49ers

Miller's 49ers roster spot tenuous with Kelly in charge

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Miller's 49ers roster spot tenuous with Kelly in charge

Bruce Miller plays a position that simply does not exist on a Chip Kelly depth chart.

But that does not necessarily mean the 49ers’ fullback for the past five seasons will be looking for a new job in 2016. Kelly said last week he is constantly adapting his offense and will encourage new ideas from his coaching staff.

That’s what Kelly said he did with the Philadelphia Eagles, as he brought together assistants from different backgrounds to come up with an offense that evolved from what he ran at Oregon.

“I really want to replicate that and bring in some people that have some different viewpoints and different ideas,” Kelly said last week after being introduced as 49ers head coach. “And we collectively as a group come together, and (ask) what’s the best, based on the personnel we have, to be successful offensively.”

[MAIOCCO: What Chip Kelly wants from offensive, defensive coaches]

During his three seasons with the Eagles, Kelly never employed a fullback. In fact, the Eagles lined up a tight end in the backfield as a blocker only 66 times in three seasons, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Eagles listed three starting wide receivers on their depth chart. Kelly kept seven wideouts and four tight ends on his 53-man roster.

But one of the new hires to the 49ers’ coaching staff could help convince Kelly that there is value to be gained from a fullback on the roster. Curtis Modkins, the 49ers’ new offensive coordinator, was hired off the Lions’ coaching staff.

Modkins was the Lions’ running backs coach and run-game coordinator. His input into the 49ers’ run game could open the door for a fullback. The Lions’ Michael Burton played 244 snaps – 10th-most of any fullback in the NFL last season. Miller ranked ninth, as he saw action in 253 offensive plays.

Miller played fewer snaps last season in Geep Chryst’s offense than he ever played in four seasons with Greg Roman as offensive coordinator. Miller led all NFL fullbacks with 473 snaps in 2014.

2020 NFL Draft: How 49ers' John Lynch prepares while working from home

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AP

2020 NFL Draft: How 49ers' John Lynch prepares while working from home

The 2020 NFL Draft will be held as scheduled -- albeit remotely -- amid the coronavirus pandemic, keeping 49ers general manager John Lynch plenty busy during California's shelter-in-place order.

In-person visits with prospects at the team's facility or elsewhere are off, but Lynch said he is able to make the most of watching film of potential picks while working from his home office.

“People have a lot bigger problems than we do, I can tell you that,” Lynch told NBC Sports' Peter King for his "Football Morning in America" column. “This year’s a lot different than any year scouts and GMs have had, obviously, with all the challenges. But this time of year, what you really need is time.

"The other day, [coach] Kyle [Shanahan] called and said, ‘This is unbelievable! I’m getting so much done.’ And he’s right. He and I, this time of year, would be watching this tape in our offices, and the difference is our doors aren’t getting knocked on 50 times a day. I’m really getting a lot done.”

Lynch and Shanahan have more prospects to examine than they did a month ago. The 49ers acquired another first-round draft pick -- No. 13 overall -- when they traded dominant defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. San Francisco, before then, was scheduled to make its first pick with the No. 31 overall selection.

[RELATED: 49ers' Jones switches agencies entering final year of deal]

That additional prep very well could've included watching Louisville's Mekhi Becton, whose Cardinals were on-screen in footage Lynch was watching during a video posted to social media last week showing how he was preparing for the draft at home. The offensive lineman is projected to be a top-10 pick next month, and Lynch simply wouldn't have had much reason to watch him with the 49ers' first pick set for the very end of the first round.

We'll know some of the players whom Lynch, Shanahan and the rest of the 49ers closely watched when the NFL draft begins April 23. The 49ers currently have seven picks: Two in the first round, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh.

Colts' DeForest Buckner, Sheldon Day driven by 49ers' Super Bowl loss

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USATSI

Colts' DeForest Buckner, Sheldon Day driven by 49ers' Super Bowl loss

Sheldon Day and DeForest Buckner will be teammates on a new team next season, driven by the last loss with their old one.

The defensive linemen joined the Indianapolis Colts this offseason via free agency and trade, respectively, after playing together for the 49ers since midway through the 2017 season. Day and Buckner's final games with San Francisco were in the 49ers' 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, and Day said the pair has additional motivation after not lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy last season.

"It was right there in our hands, and all we had to do was squeeze it and grab it (in Super Bowl LIV), and we let up," Day told reporters on his introductory conference call last week (via Colts.com). "So ultimately we have a chip on our shoulders and we know how to get there, and now we know what to do to overcome that shortcoming that we had."

Buckner sacked eventual Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes 1.5 times in the game, accounting for three of the 49ers' nine QB hits. Day, meanwhile, played a little over half of San Francisco's 76 defensive snaps and picked up a tackle.

[RELATED: 49ers' Jones switches agencies entering final year of deal]

The Indianapolis native played in a career-high 16 games with the 49ers during the 2019 regular season, and Day started each of San Francisco's playoff games. Day credited his growth to playing with Buckner, and he's going to continue picking his brain while they're still teammates.

"DeForest (has) made me detail my game," Day said. "So we would be working on pass-rush moves, bouncing ideas off of each other, just trying to make sure that our game grew together, and we're always giving each other tips. If I see something on film [I'm reaching] out to him, and vice versa. So, man, what a special guy he is."

All the while, the 49ers' Super Bowl LIV won't be far from either player's mind.