49ers

NFL rumors: Antonio Brown not backing down from Steelers trade demand

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AP

NFL rumors: Antonio Brown not backing down from Steelers trade demand

The 49ers might be in position to strike a trade for Antonio Brown after all. 

Drew Rosenhaus, Brown's agent, told the Steelers his client still wants to be traded, sources told CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora. Although the Steelers hoped their relationship with the star wide receiver would improve after the end of the regular season, La Canfora reported that things have only gotten worse. 

"Brown has refused to return calls from [Steelers owner Art Rooney III] and several others in the organization," La Canfora wrote, "and has been telling Steelers teammates for weeks that he does not intend to ever play for the team again."

The Steelers reportedly are now focused on dealing the seven-time Pro Bowler, and will start talking to teams at this month's scouting combine in Indianapolis. Their preference is to trade Brown out of the AFC, according to La Canfora. 

That's good news for the 49ers. Brown has not been shy about wanting to join up with Jimmy Garoppolo and co. since the end of the regular season.

He tweeted with San Francisco tight end George Kittle, followed 49ers-related accounts on social media and even Photoshopped himself in a 49ers jersey. Brown also has a longstanding relationship with Jerry Rice, and he sought advice from another 49ers legend in Terrell Owens. 

None of that will sway the Steelers into trading Brown to the 49ers, as San Francisco's available salary-cap space (about $60.7 million, per Over The Cap) and collection of draft picks (in all but the fifth and seventh rounds) are what matter most in getting a deal done. Still, the 49ers have a clear need for a top wide receiver, and their presence in the NFC West would check what reportedly is a major box for the Steelers.

Whether or not that's enough to bring Brown to San Francisco remains to be seen. 

Kentavius Street, Jason Verrett only 49ers options to return from injured reserve

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USATSI

Kentavius Street, Jason Verrett only 49ers options to return from injured reserve

SANTA CLARA – The list of 49ers on injured reserve who remain as possibilities to return to play later this season has seemingly been reduced to the maximum number of two.

Coach Kyle Shanahan has essentially ruled out the possibilities of wide receivers Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd from playing this season.

That leaves defensive lineman Kentavius Street and cornerback Jason Verrett as the only players who have chances of being activated off injured reserve before the end of the season.

“Those are guys that are working hard to get back and if we definitely had an injury at a certain spot, we’d probably make that decision sooner than later,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan said the 49ers intend to get both players on the practice field to give them chances to earn their way back onto the team’s 53-man roster.

Each NFL team is allowed to bring two players off injured reserve to return to action in the same season. Once a player begins practice, the club has a maximum of three weeks to activate the player to the 53-man roster, keep the player on injured reserve for the entirety of the season or release the player.

Taylor sustained a Jones fracture in his right foot in the second week of training camp and underwent surgery before the team’s first preseason game. He experienced complications from the surgery that have prevented him from being available at any point this season.

Hurd, a third-round draft pick from Baylor, had an impressive preseason debut against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 10 with two touchdown receptions but he has not appeared in a game since due to a stress reaction in his back. Shanahan suggested on Monday that Hurd will remain on injured reserve for the remainder of his rookie season.

“I don’t know if we’ve 100-percent ended that, but it has not been looking good, so that’s kind of out of sight, out of mind for me right now,” Shanahan said. “We might have more of an answer on that later in this week to just finalize that.”

When asked if that meant that Hurd would remain on injured reserve, Shanahan answered, “Yes, ultimately, that he won’t return. But, yeah, I know it’s been week-to-week here. We’ve been thinking about it, and I’m not thinking about it right now.”

[RELATED: 49ers' Dee Ford could miss a couple games, coach Kyle Shanahan says]

Street and Verrett are eligible to begin practice, but the 49ers might wait until Week 14, Shanahan said.

Street sat out his entire rookie season after sustaining a torn ACL in a pre-draft workout. He underwent a follow-up arthroscopic knee surgery in late-August that landed him on injured reserve. The 49ers selected Street in the fourth round of the 2018 draft out of North Carolina State.

The 49ers placed Verrett, 28, on injured reserve on Oct. 3 with a knee condition after he appeared in one game this season. The 49ers signed Verrett to a one-year contract in the offseason.

Shanahan said Street and Verrett remain as options to return to the active roster this season if the 49ers need another defensive lineman or cornerback due to injuries later in the season.

“They’re getting healthy,” Shanahan said. “I think both of them are going to have an opportunity to do that. It’s not something we’d do right now, but definitely could be an option if we have any injuries at either of those positions.”

Why Rob Gronkowski believes 49ers' George Kittle is NFL's best tight end

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USATSI

Why Rob Gronkowski believes 49ers' George Kittle is NFL's best tight end

The best tight end in football is no longer Rob Gronkowski since he announced his retirement in March. Since then, the consensus on who the best at the position is turned to George Kittle.

And Gronk agrees.

"I like to go with George Kittle," Gronkowski said in an interview on The Lefkoe Show. "His game...I just like his game. I said it before: He just kind of reminds me of myself. When he gets the ball, man, he just wants to keep going. Just doesn't care who's coming at him ... just wants to break through all the tackles."

The 30-year-old had to choose between Kittle and Kansas City's Travis Kelce. 

Gronk has spoken on the similarities between him and Kittle before during an interview with FOX Sports while he was doing some analyst work. The man crush is real. 

As far as the numbers are concerned, Kittle had a sensational season in 2018 with 1,377 receiving yards and five touchdowns during his Pro Bowl campaign.

This season, despite being sidelined in a couple of games with a knee and ankle injury, Kittle's numbers are still impressive including an almost 20-percent increase in catching percentage (64.7 percent in 2018, 80.7 percent this season). He's becoming one of the team's top pass-catchers as a tight end.

[RELATED: Kittle impressed by Ross Dwelley's play in his place]

And the personality is also comparable. Both are fun-loving and outgoing.

Gronk's nine seasons in the NFL with four All-Pro selections and three Super Bowl championships prove that having a compliment from him is almost priceless.