49ers

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers targeting youth to bring about racial progress

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers targeting youth to bring about racial progress

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has met with his players by position group, from the skill players to the offensive line, from the defensive line to the defensive backs, to create an open dialogue about both the blatant and underlying systemic racism in American society exposed by yet another act of police brutality against an African American.

Shanahan also met with a veteran group to discuss the issue and help decide what the 49ers can do to create positive change.

“We’re going to do a lot,” Shanahan said Thursday in a video conference with reporters. “There’s nothing specific yet, but our guys are working hard on it.”

George Floyd’s death while in police custody, after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee against his neck for nearly nine minutes, has sparked outrage and social unrest in American society and the international community as a whole.

It has also heightened and broadened the desire to prevent such acts in the future and eliminate this American plague for good.

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Shanahan and his 49ers players believe they have found a place where they can help, by addressing an impressionable group that often views them as role models.

“We talk about that a lot, and what I hear the most from the players, which I believe in a ton, too, is what we can do for the youth and setting examples,” Shanahan said. “If all kids could watch our players interacting with each other, that’s how all people should interact with each other.”

Shanahan’s the son of a coach and is grateful to be someone who moved around a lot and interacted with a diverse football community, an experience that made him comfortable around people of all backgrounds. He believes that experience could benefit everyone and make communities more tolerant.

“I feel very fortunate that I have been around these situations because I’ve been in a football locker room since I was born,” Shanahan said. “You’re around everybody and it makes it comfortable, and the stuff people are born with and around [as a child] doesn’t leave.”

He wants his children to continue growing up in that environment. He hopes the 49ers can set a proper example for people young and older and help stop the racism passed down from one generation to the next.

“That’s the stuff we have to keep doing,” Shanahan said. “Well, how do we do that? You have to vote. You have to change all that stuff, which takes time. That may be the most important thing. How can we educate people on that? How can we make a difference? That’s something our players are looking into. Everybody wants to put money in the right spot, but you don’t want to just throw money around because people have thrown a lot of money at this stuff over the last 20 years and no one sees a ton of progress. There definitely isn’t enough, not until this type of stuff never happens.”

[RELATED: 49ers' Shanahan decries 'fact' of racism 'all over' in U.S.]

The 49ers don’t plan on just one action or only leadership by example. Instead, it will be a prolonged, thought-out effort to make a difference in this defining social issue.

“I know that our players are so passionate, black guys and white guys, about trying to fix this,” Shanahan said. “We know it’s not an easy answer. It’s the whole country admitting what is wrong. It isn’t debatable. We need to come out from being sheltered or ignorant or whatever it is. Whoever those people are, kids need to help their parents and the parents need to help their parents. We all need to speak about it and do [something about it].”

How Jerick McKinnon impacts 49ers' negotiations with Raheem Mostert

How Jerick McKinnon impacts 49ers' negotiations with Raheem Mostert

49ers running back Raheem Mostert wants a raise or to be traded. The problem for him is, he doesn't really have any leverage. Regardless of what he deserves, that's just the reality of the situation.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan favors a running back-by-committee approach. He will be able to employ that, regardless of whether or not Mostert wants to be a part of it. The 49ers have ample depth at the position, even after trading Matt Breida earlier in the offseason.

Tevin Coleman isn't going anywhere. Cutting him would result in a $2 million dead cap hit, and San Francisco can't afford to waste cap space at the moment.

Jeff Wilson scored five touchdowns on 30 total touches last season. He seemed to make a play whenever given an opportunity, and the coaching staff has plenty of faith in him.

The 49ers also signed undrafted free agents JaMycal Hasty and Salvon Ahmed, who originally might have been ticketed for the practice squad, but there's a reason why San Francisco pursued them. Shanahan has a long track record of creating productive rushers out of thin air, and Mostert's performance last season only backs that up.

But there's one major wild card in San Francisco's backfield: Jerick McKinnon.

