49ers

Report: Beathard was only QB Shanahan wanted in draft

Report: Beathard was only QB Shanahan wanted in draft

C.J. Beathard of Iowa was the sixth quarterback picked in the draft. His selection was initially viewed as a reach.

But as Peter King of the MMQB reported, Beathard was not a stretch at all for new 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan. In fact, Beathard was the only quarterback in the draft that Shanahan wanted.

“He processes the game so well,” Shanahan told King. “Tough as s---. Got a chance. He reminds me a lot of Kirk Cousins.”

King was embedded in the 49ers draft room from Thursday to Saturday, and he wrote an outstanding behind-the-scenes look at John Lynch’s first draft as general manager.

Here are some of the other nuggets from his report, “’Ready to be a 49er? Inside San Francisco’s Draft Room”. . .

--As Lynch told the local media on Thursday night, the 49ers had three players at the top of their draft board: Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster. The 49ers were not sure whom the Chicago Bears would select after the 49ers traded back one spot to accumulate additional draft picks this year and next.

“Man, who do they want? Gotta be Solomon, right?” Lynch asked.

Paraag Marathe, the 49ers’ chief strategy officer and executive vice president of football operations, responded, “Call me crazy, but I think it’s Trubisky.”

It was Trubisky. The 49ers selected Thomas. If Chicago had taken Thomas, and the 49ers were unable to move back, they would have chosen Foster -- just as Lynch suggested to the local media when asked about that scenario late Thursday night.

--Ten minutes after Kansas City traded up to select quarterback Patrick Mahomes at No. 10, Lynch said, "Man, I’d love to go up and get that corner, (Marshon) Lattimore.” Houston took Lattimore with the next pick.

--The 49ers had the No. 34 overall pick, the second selection of the second round. King described Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt as a player of “particular interest.”

--Some combination of Marathe, Lynch, senior personnel executive Martin Mayhew and vice president of player personnel Adam Peters took or placed calls to every team from draft spots 12 to 26 – all with the intent of trading up to select Foster.

--The 49ers medical staff passed Foster, who underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in February. When someone on TV wondered how long Foster’s shoulder would hold up, Lynch yelled toward Jeff Ferguson, the team’s vice president of Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer.

Asked Lynch, “You guys worried about his shoulder?”

Ferguson responded, “What shoulder!”

--One spot after Watt was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 30, Marathe worked out a trade -- and some tense moments -- with Seattle GM John Schneider, who took an ill-timed restroom break. The 49ers moved up three spots for Foster.

--Linebackers coach Johnny Holland said of Foster, “I thought he’d be a top five pick. He’s one of the best three, four linebackers to come out of college football in the last 10 years.”

--The 49ers no longer had a second-round pick after the deal for Foster. They had picks in the third round at Nos. 66 and 67 overall. Shanahan liked Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and Ohio defensive end Tarell Basham. The 49ers took Witherspoon at 66. They received a second-round pick for the selection at No. 67.

Shanahan did not like trading away a chance to get Basham. But, King reported, Shanahan understood. “We’re not one or two players away,” he said. “This is about building a program.”

--There was one player on Day 3 of the draft that Shanahan wanted above anyone else – and he was not even on the 49ers’ draft board when the day began.

“I’m telling you right now: If we don’t get him, I’ll be sick,” Shanahan told King. “I will be contemplating Joe Williams all night.”

Williams was kicked off the UConn team in 2013 for stealing a teammate’s credit card. He walked away from the Utah team early last season because of stress. It took Williams a decade to realize, he said, that he had held himself accountable for the death of his 7-year-old sister because the night she died from heart condition, Williams was with her and did not call his parents or 911.

Lynch made a phone call to Williams early on Saturday morning. Afterward, he felt comfortable enough to tell himself, according to King, “Screw it. I’m going to try to jump up and get this guy.”

The 49ers traded up in the fourth round to draft Williams.

49ers' Kyle Juszczyk explains why Jimmy Garoppolo can 'turn it loose'

49ers' Kyle Juszczyk explains why Jimmy Garoppolo can 'turn it loose'

Four-time Pro Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk cannot say for sure how much differently Jimmy Garoppolo feels. But he knows the 49ers’ quarterback looks different from a year ago.

Last summer, Garoppolo was returning to the field after missing the final 13 games of the 2018 season due to a torn left ACL.

Garoppolo overcame all the mental hurdles to start 19 games and be one of the key figures in leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl. Juszczyk was asked on Tuesday if Garoppolo appears more comfortable as training camp gets going.

“It’s hard to say from an outsider’s perspective, other than he’s not wearing a brace,” Juszczyk said on a video call with Bay Area reporters. “That’s the biggest thing that stands out to me.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

In his first season as a full-time NFL starter -- and coming off major knee surgery -- Garoppolo had one of the top seasons in 49ers history. He completed 69.1 percent of his pass attempts for 3,978 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in the regular season.

[RELATEDSteve Young believes 49ers must prove lasting power]

Juszczyk believes the fact Garoppolo is another year removed from the ACL injury will provide a major benefit to the 49ers' offense.

“When you don’t have to think about something, when something is not in the back of your mind, and it’s not weighing on you, it relieves so much stress, so much pressure, and you’re able to play so much more freely,” Juszczyk said.

“So if he’s not thinking about that knee and it’s not even in his head, that’s going to be a huge advantage for him and something that I know, just as an athlete, would make me play better. And I think you’re going to see it from him.

"When you don’t have to think about that stuff, you can just go and turn it loose.”

49ers safety Jimmie Ward could fill expanded role on defense this year

49ers safety Jimmie Ward could fill expanded role on defense this year

Jimmie Ward’s versatility and the whims of his many defensive coaching staffs with the 49ers -- along with a string of injuries -- never allowed him to get comfortable through his first five NFL seasons.

He somehow fought through years of adversity to remain as the team's longest-tenured player.

Ward’s position no longer is a question. He is entrenched at free safety. But Ward created a bit of a mystery when addressing the subject of where he might line up on a snap-to-snap basis this season. However, he certainly believes his days at cornerback are over.

“Last time I checked, I signed a contract to play safety, but if anything happens, I have to be open-minded and do whatever’s best for the team,” Ward said Tuesday on a video call with Bay Area reporters.

Ward was the 49ers’ starter at nickelback, cornerback and safety during his time with the 49ers. Last year, he proved to be one of the more effective free safeties in the league.

In the offseason, the 49ers signed Ward to a three-year, $28.5 million contract.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, the 49ers have played primarily a cover-three defense. But the 49ers have the ability to be a lot less predictable this season with all of their starters in the defensive backfield returning for the second year in a row.

“It helps out a lot,” Ward said. “Since we’ve been back, I just feel like we’ve just been working on the chemistry and all our defensive checks. I feel like it’s going to play a big role in this upcoming season.”

Ward is capable of playing spots all over the field. He suggested earlier this offseason the 49ers might rely on him to become more of a game-changer.

[RELATEDSteve Young believes 49ers must prove lasting power]

But what, exactly, does that mean?

He could be featured in man or zone coverages. He could also be used on more blitzes. Ward said everyone will have to wait to see the answers when the 49ers open the regular season on Sept. 13 against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium.

“I feel like if I tell you more details about that I’m kind of giving away the game plan,” he said. “I don’t know other teams to hear how they’re going to use me.

“I don’t know, but it’s going to be interesting. Just make sure you watch that first game, because I could be anywhere.”