Sources: 49ers fire head strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright


Sources: 49ers fire head strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright

The 49ers this week fired head strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright, multiple sources told NBC Sports Bay Area.

The 49ers plan to restructure the strength and conditioning department, according to the sources, and the status of the remainder of the staff remains unclear.

The 49ers were plagued by injuries during the two seasons that Wright served as head strength and conditioning coach under Kyle Shanahan. The team finished with records of 6-10 in 2017 and 4-12 in 2018.

This season, 17 players spent time on injured reserve, including quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon, who sustained torn ACLs. Garoppolo sustained his season-ending injury during a Week 3 game in Kansas City, and McKinnon went down one week before the start of the regular season in an injury sustained on the 49ers' practice field in Santa Clara.

In 2017, the 49ers placed 24 players on injured reserve.

Shanahan and general manager John Lynch suggested Monday during the team’s season-ending press conference that changes were being considered.

“It's been too big of a deal for two years,” Shanahan said. “Injuries are pretty random, but it's also affected us huge. So that's something that we definitely have to sit back and really look at it from all angles and put a lot of time into. Just try to find a better perspective at it.”

Lynch said the team was studying the reasons for the rash of injuries.

“There's an old adage in football,” Lynch said. “I don't know if it's exclusive to football, but your best ability is availability. We haven't had a lot of guys available and that's something we're looking into hard. It's been ongoing.

“We'll continue to do that because it's something that needs to change, and I don't think anyone's to blame. We have been studying it. We'll continue to, and try to get a handle on that.”

Prior to coming to the 49ers, Wright worked with Shanahan in two previous jobs. Wright spent five seasons with Washington (2010-14) and eight seasons with Houston. In Wright's final year in Houston (2009), he served as head strength and conditioning coach before joining Mike Shanahan's staff with Washington.

The most notable change Wright made after coming to the 49ers was the construction of a “hill” — 20 yards in length, reaching 30 feet at a 30 percent grade — used for rehabilitation and conditioning.

Here is the list of 49ers who spent time on injured reserve during the past two seasons:

Aaron Burbridge (hamstring)
Matt Breida (ankle)
Adrian Colbert (ankle)
Jonathan Cooper (knee)
Brock Coyle (concussion)
J.P. Flynn (Knee)
Pierre Garçon (knee)
Jimmy Garoppolo (knee)
*Marcell Harris (Achilles)
Jerick McKinnon (knee)
Emmanuel Moseley (arm)
Raheem Mostert (forearm)
Dante Pettis (knee)
Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder)
Jimmie Ward (forearm)
*Dekoda Watson (calf)
Ahkello Witherspoon (knee)

Arik Armstead (hand)
*Ronald Blair (thumb)
Victor Bolden (ankle)
Trent Brown (shoulder)
Aaron Burbridge (hamstring)
*Tank Carradine (ankle)
Jayson DiManche (hamstring)
Pierre Garçon (neck)
Joshua Garnett (knee)
Jimmie Gilbert (knee)
Garry Gilliam (knee)
Cole Hikutini (knee)
Asa Jackson (hamstring)
Chanceller James (knee)
B.J. Johnson (hamstring)
Chris Jones (undisclosed)
Don Jones (knee)
Erik Magnusson (shoulder)
Raheem Mostert (knee)
Donovin Newsome (concussion)
Malcolm Smith (pectoral)
Jaquiski Tartt (forearm)
Jimmie Ward (forearm)
Joe Williams (ankle)
*—Player returned from injured reserve to play during the season

NFL draft: Five players 49ers can target as Day 2 options on offense, defense


NFL draft: Five players 49ers can target as Day 2 options on offense, defense

The national TV audience will begin to evaporate and the names called will not be as familiar, but Friday will be every bit as important as Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft.

“Everybody talks about the first round, but this draft is all about the second, third and fourth rounds,” an NFL West Coast scout told NBC Sports Bay Area.

The depth of this year’s draft makes every team’s selections on Day 2 potentially just as important and impactful as those chosen in the first round.

The 49ers own four picks within the top 104 selections. General manager John Lynch is set to pick at No. 2. After that, the 49ers have scheduled selections at Nos. 36 (second round), 67 (third round) and 104 (fourth round).

