49ers

Why 49ers should consider signing former Chiefs safety Eric Berry

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Why 49ers should consider signing former Chiefs safety Eric Berry

The 49ers need help in the secondary, and upon the new league year, the Chiefs released veteran safety Eric Berry. He could provide instant leadership and competition in San Francisco's young secondary. 

The fifth overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft, Berry has been a first-team All-Pro three times and was selected to five Pro Bowls. He has, however, been hampered by injuries after a successful return from fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

Berry has played in just three games over the past two seasons. In 2018, he dealt with a heel injury called Haglund’s deformity. It occurs when a bone spur has contact with and causes pain in the Achilles tendon. He sat out most of the 2017 season due to a ruptured Achilles.

Outside of the injuries, the Chiefs will save over $15 million over the next two years by releasing Berry. He had signed a six-year, $78 million contract in 2017 after getting hit with the franchise tag in 2016. 

The Chiefs also agreed to terms with Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu in a three-year, $42 million deal, which made moving forward without Berry inevitable. 

Berry is not just valuable when he's on the field. He would be a strong presence in the 49ers' locker room, which is the type of player general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan look to add. Berry earned the Kansas City's Derrick Thomas Award in 2015 and 2016, given to the team’s most valuable player, voted on by his teammates.

Berry also might be willing to agree to a short-term "prove-it" deal as a result of his injuries. 

The 49ers already have a few players who need to get healthy before seeing the field, but Berry, like cornerback Richard Sherman, could provide another coach and mentor for the young secondary while also providing competition to a group that includes Jaquiski Tartt, Adrian Colbert and Marcell Harris.

[RELATED: 49ers target Earl Thomas reportedly heading to Ravens]

Berry played in 89 games in nine seasons with the Chiefs. His career numbers include 440 tackles of which 372 were solo, 5.5 sacks, 14 interceptions, 51 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

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."

[RELATED49ers roster analysis: More receiver depth needed around Deebo Samuel]

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.