49ers

How 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo got head start on Browns prep during bye week

How 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo got head start on Browns prep during bye week

SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo called an audible during the 49ers’ bye week.

“I know he had plans to go home and see his parents, and he ended up staying here and he was up at the office a lot, relaxing and evaluating what he’s done so far,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Thursday.

The 49ers went 3-0 before having an early bye in Week 4. They returned for scheduled practices at the team’s training facility on Monday and Tuesday, followed by a day off Wednesday. The club reported back for practice Thursday.

Garoppolo and some of his teammates remained in the South Bay even after Shanahan dismissed the team after practice last Tuesday. Garoppolo said it was “weird” to have a bye week so early. He opted to remain close to work during his time off rather than spend the time with his family in suburban Chicago.

“It’s not the best weather in Chicago I heard, so, it never hurts to stay here in this California weather,” Garoppolo said. “I’ve never had one (bye week) this early before, so I thought it was the right thing to do.

“I ended up staying here and everything, just to try and keep this thing going.”

The 49ers are the only unbeaten team in the NFC. They will put that record on the line Monday night against the Cleveland Browns (2-2) at Levi’s Stadium.

“Every week, we try not to put any more emphasis on one or the other, but we just try and go 1-0 every week,” Garoppolo said. “This week’s no different. Got a good opponent coming in, going to give us a lot of challenges, you know, the explosive offense and everything, so it’ll be good for us.

“It’ll be exciting, a lot of juice. Levi’s was rocking last time when the Steelers came and wouldn’t expect anything less from the Faithful. It’ll be a fun atmosphere, that’s for sure.”

[RELATED: Why Sherman thinks 49ers' Saleh could be NFL head coach]

Garoppolo got a head start on preparing for the Browns’ defense with the extra time in the building last week. Shanahan said he did not have much one-on-one time with Garoppolo during the bye, joking that they need a break from each other.

In studying the Browns, Garoppolo said the 49ers will face a stiff challenge against a strong defensive line, headlined by Myles Garrett, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 draft. After registering 13.5 sacks last season, Garrett already has six sacks in four games this season.

“It starts up front,” Garoppolo said. They’re very talented, have some guys up front who can just flat out go. And then across the board, their scheme overall, it’s pretty complicated, so it’ll be a good challenge for us.”

Why Colin Cowherd would hire 49ers' Kyle Shanahan to coach his NFL team

Why Colin Cowherd would hire 49ers' Kyle Shanahan to coach his NFL team

There currently are 32 NFL franchises, and for the vast majority of us, at no point during our lives will we have any chance of owning one of them.

But, forget reality. What if you were able to purchase a team? Who would you hire as head coach?

Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd gave his answer to that question Wednesday, but first established the five criteria by which he would form his list of the top 10 coaches he'd want to lead his franchise. They were:

1. Age does not matter 
2. Easy to work with 
3. The less controversy, the better 
4. Innovative thinker 
5. Relates to players

Based on those criteria, Cowherd landed on 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan as his top choice (h/t 49ers Web Zone).

"I know he has had a couple of Super Bowl moments you don't love," Cowherd explained Wednesday on "The Herd," "but I think San Francisco was right. I think he's intense. I think he has got the lineage from his dad (Mike Shanahan). I think he has a system, but he is nimble enough to manipulate the system and listen to (general manager) John Lynch and others. I think he's obsessively driven, which is probably most of these guys.

"But if I start my franchise today, I get the (experience from his) dad, I get him, I get playoff experience, and I also think he has got a chip on his shoulder because he thinks he should have won that Super Bowl last year. And he thinks he should have won that Atlanta Super Bowl against New England when he was the [offensive coordinator]."

Though the 49ers don't have new owners, they clearly share similar feelings about Shanahan, having just recently signed him to a six-year contract extension. He led San Francisco to a nine-win improvement this past season, and already has made it clear the expectation is to get back to the Super Bowl for a second straight year.

[RELATED: Bryant Young knows 49ers in good hands with Shanahan, Lynch]

Should the 49ers accomplish that goal -- and prove victorious in Super Bowl LV -- what few criticisms there are of Shanahan no longer would be valid.

For reference, here is Cowherd's full list:

1. Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
2. Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills 
3. Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles 
4. Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams 
5. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens 
6. Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears 
7. Brian Flores, Miami Dolphins 
8. Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma Sooners 
9. Urban Meyer, formerly Ohio State Buckeyes 
10. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

NFL rumors: George Kittle's 49ers contract could land around $13M annually

NFL rumors: George Kittle's 49ers contract could land around $13M annually

The elephant in the room at this point of the 49ers' offseason is the absence of a contract extension for standout tight end George Kittle. He is entering the final year of his rookie deal which will pay him $2.1 million, and is due to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the upcoming season.

After cementing himself as the best tight end in all of football over the last two seasons, Kittle's inevitable extension has long been expected to reset the market at the position. Austin Hooper currently averages the highest annual salary of any tight end after signing a four-year, $42 million contract with the Cleveland Browns in free agency earlier this offseason.

Estimates for what Kittle could average on his next contract have ranged as high as $20 million per season, but the real number likely is somewhere between there and Hooper's annual rate due to the expected drop in league revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Athletic's Matt Barrows reported Wednesday that someone "in the know" told him that Kittle ultimately would get a contract extension averaging $13 million per season.

That's a far cry from $20 million, but as Barrows noted, it still would make Kittle the highest-paid tight end by a fairly wide margin. Though Kittle probably is worth more than that, the salary-cap uncertainty caused by COVID-19 likely will rule out the possibility of a market-shattering contract. The unprecedented situation could result in a creative deal.

[RELATED: Report: NFL preseason halved; 49ers-Raiders game remains]

The Athletic's David Lombardi recently suggested that it might make sense for Kittle and the 49ers to come to an agreement on a contract that is partially tied to the size of the salary cap moving forward. 

"The 49ers can offer Kittle a guaranteed base annual salary or signing bonus before using a percentage-of-the-cap scale on top of that to pay him commensurate to cap increases in future years, when the NFL’s revenue outlook should be rosier," Lombardi wrote. "That's just an idea. But since this is uncharted territory, creative contract structures cannot be ruled out -- especially if they help break a potentially problematic impasse."

Creativity aside, if an agreement can't be reached on a contract extension, the 49ers would still have the ability to apply the franchise tag to Kittle -- which would pay him the average of the top five tight-end salaries -- for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. That option obviously wouldn't provide Kittle with the long-term security he likely desires, but there's ample motivation on both sides to get a deal done for San Francisco's most indispensable offensive player.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]