49ers

Kaepernick explains why he's running better than ever under Kelly

Kaepernick explains why he's running better than ever under Kelly

ORLANDO, Fla. – After returning from the bye week, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has enjoyed increased success in Chip Kelly’s system.

Not only is his passing improved in the past four games, but Kaepernick is also enjoying his most NFL success as a runner.

“I think part of it is this offense lends itself to that,” Kaepernick said. “There’s more opportunities for that, especially being in three-receiver sets most of the time. There’s a lot more space out there, so scramble lanes are bigger. When we do run zone read, there’s more space there, as well. “

Kaepernick is averaging 62.2 yards rushing per game in his six starts. His previous high was 39.9 yards, when he gained a career-high 639 yards rushing while making 16 starts in 2014.

Kaepernick has gained 76 percent of his rushing yards on scrambles, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He is averaging 8.1 yards per rushing attempt, which is tops in the league among players with 110 yards or more on the ground this season. Kaepernick has 373 rushing yards and one touchdown on 46 attempts.

“I think he’s doing a good job of making that decision,” 49ers offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins said. “He’s the quarterback. He’s out there, he’s in control and when he sees an opportunity he’s taken advantage of it.

“So whether you can draw it up for him to see, I think we don’t have to. I think he’s doing a good job of taking advantage of those opportunities. I think he’s throwing it well, he’s doing some good things and when the opportunity presents itself he uses his legs. So, that helps tremendously and that’s part of the game and that’s part of his game.”

Torrey Smith said it creates a nice problem for wide receivers to figure out how to respond when Kaepernick leaves the pocket.

“Kap’s not a guy who just takes off and doesn’t look downfield, so it’s a fine line of you have to see if he’s past the line of scrimmage, yet,” Smith said. “Do I need to work toward him? Should I break off and go deep? Or do you start blocking? Sometimes it’s tough, but it’s a good dilemma to have because oftentimes it’s already 10 or 15 yards down the field.”

Kaepernick is also finding success in the passing game in recent weeks. In the past four weeks, Kaepernick has completed 59 percent of his attempts while averaging 277.5 yards passing. He has eight touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 96.0 since the bye week.

“I think it’s showing more and more every week,” Kaepernick said. “The more I get comfortable. The more receivers and offensive line get comfortable with what’s going on, I think we put up more and more yards and give ourselves more and more opportunities to score. Now we just have to convert those opportunities into points.”

Kaepernick’s play in recent weeks has appeared to open the door for the possibility that he could be a top option to return to the 49ers next season, assuming Chip Kelly is back as head coach.

But when asked about the possibility of remaining with the organization in 2017, Kaepernick said his focus is on ending the 49ers’ 10-game losing streak on Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

“I’m not thinking that far down the road,” Kaepernick said. “But that’s very true, as far as quarterbacks being in a system they’re familiar with, they’re familiar with the coach, why they’re calling plays. They’re on the same page, so when you step on that field, you know exactly why your coach is calling that play and what his intent is and what you’re trying to get done.”

Kaepernick, who requested permission to seek a trade in the offseason, can opt out of his contract after this season. If Kaepernick does not opt out, the 49ers would have to decide whether to retain him at his scheduled pay of $14.9 million for the 2017 season.
 

49ers Mailbag: New defensive line coach could pave way for top free agent

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49ers Mailbag: New defensive line coach could pave way for top free agent

The revamped 49ers coaching staff is taking shape with the comings of defensive line coach Kris Kocurek and secondary coach Joe Woods to replace fired Jeff Zgonina and Jeff Hafley, who took a co-defensive coordinator position at Ohio State.

Quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello, the new offensive coordinator for Vic Fangio’s Denver Broncos, will likely be replaced with a shift of either Mike LaFleur or Mike McDaniel to a new title. The 49ers also have a couple other positions to fill, as coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch look to limit the number of preventable injuries.

Today, we solicit questions from our readers as the 49ers staff readies to get back to work next week as coaches of the South squad at the annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

How many FAs pass rushers will be signed in the off-season? (@chriscream)
The 49ers will sign one free-agent pass rusher who will be assured a spot on the 53-man roster. They might add another veteran along the lines of Jeremiah Attaochu of last year -- a player who would have to compete for a spot and win his way onto the team.

