49ers

Why 49ers receiver Jauan Jennings' 40 time doesn't worry Jeremy Pruitt

Why 49ers receiver Jauan Jennings' 40 time doesn't worry Jeremy Pruitt

With a historically loaded wide receiver class, all it took was one knock, one injury, one poor test to send your stock plummeting down the draft board.

Such was the case with Jauan Jennings. The Tennesee wide receiver entered the draft process as a likely third- or fourth-round pick after a solid Senior Bowl week. But Jennings tested horribly at the NFL Scouting Combine, running a 4.72 40-yard dash and only recording a 29-inch vertical. Those numbers are good for the 11th and third percentile respectively.

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The 49ers took a flier on Jennings in the seventh round of the draft, choosing to focus on his YAC ability rather than a poor combine performance. Jennings' coach at Tennessee, Jeremey Pruitt, doesn't care about his former receiver's lackluster combine effort.

“I don’t care what Jauan Jennings runs in the 40,” Pruitt said on 99.1 The Sports Animal prior to the draft. “I don’t care what he jumps on a vertical. All I know is, throw him the ball. You want the ball in the guy’s hands. Wherever he gets drafted, he’s going to play and he’s going to be an impact on the team.”

Jim Nagy, Senior Bowl director, had similar feelings.

“Don’t care about WR Jauan Jennings’ 40 time,” Nagy wrote on Twitter. “Or any other Combine numbers for that matter. There’s always outliers and Jennings is an outlier. It’ll be fun watching how many WRs drafted ahead of him that he out-plays at the next level.”

The truth of the matter is Jennings never was going to light up the radar gun at the combine. That's not his game. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Jennings excels at forcing missed tackles and dragging defenders into the end zone.

The 49ers filled their wide receiver need by drafting Brandon Aiyuk at No. 25 overall, but grabbing Jennings in the seventh round could give them even more firepower as Kyle Shanahan looks to build a YAC army around Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle.

[RELATED: 49ers picking Aiyuk could lead to Rodgers-Packers divorce]

Power Five coaches also told Yahoo! Sports' Pete Thamel that Jennings could be one of the steals of the entire draft.

“He’s very good with the ball in his hands. Hard to bring down and really good hands. Not super fast, that’s the only knock," a coach told Thamel.

Jennings forced 30 missed tackles last season, leading Division I just ahead of CeeDee Lamb and Justin Jefferson.

Normally a seventh-round receiver might struggle to make the roster, but there's a lot of reason to expect he'll join Aiyuk, Samuel and Kendrick Bourne as the core receivers.

Madden 21 ratings: George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo among winners, losers

Madden 21 ratings: George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo among winners, losers

The summer without sports has drawn on, but the (virtual) games are close to returning.

With the release of Madden 21 coming next month, the player ratings for the newest installment of the popular game slowly are trickling out. We know the top-10 quarterbacks, running backs and the four members of the "Madden 99 Club," of which 49ers tight end George Kittle was not a part of.

As with everything in life, there has to be winners and losers (yes, even in video game rankings). So let's take a quick look at who came out on top, and who was left searching or wanting more when it comes to the Madden 21 ratings.

Winner: The Madden 99 Club

It's an elite group every year. The select few players are given a 99 rating in Madden, meaning they are the best of the best, according to those exalted video game gods doing the rankings. This year's class included no shockers, with Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Donald, Christian McCaffrey and Steph Gilmore making the club.

There could be an argument made for Kittle, DeAndre Hopkins or Michael Thomas, all of whom were given a 98 rating, but it's hard to argue with the 2021 99 Club class.

The celebratory dinner is on Mahomes.

Loser: Jimmy Garoppolo

The 49ers quarterback has spent all season getting poked and prodded by every Tom, Dick and Harry with a keyboard, podcast or television show. There was the Tom Brady scenario. The Aaron Rodgers questions. All the talk about the Super Bowl overthrow and not enough about a defense that fell flat in the fourth quarter.

And now, Garoppolo finds himself with an 83 rating and not in the top 10 of quarterbacks in Madden 21? Ouch. That burns. To be fair, I ranked Garoppolo as the 12th best quarterback in the NFL, which likely is where he will fall in the Madden rankings.

The quarterbacks above him include, Mahomes, Brady, Drew Brees, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz. It's hard to argue that Garoppolo is better than any of those (I did rank him one spot higher than Prescott).

