49ers

Steve Young wants 49ers' Kyle Shanahan to challenge Jimmy Garoppolo

Steve Young wants 49ers' Kyle Shanahan to challenge Jimmy Garoppolo

Plenty of critics have come out of the woodwork to criticize 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Despite a solid statistical season in 2019, Garoppolo’s lack of production in the postseason -- particularly some costly miscues in Super Bowl LIV -- left something to be desired for fans and pundits alike.

The Niners’ propensity for relying on the run made many believe that coach Kyle Shanahan doesn’t have a lot of confidence in the signal-caller. Former 49ers QB and Hall of Famer Steve Young thinks Shanahan needs to put his full faith in Garoppolo and directly instill confidence in him. He likens the idea to a conversation Young had with former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan.

“I remember (Kyle’s) dad said to me: ‘Steve, I’m going to be as aggressive as I possibly can, and I want you to protect me,'” Young told The Athletic. “That, I think, is the statement Jimmy needs to look for, to get from Kyle: ‘Jimmy, I’m going to be as aggressive as I possibly can. I want you to protect me.'”

Garoppolo doesn’t seem to lack confidence, but San Francisco’s playbook didn’t ask the QB to go above and beyond on a regular basis. Shanahan putting the success of the offense in Jimmy G’s hands would give the 49ers a chance to see whether the organization truly has found its franchise QB.

[RELATED: Kyle Shanahan believes Colin Kaepernick deserves admiration]

General manager John Lynch has reloaded the offense, replacing the retired Joe Staley with seven-time Pro Bowl pick Trent Williams and Emmanuel Sanders’ departure addressed by first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk.

Raheem Mostert’s return and a strong offensive line mean Shanahan won’t completely turn away from the run game, but striking a match inside Garoppolo might be the key to unlocking his full potential.

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Watch 49ers' Javon Kinlaw replicate Aaron Donald knife training drill

Watch 49ers' Javon Kinlaw replicate Aaron Donald knife training drill

Javon Kinlaw isn't afraid of a few deadly weapons.

The 49ers rookie showed off a seemingly dangerous drill on social media Friday in a video posted by defensive line trainer Cam Spence.

You're correct, those are in fact a pair of knives being wielded and sent in Kinlaw's direction as he bats them away. We've seen a similar drill from two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.

[RELATED: Richard Sherman calls out report on 2020 NFL season negotiations]

Kinlaw was the 49ers' first selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, going No. 14 overall. The South Carolina product plugged up the middle for the Gamecocks' defense, picking up six sacks and recovering two fumbles. He likely will have an immediate chance to contribute, as All-Pro DeForest Buckner's departure to Indianapolis leaves a void in the 49ers' defensive line.

The rookie, along with a few returning players looking to earn a contract, will be imperative to make sure that void is filled in order for the 49ers to replicate the dominance the team enjoyed in 2019.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers' Brandon Aiyuk sixth-best rookie receiver in Madden 21 ratings

49ers' Brandon Aiyuk sixth-best rookie receiver in Madden 21 ratings

The Brandon Aiyuk hype among 49ers fans has grown exponentially ever since he was drafted 25th overall in April.

The sixth receiver to come off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft, Aiyuk is expected to make an immediate impact with his elite breakaway speed, which he showcased numerous times during his two seasons at Arizona State.

But based on the just-released Madden 21 ratings, Aiyuk isn't even among the fastest wide receivers in his rookie class. In fact, he's just the sixth-best rookie wideout according to the video game's new ratings, checking in at 72 overall.

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The rookie receivers' overall ratings were almost identical to their draft positions, with the Denver Broncos' Jerry Jeudy and the Dallas Cowboys' CeeDee Lamb swapping places being the only alteration.

When it comes to speed, however, Aiyuk checks in as the 10th-fastest rookie wide receiver, behind a handful of players drafted well behind him.

[RELATED: George Kittle 'really proud' of team's offseason work, effort]

Aiyuk's 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine wasn't exactly elite (4.54 seconds), but during his senior season, he was tracked with a top in-game speed of 21.97 mph -- a mark bested by just three NFL players in 2019.

Game speed is different than track speed, and Aiyuk brings game speed in spades every time he takes the field.

Guessing those ratings might be adjusted once Aiyuk actually sees some on-field action in a 49ers uniform.