49ers

McKinnon followed Garoppolo's lead to 49ers: 'He’s a true leader, you can't teach that'

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AP

McKinnon followed Garoppolo's lead to 49ers: 'He’s a true leader, you can't teach that'

SANTA CLARA -- Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo caught the attention of running back Jerick McKinnon long before they became teammates with the 49ers.

And when McKinnon was available as a free agent this offseason, Garoppolo helped sell him on the idea of moving to the Bay Area.

And now that they have been in the same building for a month-and-a-half during the 49ers’ offseason program, McKinnon feels better and better about his new NFL address.

“It’s not always about the money, like people say,” McKinnon said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “For me, it’s about the scheme. And I felt like this was probably the best fit that I could possibly think of.”

Before signing a four-year, $30 million contract, McKinnon spoke to Garoppolo and 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk and asked questions about the organization, the coaching staff and Bay Area.

“Talking to those guys and coming here, being blessed with the contract, obviously, it’s just a good fit,” McKinnon said. “Since I got here, it’s been nothing but love. I feel like this team is family oriented. And I can feel that when I first got here. It reminded me of a lot of the things that went on in Minnesota. That’s how I know there’s something special going on here.”

McKinnon was mostly the No. 2 back behind Adrian Peterson and Latavius Murray during his four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He said he knew he would not be returning to the Vikings as a free agent. And he used his knowledge of happenings around the NFL to help figure out his next move. Out of all the options at running back available to him, including Carlos Hyde, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan targeted McKinnon.

And McKinnon targeted the 49ers, too.

He said he took note of Garoppolo during his time as a backup in New England. Both were in the 2014 draft. Garoppolo was a second-round pick from Eastern Illinois. McKinnon was a third-round selection from Georgia Southern.

“That dude right there is sharp,” McKinnon said of Garoppolo. “We came out the same year. I watched him behind Brady, and when he got his chance to play and how he did, I was like, ‘When this guy gets his time, he’s going to be ready – there’s no doubt.’ He’s playing behind Tom Brady, one of the best. Tom Brady’s got five rings. So he got to learn from the best on a daily basis.

"I saw the trade was made last year. ‘OK, he’s going to be something special.’ And when he got hit chance, he didn’t lose a game, they didn’t lose a game. . . I watched them last year toward the end of the season when they started winning. I was like, ‘Those guys over there have something contagious going on.’ ”

Garoppolo signed a five-year, $137.5 million contract extension with the 49ers prior to the start of free agency. He led the way, and McKinnon followed.

“Coming here and getting to meet him in person and see how he prepares and how he leads in the huddle and on the field, he’s a true leader,” McKinnon said. “You can’t teach that.”

49ers sign OL Laken Tomlinson to three-year extension

49ers sign OL Laken Tomlinson to three-year extension

Guard Laken Tomlinson appears to have wrapped up a starting position on the 49ers’ offensive line, as the club signed him to a three-year extension on Thursday.

Tomlinson, who started the final 15 games of last season at left guard, is now signed through the 2021 season, the 49ers announced.

“Laken is a very talented player who has improved consistently since joining the team one week before last year’s season opener,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement. “This offseason, his hard work and dedication paid off as he continued to progress and performed at a high level. We were confident we could work out a contract extension with Laken and we are fired up to get that done before training camp.”

The 49ers acquired Tomlinson in a trade from the Detroit Lions for a 2019 fifth-round draft pick shortly before the start of last season. The Lions selected Tomlinson with the No. 28 overall pick from Duke in 2015.

The 49ers did not pick up the fifth-year option on Tomlinson for the 2019 season, which would have cost $9.625 million. Instead, the 49ers and Tomlinson agreed to a three-year extension worth up to $18 million with $10 million guaranteed, reports the NFL Network.

Tomlinson, 26, started 24 of 30 games in his first two seasons with Detroit. He entered the 49ers’ starting lineup in Week 2 and every game for the remainder of the season.

The 49ers appear to have four starting positions set along the offensive line, with Tomlinson and tackle Joe Staley on the left side. Veteran center Weston Richburg is slated to start at center, while rookie Mike McGlinchey is settling in at right tackle.

Joshua Garnett, Jonathan Cooper and Mike Person will compete at right guard during training camp, which opens on July 25.

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

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AP

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

When the 49ers selected inside linebacker Fred Warner of BYU in the third round of the draft, it was easy to see how he fit into the team's plan with the degree of uncertainty surrounding Reuben Foster.

While Foster remained away from the team’s offseason program for five weeks, Warner felt a need to get up to speed quickly if he was needed to be a starter for Week 1 of the regular season. Warner said he was determined to learn as quickly as possible at whatever position he lined up.

“They want consistency over a guy who can make a play here and there,” Warner said on The 49ers insider Podcast. “Because if you’re a liability and you’re out there missing assignments, stuff like that, that’s going to get you cut. You have to be able to retain this information very quickly and be able to produce on the field and put a good product out there. That’s the biggest thing.”

The 49ers consider the middle linebacker (mike) and weakside linebacker (will) positions as nearly interchangeable. The major difference is the mike position is the player who communicates in the huddle. Malcolm Smith is lining up with the first team at mike, while Foster is at will. Warner is leading the second team at mike.

Foster joined the 49ers’ offseason for the final four weeks after a judge dismissed two felony charges of domestic violence. Warner knew all about Foster, the player, before meeting him as a teammate.

“He’s a very physical player, and something I didn’t know about him that I know now, he’s probably the smartest guy in the room,” Warner said. “This dude has the memory of an elephant. He doesn’t have to write notes down. He just retains things very quickly. And I think that’s what allowed him to play at such a high level as a rookie last year, aside from his physical talent.”

Warner has also learned a lot from Smith, who played six NFL seasons before sitting out last year with a torn pectoral.

“We’ve worked after practice on man coverage on tight ends and running backs.,” Warner said. “Even though that might not be something we touch on in practice or a meeting, he just wants to touch on that with me because he said, ‘If you can do this, you can play on any team in the NFL.’ “

One of the few critiques of the rookie during the offseason program is that Warner, who said he was a quiet kid as a youngster, has been a little too loud.

“He’s very smart and he plays like it on the field,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said during the first week of OTAs. “He doesn’t hesitate. He’s a rookie out there, but he’s calling the plays maybe even too loud because I can hear him from the offensive side. But, he doesn’t mind speaking up. He’s confident in what he’s doing.”

Warner said he wanted to win the confidence of his teammates, so that might have contributed to his increased decibel level.

“I want to make sure that when I get in that huddle and I’m talking to these guys, that they know that I know what I’m doing and I’m ready to go,” Warner said. “I’m the one who’s going to set the tone in the huddle before the play even happens.”