After another year in Shanahan's system, there's a chance for Garoppolo to have a big year, win a Super Bowl and boost his Madden rating. You know, the truly important stuff.

Winner: George Kittle

No, he didn't make the "Madden 99 Club," but 98 isn't so bad, right?

Kittle has become one of the NFL's top stars during his three seasons in the NFL, and already has eclipsed Travis Kelce as the top tight end in football. Kittle is due a big contract extension, one that many believe should see him paid the same as Hopkins and Thomas, who he has the same ranking as.

One more season of stiff-arming helpless defenders into the turn and Kittle will get that "99 Club" package. Can't wait.

Loser: Running back rankings

The running back rankings were released Tuesday, and we've got a few issues.

OK, so McCaffrey at 99 is easy. I know Derrick Henry is a mutant alien who is impossible to tackle but is he really the second-best running back in the NFL? Is he better than Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley or Dalvin Cook? The committee of one i.e. me, says no.

Then, there's some massive disrespect to both Alvin Kamara and Josh Jacobs, who both are top seven running backs in my opinion.

Here are my totally off-the-cuff rankings:
McCaffrey (99)
Elliott (94)
Barkley (93)
Cook (93)
Henry (92)
Kamara (91)
Jacobs (91)
Chubb (91)

Please, don't at me.

Winner: Henry Ruggs

The 2020 NFL Draft was LOADED at wide receiver. It was viewed as one of the best receiver classes in history.

When all the smoke settled, Raiders rookie Henry Ruggs was given the top rating off the class at 76. Ruggs edged out Dallas Cowboys rookie CeeDee Lamb and Denver Broncos wideout Jerry Jeudy for top rookie receiver, thanks to the 98-speed rating he was given.

Honestly, that might not be fast enough.

[RELATED: 49ers could have Achilles heel at WR if Aiyuk, Hurd don't step up]

Loser: People who care about Madden rankings

I get it, video games are fun. But if you're sitting over here fuming mad because some guy you've never met gave a player you've probably also never met a lower ranking than you believe they deserved, please calm down.

First, let's acknowledge that you, the person who cares deeply about the Madden rankings, isn't looking at this through an unbiased lens. Second, if it really bothers you, I suggest doing what I would do at age 8. Go into the roster, edit your favorite players to make them super dope and then just have fun destroying everyone.

I've still never told my best friend I tinkered with Dennis Dixon... sorry, I mean QB #10's ranking in NCAA Football 2007. Mum's the word.

What Steve Young did late in 49ers career that shocked Steve Mariucci

What Steve Young did late in 49ers career that shocked Steve Mariucci

When Steve Mariucci took over as the 49ers' next head coach ahead of the 1997 season, Steve Young already was established as a star quarterback in the NFL. 

By that point, Young had 12 years in the league under his belt. He had two MVP trophies to his name and multiple Super Bowl rings. When Mariucci arrived for training camp in '97, though, Young still found a way to surprise his new coach

"When we came into training camp, most teams will test their athletes to see if they're in shape and high schools and colleges will do the same thing ... Steve Young would really be the best guy as far as our test was concerned," Mariucci said Monday on 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto & Kolsky" show. "He was right up there and would pass most of the time all the receivers and running backs and corners.

"This guy was a great athlete. Forget about being 36, 37 and 38 years old, he was really a top-shelf, well-trained athlete."

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Young was turning 36 in just three months during Mariucci's first training camp with the 49ers. It was well established that he was one of the best dual-threat QBs ever, a player well ahead of his time.

Before Mariucci arrived on the scene, Young had accumulated over 25,000 passing yards and more than 3,500 rushing yards. He already had 124 passing touchdowns and 34 rushing TDs. And then Young led the NFL in completion percentage (67.7) for the fourth straight year in his first season under Mariucci. Young had 3,029 passing yards, 199 rushing yards and 22 total TDs in '97.

Young was again great in '98 with 4,170 passing yards, 36 touchdowns through the air, 454 rushing yards and six more TDs on the ground. But he played just three games in '99, ending his career with a bevy of concussions.

[RELATED: Madden 21 leak reveals top-10 rated 49ers players this year]

"It's a shame, I really do believe I had him in his prime," Mariucci said. "Had he not gotten a couple of concussions, I think he could have played into his 40s just like we saw Brett Favre and Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Steve Young was still throwing the ball very, very well late in his 30s."

While it's no secret Young is one of the greatest athletes football fans have ever seen, even a Hall of Famer can surprise his coach here and there with his ridiculous talent.