49ers

Hyde's opportunity to prove he deserves role in 49ers' rebuilding

Hyde's opportunity to prove he deserves role in 49ers' rebuilding

SANTA CLARA -- Running back Carlos Hyde enters the final year of his contract, and the 49ers have created flexibility in their plan for future seasons.

Hyde has a chance to convince the organization’s decision-makers he’s worthy of a role in the long-term rebuilding project with a contract extension after this season.

Hyde, 26, is coming off his best season since arriving on the scene as a second-round draft pick in 2014. He replaced Frank Gore as the starter to open the 2015 season. Hyde rushed for 988 yards and six touchdowns with a 4.6-yard average in 13 games last season.

Now, he must prove himself to a new coaching staff, including his fourth head coach in four seasons. Hyde is working with the 49ers' first-team offense during the offseason program. Six running backs split 19 rushing attempts during a practice last week, and Hyde carried the ball seven times.

“He’s doing an outstanding job,” 49ers running backs coach Bobby Turner said of Hyde. “But, again, I’m not surprised. You don’t always get what you expect, so I’m constantly inspecting my players consistently. But he’s eager. He’s eager to learn, and at this point in time he’s doing a good job.”

The 49ers appeared to enact their succession plan at running back during the draft. Turner and coach Kyle Shanahan were proponents of selecting Utah running back Joe Williams in the fourth round. General manager John Lynch, who had removed Williams from the team’s draft board, reconsidered his feelings on Williams and traded up to select him with the No. 121 overall pick.

“You have to know what you’re looking for,” Turner said. “You coach all the players up, and then it’s up to them. And, truthfully, I know when to get out of the way.

“There are a lot of people that’s involved in coaching the running backs, because everybody thinks they can coach the running backs. And so my ability is -- and the reason I’ve been doing this a long time -- is knowing when to get out of the way. I’m going to coach, coach, coach, coach, but get out of the way and let the players play, and let them run free.”

Williams showed all of the traits that convinced Turner and Shanahan he was a good fit for the team’s zone run scheme. The night before the fourth round of the draft, Shanahan told Peter King of the MMQB how much he wanted Williams.

“I’m telling you right now: If we don’t get him, I’ll be sick,” Shanahan said. “I will be contemplating Joe Williams all night.”

Turner has not seen anything during the 49ers’ offseason program that leads him away from his belief that Williams could thrive in the team’s system.

“He has the tools, the qualities of other players that’s worked well in the system,” Turner said. “But, again, there’s the toughness, and I’m not going to pinpoint everything, but he’s hungry, he has the physical tools, he has that speed, that foot quickness, and when it comes down to it, the mental toughness.”

“You pick up things, tone of voice and all those things. So, yeah, we all have adversities, and things like that. But I love what I saw in Joe.”

NFL rumors: Antonio Brown, Jerry Rice push idea of receiver's trade to 49ers

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USATSI

NFL rumors: Antonio Brown, Jerry Rice push idea of receiver's trade to 49ers

Sorry, 49ers fans, but Mike Garafolo is here to harsh your mellow.

The NFL Media reporter recently said on TSN's "SC with Jay and Dan" that there's no sense the 49ers will strongly pursue a trade for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. In fact, the whole notion of a deal is being driven by Brown and a 49ers legend.

"I'm told it's just Jerry Rice and Antonio Brown, who are pretty tight, putting this out there, trying to lay the groundwork for it," Garafolo said on the Canadian sports show. "The 49ers really haven't pursued it to that extent. The Steelers really haven't had any trade talks with teams at this point, so this is still going to develop going forward."

Rice has said Brown badly wants to play for the 49ers and that the team should "go for it," but the decision rests with general manager John Lynch, who remains silent on the topic. 49ers fans, however, have been vocal about their desire to have Brown on the team, so between that and a Hall of Famer's prodding, perhaps momentum toward a move can be made.

But there's more ...

Garafolo added that the Steelers aren't ruling out Brown staying with the team, although it will take some "groveling" from the receiver. And if we know anything about NFL stars who reportedly cause locker-room rifts, demand trades and drop social media hints about joining other teams, it's that groveling isn't part of the equation.

Until the Steelers publicly say Brown isn't going anywhere -- and owner Art Rooney had that chance earlier this week --- 49ers fans will continue to dream. After all, the GOAT has spoken.

Antonio Brown's tweet thanking Steelers fans doesn't end trade rumors

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AP

Antonio Brown's tweet thanking Steelers fans doesn't end trade rumors

Antonio Brown sent a tweet that he claimed was a thank you, not a goodbye, to Pittsburgh Steelers fans.

It sure as heck read like a farewell letter, though.

Brown's Saturday night Twitter post featured a video of him being carried off with a calf injury in a 2017 game against the Patriots, with Steelers fans loudly cheering him, along with a message.

It's unlikely those same fans now would rain down MVP chants on Brown, who has made it clear he's ready for a new team. So whether this tweet simply was an attempt to mend fences with Pittsburgh fans or a sign that a trade indeed is in the works remains to be seen. Responses to the tweet speculated about both possibilities.

Fans across the NFL, including those in the Bay, are salivating at the prospect of Brown taking the top off defenses for their teams. In particular, Brown added to the 49ers' 2019 core of Jimmy Garroppolo, Jerick McKinnon and George Kittle sounds enticing, but the pending transaction price and the real root of the wide receiver's beef in Pittsburgh aren't known.

Brown's recent Twitter activity seem to indicate he has the 49ers on his mind, and that idea also has Hall of Fame-level supporters. Turning that idea into reality, though, likely will be harder than it seems. It always is when All-Pro talent, reported locker-room fractures and trade demands are involved.

So The Faithful wait. Still.