49ers

Source: 49ers have engaged in contract talks with Raiders LB

Source: 49ers have engaged in contract talks with Raiders LB

After reaching tentative deals with four offensive players, the 49ers appear to be closing in on bolstering their thin linebacker corps.

A league source confirms the 49ers have engaged in contract talks with the agent for Raiders free-agent linebacker Malcolm Smith. Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com first reported the mutual interest.

Smith is best-remembered for his interception of Colin Kaepernick's pass after Richard Sherman’s tip in the end zone on the throw intended for Michael Crabtree in the closing minute to preserve the Seahawks’ victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game in January 2014.

Smith went on to be named the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII, as he returned an interception for a touchdown and recovered a fumble in Seattle’s 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos.

Smith, who turns 27 in July, spent the past two seasons with the Raiders. He recorded 185 tackles and four sacks in 30 games after signing as a free agent in 2015.

He spent his first four seasons with the Seahawks. Robert Saleh, the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, was a defensive quality control coach in Seattle during Smith’s first three NFL seasons.

NaVorro Bowman, who is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury, and Ray-Ray Armstrong are the 49ers’ only returning linebackers who have seen significant playing time.

Smith’s agent also represents wide receiver Pierre Garçon, with whom the 49ers on Wednesday reached an agreement. Deals cannot become official until Thursday at 1 p.m., the official opening of the free-agent signing period.

How Nick Mullens has changed GM John Lynch's thinking about 49ers' QB situation

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NBC SPORTS BAY AREA

How Nick Mullens has changed GM John Lynch's thinking about 49ers' QB situation

When the 49ers signed Jimmy Garoppolo to a lucrative, long-term extension in the offseason, it was presumed the team’s top two quarterbacks were set through the 2020 season.

Now, C.J. Beathard’s long-term spot as the 49ers’ backup looks tenuous. Nick Mullens will make his third consecutive start on Sunday when the club returns from the bye week to play at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“Here’s how my thinking’s changed: I think we have three now,” Lynch said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

Garoppolo’s season came to an abrupt end in Week 3 when he sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The 49ers expect Garoppolo to come back strong in 2019 after continuing to learn from coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello while rehabbing his knee.

“I think we have one special guy in Jimmy Garoppolo,” Lynch said. “I have all the belief in the world in him, as does Kyle. We’re real proud of the way he’s using this as an opportunity, not only to get healthy, which takes a ton of time with an ACL, but he’s also using this as an opportunity to grow his game in the film room.

“We believe, as we did when we committed to him long term, that he’s going to be the guy for years to come at that position.”

Beathard took over for Garoppolo and started the next five games, all 49ers losses. After averaging 297.3 yards passing in his first three starts, Beathard struggled in losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals. He was sacked 11 times in those two games.

“I think at some point when you’re struggling, there’s a little regression,” Lynch said. “I think C.J. was going through that. Nick came in and gave us a lift. But I think that was also good for C.J. to get to back off, kind of take things in and really, frankly, learn some things from Nick -- the way he’s getting rid of the football on time.”

Mullens has yet to be sacked while attempting 61 passes in two games. Beathard was sacked 18 times with 169 pass attempts, while Garoppolo was sacked 13 times with 89 pass attempts.

Mullens spent last season and the first three games this year on the practice squad before receiving the promotion to the 49ers’ 53-man roster.

In starts against the Raiders and New York Giants, Mullens has completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 512 yards with four touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 104.0.

“I’ve told a lot of these players, Nick is a great example of working, such that, when your opportunity presents itself, you’re ready and good things come from that,” Lynch said. “I talked to my own kids about that. Nick Mullens is a great story because of the way he goes about his work each and every day.”

Fantasy football waiver wire: Target Panthers' DJ Moore in Week 12

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USATSI

Fantasy football waiver wire: Target Panthers' DJ Moore in Week 12

After a thrilling Monday night matchup, the Chiefs and Rams will get some much deserved time off in Week 12. 

That’s bad news for fantasy football players. 

Kansas City and Los Angeles are the last two NFL teams to have bye weeks, and will do so just one week before the conclusion of many fantasy regular seasons. Chances are, you or someone you know will be without running backs Todd Gurley and Kareem Hunt, or wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Tyreek Hill. 

Luckily, we found three players who can fill the void in Week 12, as well as one from Monday’s game who’s worth stashing on your roster. Each player was owned in fewer than half of ESPN and Yahoo fantasy football leagues as of this writing.

DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers WR (Owned in 31.8 percent of ESPN leagues, 39 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Cam Newton spread the ball around Sunday against the Detroit Lions, targeting four different receivers at least seven times. No Panthers pass-catchers had more receptions than Moore, who finished the day with seven catches (on eight targets) for 157 yards and a touchdown. 

Moore benefited from an 82-yard reception, but would still have been a double-digit scorer in PPR leagues without it. The rookie ended Sunday with at least five targets in five of his last six games, and a favorable matchup against a diminished Seattle Seahawks secondary means Moore should firmly be on your radar. 

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens RB (Owned in 0 percent of ESPN leagues, 2 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Lamar Jackson wasn’t the only Ravens rookie to rush for over 100 yards Sunday. Edwards joined on the fun, too, rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown on a career-high 17 carries. He came out of nowhere in Week 11, with more carries Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals than he had in his NFL career. 

Veteran running back Alex Collins’ workload decreased for the second straight week, while Javorius Allen rushed just once for the second straight week. Edwards, then, will have an opportunity to truly take the reins against a not-so-stout Raiders rush defense in Week 12. The matchup alone makes him a solid streaming option. 

Tre’Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints WR (Owned in 13.3 percent of ESPN leagues, 25 percent of Yahoo leagues) 

Smith nearly exceeded his own previous workload in Week 11. He entered Sunday with 12 catches for 214 yards and three touchdowns, but finished it with an additional 10 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown after the Saints’ blowout win over the Philadelphia Eagles. 

He led New Orleans with 13 targets, or eight more than Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara … combined. The Saints have a quick turnaround, but they have a favorable matchup against the Atlanta Falcons secondary Thursday. Put in a claim for Smith as soon as you can.

Josh Reynolds, St. Louis Rams WR (Owned in 26 percent of ESPN leagues, 45 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Reynolds filled in admirably for Cooper Kupp once again. He caught six passes for 80 yards and a touchdown in Monday night’s instant classic. 

He also caught two touchdowns when he deputized for Kupp in Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers. That touchdown pace is almost certainly unsustainable, but Reynolds’ place in one of the NFL’s most high-powered offenses means his ceiling is high down the stretch -- even if you won’t reap any rewards this week.