49ers

Richard Sherman believes 49ers will target Earl Thomas in NFL free agency

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USATSI

Richard Sherman believes 49ers will target Earl Thomas in NFL free agency

SANTA CLARA -- When the 49ers implemented their defensive system last year, two players from outside the organization were held up as models for how their respective positions in the secondary should be played.

The 49ers signed one of those players in the offseason after the Seattle Seahawks released veteran cornerback Richard Sherman. And if the 49ers need anyone to present a recruiting pitch to the other individual, free safety Earl Thomas, they don't have to look too far for a volunteer.

Sherman said he believes the 49ers will be interested in Thomas, but there should be plenty of competition, too.

“If they need me to be, I have no problem with it,” Sherman told reporters Thursday. “I think this is a pretty attractive destination as is. But money is the best recruiter. I’ll give my two cents. I’ll give you my best recruiting pitch.”

The 49ers are likely to have approximately $70 million in salary-cap space at the beginning of the free-agent signing period. The open negotiating period begins March 11, and teams are allowed to sign free agents starting March 13.

Thomas, a nine-year NFL veteran, has been selected to six Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams. During his time with the Seahawks, he intercepted 28 passes and forced 11 fumbles.

In hopes of leveraging a new contract with the Seahawks or forcing a trade, Thomas sat out training camp at the beginning of the final year of his contract. After he reported to the team at the start of the regular season, Thomas sustained a season-ending fractured leg in Week 4.

As Thomas was carted off the field, he made an obscene gesture toward the Seahawks sideline, further driving home the point that his time in Seattle was over.

[RELATED: Sherman is one of Mullens' go-to guys for advice]

Thomas is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, and Sherman wasn't shy about discussing the possibility that his former teammate could join him in Santa Clara.

“Would I love to play with Earl Thomas III? I would love to,” Sherman said. “I would love to have him back in the locker room. But I’m sure he’ll have a plethora of opportunities, and I’m sure we’re going to throw our hat in the ring.”

The 49ers have a group of young safeties, but no guaranteed starters among the group that includes Jaquiski Tartt, Adrian Colbert, Marcell Harris and D.J. Reed.

Solomon Thomas is excited to prove he's worthy of No. 3 overall pick

Solomon Thomas is excited to prove he's worthy of No. 3 overall pick

SANTA CLARA – Defensive tackle Solomon Thomas had a pedestrian rookie season after the 49ers chose him with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 draft.

But that was nothing compared to Year 2, when he faced unimaginable tragedy with the suicide death of his older sister. Understandably, he was unproductive on the field as he struggled with his emotions and saw reduced playing time until a late-season surge.

Thomas’ name surfaced in trade rumors during the NFL draft.

Thomas said he is often guilty of over-thinking. But this time he did not give it much thought. He said he did not yearn for a fresh start elsewhere, because he wants to justify the faith general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan showed in him.

“In this business, whatever happens, happens. You don’t control it,” Thomas said on Tuesday. “But I love this organization. I love being here. And I want to finish what I started. I want to come here and want to show everyone why John and Kyle drafted me No. 3 and be who I am.”

After recording 41 tackles and three sacks in 14 games as a rookie, Thomas managed just 31 tackles and one sack in 16 games last season. The grief he felt off the field seemed to impact his performance at work.

“Last year I just wasn’t me,” Thomas said. “I’m not making excuses. I didn’t play well, and that’s on me. I should’ve played better. But I’m not making excuses for any of that. But what I’m saying that I wasn’t me last year. I put pressure on myself. But that’s over.”

Thomas said he sought therapy to better help him deal with the death of his sister, Ella. He continues to be an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness.

“That’s been a long process,” Thomas said. “It’s been hard to find. The first year was really hard for me, all the phases of anger, depression, sadness, guilt, grief, all that kind of stuff. So it’s hard for me to get healthy, and it took me a while. And once I was, I was a different person. I was light on my feet and could finally walk and move again.”

Shanahan said he sees an improvement in Thomas, who believes the team’s scheme adjustment under new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek fits his skills as an undersized defensive tackle. Thomas is expected to play defensive end in the 49ers' base defense, then move inside to rush the passer from defensive tackle.

“We all know what he went through and stuff, but you can see he’s got his aura back to him,” Shanahan said. “You can see it in his eyes. You can feel his energy a little bit better, and it definitely seems like he’s in a better place.

“We all know grieving can be as hard as it gets and takes people a long time, but you can see he’s doing better.”

After reports of the 49ers shopping Thomas in a trade, Lynch called Thomas into his office and denied the club was trying to get rid of him. Lynch talked to Thomas about how he should thrive in his new role.

“I can use my quickness and my explosion, being able to use that and just move, and having the green light,” Thomas said. “That’s what I need. I don’t need to be reading and sitting back. I need to be going and be able to press guards, get on the edge and crush tight ends. That’s how I play, and that’s the kind of scheme that can bring out my strengths.”

Thomas said he has always been a perfectionist. He admits that he often gets in his own head when he is dissatisfied with his own performance. He views this season as a fresh start without the change of scenary.

[RELATED: 49ers hopeful Kocurek can unleash Thomas]

“Everything in the past, is in the past,” he said. “I had probably my worst season ever in my life last year and I’m the most confident I’ve ever been in my career right now. That says a lot. I’m ready to move forward and show everyone who Solomon Thomas is and what I’m going to bring to the table.”

Why Dee Ford isn't worried about Nick Bosa's past social media usage

Why Dee Ford isn't worried about Nick Bosa's past social media usage

SANTA CLARA — 49ers first-round pick Nick Bosa was scrutinized heavily for his social media use, but veteran edge rusher Dee Ford isn't bothered by it one bit. 

"Yeah, he’s a great guy,” Ford said. “Social media is social media. I could care less. Honestly, who you are at work is important to me and he’s a great guy. I don’t even have a social media. I’m not even up to speed with the quotes and all that. I don’t care.

“Who he has presented to us is a great guy that’s ready to work and that’s all that matters to me.” 

Bosa pulled up short in practice with a hamstring injury and was unable to finish individual drills with his position group. Ford took it upon himself to speak to the rookie, offering encouragement. Ford knows the pressure of being a first-round pick and admires Bosa’s drive. 

“He works very hard,” Ford said. “He’s a really good guy. You hate to see that for a rookie because he’s really progressing and he’s going to be important for this defense. And that D-line room is really starting to mesh. He’ll get healthy. He’ll get back. He’ll be fine.” 

Ford even offered Bosa advice as far as the extra attention he’s received for what he has done off the field.   

“It’s important as a rookie to stay the course,” Ford said. “Don’t get down. You got a lot of stuff to go through as a rookie. I told him once ball gets here, it’s all about ball. All the extra stuff will be over.”  

Ford was also complementary of Bosa’s skill set, and compared Bosa to former Chiefs teammate Justin Houston. 

"[Bosa] has a unique ability to actually execute his moves,” Ford said. “He’s very fluent. He actually reminds me of Justin. He’s not going to jump off your screen as far as speed, but he’s fluent as an athlete and fast enough.

[RELATED: Lynch, Shanahan confident in Bosa's character]

“He’s very strong and he can execute his moves with his hand-eye coordination, which is what you like to see in the rush game. And in the run game he can make plays front side and back side.” 

It’s only Day Two of phase three but it appears that Bosa is fitting in with his teammates as well as could be.