49ers

When asked if he wanted McDonald back, Kelly responded with one word

When asked if he wanted McDonald back, Kelly responded with one word

SANTA CLARA -- There are very few jobs within the 49ers that appear safe for the future.

General manager Trent Baalke and coach Chip Kelly are on the hot seat with the 49ers dropping a franchise-worst 12 consecutive games. But tight end Vance McDonald will certainly be back after signing what the club announced as a five-year contract extension on Friday night.

Kelly had nothing to do with the contract negotiation, but he did voice his support for getting McDonald under contract for the future, he said on Monday. McDonald was in the fourth and final year of his contract and scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the end of the season.

“I don’t negotiate contracts,” Kelly said, “but they asked me if wanted Vance back and I said, ‘Yes.’”

McDonald left Sunday’s game against the New York Jets with a shoulder injury in the first half before catching a pass. McDonald is third on the 49ers with 24 receptions for 391 yards and a team-best four touchdowns. He has scoring catches this season of 75 and 65 yards.

“I think he’s fit in very nicely in terms of what we’re trying to do,” Kelly said. “I think he’s a mismatch in the pass game for some people. If you try to match him with a linebacker, obviously his speed is probably better than any linebacker that’s going to cover him. He has a size matchup when you want to put a defensive back on him.

“We’ve exploited some teams with those matchups for us. I don’t know the number of plays over 60, but he’s had a few of those long catch and runs in mismatch situations where we found him. The speed that he has at the tight end spot is kind of rare and unique for him. So, obviously, I think he was a guy that when you look at the market for tight ends, kind of where he fits, you’re hoping you can keep your own guys home and that was the decision there.”

The 49ers chief contract negotiator is Paraag Marathe, the team’s chief strategy officer and executive vice president of football operations. Although the initial national report was the deal is worth $35 million with $16 million in guarantees, a league source told CSNBayArea.com, the contract is more in line with a three-year, $17 million deal with less than a $6 million signing bonus.
 

How Emmanuel Sanders trade helped 49ers, likely hurt Patriots' offense

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How Emmanuel Sanders trade helped 49ers, likely hurt Patriots' offense

Two of the NFL’s best teams in 2019, the New England Patriots and 49ers, both faced a similar problem as the trade deadline approached.

The seemingly well-oiled machines had identified an identical issue: A lack of consistent play from the wide receivers.

While both teams attempted to rectify their passing-game issues at the deadline -- the 49ers dealt a pair of draft picks to the Denver Broncos for Emmanuel Sanders while the Patriots used a second-round pick to acquire Mohamed Sanu from Atlanta -- the results weren’t exactly analogous for the two contenders.

Sanders just completed a dominant performance in New Orleans, catching seven passes for 157 yards and a touchdown -- he threw for one, too. Meanwhile, Sanu caught just one pass for 13 yards in Week 14 as New England suffered a home loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Since Oct. 22, the day both players found their new homes, Sanders is averaging 10.44 receiving yards per target. Sanu? The former Falcon is averaging just 4.66 yards per target.

The 49ers reportedly balked at the price Atlanta wanted for Sanu, but the Patriots might have been better off bringing Sanders in, according to The Athletic’s Mike Sando.

"Sanu has been a solid receiver for a long time, but not as much of a downfield threat. Over the past four seasons, Sanders holds a 67-44 edge over Sanu in passes gaining more than 15 yards, despite Sanu playing four additional games. Sanu could have been a natural fit in San Francisco given that Shanahan was previously his offensive coordinator in Atlanta. He might even be flourishing there, given San Francisco’s superior surrounding talent, including George Kittle. The fit has been questionable in New England.”

The 49ers also have an obvious advantage in fielding George Kittle, who continues to cement his status as one of the NFL’s top tight-ends week in and week out.

[RELATED: Where 49ers, Raiders stand in NFL power rankings now]

But imagine what Josh McDaniels, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady could have whipped up with Emmanuel Sanders stretching the field.

This might go down as a rare mistake in player personnel from the Patriots’ front office, and it also might just be the move that propels the 49ers into playing February football.

Chris Simms breaks down George Kittle's catch in 49ers' win vs. Saints

Chris Simms breaks down George Kittle's catch in 49ers' win vs. Saints

George Kittle made the most significant play of the NFL’s Week 14 slate, catching a short fourth-down pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and willing his way into field-goal range.

The herculean effort from Kittle set kicker Robbie Gould up for a game-winning 30-yard field goal to give San Francisco a crucial 48-46 victory in New Orleans that propelled the 49ers back to the top of the NFC standings.

Unsurprisingly, coach Kyle Shanahan diagrammed this play for Kittle to be the No. 1 option, and that’s exactly what happened.

“The rookie [C.J.] Gardner-Johnson is matched up 1-on-1 with Kittle,” NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms said. “The beauty of this play is, a lot of times the 49ers will run an in-breaking route off of this, but here he had the option to break out and he breaks out.

“Gardner-Johnson, who’s kind of laying inside for it, now is at a disadvantage and he’s trailing behind and that becomes the completion to George Kittle.”

[RELATED: Injuries continue to pile up for 49ers after extended trip]

Kittle’s wise decision to break outside put San Francisco back into the driver’s seat for the NFC playoffs, but the 49ers will need to keep the momentum going as the final weeks of the season roll on in order to secure the home-field advantage NFL teams so desperately crave come postseason time.