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Having signed a four-year, $30 million contract with the 49ers on the opening day of free agency in 2018, McKinnon was hand-picked by Shanahan to transform San Francisco's offense. Though never a bell cow, he offered the speed and matchup versatility that Shanahan covets. McKinnon rushed for 570 yards and hauled in 51 receptions for another 421 yards in his final season before joining the 49ers, and in Shanahan's system, the possibilities were endless.

And then, all dreams were dashed.

McKinnon tore his ACL one week before the start of the 2018 season, and then sat out the entirety of the 2019 campaign after requiring additional surgery. After not stepping foot on the field in a single game over his first two seasons with the franchise, McKinnon agreed to a pay reduction for the 2020 season that will see him make $910,000 in base salary, a sign of his commitment to the team. He was scheduled to make $6.8 million in 2020 prior to the restructuring.

Given his injury history, the 49ers would be wise to be cautious with their dependence on him. That said, he has had nearly a full year to recover from the most recent surgery, and last month his trainer said McKinnon is "in the best shape of his life."

He had been working with Rischad "Footwork King" Whitfield, and on Wednesday, McKinnon posted more workout videos to his Instagram Story.

The 49ers are optimistic they'll finally be able to unleash McKinnon this coming season, with Mostert recently going so far as to predict that McKinnon will "surprise people." If he's healthy, there's no doubt Shanahan will be itching to involve him in the offense, creating yet another potential matchup nightmare for the opposing defense. Plenty can happen between now and then, but San Francisco has to be feeling good about the progress "Jet" has put on tape.

[RELATED: How Mostert's 49ers trade demand shows price of success]

If the 49ers go into the season feeling like they can count on McKinnon, Mostert inevitably will get fewer touches. There are only so many to go around, especially with receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd liable to take a few of their own. Mostert rightfully feels like he deserves a significant raise, but that's under the assumption he is going to be the lead back in Shanahan's system.

That might still be the case, regardless of McKinnon's status. But the 49ers haven't forgotten about McKinnon, and until they do, the odds are against Mostert getting what he wants.

What Raheem Mostert's agent says client wants in 49ers trade demand

What Raheem Mostert's agent says client wants in 49ers trade demand

49ers running back Raheem Mostert's trade demand carries another motive, according to his agent.

Within an hour of announcing Mostert's trade demand Wednesday, Brett Tessler told NFL Media's Ian Rapoport that Mostert "simply" wants his salary "in line" with teammate Tevin Coleman's.

Coleman's $4.55 million base salary is nearly $2 million more than Mostert's $2.575 million, according to Over the Cap. Mostert's salary is not guaranteed, whereas $2 million of Coleman's became guaranteed on April 1. Coleman can earn nearly $4.9 million after workout and roster bonuses, and Mostert can make up to $2.825 million if he hits all his roster bonuses.

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Mostert (151) and Coleman (158) had nearly the same number of total touches during the regular season, with each player rushing an identical 137 times. But Mostert led the team in regular-season rushing yards (772) and rushing touchdowns (eight), becoming the 49ers' top back down the stretch and having over twice as many carries (117) and touches (126) as Coleman (55; 58) from Week 13 onward.

Prior to that stretch, Mostert had 113 rushing attempts and 127 touches in the preceding 31 games. Coleman, meanwhile, signed with the 49ers as a free agent in 2019 after averaging 165.5 touches per season in four years with the Atlanta Falcons.

[RELATED: How Mostert's 49ers trade demand shows price of success]

Whether the 49ers meet either of Mostert's demands remains to be seen.

He still has two years left on his contract (including 2020), and the 49ers currently have the NFL's eighth-highest salary-cap number on running backs. San Francisco has just over $12 million in salary-cap space, but that number conceivably could diminish if star tight end George Kittle's contract extension includes a reworked 2020 cap number.

Kittle's set to count just over $2.2 million against the cap this season. Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who has the NFL's highest cap number at the position, counts just shy of $12.5 million against the cap.