49ers

NFL Draft 2019: 49ers believe they drafted two most physical receivers

NFL Draft 2019: 49ers believe they drafted two most physical receivers

49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan wrapped up the second day of the draft pleased with their selection of two wide receivers -- Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd -- who have something in common with San Francisco's first-round selection Nick Bosa. 

“I think a common theme in this draft for us is a guy that combines speed and power and versatility,” Lynch said in his second-day draft press conference.

Shanahan agreed in his evaluation of the two receivers, noting their physicality and versatility. 

“What separated Deebo and Jalen, we felt that they were the most physical players out of all the receivers in the draft,” Shanahan said. “You don’t want to draft receivers just because they are physical, but when you can have the speed in 40 that Deebo does, with his hands and the route-running ability and that physicality. 

“When you have Jalen's size, his physicality and the ability to move to some different positions. We did want to get some more physical players on the offense this year and adding those two guys, especially at the receiver position, when you can add two physical guys that are at a position, that's not always required to be physical, I think it can make your offense a lot more physical.”

Lynch also spoke to Samuel’s toughness, which the 49ers' brass got acquainted with at the Senior Bowl. 

“You just turn this guy's game tape on and you see, I think, one of the elite competitors in college football this year that I saw,” Lynch said. "This guy, you're going to have to fight him and he's going to fight for yards. I think that type of play, we've talked about it before, is contagious. He's got real juice. He can catch the ball and break away.”

[RELATED: Watch moment Deebo Samuel learned he was going to 49ers]

Hurd, who has played wide receiver as well as running back, brings versatility that already has Shanahan’s mind calculating ways to utilize him. Shanahan believes he could have been drafted at either of those two positions, or even as a tight end. 

“He can do about everything,” Shanahan said. “We plan on him coming in and being a receiver and working him with that group, but I don’t think that’s where it stops. We will see where his body ends up being here over the years and while he does it, we hope we can give him a few carries here and there.”  

Shanahan who is already known for disguising his offense in different formations explained how Hurd could surprise a defense. 

“It's pretty neat when you have a guy who demands nickel defense on the field because he can beat a linebacker in coverages, but has the ability to go back and take a handoff here and there,” Shanahan said. “It’s kind of neat when you can be in 11-personnel on third down (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR), and if you want, you can be in 21-personnel (2 RB, 1 TE, 2 WR). It just depends on how you want to line up and what the guys are capable of doing.”

Why Kyle Juszczyk gives George Kittle edge for 49ers' play of the year

Why Kyle Juszczyk gives George Kittle edge for 49ers' play of the year

The 49ers have made it to the Super Bowl, but there were several stops along the way when that outcome didn't appear as likely. Yes, San Francisco was the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC, but only by the slimmest of margins.

Literally inches, you might recall.

Rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw sealed the top seed for the 49ers -- and a first-round bye -- with his clutch fourth-down stop on the goal line in the final seconds of San Francisco's Week 17 win over the Seattle Seahawks. It undoubtedly will go down as one of the most memorable plays in franchise history, but depending on who you ask, it wasn't even the biggest play of the current season.

There are a few additional contenders, but the most obvious would be tight end George Kittle's 39-yard catch-and-run on fourth-and-2 on the 49ers' game-winning drive to beat the Saints in Week 14. 

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk was on the sideline for both plays, and recently offered his opinion as to which is the 49ers' play of the year. 

"Two legendary plays ... season-defining plays, there," Juszczyk told 95.7 The Game's "Jo, Lo & Dibs" on Tuesday morning. "I'm an offensive guy, though, and I can't lie, when you started talking about the biggest play of the season, the first play that jumped to my mind was George's play in New Orleans, so I'm gonna give that one to George with Dre as a close second. Just two guys putting the team on their back and just willing the team to a win. So, both absolutely phenomenal plays."

[RELATED: Why 'defense wins championships' adage applies to 49ers]

Super Bowl LIV will mark the seventh straight Super Bowl featuring two top-two seeds, further indicating the benefit of a first-round bye. Both Kittle and Greenlaw's clutch plays were absolutely essential to the 49ers achieving that high seed, so really, it's impossible to say which was the play of the year, because San Francisco's season looks a whole lot different without both of them.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 6:00 p.m. Friday).

Teams with defenses like 49ers' have great track record in Super Bowl

Teams with defenses like 49ers' have great track record in Super Bowl

The "Defense wins championships" adage didn't arise out of nowhere. It's a tried and true method tested over multiple decades of different eras of the NFL, and one that bodes well for the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV against the Kanas City Chiefs.

San Francisco finished the regular season with the No. 2-ranked defense in the league behind only the New England Patriots. The Niners have been even better on that side of the ball through two playoff contests, where they've held their opponents to nearly 30 fewer total yards per game. That defense will face arguably its toughest test all year long in Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, but based on history, there is reason to believe it will hold up.

As ESPN's Dan Orlovsky discussed on Tuesday morning's episode of "Get Up", teams with a top-two ranked defense have a very good track record in the Super Bowl. In fact, it has usually taken a Hall of Fame quarterback to overcome that defense.

Kansas City ranked fifth in the NFL during the regular season with an average of 28.2 points per game, but it's worth noting that Mahomes missed two games due to injury, and likely wasn't at full strength for several other contests. He appears to be fully healthy now, as the Chiefs have exploded for an average of 43.0 points per game in the playoffs. For comparison, the 49ers rank second among all postseason teams with an average of 32.0 points per game. While those previous top-two ranked defenses have given up an average of 18 points per game in the Super Bowl, it's unlikely San Francisco will be able to limit the Chiefs' high-flying offense to that degree, but even if they can get close, that might be enough to prove victorious.

[RELATED: 49ers, Chiefs show importance of bye weeks in NFL playoffs]

As great as the historical track record is for the 49ers, that Hall of Fame QB exception to the rule likely will keep the team from puffing its chest too much before the Big Game. Mahomes is only in his third professional season and second as a starting quarterback, but it sure looks like he'll eventually wind up in Canton.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 6:00 p.m. Friday).