49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo, Jerick McKinnon rave over 49ers' player performance staff

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AP

Jimmy Garoppolo, Jerick McKinnon rave over 49ers' player performance staff

The 49ers revamped their medical and training staff over the offseason, and thus far it’s getting positive reviews from both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon. 

After 17 players spent time on injured reserve in 2018 and 24 the season prior, the 49ers felt they needed to make a few changes.

The result was Ben Peterson becoming the new head of player health and performance while Dustin Keller was tapped as the head athletic trainer. 

The pressure is on coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch as they head into their third season having collected only 10 wins. Their success is linked to the return of Garoppolo and McKinnon, and the player performance staff obviously plays a key role in making sure both players get back to 100 percent.

The hope is that the two sides would work more efficiently together, ultimately becoming one department.

Garoppolo has been impressed by their efficiency thus far.

“Bringing in Dustin and Ben, I think they’ve done a good job of just, it’s a smooth process,” Garoppolo said. “No time wasted, one thing after another. Especially this time of the year. 

“We’re so condensed with time that every minute counts and those guys, they’ve really done a good job. I think guys are buying into it.”  

McKinnon was even more effusive when asked about the new staff. He indicated that what Shanahan and Lynch were trying to accomplish has already started working.  

“They’ve done a great job of just being on the same page,” McKinnon said. “And with everything, not just players getting hurt or whatever. They have a plan and I think everybody is going to be excited what they see from them.” 

Both McKinnon and Garoppolo seem to be itching to get back onto the field even though they understand they need to be careful.

McKinnon was asked if he noticed a difference in his progress with the new staff in place. He confirmed that even in the short amount of time he has been working with them, he has indeed noticed a change.

“Definitely,” McKinnon said. “I’ve been getting a lot stronger. I wish I could tell you all, but I can’t. I definitely feel comfortable, I definitely feel confident, and they got me throwing up a lot of weight so I like that too.

“It’s been about them not judging how much volume I have on my knee, what I do every day.” 

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McKinnon’s new controlled freedom also comes at a stage in his rehabilitation where he is noting a bit of progress. It sounds as though he has similar views on his training program as the new staff. 

“Yeah now,” McKinnon said. “Before I felt like I was on a leash. But every step along the way, you get to do new stuff and get more freedom -- be out there cutting, ladder drills and stuff like that. It’s nice to finally be able to do more.”  

49ers sign kicker Robbie Gould to four-year contract as holdout ends

49ers sign kicker Robbie Gould to four-year contract as holdout ends

After months of acrimony, a deadline brought the 49ers and kicker Robbie Gould together,

The two sides agreed to terms Monday morning on a contract extension, a league source confirmed. The 49ers announced the agreement later Monday afternoon.

“Over the years, Robbie has established himself as one of the best at his position in the NFL, which is precisely why we were so committed to working out a new contract with him,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this deal come to fruition. We are very happy to start off the year on the right foot with this agreement in place so that Robbie can get back with his teammates and focus on making the most out of the upcoming season.”

The 49ers and Gould agreed to a fully guaranteed contract worth $10.5 million over two years but with an option clause, it could become a four-year, $19 million deal with $15 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, who first reported the agreement.

The two sides have seemingly been at odds since the 49ers restricted Gould’s ability to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason with the application of the franchise tag -- a deal that was set to pay him $4.971 million for one year. Gould requested a trade, but coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch both declared that the 49ers would not trade him because of his importance to the team.

[RELATED: Biggest questions facing NFC West teams]

Gould, a 14-year NFL veteran made 72 of 75 field-goal attempts in his first two seasons with the 49ers after signing a two-year, $4 million contract on the first day of free agency in 2017. Gould ranks No. 2 all-time in the NFL in field-goal accuracy at 87.7 percent behind only Baltimore’s Justin Tucker.

With Gould now set to report to training camp in Santa Clara on July 26, the only players under 49ers control who remain unsigned are defensive end Nick Bosa and wide receiver Deebo Samuel, the team’s top two draft picks.

NFL preview 2019: 49ers' three most important players for next season

NFL preview 2019: 49ers' three most important players for next season

After combining to win a total of 10 games the last two seasons, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch enter a crucial third year steering the ship in Santa Clara. 

The 49ers recently have been closer to the No. 1 overall pick in the draft than the playoffs. It's time for that to change. But it won't be easy. 

Rising up the ranks in the NFC West is a tough task. The Los Angeles Rams were an ugly Jared Goff game away from winning the Super Bowl last year, Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks are always competitive, and the Arizona Cardinals should be exciting with Kyler Murray and a healthy David Johnson. 

In order for the 49ers to have a successful 2019 season, these three players will have to perform on the field. 

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB

Thanks, Captain Obvious. 

Everything starts with Garoppolo. The 49ers go as he goes. It's simple as that. 

Garoppolo says he's "good to go" for training camp, which begins July 27th, after tearing his ACL in the third game of the season last year. Through nine games with the 49ers -- eight starts -- Garoppolo has gone 6-2 as a starter while throwing 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has thrown for 2,278 yards in red and gold, and has completed 64.8 percent of his passes. 

To contend for the playoffs, Garoppolo will have step up his game and prove he's worth his $137.5 million contract this season.

Ahkello Witherspoon, CB

This easily could have been Richard Sherman. The 49ers badly need their secondary to improve this season after snatching only two interceptions. In his first season as a 49er, Sherman failed to have an interception for the first time in his career. He also was coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon. 

“I’m much healthier. I was kind of out there on one leg," Sherman told the Sacramento Bee in May. 

Sherman should have a better year after going through an offseason where he didn't have to focus on rehabbing his Achilles. He's expected to still be the team's top cornerback, but as he ages, the No. 2 cornerback is just as important. 

There's still plenty of competition for who will line up opposite of Sherman. It's Witherspoon's job to lose, though, and he looked like the 49ers' best player on defense at times during the offseason program. 

Witherspoon, standing 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, has the same kind of long build at cornerback as Sherman. He suffered a PCL injury last year and missed the final two games, but proved he's healthy during the offseason.

This could be a make-or-break year for the 24-year-old. If he proves the offseason program wasn't a fluke, Witherspoon might turn into one of the best surprises in the NFC West this season.

Fred Warner, MLB

Warner was one of the better draft picks in all of football last season. Selected in the third round by the 49ers, Warner started all 16 games and recorded 124 tackles as a rookie.

This year, it's time for him to captain Robert Saleh's defense. 

In just his second professional season, Warner is expected to man the middle with Kwon Alexander and Malcolm Smith playing on the outside. That could be an extremely athletic group of linebackers, but Alexander is coming off a torn ACL and Smith constantly has been injured the last two years. 

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The 49ers are expecting big things out of Warner in his sophomore season, and reasonably so. Seen as a natural leader, Warner can't have a slump this season.

With a dominant defensive line in front of him, Warner must keep it going and turn the team's linebackers into a force to be reckoned with.