49ers

Patrick Willis, Justin Smith eligible nominees for Pro Football Hall of Fame

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AP

Patrick Willis, Justin Smith eligible nominees for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Former 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis and defensive lineman Justin Smith are among the first-time eligible players nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020.

The Hall of Fame on Thursday released a total of 122 players who comprise the list of modern-era nominees. In order for a player to be eligible as a modern-era candidate, he must have played his final NFL season from five to 25 years ago.

Willis and Smith both retired as 49ers after the 2014 season.

Willis was selected to the Pro Bowl team in each of his seven full seasons in the NFL. In 2014, he played in only six games after experiencing foot issues that led to his retirement. Willis was the 2007 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and a five-time All-Pro selection. He led the league in tackles in 2007 and 2009.

Smith played 14 NFL seasons. He played his final seven seasons with the 49ers after spending his first seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and a one-time All-Pro pick.

Among the other notable first-time eligible Hall of Fame candidates are safety Troy Polamalu, defensive end John Abraham and wide receiver Reggie Wayne.

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch, who earned nine trips to the Pro Bowl as a safety for Tampa Bay and Denver, returns as a nominee after being a finalist in each of the past six years.

The list of former 49ers who are nominees for the 2020 class includes Jeff Garcia, Ricky Watters, Brent Jones, Bryant Young, Merton Hanks and Tim McDonald.

[RELATED: Pro Football Hall president says T.O. always welcome there]

The modern-era player list will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November. The field will be trimmed to 15 finalists in early January. The 48-member Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee will hold its annual meeting on Saturday, Feb. 1, in Miami.

In conjunction with the 100th season of the NFL, the Hall of Fame Board recently passed a measure to expand the 2020 Hall of Fame class to 20 members, including five modern-era inductees. The class will include 10 seniors, three contributors and two coaches. A 25-person centennial “blue ribbon” panel will lead the selection of the senior, coaches and contributors.

Modern-era nominees

Quarterbacks
(7) – Randall Cunningham, Jake Delhomme, Boomer Esiason, Jeff Garcia, Jeff Hostetler, Dave Krieg, Donovan McNabb

Running Backs
(19) – Shaun Alexander, Mike Alstott (FB), Tiki Barber, Earnest Byner, Larry Centers, Corey Dillon, Eddie George, Priest Holmes, *Edgerrin James, Daryl Johnston (FB), Thomas Jones, Maurice Jones-Drew, Eric Metcalf (also WR/KR/PR), Lorenzo Neal (FB), Clinton Portis, Fred Taylor, Herschel Walker (also KR), Chris Warren, Ricky Watters

Wide Receivers
(12) – *Isaac Bruce, Gary Clark, Donald Driver, Henry Ellard (also PR), Torry Holt, Chad Johnson, Derrick Mason, Muhsin Muhammad, Jimmy Smith, Rod Smith, Hines Ward, Reggie Wayne

Tight Ends
(6) – Dallas Clark, Ben Coates, Keith Jackson, Brent Jones, Jeremy Shockey, Wesley Walls

Offensive Linemen
(19) – Willie Anderson (T), Matt Birk (C), *Tony Boselli (T), Lomas Brown (T), Ray Donaldson (C), *Alan Faneca (G), Kevin Gogan (G/T), Jordan Gross (T), Chris Hinton (G/T), Kent Hull (C), *Steve Hutchinson (G), Lincoln Kennedy (T/G), Olin Kreutz (C), Chris Samuels (T), Jeff Saturday (C), Brian Waters (G), Richmond Webb (T), Erik Williams (T), Steve Wisniewski (G)

Defensive Linemen
(11) – John Abraham (DE also LB), La’Roi Glover (DT/NT), Casey Hampton (DT/NT), Chester McGlockton (DT), Leslie O’Neal (DE), Simeon Rice (DE), *Richard Seymour (DT), Justin Smith (DE), Neil Smith (DE), Greg Townsend (DT/NT), Bryant Young (DT)

Linebackers
(17) – Carl Banks, Cornelius Bennett, Lance Briggs, Tedy Bruschi, James Farrior, London Fletcher, Seth Joyner, Wilber Marshall, Clay Matthews, Willie McGinest (also DE), Sam Mills, Chris Spielman, Takeo Spikes, Darryl Talley, Zach Thomas, Jessie Tuggle, Patrick Willis