The 49ers will have some options in free agency, depending on which players are locked up via the franchise tag or contract extensions.

With the addition of defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, formerly of the Detroit Lions, the 49ers would have to be viewed as a favorite to land edge rusher Ziggy Ansah. In the past, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has also spoken highly of Dante Fowler Jr. Those two presumptive free agents could be attractive as upgrades.

The 49ers will set out to add a starter-caliber edge rusher in free agency, and come back with another impactful pass rusher in the draft.

If the 49ers plan to take an edge rusher at #2, do they look to move someone out of the current edge group in a trade and accumulate another pick? Another DE makes that room quite crowded. Does Thomas make a full time move inside next to DeFo? (@HausVonSchlegel)
I don’t know that any spare parts they have at defensive end would have much trade value. More than likely, the 49ers would hold onto everyone to cover their . . . uh . . . bases in case they have to account for injuries down the road. With the addition of a true pass-rush end, Solomon Thomas would be likely moved inside next to DeForest Buckner. But Thomas is not a nose tackle, so that anticipated move would probably not occur on most base downs.

Do you think that 49ers will try to give Armstead a new contract? Like 3-4 year with $6-$7 million yearly? (@Andersen49ers)
Right now, Armstead is on the books for $9 million for next season. There is no reason for him to take less money than that. If the 49ers do not want to devote that money to him for one year, they would have to cut him prior to the start of the new league year. Then Armstead would be a free agent and able to negotiate the best contract possible with any team in the NFL. More than likely, Armstead will play out this season on the fifth-year option, just like Jimmie Ward did in 2018.

And speaking of Jimmie Ward. . .

Fans don’t seem to care much for Jimmie Ward, however the coaches always talk him up. What, as fans are we missing that merits SF trying to retain his services considering he’s always hurt. (@LoMed1978)
Every coaching staff that’s had Ward – and there have been a few -- has really liked him because of his versatility and his toughness. Fans might scoff when they hear “toughness,” because of the injuries. Maybe “fearless” is the better description. The guy plays hard. Maybe he plays too hard. But that’s something coaches love.

And speaking of injuries . . .

Will cleaning out the training staff actually have an effect on the amount of injuries, or is it just about making moves because someone needs to take the fall? (@bathebay)
Injuries became such a huge talking point of the past two seasons, the 49ers obviously felt as if something had to be done. Will the changes help? The 49ers feel as if they needed to do something – so it can’t hurt. Ray Wright is out as strength and conditioning coach, and Jeff Ferguson was let go as the team’s athletic trainer. In my opinion, many of the football injuries that occur are unavoidable. The risk of injuries can be reduced, but they certainly cannot be eliminated. Bad luck plays into it, too. My prediction is the 49ers will sustain fewer injuries in 2019, and people will point to these changes – whether the staff moves actually played a factor or not.

What is one thing you miss about going to a game at Candlestick vs a game at Levi's? (@Random49ers)
I liked typing “Candlestick Park” more than I like typing “Levi’s Stadium.”

2019 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr. has 49ers picking Josh Allen at No. 2

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2019 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr. has 49ers picking Josh Allen at No. 2

Kyle Shanahan and the rest of his 49ers coaching staff won't have the opportunity of working with edge rusher Josh Allen in the Senior Bowl anymore, but that doesn't matter to ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. 

In his first mock draft of 2019, Kiper has the 49ers selecting Allen with the No. 2 overall pick. Here's why he believes the former Kentucky Wildcat is the perfect fit for San Francisco: 

If you're talking about pure pass-rushing ability, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Allen is right up there with [Nick] Bosa.

The 49ers selected defensive linemen in three straight years from 2015 to 2017 -- Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas -- but none of those players get after the quarterback like Allen, who can play outside linebacker as well.

As a senior, Allen had 17 sacks, including three in a dominant bowl game performance against Penn State.

In the 2018 regular season, the 49ers ranked 15th in the NFL with 37 sacks, but 12 of those came from Buckner.

Allen was a consensus All-America selection, as well as the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year, Chuck Bednarik Award winner, and Bronko Nagurski Award winner. He was also chosen as the winner of the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy, which takes into account on-field and off-field excellence.