Here are some options for the 49ers on Day 2 of the NFL draft:

WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina

There is something about Samuel’s movements, patience and ability to separate quickly versus man coverage that would seem to be attractive for coach Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers struggled mightily in the red zone the past two seasons, and Samuel would give the team a boost in that area.

After the 49ers spent a week with him at the Senior Bowl, Samuel was provided a plane ticket to also meet with the 49ers in Santa Clara. New receivers coach Wes Welker had not joined the staff when the club was in Mobile, so Welker was able to spend some quality time with Samuel in the Bay Area.

The 49ers’ pick at No. 36 would be a logical spot at which to target Samuel.

WR Hakeem Butler, Iowa State

Butler is massive. He is 6-5, 227 pounds. He is a wide receiver. And the first reaction is that he looks like a formidable red zone target. But Shanahan has never liked the randomness and low-percentage nature of the fade route or jump ball near the end zone.

The question with Butler is much the same as the question with N’Keal Harry of Arizona State. Can he regularly and routinely find separation against bigger, faster, stronger, more-skilled NFL cornerbacks?

Butler should be among a group of wide receivers that fly off the board in rapid-fire succession on the second day of the draft.

S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida

Different teams might view him in different ways. And for the 49ers, that kind of versatility is certainly not a bad thing.

He is 5-11, 210 pounds and ran a 4.48 at the NFL Scouting Combine. He had three sacks and nine tackles for loss last season, which points to his ability to play close to the line of scrimmage. He also led the Gators with four interceptions, so he could also be viewed as a single-high safety.

When the 49ers choose in the second round, there should be plenty of starter-caliber safeties from which to choose.

S Juan Thornhill, Virginia

Thornhill (6-0, 205) is another in the cluster of safeties who should be available at No. 36 but not when the 49ers select in the third round. It’s a group that includes Gardner-Johnson, Darnell Savage (Maryland), Nasir Adderley (Delaware) and Taylor Rapp (Washington).

The 49ers are coming off a season in which they set the NFL record for fewest interceptions in a season with two. Thornhill has experience at cornerback and showed those coverage skills when he moved to safety. He recorded 13 interceptions in his final three college seasons.

The 49ers might even be tempted to move him to cornerback, like they did a year ago with third-round draft pick Tarvarius Moore.

CB Lonnie Johnson, Kentucky

He might not be able to win a starting job immediately, but he should be a big special-teams performer from Day 1 and work into a significant role on defense. At 6-2, 213, Johnson is a good fit for the 49ers’ defensive scheme.

[RELATED: 49ers should find starters at edge rusher, wide receiver]

He is at his best re-routing receivers off the line of scrimmage. He should be able to handle the requirements of the 49ers’ preferred cover-three defense. In addition, he is an aggressive hitter who will be good in run support.

Is 36 too high for him? Perhaps, but he could be a target in Round 3.

Longtime 49ers scout Reggie Cobb dies from apparent heart attack at 50


Longtime 49ers scout Reggie Cobb dies from apparent heart attack at 50

Longtime 49ers area scout Reggie Cobb died Saturday morning in the Bay Area from an apparent heart attack, the club announced. He was 50.

“We are devastated by the sudden loss of a tremendous teammate and loyal friend, Reggie Cobb,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement.

“Reggie was an enthusiastic and passionate person who had a special ability to brighten up a room with his personality and infectious smile. For 10 years, the 49ers were better because of Reggie and these unique qualities that he possessed.

“He was a top-notch scout and an exemplary man whose years of service to this organization and the National Football League will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this time of mourning.”

Cobb played seven NFL seasons after entering the league as the No. 30 overall pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1990 from Tennessee.

In his career as a running back, he gained 3,743 yards and scored 25 touchdowns while playing four seasons with Tampa Bay and one apiece with Green Bay, Jacksonville and the New York Jets.

He transitioned into scouting, serving two years with Washington and six with Tampa Bay before coming to the 49ers. Cobb was entering his 11th year as an area scout with the 49ers. In 2011, he was named NFC Scout of the Year by the Fritz Pollard Alliance.

Cobb finished his college career ranked third on the University of Tennessee’s career rushing chart with 2,360 yards and 26 touchdowns. He was also a member of the school’s 100th anniversary team. He lettered in track and graduated with a degree in urban studies in 1990.

Cobb lived in Sugarland, Texas, with his son, DeMarcus, according to his 49ers bio.