Seven under-the-radar second-year 49ers players


Seven under-the-radar second-year 49ers players

The 49ers saw enough promise in evaluating wide receiver Kendrick Bourne before last year’s draft to sign him as a free agent and patiently wait for him to join the team’s offseason program.

Due to rules governing when rookies are allowed to report full time to their new NFL teams, Bourne could not participate in most of the 49ers’ offseason program last spring due to the late conclusion of classes at Eastern Washington.

Once he arrived in Santa Clara on a full-time basis, the 49ers stuck with Bourne through a couple bumps in the road.

“He was late to a couple of things and I rode him pretty hard,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Florida. “I didn't think he was quite ready to make an NFL roster, but he was too talented for us to lose. We did believe in him, but he needed to grow up a little bit.”

The 49ers received more snaps last season from their rookie class than any team in the NFL. Many of those players have already established themselves as starters or front-line backups, such as Solomon Thomas, Reuben Foster, Ahkello Witherspoon, C.J. Beathard, George Kittle, Trent Taylor, Adrian Colbert and Matt Breida.

But there are plenty of other under-the-radar second-year players who could work themselves into significant roles with the organization. Bourne tops the list.

Former teammate and current Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp overshadowed Bourne during their time together at Eastern Washington. Kupp averaged 107 receptions, 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns per season over four years.

Bourne piled up nearly 70 catches per season for 1,000 yards and eight TDs over the final three years of his career. Despite all the time he missed in the offseason, Bourne flashed enough to open the season on San Francisco's 53-man roster.

“He took a huge step last year,” Shanahan said. “I know he wasn't totally ready at the beginning of the year, but he was a guy that we thought had too much talent to put on the practice squad. We were scared that we’d lose him.

“I think he was a little overwhelmed at first, but he kept battling through it. Even when we would ride him he didn't go into a shell. He kept working. He and our receiving coach, Mike LaFleur, put in a lot of time together in learning the stuff.”

Bourne (6-foot-1, 203 pounds) appeared in 11 games and played 282 snaps as a rookie. He caught 16 passes for 257 yards but is far from a finished product.

“He better not be relaxing right now, just sitting back and enjoying that, though,” Shanahan said. “He’s got to come and prove himself again this year.”

And the same goes for these other six under-the-radar second-year players:

There were questions about Williams' commitment coming out for the draft after he took a leave from the Utah football team during his final year of college. General manager John Lynch admits he removed Williams from the team’s draft board. But Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner fell in love with the film, and Lynch placed Williams' name back on the board just before he was selected in the fourth round.

Said Shanahan, “When he had a lane, he had the ability to score, the ability to make the one guy left miss. . . The burst, the leg strength to run through tackles and hit it and be gone.”

Despite Shanahan comparing him to Atlanta running back Tevin Coleman, Williams has a lot to prove just to make the team. He faces an uphill battle for a roster spot after a less-than-impressive offseason and training camp last year. Williams was stashed away on injured reserve with a minor foot injury for his rookie season.

“I expect him to turn up his urgency level this year,” Shanahan said. “I’ve talked to him about that. He said he has. Looking forward to seeing it.”

A sixth-round draft pick last year, Taumoepenu spent 14 games of his rookie season as one of the team’s seven inactive players on game days. He has potential as a pass-rush specialist that the club will want to see this season. The 49ers declined the option on veteran Elvis Dumervil, in part because they want to open the door for some younger players, such as Taumoepenu, who also adds value on special teams.

Although it appears unlikely he can play his way into the starting lineup, Magnuson has the versatility required for a backup job. He can play any of the interior positions, including center, as well as right tackle. That ability to fill in at any position could make him valuable as one of two backup offensive linemen to suit up for games.

The 49ers do not have much depth at cornerback, so more players will certainly be coming to the team via the draft and its immediate aftermath. Mabin bounced around as a rookie. Tampa Bay and Buffalo waived him before he landed on the 49ers’ practice squad. He ended up playing 44 snaps of defense. His size (6-2, 200) is ideal for the 49ers’ scheme. The 49ers have a high opinion of Mabin, who should pull up a chair to Richard Sherman's locker and learn as much as possible from the prototype cornerback for this scheme.

Before going down with a torn ACL, James looked the part in training camp and was in position to win a spot on the 53-man roster. The 49ers have no intention at this point of re-signing Eric Reid to a backup position. (And, for Reid, there's no reason for him to accept a one-year, low-money contract at this point in the offseason.) The 49ers could add a safety in the draft, but James will still have a solid chance to make his mark this season.

Williams showed enough to earn a spot on the practice squad before his promotion to the 53-man roster for the final eight games. The 49ers must look to the future at offensive tackle. Trent Brown enters the final year of his contract. Brown has to prove his commitment to all facets of the job before the 49ers will even consider offering a lucrative contract extension. Joe Staley enters his 12th season, so it’s uncertain how much longer he can play at a high level. Williams must take a significant step forward this year to prove he is part of the future.

