49ers

Josh Gordon reportedly has 49ers on his wish list as Browns seek trade

Josh Gordon reportedly has 49ers on his wish list as Browns seek trade

The Cleveland Browns have their eyes on the future, and it doesn't include Josh Gordon. The team announced Saturday that it plans to release the oft-troubled wide receiver on Monday.

Gordon, in turn, has his sights on possibly headed to San Francisco, per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

ESPN's Adam Schefter later confirmed Rapoport's report and added an interesting tidbit about the Browns' trade preference.

Of course, the Browns could trade Gordon elsewhere before Monday, as Pro Football Talk cited a league source in reporting that "a few teams" already have called Cleveland about possibly acquiring him. And while the 49ers are young at wide receiver and might use some experience there, the competition for Gordon could be fierce -- as PFT notes, the Seahawks, Patriots and Cowboys have big needs at the position.

However, Gordon could cost the 49ers just $790,000 this season, and they could keep him on a restricted free agent tender in 2019, if they chose. That's a low cost for a talented wideout who once posted 1,646 receiving yards in a dominating 2013 season and played under now-49ers coach Kyle Shanahan in 2014. Then again, Gordon's presence in San Francisco likely would cut into precious reps for Dante Pettis, Trent Taylor, Richie James and Kendrick Bourne.

As Rapoport pointed out, though, the 49ers almost traded for Gordon four years ago, if that means anything.

The decision for the 49ers now would be if sacrificing assets is worth the potential problems that Gordon could bring into a young, developing locker room. If they believe it's worth the risk -- and Shanahan does have history with Gordon -- the 49ers could add a 27-year-old who might have something left in the tank, if he can shake his reported substance-abuse demons.

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This Sunday, be sure to watch 49ers Pregame Live at 12 p.m. and 49ers Postgame Live immediately after the game on NBC Sports Bay Area and live streaming on the NBC Sports app. Greg Papa, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Matt Maiocco and Laura Britt will have everything you need to know from the 49ers’ home opener.

Broncos coach Vic Fangio fondly looks back on four-year 49ers run

Broncos coach Vic Fangio fondly looks back on four-year 49ers run

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – During the 49ers’ run of three consecutive trips to the NFC Championship Game and one Super Bowl appearance, Jim Harbaugh’s teams were led by a talented and disciplined defense.

Four years after the 49ers passed over their defensive coordinator on those teams, Vic Fangio, for a promotion to head coach after Harbaugh’s departure, the Denver Broncos came calling.

Fangio, who is in his first summer as head coach of the Broncos, is leading his new team into two practices sessions against his former team before Denver and the 49ers square off in an exhibition game Monday night. He said he looks back with mostly fond memories on his time with the 49ers.

“We had great success there, so it’s always good to be part of good teams playing in meaningful games in the regular season and I think we had eight or nine playoff games while I was there,” Fangio told NBC Sports Bay Area following practice on Friday.

“They are all great experiences. I look back on that time as mostly with nothing but positive memories.”

The 49ers’ defense ranked in the top-five in the NFL in yards allowed with such All-Pro players on the unit as Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman from 2011 to 2014.

“We had great players, No. 1 – guys I really liked working with,” Fangio said. “I had good relationships with a lot of them. Still stay in touch with a lot of them. And they played good and hard together. They did what we asked them to do. For the most part, it resulted in good results. I look back on those guys with a lot of fondness.”

Despite being Harbaugh’s top assistant, Fangio was passed over for the 49ers’ head-coaching job in favor of defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, who proved to be overmatched with the responsibility.

Fangio said his experience with the 49ers and being interviewed for the head-coaching job in January 2015 all were part of the process in the steps he took to land his current job with the Broncos. He spent the past four seasons as Chicago Bears defensive coordinator and developed his unit there into one of the best in the league, too.

[RELATED: 49ers camp report: Defense continues practice-field dominance vs. Broncos]

Fangio, who will turn 61 next week, is a straight-shooter who clearly is doing it his way with the Broncos after all the experiences he has had from coaching professional football every season since 1984 -- with a one-year stop at Stanford to be on Harbaugh's staff in 2010.

“You pick and choose from everybody you work with,” he said. “I don’t take notes or anything like that. I just know what I’d do in the same situation and go with it.”

How 49ers' Kwon Alexander is bringing out more energy in Fred Warner

How 49ers' Kwon Alexander is bringing out more energy in Fred Warner

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The 49ers' signing of free-agent linebacker Kwon Alexander during the offseason has helped second-year standout Fred Warner develop as a voice of the team's defense. 

Alexander is known for his energy. Even before he was cleared to participate in practices once he recovered from tearing his left ACL last year, Alexander would jump up and down on the sidelines every time the defense made a positive play. 

Warner, who was more reserved in his rookie season, has come out of his shell during the preseason. Alexander is at least partially responsible for that evolution. 

“I’ve been telling him, you’ve got to match my energy today, and he goes out there and does it,” Alexander said. “He’s very vocal, talking to us. He’s out there making crazy plays and he’s going to keep doing that.” 

That liveliness was very evident in the first of two joint practices with the Denver Broncos. 

“It’s way more exciting for us than playing against our squad the whole time,” Alexander said. “Now to go out here and compete against the other guys, talking a little smack and competing, that’s what we were out there doing."

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has noticed the difference in Warner’s behavior, and he is excited to see it develop. Saleh likes the balance between the two leaders in the linebackers room. 

“Fred is coming into his own,” Saleh said. “He wanted to obviously, last year, as a rookie, but having Kwon with him because Kwon is very vocal, it’s bringing out Fred. 

“Fred is very confident, rightfully so. He’s a good football player, so they are what a linebacker group is supposed to do. So I don’t over-pump them up for being what they’re supposed to be. It’s a good group.”

Warner's enthusiasm and ability were on full display Friday, especially when he pressured Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco during team drills. He forced Flacco to throw without a full look at the field on one play, and the ensuing pass went right into the hands of safety Tarvarius Moore for an interception. 

That's all part of a linebacker's responsibilities, according to Alexander. 

“We are the leaders of the defense,” Alexander said. “You know linebackers have to take control, and be vocal, and be loud, and have the energy and everybody will feed off of you. That’s what we are trying to do.” 

[RELATED: Projecting 49ers' 53-man roster before preseason Week 2]

The 49ers linebackers even have a new name for themselves this season. They actually break down their position group huddle calling themselves the “hot boys.” 

“It’s just something that we made up as a linebacker group,” Alexander said. “We want to be hot every day so when somebody is cold, we pick them up, we stay hot. That’s how it is. We just hold ourselves accountable and everybody’s got to have energy in the linebacker group. That’s what it is.”