Matt Maiocco

Antonio Brown trade: Pros, cons of 49ers possibly acquiring receiver

Antonio Brown trade: Pros, cons of 49ers possibly acquiring receiver

Veteran wide receiver Antonio Brown on Tuesday said goodbye to the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base.

Since the end of the season, he has made it known he wishes to play for the 49ers.

Of course, Brown remains under contract to the Steelers, so the 49ers are not allowed to publicly discuss the potential of Brown playing in Santa Clara next season.

Behind the scenes, though, the 49ers have discussed the possibilities and weighed the pros and cons associated with such a move.

Here are some of the elements the 49ers would have to consider in making a decision at what level to pursue Brown:

Positive

Brown is a seven-time Pro Bowl receiver and four-time All Pro selection. He has six consecutive seasons of 1,200 yards or more receiving. The 49ers need an upgrade at wide receiver.

Kendrick Bourne led the wideouts last season with 487 yards. In 2017, Marquise Goodwin had 962 yards receiving, but coach Kyle Shanahan considers Goodwin more of a role player. Brown's presence could take pressure off tight end George Kittle, as well as attract attention away from everyone else on offense.

Negative

Brown has been in the NFL for nine seasons and turns 31 in July. Will Brown still be a productive player when the 49ers are in a position to be legitimate contenders? The 49ers want to pursue a younger player, such as 26-year-old Odell Beckham, whose window of vast production is likely to be open longer. 

Positive

Brown is making it difficult for the Steelers to keep him around, regardless of what they get in return. He would count $21 million in dead money, but the Steelers will probably need to make a decision by March 18, when he is due a $2.5 million roster bonus.

The 49ers would likely not have to give up a pick on either of the first two days of the draft. They could also send an expendable player to the Steelers in return.

Negative

Despite being an ultra-productive player on a team that was always in contention, Brown was unhappy. That is a red flag. He had his issues with Ben Roethlisberger. Those two teamed up for more than 100 receptions six consecutive seasons.

Roethlisberger is about as good as it could have gotten for Brown to maximize his abilities. If he is not happy with his star status with the Steelers, how would he respond in the likely event his production drops with a new team?

Positive

The 49ers do not want to give up compensation to the Steelers that could prevent them from building out the remainder of team. But if the Steelers can’t find a trade partner, they might be inclined to cut him. That would make him a free agent, and any team could sign him without surrendering a valuable draft pick.

Negative

If Brown hits the open market, the 49ers would still have to come through with a big-money contract to prevent him from signing elsewhere. Currently, Brown is on the books for the Steelers to make $15.125 million this year, $11.3 million in 2020, and $12.5 million in 2021.

Positive

The 49ers have an estimated $60 million in salary cap space, so they would have little problem fitting in a lucrative contract for a proven player.

Negative

Shanahan and general manager John Lynch always say that players pay attention to who gets the big contracts. Those high-priced players become the models for the rest of the team. Brown experienced drama within the Steelers locker room and off the field, too.

[RELATED: Could Antonio Brown cost 49ers just a sixth-round draft pick in trade?]

Positive

The 49ers have restructured their coaching staff. Mike LaFleur coached the wide receivers the past two seasons. LaFleur is regarded as an excellent coach. But new receivers coach Wes Welker was an All-Pro wide receiver who steps in with instant credibility and a way to relate to players, such as Brown, that LaFleur could not.

Negative

The 49ers might be more willing to take a risk if they believe they are just one player away from being championship contenders. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is likely to experience some rough patches. After all, he has started only 10 career games and has a lot to learn.

He is also coming off an ACL injury that limited him to just three games last season. The 49ers must continue to exercise patience, as the team looks to build its culture.

Source: 49ers turn to NHL to fill position of head coach of training

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USATSI

Source: 49ers turn to NHL to fill position of head coach of training

The 49ers have filled the position coach Kyle Shanahan described as a head coach of training, a league source told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Ben Peterson, who has served as director of sports science for the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League since August of 2016, will reportedly take on a similar role with the 49ers. The Athletic was first to report the news on Monday. Peterson's title with the 49ers has yet to be determined, a source said.

The 49ers are undergoing a restructuring of their strength and conditioning program and athletic training staff this offseason. The club fired strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright and head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson after the season.

“It’s about where we want to go, how we can make the overall process of it better,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said last month. “Injuries happen, and we’ve looked into that, and we’re going to do everything we can to improve that. We have to, because that has hurt us a lot in the last two years.”