Madden 20 ratings: Which 49ers players are underrated, overrated


Madden 20 ratings: Which 49ers players are underrated, overrated

EA Sports unveiled its player ratings for "Madden NFL 20" on Monday, days before teams around the league begin to report for training camp and nearly two months before the start of the regular season.

The 49ers checked off the last task of their offseason to-do-list by agreeing to a two-year contract with kicker Robbie Gould on Monday, but still won't start camp until July 26. That means the time is ripe to ask who isn't getting enough digital love from the Madden ratings team ahead of the game's release on Aug. 2, as well as who is getting the right amount and who is receiving too much.

Yes, it's the Goldilocks approach to Madden's player ratings. 

Underrated: RB Matt Breida

Rated 82 overall, Breida isn't the highest rated 49ers running back. Free-agent signing Tevin Coleman (83) is, which is fair because he did account for one (1) more yard from scrimmage than his new teammate. 

Comparing the two running backs' ratings is the definition of splitting hairs -- as is, in general, assessing video-game ratings of professional athletes -- but Breida's rating as the 26th-best running back feels low. Just last season, he finished fourth among qualifying running backs in yards per carry (5.4), according to Pro Football Reference, and matched versatile Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey in yards per touch (6.0). 

With a returning Jerick McKinnon also set to compete in a crowded backfield and Kyle Shanahan's track record of coaching up running backs, Breida's rating certainly reflects his circumstances in San Francisco. But should he really be rated below New England Patriots running back Sony Michel -- who rushed for 117 more yards than Breida on 56 more carries -- or Tennessee Titans back Dion Lewis? Perhaps what Breida needs is the Bill Belichick Bump.

Properly Rated: QB Jimmy Garoppolo

"Garoppolo as the No. 21 overall QB," you keenly observe. "A 78 rating?"

Consider the following:

Quarterback A (eight starts): 64.53 percent completion percentage, 8.53 yards per attempt, 2,260 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 92.6 passer rating

Quarterback B (eight starts): 64.2 percent completion percentage, 8.3 yards per attempt, 2,277 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 90.8 passer rating

Quarterback A? Garoppolo in his first eight starts -- over two seasons -- with the 49ers. Quarterback B? Nick Mullens (68 overall) in his first eight starts with the 49ers last year. 

You can quibble with some of the QBs ranked ahead of Garoppolo, and you probably will if you're reading this. But Garoppolo tore his ACL last season, has made eight starts since the 2017 season and thus rightfully sits within a tier of quarterbacks that will continue to fluctuate throughout 2019. For many outside of the Bay Area, the jury is still out on Garoppolo, even if the Faithful already are true believers. 

[RELATED: NFC West teams' biggest questions entering training camp]

Overrated: CB Richard Sherman

Sherman (93 overall) will go down as one of the greatest cornerbacks in NFL history, with a surefire case for induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (at least) five years after retirement. But can you currently say he is one of the three best at his position?

Opposing QBs treated Sherman like he was last season, practically avoiding throwing his way at all costs. Yet, Sherman rated out as just the fifth-best cornerback in the NFC West last season by Pro Football Focus' metrics.

The 31-year-old admitted in May that he "was kind of out there on one leg" during his first season with San Francisco, and the 49ers expect him to bounce back accordingly this season. He is more than capable of living up to his rating in his ninth NFL season, but time isn't necessarily on the veteran's side. 

Source: 49ers, kicker Robbie Gould reach agreement on two-year contract

Source: 49ers, kicker Robbie Gould reach agreement on two-year contract

After months of acrimony, a deadline brought the 49ers and kicker Robbie Gould together,

The two sides agreed to terms Monday morning on a contract extension, a league source confirmed. The 49ers and Gould have until Monday at 1 p.m. to officially sign Gould to the contract or the sides are prohibited from entering into a multi-year contract because of Gould's status as the team's franchise player.

The 49ers and Gould agreed to a fully guaranteed contract worth $10.5 million over two years but with an option clause it could become a four-year, $19 million deal with $15 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, who first reported the agreement.

The two sides have seemingly been at odds since the 49ers restricted Gould’s ability to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason with the application of the franchise tag -- a deal that was set to pay him $4.971 million for one year. Gould requested a trade, but coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch both declared that the 49ers would not trade him because of his importance to the team.

[RELATED: Biggest questions facing NFC West teams]

Gould, a 14-year NFL veteran made 72 of 75 field-goal attempts in his first two seasons with the 49ers after signing a two-year, $4 million contract on the first day of free agency in 2017. Gould ranks No. 2 all-time in the NFL in field-goal accuracy at 87.7 percent behind only Baltimore’s Justin Tucker.

With Gould now set to report to training camp in Santa Clara on July 26, the only players under 49ers control who remain unsigned are defensive end Nick Bosa and wide receiver Deebo Samuel, the team’s top two draft picks.