NFL rumors: Earl Thomas, Ravens agree to four-year, $55M contract


NFL rumors: Earl Thomas, Ravens agree to four-year, $55M contract

The 49ers’ defensive backfield will not consist of half of Seattle’s famed Legion of Boom, after all.

Free-agent safety Earl Thomas agreed to terms Wednesday morning on a four-year, $55 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported.

Last year, the 49ers signed cornerback Richard Sherman. The team figured to be in the mix for Thomas, if the price was right. Late in the season, Sherman said he thought the 49ers would target Thomas as a free agent.

Thomas, who turns 30 in May, is a nine-year NFL veteran whose season was cut short last season in his fourth game due to a left leg fracture. He had surgery in October to insert a rod in his leg.

Thomas is the prototype free safety in the 49ers’ scheme, which is based on Seattle’s defense. He's also a six-time Pro Bowl selection and is a three-time All Pro performer.

Thomas recorded 28 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries during his time with the Seahawks. He entered the NFL in 2010 as a first-round draft pick. The Ravens last week released safety Eric Weddle, creating an opening for the club to pursue Thomas as a free agent.

The 49ers remain interested in re-signing Jimmie Ward, according to sources, despite four of his five NFL seasons ending with broken bones.

Adrian Colbert, who entered last season as the starter at free safety, is in line to be the starter but the 49ers would like to bring in competition for the free safety job.

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Colbert was a seventh-round draft pick in 2017 who performed well enough late in the season to wrap up the starting job heading into 2018. Colbert struggled last season with injuries and inconsistency to lead the 49ers to seek an upgrade in free agency.

Currently, Jaquiski Tartt and Marcell Harris are slated to compete for the starting job at strong safety.

Joe Staley one of few 49ers holdovers deemed worthy of keeping around


Joe Staley one of few 49ers holdovers deemed worthy of keeping around

In their three offseasons since their hirings, 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan have turned over the team’s roster.

Only 10 players have remained with the 49ers from the roster Lynch and Shanahan inherited in February 2017.

Lynch and Shanahan have spoken about "taking care of our own." But there haven't been many holdover players the 49ers have wanted to keep around.

Safety Jaquiski Tartt, running back Raheem Mostert and tackle Joe Staley will open the season as the only players acquired during Trent Baalke’s time with the 49ers that the new regime have signed to multi-year contract extensions.

The 49ers would also like to get sign Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to a long-term extension. The club this offseason picked up the fifth-year option on Buckner for the 2020 season.

“We’ve had to bring in a lot of people and we knew that before we got here,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said before the conclusion of the team's offseason program. “What’s been really hard is bringing in a lot of people. We want to reward our own.

“We’ve been waiting to do that, and we know Buck is right around the corner. Hopefully that could be soon. To get that done with Staley, it’s something that we’ve wanted to do. We want to do a lot more of that.”

There was a time in the middle of the 2017 season when Staley was unsure if he wanted to continue to play. But after seeing eye-to-eye with Shanahan on the direction of the organization, he has been re-energized to the point that he signed a new deal that could pay him more than $36 million over the next three seasons.

The deal to lock up Staley is exactly what the 49ers want to do with their own players who set the kind of standard the organization wishes to see from everyone in the locker room and field.

“It means everything,” Shanahan said. “First of all, you’re going to reward people who are good players, who can help you. But whenever you make a commitment like that to someone and you’re talking a certain type of money and things like that, you want to do it for people who do it the right way.”

Staley, 34, is a 12-year NFL veteran who did not earn a trip to his first Pro Bowl until his fifth year in the league. He now has been chosen to six Pro Bowls. Although he had one of his better seasons last year, he was not chosen for a spot on the NFC all-star team.

“Joe’s a very good player, and in terms of doing it the right way he’s been perfect for us,” Shanahan said. “He’s gotten better since we’ve gotten here, which is very exciting, especially at his age and we all know he was real good before that, too.

“So the fact that you can see him improving, the way he carries himself, the fact that he really loves football, you can tell he enjoys playing it. That’s why when guys truly enjoy it, they can play later in their career. They’re not just collecting a check and things like that. It’s people you believe in.”

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These are the 10 players who have remained continuously with the 49ers from the roster Lynch and Shanahan inherited in 2017:

LT Joe Staley, 2007, drafted first round
TE Garrett Celek, 2012, signed as undrafted rookie
DB Jimmie Ward, 2014, drafted first round
*LS Kyle Nelson, 2014, signed as free agent
DL Arik Armstead, 2015, drafted first round
DB Jaquiski Tartt, 2015, drafted second round
DL DeForest Buckner, 2016, drafted first round
OG Joshua Garnett, 2016, drafted first round
DE Ronald Blair, 2016, drafted fifth round
RB Raheem Mostert, 2016, signed to practice squad/active roster

(*-Nelson is scheduled to serve the final six games of a 10-game suspension as a repeat offender of the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances at the beginning of the season.)

49ers legend Steve Young presents Gatorade Player of the Year Award winner


49ers legend Steve Young presents Gatorade Player of the Year Award winner

Sophie Jones runs the soccer field, both literally and figuratively. 

She tallied 18 goals, 16 assists and 1.55 points per game for the Knights of Menlo School in Atherton, Calif. Those stats helped lift her team to a 20-win season, which turned into a Central Coast Section Division 1 tournament title.

With those achievements, Jones walked away with the Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year honor Wednesday. 

A friend presented the senior with the trophy -- but not just any friend: 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.

"It's such an honor, and I can't believe they chose me," Jones said in Gatorade's promotional presentation video.

Jones also maintains solid numbers off the field, with a 3.65 GPA that helps her be recruited by some of the nation's top athletic programs. According to Gatorade, she plans to attend Duke later this year.

A "stellar human being with a fierce inner strength," as her teachers describe her, Jones also volunteers for a U-14 youth soccer team and the Boys and Girls Club, and has worked at the Special Olympics Buddy Program. That shows in her playing abilities on the field as well, with her coach saying he's never witnessed such a selfless player.

"Sophie worked tirelessly to elevate her game year after year, becoming high-impact talent," said Chad Konecky, Gatorade Player of the Year director. "She wins balls, finishes, defends, disrupts and creates in transition, and arguably reads the game as well as any U-20 player in the world."

Young complimented Jones, calling the achievement an exciting one -- and one that very few have ever done. 

Congrats, Sophie!