49ers

In Kwon Alexander, 49ers are getting defensive playmaker they need

In Kwon Alexander, 49ers are getting defensive playmaker they need

The 49ers were severely lacking for players capable of coming up with big defensive plays.

Do you want some evidence to support that claim?

OK.

The 49ers last season were the worst team in NFL history when it came to generating takeaways. The 49ers forced just seven forced turnovers. The record prior to last season was 11, shared by the Baltimore Colts (1982), Houston Texans (2013), Dallas Cowboys (2015) and Chicago Bears (2016).

The 49ers also set the record for fewest interceptions in a season with two. The previous record was three, set by the Houston Oilers during the nine-game strike-shortened season of 1982.

That is where Kwon Alexander fits in.

He may be on the small side, listed at 6-foot-1, 227 pounds, but he is a playmaker the 49ers desperately need.

In 46 games over four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Alexander recorded seven sacks, six interceptions and six forced fumbles. The 49ers consider his production to be elite playmaking ability. He was snubbed from the NFC Pro Bowl team after recording 145 tackles in 2016. A year later, he was selected to the Pro Bowl.

Alexander started every game in which he appeared during his time in Tampa Bay. He was suspended for four games as a rookie for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. He missed four games with a hamstring injury in 2017. And he was sidelined for the final 10 games last season with a torn ACL in his left knee.

Fred Warner started at middle linebacker last season for the 49ers as a rookie. He led the team in tackles. But Warner lacks top-end play-making ability to generate turnovers. That is why the 49ers targeted Alexander and agreed to terms on a four-year, $54 million contract.

The 49ers went strong after Alexander. C.J. Mosley was widely considered the top inside linebacker on the open market. In five seasons, Mosley recorded 8.5 sacks, nine interceptions, six forced fumbles and four Pro Bowls. He is expected to cash in as multiple teams are reportedly bidding for his services.

The 49ers are no longer interested after locking in Alexander.

Alexander called the signals as middle linebacker with the Buccaneers. In the 49ers’ defense, the middle linebacker and weakside linebacker positions are interchangeable. The only difference is the middle linebacker receives the radio communication directly from defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and relays the signals on the field.

However, the Alexander deal comes with some risks.

After all, Alexander sustained his knee injury on Oct. 21. That places his rehabilitation approximately eight weeks behind running back Jerick McKinnon and a month behind quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Both McKinnon and Garoppolo are expected to be cleared for full football activity when training camp opens in late-July.

Alexander addressed his Buccaneers teammates at halftime of the game he sustained the season-ending injury late in the first half of the Week 7 against the Cleveland Browns. Then-Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter called Alexander “the heart and soul of our defense.”

[RELATED: Alexander wants OBJ on 49ers]

Coach Kyle Shanahan has stated he does not mind his team overpaying for character and players who are passionate about football.

Apparently, that's what the 49ers are getting with the decision to make him their highest-paid defensive player at an annual average of $13.5 million.

2019 NFL Draft order: Full list of Round 1 picks, No. 1 through No. 32

2019 NFL Draft order: Full list of Round 1 picks, No. 1 through No. 32

Teams will make their first-round picks at the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tenn., and it's likely the order entering Thursday night's proceedings isn't how it will end up.

Trades always shake up the draft order, and a few teams are primed to make deals this year. The Raiders, for instance, own three first-round picks, and if they decided to package the Nos. 24 and 27 selections -- acquired in the Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper trades, respectively -- they could move up in the order.

There also has been rumblings that the No. 1 pick, owned by the Arizona Cardinals, is up for sale. If the Cardinals decide to deal, that could change the face of this draft, beginning with the 49ers' pick at No. 2.

Until then, we only can go off how the order is now, and you can see which teams own Nos. 1 through 32 in the list below.

2019 NFL DRAFT ORDER
1. Arizona Cardinals
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. New York Jets
4. Oakland Raiders
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6. New York Giants
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
8. Detroit Lions
9. Buffalo Bills
10. Denver Broncos
11. Cincinnati Bengals
12. Green Bay Packers
13. Miami Dolphins
14. Atlanta Falcons
15. Washington Redskins
16. Carolina Panthers
17. New York Giants (from Cleveland Browns in Odell Beckham Jr. trade)
18. Minnesota Vikings
19. Tennessee Titans
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
21. Seattle Seahawks
22. Baltimore Ravens
23. Houston Texans
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago Bears in Khalil Mack trade)
25. Philadelphia Eagles
26. Indianapolis Colts
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas Cowboys in Amari Cooper trade)
28. Los Angeles Chargers
29. Seattle Seahawks (from Kansas City Chiefs in Frank Clark trade)
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans Saints in 2018 draft-day trade)
31. Los Angeles Rams
32. New England Patriots

NFL draft tracker 2019: First-round pick, trade updates as they happen

NFL draft tracker 2019: First-round pick, trade updates as they happen

The 2019 NFL Draft starts Thursday night in Nashville, Tenn., and the Bay Area's two teams should be in the center of the action.

The 49ers own the No. 2 overall pick, and the Raiders have three selections -- Nos. 4, 24 and 27 -- meaning they have many options that could decide where the top prospects fall.

The 49ers seem set on Ohio State's Nick Bosa with their selection, but should the Arizona Cardinals, who own the No. 1 pick, surprisingly trade down or pick an edge rusher instead of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, their focus could change. One option: Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, whom many have ranked No. 1 on their draft boards.

Williams also could fit the Raiders with the No. 4 pick, but there have been whispers about a trade up to No. 1 for Murray. That might require the Raiders to give up two first-round picks, and should a deal happen, it would completely alter the league's landscape.

It promises to be an interesting slate of 32 picks made in Music City, and you can follow live as each selection is made in the 2019 NFL Draft tracker below:

1. Arizona Cardinals
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. New York Jets
4. Oakland Raiders
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6. New York Giants
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
8. Detroit Lions
9. Buffalo Bills
10. Denver Broncos
11. Cincinnati Bengals
12. Green Bay Packers
13. Miami Dolphins
14. Atlanta Falcons
15. Washington Redskins
16. Carolina Panthers
17. New York Giants (from Cleveland Browns in Odell Beckham Jr. trade)
18. Minnesota Vikings
19. Tennessee Titans
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
21. Seattle Seahawks
22. Baltimore Ravens
23. Houston Texans
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago Bears in Khalil Mack trade)
25. Philadelphia Eagles
26. Indianapolis Colts
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas Cowboys in Amari Cooper trade)
28. Los Angeles Chargers
29. Seattle Seahawks (from Kansas City Chiefs in Frank Clark trade)
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans Saints in 2018 draft-day trade)
31. Los Angeles Rams
32. New England Patriots