49ers

Tevin Coleman brings more speed to 49ers' fleet running backs group

Tevin Coleman brings more speed to 49ers' fleet running backs group

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers have compiled the makings of a pretty good team in their backfield.

Sure, it's a deep group of running backs, but they also can form a nice track team.

Tevin Coleman was at the 49ers' facility on Thursday to sign a two-year, $8.5 million contract. He is a speedster who played two seasons in Kyle Shanahan’s offense with the Atlanta Falcons.

He joins a group of running backs that already includes Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert.

Has Coleman ever been teammates with such an explosive group of running backs?

“No, I have not. It’s going to be a 4x1 back there,” Coleman said, referring to a 4x100-meter track relay team. “So there’s a lot speed in the backfield. I’m real excited to play with those guys.”

Coleman was timed at 4.39 in the 40-yard dash before he came out in the 2015 draft. One year earlier, Jerick McKinnon clocked a 4.41 at the combine. Two years ago, Matt Breida ran a 4.39 at his pro day.

Mostert, who signed a three-year extension on Friday, won Big Ten titles at Purdue in the 60 meters and 200 meters during the indoor season, and was the conference champion in the 100 and 200 during the outdoor season. He entered the NFL in 2015.

Shanahan said he has never been with an NFL team that suited up four running backs on game days during the regular season due to the league’s 46-player limit. Because of the team’s increased depth, he could be tempted to re-think some things, he said.

“I think we're in a situation right now, just looking at our roster, that I think it could make a lot of sense this year,” Shanahan said.

It remains unlikely the 49ers will suit up four running backs. But, they can be expected to keep each player on the roster this season. The 49ers know how quickly depth can disappear at running back, so it would be foolish for them to not hold onto all four players.

Last year, McKinnon sustained a season-ending knee injury before the start of the regular season. Breida battled ankle issues; Mostert sustained a fractured forearm; and Jeff Wilson sustained a shoulder injury in the season finale.

Veteran Alfred Morris gained a season-high 111 yards in the final game of the year with Wilson sidelined. Morris, 30, an eight-year pro, remains available on the free-agent market.

If the four running backs remain healthy, the 49ers will be forced to deactivate a proven player for games. Coleman said he is looking forward to bonding with his new running partners as they fight among themselves for playing time.

“Those are my brothers now,” Coleman said. “We’ll go out there and have fun together and play ball and compete together.”

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Coleman was a dynamic multi-dimensional player during his four years with the Falcons. He rushed for a career-best 800 yards with a 4.8 average last season. In his first season with Shanahan, he caught 31 passes for career highs with 421 yards and a 13.6 average.

That’s the kind of playmaking Shanahan likes to see from his running backs -- making defenses play a big price for breakdowns in coverage.

“It’s real big because it’s hard to do good in this league with a lot of big guys, a lot of great guys,” Coleman said of the importance of speed. “To get me in space, that’s what my strength is.”

NFL rumors: League seeks to add seventh playoff team in each conference

NFL rumors: League seeks to add seventh playoff team in each conference

The NFL’s playoff structure is expected to change to reportedly include seven teams in both conferences to advance to the postseason.

The current proposal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, would add one playoff team in each conference and only the top seed in the AFC and NFC would be rewarded with byes in the first round of the playoffs.

The changes to the playoff format would take effect this season when the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified. ESPN reports there is “mounting optimism” the new CBA will be agreed upon within the week.

Through last season, the top six teams in both conferences made the playoffs. If the playoff proposal had been in effect last season, the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers would have advanced to the playoffs as the Nos. 7 seeds.

As the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the 49ers would have still earned a first-round bye in the playoffs. But the Green Bay Packers, the No. 2 seed, would have played in the extra game against the Rams. If the Rams were to have upset the Packers in the wild-card round, the 49ers would have played Los Angeles in the NFC Divisional Playoff instead of the Minnesota Vikings.

But the new proposal would have had an even more major impact in the AFC, where the Kansas City Chiefs would have been forced to win three games in the playoffs just to advance to the Super Bowl.

"That's been agreed to for a long time," one source familiar with the CBA talks told ESPN about the NFL's new playoff structure. "There wasn't a lot of disagreement to that issue."

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Players on the top team in each conference will receive postseason pay for the bye weekend, unlike years past, according to the report.

Also, ESPN reported that the sides are also trying to work through a proposal for a 17-game regular season, while the exhibition season is shortened to three games. The earliest that change could occur would be the 2021 season, according to the report.

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Before the 49ers officially had lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, tight end George Kittle was already preaching they would be back next year.

But it didn't stop with him.

49ers players throughout the roster already are thinking of everything they can do to make another run at it, and that includes bringing back free-agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Fellow wideout Deebo Samuel made it clear Wednesday on Twitter that he wants to see the 49ers bring back the 32-year-old veteran.

Sanders showed his appreciation later Wednesday morning.

After coming over from the Denver Broncos via trade in October, Sanders excelled with the 49ers. He caught 36 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season, and added five receptions for 71 yards in the postseason.

But Sanders could have been an even more critical part of 49ers lore, had it not been for Jimmy Garoppolo's overthrown pass with less than two minutes remaining in Super Bowl LIV. But it was not meant to be.

Sanders has been open about his love for the team that had just barely missed the championship and has spoken out about those second-guessing him due to his age. 

The receiver laughed at the fact that he has been "flying past 23-year-olds," and exhorted that he still has plenty of good years left in him.

[RELATED: Sanders offers advice to teammates playing in first Super Bowl]

He also embraced the youth the other wide receivers brought to the team, such as Samuel and Kendrick Bourne. Sanders loved the loose vibes of the 49ers' locker room and assisted the younger players in prepping for the big moments of the Super Bowl. 

Deebo surely noticed that and knows he wants his teammate back for the team's quest to make another Super Bowl run next season.