Trade for Antonio Brown didn't interest 49ers; Odell Beckham Jr. would, though


Trade for Antonio Brown didn't interest 49ers; Odell Beckham Jr. would, though

The 49ers were seen as the favorites to land Antonio Brown for the first couple months of the offseason.

The buzz came from Jerry Rice, who publicly supported the idea of his former team acquiring the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver. Tight end George Kittle helped create a little more intrigue when he reached out to Brown on social media after, he said, Jimmy Garoppolo dared him.

And Santa Clara appeared to be the preferred destination for Brown, who appeared in a photo-shopped 49ers uniform on his social media account.

All the while, the 49ers' decision-makers remained silent. General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan did their homework behind the scenes and never showed any interest in engaging in trade talks with the Pittsburgh Steelers. When it came to one of the game's best pass-catchers, the 49ers took a hard pass.

The Raiders acquired Brown on Saturday night in exchange for a third-round and a fifth-round draft pick. They also reportedly re-worked Brown’s contract to pay out more than $30 million in guaranteed money, as part of a three-year $50 million deal.

Brown, who turns 31 in July, has been ultra-consistent and productive on the field, catching at least 101 passes for 1,284 yards in each of the past six seasons. But the 49ers clearly saw everything else that comes with Brown as being too risky for an organization at this stage of its building process.

That is not to say the 49ers are set at wide receiver. In fact, they remain interested in adding another playmaker in the passing game.

The free-agent market is light. But there are indications that if the New York Giants become receptive to trading Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason, the 49ers would be interested in discussions.

Beckham is four years younger than Brown. He's also believed to be a more compatible fit in the locker room.

Shanahan has spoken to the importance of adding high-character veteran players who put the team first, have passion for the game and are reliable in the meeting room and practice field. The 49ers likely concluded that Brown falls short in those areas. Without speaking specifically about Brown, Shanahan recently addressed this topic at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

“You take it into account with everything,” Shanahan said. “That’s why you like to deal with people you know and have an idea on. We try to hold everyone accountable on our team. We’re pretty consistent with that.

“So if someone isn’t like that, yeah, we do have a problem with that. I don’t think anyone is good enough to deal with that.”

[RELATED: Examining 49ers' scheduled free agents, other roster decisions]

Shanahan is a stickler for precise, disciplined route-running and attention to detail. He also believes veteran players who come in from the outside have the ability to set the tone for the entire locker room.

“I do not mind overpaying for character -- guys who are going to come in and work, who compete on the practice field, who can handle being coached, who aren’t coming in extremely sensitive and not putting themselves above anyone else,” Shanahan said after his first season as 49ers coach. “If you bring in an entitled guy, it hurts your team.”

Rookie Javon Kinlaw's approach reminds 49ers veteran Dee Ford of Nick Bosa

Rookie Javon Kinlaw's approach reminds 49ers veteran Dee Ford of Nick Bosa

Veteran edge rusher Dee Ford is picking up on some distinct Nick Bosa vibes from 49ers rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.

“(He is) everything you want to see in a rookie,” Ford said of Kinlaw on Thursday during a video call with Bay Area reporters.

“He wants to be a sponge. He wants to soak everything up, and he wants to learn. He reminds me of Bosa when he came in.”

The 49ers have hit the practice field for only walk-through sessions for the first two weeks of training camp. That changes over the weekend when the club has two non-padded practices before putting the pads on Monday for the first time in Santa Clara.

Bosa came to the 49ers as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft. Kinlaw, a South Carolina defensive tackle, was chosen with the No. 14 overall selection.

Ford said watching Kinlaw’s quiet, determined approach reminds him of Bosa, who won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year last season. Ford said he would expect nothing less from a person general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan bring to the organization.

“When you’re a first-round draft pick, you can come in and you can … be a little entitled,” Ford said. “That’s not him. That’s not his DNA. He fits in well with the guys. When you come here. John and Kyle, they get specific players. Nine times out of 10, if they got them, they brought them here and they know type of character they have.

"So far, he’s been everything as promised. He’s going to get better.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Kinlaw and all newcomers to the 49ers have the additional challenge this season of missing out on the offseason program and organized team activities. Ford recognizes it will not be easy for Kinlaw to make the transition from high-level college football to the NFL.

[RELATEDGeorge Kittle, 49ers get to only reasonable destination with extension]

“He’s behind the 8-ball,” Ford said. “Every rookie is because of the virus. You can’t get OTAs. OTAs were crucial for me, especially with learning a new position my rookie year. I can only imagine where his mind is right now. But he’s handling it very well. He’s handling it really good.”

49ers' K'Waun Williams describes challenge of covering George Kittle

49ers' K'Waun Williams describes challenge of covering George Kittle

What makes 49ers All-Pro tight end George Kittle a nightmare for defensive coordinators are the dilemmas he creates.

He has the size and strength to block defensive ends. Linebackers cannot keep up with him in the passing game. And he can physically overwhelm most defensive backs.

K’Waun Williams, who has established himself as one of the top nickelbacks in the league, knows what it’s like to go up against Kittle in the slot on the 49ers practice field.

“You just got to be disciplined from the start of the down to the end, because he’s real crafty, strong, and he’s just relentless in everything he does,” Williams said. “He’s willing to block in the run game.

"So you just got to be on you’re ‘A game’ going against a guy like that.”

[RELATEDKittle, 49ers get to only reasonable destination with extension]

The 49ers on Thursday agreed with Kittle on a five-year, $75 million contract extension with $30 million fully guaranteed.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]