Defensive Backs
(15) – Eric Allen (CB), *Steve Atwater (S), Ronde Barber (CB/S), LeRoy Butler (S), Nick Collins (S), Merton Hanks (S), Rodney Harrison (S), Albert Lewis (CB), *John Lynch (S), Terry McDaniel (CB), Tim McDonald (S), Troy Polamalu (SS), Bob Sanders (S), Troy Vincent (CB), Darren Woodson (S)

Punters/Kickers
(11) – David Akers (K), Gary Anderson (K), Jason Elam (K), Jeff Feagles (P), Jason Hanson (K), Sean Landeta (P), Ryan Longwell (K), Nick Lowery (K), Reggie Roby (P), Rohn Stark (P), Matt Turk (P)

Special Teams
(5) – Johnny Bailey (PR/KR also RB), Josh Cribbs (KR/PR also WR), Mel Gray (PR/KR also WR), Brian Mitchell (KR/PR also RB), Steve Tasker (ST also WR)

*-Finalist in 2019

George Kittle's fantasy stats could dip if 49ers offense finds balance

George Kittle's fantasy stats could dip if 49ers offense finds balance

CINCINNATI – Fantasy football owners who invested a high draft pick in 49ers tight end George Kittle might not be thrilled with Kyle Shanahan’s vision for the season.

Of course, Kittle is still the central focus of the 49ers’ passing game, and he did have two touchdown receptions from Jimmy Garoppolo called back due to penalties in the season-opening win at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But Shanahan hopes less Kittle translates into more balance around him for the 49ers’ offense.

“I think he will get a little more (attention) this year, but he dealt with that last year and he can still make a lot of plays when people do that,” Shanahan said of Kittle on “49ers Game Plan,” which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (TV, Ch. 3).

Shanahan said he hopes Kittle benefits from the players around him, such as Garoppolo, the offensive line, the other tight ends, the wide receivers and the running backs. The 49ers also activated running back Jeff Wilson from the practice squad on Saturday.

“The better we can balance our offense out, his stats might not be as good, but it will make his job a lot easier,” Shanahan said.

Kittle set the all-time, single-season record for NFL tight ends last season with 1,377 yards on 88 receptions.

He caught eight passes in the 49ers’ season-opening win over the Buccaneers, but he was held to just 54 yards – after his TD catches of 8 and 22 yards were wiped out due to penalties.

[RELATED: 49ers Mailbag -- What is expected from Jason Verrett in return to field?]

The 49ers are looking for production from the wide receivers, especially Dante Pettis, who is expected to see increased playing time on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. Rookie Deebo Samuel and Marquise Goodwin started and played the vast majority of the action in Week 1.

Garoppolo was up and down in his first start after missing the final 13 games of last season with a knee injury. In Week 1, Garoppolo completed 18 of 27 pass attempts for 166 yards with one touchdown and an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

[RELATED: Five 49ers to watch in Week 2: Nothing changes with Matt Breida as lead back]

“When you win, that’s a little easier to deal with because you can go hard on yourself on Monday in watching the film, hard on yourself on Tuesday and then you try to work through it throughout the week,” Shanahan said.

“You try to put him in those same positions, the ones he just missed, and he’s had a good week of practice. I know that he’s happy starting 1-0, and hopefully he and everyone around him, including myself, will be a little bit better tomorrow, and hopefully we can be 2-0 because of it.”

49ers-Bengals odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 2 game

49ers-Bengals odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 2 game

Week 1 came and went faster than the timeframe of Antonio Brown's latest helmet deal being taken away. 

The 49ers kicked off the season with a 31-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. San Francisco spent this week sticking to their Community Tuesday's in Youngstown, Ohio and moving on from linebacker Kwon Alexander's hit on Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston. 

The NFL didn't forget, however, and fined Alexander $28,075. This was after he received a 15-yard penalty and an ejection from the game. 

But Week 2 brings a new matchup: The Cincinnati Bengals. And according to SportsLine, the Bengals are slightly favored.

[RELATED: York optimistic about improvements he sees in Youngstown]

Line:

Caesars: CIN -2 (-110)
Consensus: CIN -1 (-106)
Westgate: CIN -1 (-110)
Wynn: CIN -2 (-110)

Here's how writers around the country see the 49ers-Bengals matchup shaking out:

Nick Wagoner, ESPN: 49ers 27, Bengals 23

Ben Baby, ESPN: 49ers 24, Bengals 17

Cynthia Frelund, NFL.com: 49ers 24, Bengals 23

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Bengals 24, 49ers 20

Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Bengals 23, 49ers 20

Vincent Frank, Forbes: 49ers 30, Bengals 17

Tyler Dragon, Cincinnati Enquirer: Bengals 24, 49ers 17