The 49ers had 37 players finish on injured reserve the past two seasons, including quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon, both of whom sustained torn ACLs last season. McKinnon sustained his injury before the first regular-season game. Garoppolo was lost for the season in Week 3. Shanahan and general manager John Lynch said they want better coordination between the team's medical and strength and conditioning programs.

[RELATED: Jimmy G commemorates long-term deal from a year ago]

“(The new position will) mold those two places so you’re not dealing with separate parts of the building and we can make it a little more collaborative,” Shanahan said.

Peterson has experience in integrating strength and conditioning, sports medicine, physical therapy and nutrition. He previously worked at Catapult Sports and is co-author of Triphasic Training.

Peterson described his role in his bio: “I help teams identify and evaluate contextual analytics by measuring training volumes, (accelerations, decelerations, change of direction speeds, biomechanical and physiological load quantifications), in real time, to improve performance outcomes and reduce soft tissue injuries of athletes.”

49ers projected $60M in salary cap space with free agency a month away

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AP

49ers projected $60M in salary cap space with free agency a month away

The 49ers are projected to have the seventh-most salary-cap space in the NFL at the beginning of the free-agent signing period on March 13.

The contract and salary-cap crunching website, OverTheCap.com, lists the 49ers with $60 million in space after the NFL Players Association reported the club rolled over $35 million in unspent cap money from 2018.

The 49ers last month informed veteran nose tackle Earl Mitchell they will not pick up the option on his contract, making him an unrestricted free agent next month. That move will create another $2.95 million in cap savings this year.

The 49ers can create additional space if they choose not to pick up the 2019 contracts for such players as wide receiver Pierre Garçon ($1.075 million savings) and linebacker Malcolm Smith ($1.25 million).

“All of these scenarios, we’re always looking forward and doing a lot of planning,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said last month at the Senior Bowl.

Backup offensive tackle Garry Gilliam and edge rusher Cassius Marsh also are on the books for $5 million and $4.2 million, respectively.

The Indianapolis Colts are projected to have $105 million at the start of free agency, according to OverTheCap.com, followed by the New York Jets ($95 million), Cleveland Browns ($80 million), Buffalo Bills ($79 million), Oakland Raiders ($71 million), Houston Texans ($64 million), the 49ers ($60 million), Seattle Seahawks ($51 million), Cincinnati Bengals ($50 million) and Arizona Cardinals ($47 million).

The following are the 2019 salary-cap figures for the 49ers’ top-paid players, via OverTheCap.com and the NFL Players Association:

Quarterback
Jimmy Garoppolo $19.35 million
C.J. Beathard $962,358
Nick Mullens $570,000

Running back
Jerick McKinnon $6 million
Kyle Juszczyk $5.95 million
Matt Breida $646,668
Matt Dayes $645,000

Wide receiver
Pierre Garçon $8.275 million
Marquise Goodwin $4.125 million
Dante Pettis $1.45 million
Trent Taylor $695,487
Kendrick Bourne $646,668
Richie James $589,143

Tight end
Garrett Celek $2.725
George Kittle $719,574

Offensive line
Joe Staley $10.95 million
Weston Richburg $7.86 million
Garry Gilliam $5.05 million
Mike McGlinchey $4.17 million
Laken Tomlinson $3.75 million
Joshua Garnett $2.96 million
Shon Coleman $2 million
Erik Magnuson $646,334

Defensive line
Arik Armstead $9.05 million*
Solomon Thomas $7.68 million
DeForest Buckner $5.79 million
Cassius Marsh $4.2 million
(Earl Mitchell $1.5 million)
Ronald Blair $787,601
Sheldon Day $720,000
D.J. Jones $681,967
Kentavius Street $647,500
Julian Taylor $594,511
Ryan Delaire $645,000
*Fifth-year option becomes fully guaranteed on March 13

Linebacker
Malcolm Smith $5.45 million
Brock Coyle $3.2 million
Dekoda Watson $1.88 million
Fred Warner $915,684
Pita Taumoepenu $645,000
James Onwualu $645,000

Defensive back
Richard Sherman $9.8 million
Jaquiski Tartt $4.85 million
K’Waun Williams $2.6 million
Ahkello Witherspoon $1.06 million
Tarvarius Moore $799,093
Adrian Colbert $666,200
D.J. Reed $647,843
Marcell Harris $611,575

Specialist
Colin Holba $645,000
(All others under contract but not listed have cap figures of 2019 for $570,000 or less.)

Free agents
K Robbie Gould
DB Jimmie Ward
OG Mike Person
P Bradley Pinion
LB Mark Nzeocha
RB Alfred Morris
DB Antone Exum
RB Raheem Mostert (restricted)
LB Elijah Lee (exclusive rights)