Report: 49ers agree to terms with McKinnon

Report: 49ers agree to terms with McKinnon

The 49ers are set to sign a veteran running back to open the NFL’s free-agent signing period.

The 49ers have agreed to terms with former Minnesota running back Jerick McKinnon on a four-year contract worth $30 million, ESPN reported Wednesday morning.

McKinnon is a versatile player who is a pass-catching threat out of the backfield. He caught 51 of the 54 “catchable” passes thrown his way, according to Pro Football Focus. Hyde had nine dropped passes, according to PFF.

McKinnon, 25, has rushed for 1,918 yards and seven touchdowns in his four-year career. He added 142 receptions for 984 yards and five touchdowns.

McKinnon (5-9, 205) figures to give coach Kyle Shanahan a player who can be used in a variety of roles to create mismatches. The 49ers also figure to utilize Matt Breida, who had an impressive rookie season after being signed as an undrafted rookie from Georgia Southern – the same school McKinnon attended.

Carlos Hyde’s time with the 49ers is over. He agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns, the NFL Network reported earlier Wednesday morning. Hyde came to the organization as a second-round draft pick in 2014.

Hyde appeared in 50 games in four seasons, gaining 2,729 yards and 21 touchdowns. He never produced a 1,000-yard season after taking over for Frank Gore as the featured back in 2015.

The 49ers could also use a draft pick to select a player from a deep draft class of running backs. The 49ers re-signed Raheem Mostert, a top special-teams player, to a one-year contract this week.

Also, Joe Williams, a fourth-round pick last year, will have an opportunity to compete for a roster spot, beginning in the offseason program.

49ers receiver Trent Taylor excited to learn from new coach Wes Welker


49ers receiver Trent Taylor excited to learn from new coach Wes Welker

As a short, slot receiver, Trent Taylor has been compared to All-Pro wideout Wes Welker for his entire life.

Now, Taylor will have the chance to learn from Welker directly, after the 37-year-old was hired as one of the newest members of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan's staff.

Taylor didn’t hold back when asked what his thoughts were when he first heard about Welker heading to the Bay Area.

“I thought it was freakin’ sick,” Taylor told NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’s been a baller in the NFL for 10 plus years and it’s always just cool having a guy like that coaching you. A guy with that type of experience and the guy people have compared me to my whole life.”

With only an inch difference in height between the two -- Taylor is 5'8", Welker is 5'9" -- Taylor is more than ready to learn from Welker. Tips from the receiver who led the league in receptions in three different seasons and racked up over 1,000 yards five times will be very valuable.

Even more than Welker’s physicality, Taylor believes his mental approach to the game is even more powerful.

“It’s going to be a cool opportunity to be able to work with him and hear what he has to say to me, what kind of advice he has, and I just know he has that ‘dog mentality’ that you want in a football player," Taylor said. 

“It’s cool to have that in the coaching position, and it will be cool to see the way that he coaches us and the fire that he brings into work every day. I think it’s going to be great.”

While Taylor knows what his new coach is capable of, he can’t wait be in the same room with the five-time Pro Bowler to watch Welker’s own game film.

“I haven’t been able to just sit down and break down his film,” Taylor said. “But I feel like we will have the opportunity to do that. I’ll probably press that subject pretty hard. I feel like he’s going to try to be humble about it but we need to see his film. That’s for sure.”

Welker’s level of productivity is the gold standard for a slot receiver, and that’s the goal for Taylor and the rest of the receivers room. Taylor understands its immense value.

“I think it will be good to be able to ‘learn’ somebody who played the same type of position with the same body type,” Taylor said. “You don’t run into to many guys like that in the NFL. So it will be an interesting perspective to hear from.”

Welker will be joined by former Cowboys wideout Miles Austin in the receivers room, who was hired as an offensive quality control coach. Taylor appreciates that both coaches are not that far removed from the game, which helps them be even more relatable.

“Two guys who played a long time in the NFL, and haven’t been out of the league for that many years,” Taylor said. “They’re still pretty fresh in it. It’ll be great. I think it’s going to work out great."

[RELATED: Why 49ers can't miss out on Brown or Beckham Jr. this year]

Taylor, however remains inspired by Welker's mental toughness and looks to get everything possible out of his new coach.

"I think he always wanted it more than the guy across from him," Taylor said. "And that’s what made him so great. that’s what makes anybody great. Just having that 'want to' and that fire that you’re never going to stop. That you’re not going to give up."

Chris Simms explains why Odell Beckham fits 49ers better than Antonio Brown

Chris Simms explains why Odell Beckham fits 49ers better than Antonio Brown

Chris Simms, the former NFL quarterback, current NBC Sports analyst and long-time friend of Kyle Shanahan, can envision the 49ers being interested in a big-name wide receiver this offseason.

Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham?

While Simms said he believes the 49ers would have interest in either wide receiver, he has no doubt which player would give the 49ers a bigger lift with less risk.

“I do think Odell Beckham Jr. is the better player,” Simms said on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

“I would say Odell Beckham Jr. hasn’t even reached the prime of his career, yet.”

Brown met Tuesday with Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II. Brown reported on social media the sides agreed "it is time to move on.”

Brown, it appears, will be available, either in a trade or as a free agent, if the Steelers cut him. Beckham might also be available in a trade from the New York Giants. Both players are among the most productive receivers in the NFL.

Brown turns 31 in July. Beckham turned 26 in November.

“In my own personal opinion -- I watch a lot of film and break down teams and games and players -- I thought Antonio Brown did lose a step a little bit this year,” Simms said. “He’s still great, but he’s not the guy we saw three or four years ago. This is the age where receivers start to lose explosiveness and speed a little bit.”

In the first two offseasons of Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, the club worked to add veterans of high character. Simms said he gets frustrated when people lump Brown and Beckham together as having similar off-field concerns.

“I think Antonio Brown comes with a whole lot more baggage than Odell Beckham Jr.,” Simms said.

Brown has been involved in a long list of off-field issues and dramas during a career that has also included seven trips to the Pro Bowl and six consecutive seasons with at least 101 receptions and 1,284 yards.

[RELATED: Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown? 49ers have need, and decision to make]

“Antonio Brown works very hard. He’s a hell of a football player. I get all of that. And I know his work ethic is through the roof,” Simms said. “But the one thing I’ve always been told from people in Pittsburgh – players, coaches, front office people – is it’s all about Antonio Brown.

“At the end of the day, he doesn’t care if the Steelers win or lose. He just wants to know how many catches he had, how many yards he had. He is habitually late on a weekly basis. So he is a handful.”