49ers

Source: Travis Benjamin, 49ers agree on one-year free-agent contract

Source: Travis Benjamin, 49ers agree on one-year free-agent contract

The 49ers agreed to terms with free-agent wide receiver Travis Benjamin on Tuesday, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area.

The NFL Network first reported that the agreement is on a one-year contract.

Benjamin, 30, will compete for a spot on the 49ers’ roster after catching 18 passes in 17 games over the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers. He was placed on injured reserve last October due to a quadriceps injury.

Benjamin (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) entered the NFL in 2012 as a fourth-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns.49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was the Browns’ offensive coordinator in 2014. Benjamin caught 18 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns that season.

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His best NFL season came in 2015, when he caught 68 passes for 966 yards and five touchdowns. The following season with the Chargers he had 47 receptions for 677 yards and four touchdowns.

Benjamin could face an uphill battle to make the 49ers' roster with a wide receiver group that already consists of Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, Richie James, Dante Pettis, Trent Taylor,  Jalen Hurd and Marquise Goodwin. Although Goodwin's status is uncertain, the 49ers are also likely to select a receiver in next month's draft.

49ers safety Jake Thieneman teams with non-profit to produce ventilators

49ers safety Jake Thieneman teams with non-profit to produce ventilators

A year ago, safety Jake Thieneman placed himself on the radars of prospective NFL teams with a strong showing during his pro day at Purdue.

Now, as a member of the 49ers, he is sheltering-in-place and working out in the basement of his parents’ home in Carmel, Indiana. He is also trying to do his part to lend assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shut down the sporting world – not to mention normal life.

Thieneman teamed up with Boston-based The Ventilator Project, a quickly organized non-profit that plans to produce up to 60,000 low-cost ventilators a month while fears continue that there are not enough of the devices to meet the demands.

“There will always be a need for ventilators,” Thieneman told NBC Sports Bay Area. “There’s constantly a need. Globally, there’s an even a bigger need.

“Ventilator shortages are not just a unique problem during this time, during COVID-19. Globally, there’s a need for ventilators in developing countries.”

Thieneman entered the NFL last year as an undrafted rookie. He initially signed with the New York Giants, then spent time with the Indianapolis Colts during training camp. The 49ers signed him to their practice squad in mid-December.

Thieneman remained with the 49ers through their run to the Super Bowl. Then, the club signed him to their 90-man offseason roster immediately following the season.

Thieneman, a mechanical engineering major, is splitting his time between preparing himself for whenever the NFL opens its doors and doing his part to lend assistance during the pandemic.

Alex Frost, founder of FloraBot, and Tyler Mantel, founder of Watertower Robotics, co-founded The Ventilator Project on March 20. Thieneman got involved through Mantel’s brother, a close friend from his time at Purdue.

Thieneman’s role is to provide publicity and help in the fund-raising for the project. Three days after the plan was hatched, the project had 15 engineers helping with the design of the ventilators, he said. Now, there are approximately 200 individuals working on the task.

The goal is for the non-profit organization to deliver ventilators as quickly as possible to meet the needs of COVID-19 patients in the United States and around the world.

A hospital-grade ventilator can cost up to $50,000. The Ventilator Project aims to provide the essentials without the unnecessary accessories and for just a fraction of the cost. The expectation is to provide ventilators that cost no more than $2,000 apiece.

“From the start, it was designed to be entirely sourced with parts that are not currently in the medical supply industry so that we’re not taking away medical supplies that hospitals and other networks need,” Thieneman said.

The Ventilator Project will use materials that are readily available and can go to manufacturing quickly, he said.

“Currently, we have a working prototype that is fully functional,” Thieneman said. “We’re going through the FDA approval process right now.

“We expect, after FDA approval, to be able to produce 1,000 units in the first month, then hopefully scale up to 60,000 a month after that.”

[RELATED: 49ers, Sharks games not expected before November, health official says]

The initial fundraising goal is $100,000, Thieneman said, which would get the project through FDA approval and the first 1,000 units. Then, as the production increases so will the costs.

“We’ll need additional funds so we can scale up our manufacturing to full scale,” Thieneman said.

For more information on the non-profit organization and to make a donation, visit their website: TheVentilatorProject.org.

NFL Draft 2020: DeForest Buckner trade could have 49ers add D-lineman

NFL Draft 2020: DeForest Buckner trade could have 49ers add D-lineman

NBC Sports Bay Area will preview the NFL Draft with a look at the 49ers’ top needs, profiles of prospects that might fit their needs, along with some hidden gems. In this installment we examine why the 49ers have a need at defensive line.

General manager John Lynch highlighted his plan a year ago to build a dominant defensive line.

The 49ers accomplished that goal with the additions of Nick Bosa and Dee Ford to go along with DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead as the headliners.

The defensive line still is one of the strengths of the 49ers, but it might not be as dominant without Buckner, the team MVP who was shipped to the Indianapolis Colts in a trade for the No. 13 overall draft pick.

The 49ers still have good depth on the defensive line, but they found out a year ago that a team can never have too many big-bodied players across the front line. Injuries took a toll on the 49ers, with Ronald Blair, D.J. Jones, Jullian Taylor, Kentavius Street and Damontre Moore going on injured reserve.

Armstead, Bosa and Jones figure to be on the field for most base downs. Ford will play some early downs, but he is best saved for pass-rush situations.

Solomon Thomas and Blair, who is coming off a torn ACL, should have significant roles, too. Taylor, Street, Kerry Hyder and Kevin Givens will compete for roles in the rotation.

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The 49ers are scheduled to have first-round picks at Nos. 13 and 31 overall. Then, they do not have another selection until the fifth round. The 49ers’ two picks on Day 1 gives Lynch some opportunities to move around.

While most of the attention for the 49ers’ first pick has been on the wide receivers, it is entirely possible a defensive lineman could factor into the 49ers’ thinking on Day 1.

Will Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown still be available at No. 13? That’s probably unlikely. But if he’s there, would he be at the top of the 49ers’ list ahead of the best-available wide receiver?

[RELATED49ers could target these three wide receivers on Day 3]

Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina) is projected to be selected in the middle of the first round. Or, perhaps, later in the round, the 49ers could go after Ross Blacklock (TCU), K'Lavon Chaisson (LSU) or A.J. Epenesa (Iowa).

The 49ers do not necessarily need a player to step in and replace Buckner, who played more snaps than any other lineman during his four seasons with the club. But the 49ers can use a player who can play a specified role early in his career to enable the club to better move on without Buckner.