49ers

Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson interested in Antonio Brown as teammate

Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson interested in Antonio Brown as teammate

Around and around we go.

Almost any other wide receiver who burned as many bridges as Antonio Brown has over the last two years never would draw interest from another NFL team ever again. But due to his tantalizing talent and prolific production, he continues to get the benefit of the doubt.

He doesn't deserve it, but it's understandable. Forget receivers, when Brown is on the field, there are few offensive players more frightening for defensive coordinators. Of course, he also has proven himself to be a nightmare for his own coaches. Thus is the risk/reward factor he presents.

Despite his risk far outweighing the reward as of late, interest in Brown doesn't appear to be waning. 

Back in May, it was reported that Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson "would love" to add Brown to his receiving corps. A little more than a month later, the two were connecting on routes on a practice field.

Yes, that is a Raiders helmet that Brown is wearing. How'd his time in Oakland go, again? But I digress...

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Wilson doesn't appear to be the only star quarterback interested in adding Brown to his roster. After former NFL receiver Chad Johnson took to Twitter to express his preference for Brown to join the Texans, Houston QB Deshaun Watson didn't exactly pour cold water on the idea.

The Texans were on the wrong end of one of the more one-sided trades in recent memory this offseason when they questionably sent standout receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. Houston did acquire Brandin Cooks from the Los Angeles Rams, but perhaps Watson believes his receiving corps is missing an ingredient.

[RELATED: 49ers don't need Brown to be favorites, but Seahawks might]

If Brown is signed -- which is a big if -- it's unlikely he would be able to play much at all this coming season, regardless of which team signed him. A trio of Personal Conduct Policy investigations must be concluded before he can sign with a team, and even if all that is settled, it is widely expected that he would be facing a lengthy suspension upon rejoining the league.

Do you trust Brown to behave through that entire process? At this point, it's difficult to understand why anyone would. But clearly, some players still feel the risk is worth the reward.

49ers' Fred Warner not surprised peers consider him one of best in NFL

49ers' Fred Warner not surprised peers consider him one of best in NFL

Linebacker Fred Warner was a solid 16-game starter as a rookie for the 49ers in 2018.

Last season, he broke out.

Warner was selected as the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November. He led the 49ers for the second straight season in tackles, returned an interception for a touchdown, broke up nine passes, forced three fumbles, registered three sacks and had seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He capped his season with an interception of Patrick Mahomes in the team's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.

Recently, Warner was announced as the No. 70 player in the game in a vote of players on the NFL Network.

"I wouldn't say I was surprised at all,” Warner said. “I felt like I competed at a high level last year. I think my peers saw that. It probably wasn't reflected in the awards last year when it came to All-Pro and those sorts of things, but obviously we got to the Super Bowl.

“That’s all I care about and continuing to be the best player I can for this team so that we can make it back to that game and make sure the outcome is how we want it.”

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The 49ers are in the early stages of training camp. Despite all the restrictions and changes to the typical camp routine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Warner said the 49ers are intent on remaining focused on preparations for the regular season, which begins Sept. 13 against the Arizona Cardinals.

“I don’t think a lot has changed,” Warner said. “When we get out there, it’s all business. We’re all hungry to get back at it and get going.”

[RELATED49ers need production from Taylor with Benjamin's opt-out]

The NFL canceled all preseason games this summer. Teams generally do not tackle in practices. But for someone who makes his living tackling, Warner said he is not concerned about lacking precision once the season begins.

“I’m not worried about that one bit,” Warner said. “The way we practice and we prepare is all you need. We do thump in practice, but we’re not bringing guys to the ground. We’re working on our technique and tracking, making sure that we’re working that technique in practice, so that when we do come to the games it’s all natural.”

How Jalen Hurd's physicality has stood out to 49ers' Raheem Mostert

How Jalen Hurd's physicality has stood out to 49ers' Raheem Mostert

Jalen Hurd only played in the preseason last year before a back injury ultimately cut short his rookie season, but the 49ers wide receiver nonetheless flashed intriguing potential with a two-touchdown performance against the Dallas Cowboys.

But Hurd's potential as a blocker is what most excites 49ers running back Raheem Mostert.

"[He's] gonna go out there and he's gonna put his all, especially with what I've seen these past couple years when he's been healthy," Mostert said of Hurd on Wednesday when he was asked about the 49ers' big receivers and their blocking ability. "Going out there, and trying to de-cleat somebody. That's inspiring in itself as a running back because you know that he's gonna do his job to the best of his ability, and he's gonna put his body out there on the line. Why not do the same as a runner?"

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Listed at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Hurd certainly has the measurables to be an effective run blocker. He also played running back at Tennessee before transitioning to wide receiver when he transferred to Baylor, checking the important "positional versatility" box for coach Kyle Shanahan.

The 49ers spoke openly of how much they value blocking contributions from skill-position players all along the way to Super Bowl LIV, and the role their wide receivers and tight ends played in San Francisco rushing for more yards (2,305) than any team but the Baltimore Ravens in the regular season. Shanahan said George Kittle set the tone in that regard.

“I mean, he had more yards in the pass game as a tight end in the history of the NFL [in 2018],” Shanahan said of the tight end in January. “So, any time you have a guy like that who's one of the best players on your team who's always just talking about running the ball and playing the physicality in the game and giving everything you can, it helps you hold everyone else a lot more accountable, and rarely do you have to."

[RELATED: Mostert knew he would remain with 49ers 'no matter what']

Can Hurd provide similar value during his first full NFL season in 2020? He has the size, and Mostert believes Hurd definitely has the skills.

"It's nice to see those guys out there coming back, especially Jalen, because he is a bigger receiver and he's more physical," Mostert continued. "He's one of -- probably the most physical receiver I've seen, tape-wise and even going out there practicing. It's nice to see him back."