from their cornerbacks.

Fitzpatrick can play just about anywhere in the secondary. James is tough and aggressive. Strong safety is his best fit.

Fitzpatrick is good in the slot, where the 49ers already have K’Waun Williams at nickel back. At cornerback, the 49ers have presumptive starters Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. Safety Jimmie Ward will play on the outside in the offseason program.

At safety, Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt are scheduled for unrestricted free agency next offseason, so the 49ers could look ahead to what might be a need a year from now. Adrian Colbert looks to be a keeper.

Will a surprise really be a surprise?
So who is the second-best pass rusher? Who is the second-best offensive lineman? And would the 49ers consider either of those players worthy of a top-10 selection?

The 49ers must look to address their looming issues at offensive tackle, and Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame) could be considered. Joe Staley might have a couple of good seasons left in him. But right tackle Trent Brown couild be gone after this season.

And how about the need for an edge rusher? It would not be much of a stretch for the 49ers to consider Marcus Davenport (Texas-San Antonio) or Harold Landry (Boston College).

Cornerback is also a position the 49ers could consider. Isaiah Oliver (Colorado) and Josh Jackson (Iowa) are the best fits for the 49ers’ scheme.

The 49ers were not willing to spend money for a wide receiver in free agency, so they can be expected to add someone in the draft. But a top-10 pick would seem too high to go target any of the top guys: Calvin Ridley (Alabama), D.J. Moore (Maryland) or Courtland Sutton (SMU).

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

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USATSI

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).