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10 updates from 49ers GM John Lynch at the NFL Scouting Combine

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10 updates from 49ers GM John Lynch at the NFL Scouting Combine

INDIANAPOLIS – General manager John Lynch is not allowed to enter into contract talks with prospective free agents from around the league until next week.

But he is already hearing about the positive effects from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s five-year, record-setting contract.

Lynch said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine that he is hearing buzz the 49ers are becoming viewed as an attractive destination around the NFL. One of his sources is 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who has reportedly spoken to players on other teams.

“That excites me,” Lynch said. “Some of it from our own guys, ‘Juice,’ but those guys know people in the league and they talk.”

The 49ers finished the season with a five-game win streak with Garoppolo at quarterback. The 49ers recently awarded Garoppolo a contract worth up to $137.5 million.

Lynch has received congratulations from some of his NFL peers, but he’s keeping things in perspective.

“I appreciate it, but we haven’t done anything, yet,” Lynch said. “In fact, we were 6-10.”

Here are nine other updates from Lynch:

TALKS WITH HYDE’S AGENT
The 49ers are in contact with agents for all of their scheduled free agents, Lynch said. The club will hold discussions with Carlos Hyde’s representatives during the NFL Scouting Combine.

“We’ll talk to him this week,” Lynch said of agent Doug Hendrickson. “Carlos is a really good football player for us. We’ll see what happens there.”

Among the team’s other scheduled free agents are Eric Reid, Tank Carradine, Brock Coyle, Aaron Lynch, Brandon Fusco and Dontae Johnson.

“The reality, not all of them will be signed before free agency,” Lynch said. “We have a plan, and we’re working toward that.”

COACHES, FRONT OFFICE ON SAME PAGE
In Year 1, the personnel department was presented with a clear picture of exactly the kinds of players coach Kyle Shanahan wanted for his offense.

“It’s how you find a Matt Breida in free agency, because you know exactly what you’re looking for,” Lynch said.

This offseason, the defensive staff should be able to articulate a more-defined model of the skillsets for which they’re looking in the players for Robert Saleh’s scheme, Lynch said. That’s because the 49ers implemented a new system that took shape as the season progressed. The roles of specific positions are in sharper focus this year.

DEVELOPING PASS-RUSHERS
Like a year ago, free agency is not expected to yield many options for teams looking to upgrade their pass rush. So Lynch said a lot of focus has been placed on developing the players who are already on the team.

“We spent so much time last year studying Chandler Jones and Melvin Ingram and (Jason) Pierre-Paul and every single one of them, franchise, franchise, franchise.,” Lynch said.

On Tuesday, one of the top pass-rushers was removed from the market when the Detroit Lions placed the franchise tag on Ezekiel Ansah.

“A big focus for us is to tap into that ability we already have,” Lynch said.

Eli Harold has some pass-rush ability that the 49ers will look to develop. Also, the club expects improvements from recent first-round draft picks DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and Arik Armstead.

Pita Taumoepenu rarely got on the field as a rookie, but Lynch said there are high hopes for him, too.

“Sometimes people read into the fact that he wasn’t getting active, that he wasn’t making progress,” Lynch said. “He progressed tremendously. We’re really excited about him. We remain excited about his opportunities.”

KICKING TIRES ON CORNERBACKS
The 49ers recently hosted a visit with cornerback Vontae Davis, whom the Indianapolis Colts released late in the season. The club also talked to the Kansas City Chiefs about the possibility of a trade for cornerback Marcus Peters.

The 49ers decided not to pursue Davis, who signed this week with the Buffalo Bills. And the 49ers did not over-extended to acquire Peters. Instead, the Los Angeles Rams surrendered second- and fourth-round draft picks to obtain Peters and a sixth-round pick.

“We had conversations. We never made a formal offer,” Lynch said. “We felt at some point it was best to duck out. We’re comfortable with that.”

Lynch spoke about his philosophy.

“Just because a guy has been a really productive, really good, great player, doesn’t mean he’s a fit,” Lunch said. “It’s not just who’s been productive, it’s who’s a fit for you.”

49ERS HAVE AMPLE CAP SPACE
The 49ers at one point had more than $100 million in projected cap room. Now, after some contract extensions and factoring in the rookie pool, the 49ers are working with more than $50 million under the salary cap.

“We’re extremely well-equipped to do what we wish,” Lynch said.

The 49ers were aggressive at the start of free agency last year with the announcement of seven signings. Lynch does not expect that much activity next Wednesday on the first day of the new league year.

“I don’t think it will be that volume,” he said. “That was thick and active and fun. I felt we improved out team greatly at spots we frankly needed. We’ll be a little more selective. That’s the aggressive. We won’t flinch if we think a guy has an opportunity to fit into that approach of sustained success that can help us do that.”

TRENT BROWN UPDATE
Right tackle Trent Brown is not expected to be cleared for football activity for several months. He is undergoing his rehabilitation in Florida after season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder.

The 49ers’ athletic trainers are in close contact with Brown, Lynch said.

Brown has played three NFL seasons and is eligible to sign a contract extension this offseason. But Lynch said there are more pressing issues at hand for the 49ers. Lynch described Brown as a “special talent.”

He said, “I thought he made great strides last year. It’s just a reality, when you’re that big of a man, certain things are going to be a lot tougher. He’s a huge man, which is also a great strength for him. He’s a unique talent. I think he really responded and answered the call of what was being asked of him. It wasn’t perfect, and there are some things that he’s always going to deal with, but I was proud of him.”

MALCOLM SMITH WILL BE READY
The 49ers’ biggest free-agent splash on defense in free agency last year was linebacker Malcolm Smith. This year, they expect that move to pay off.

Smith missed the entire season due to a torn pectoral sustained in training camp. Lynch said Smith should be ready for full participation when the 49ers’ offseason program begins in April.

“Malcolm is doing great,” Lynch said. “Right at the start of offseason, he’ll be full-bore. I’ve been assured of that. . . . (I’m) excited to see him in a 49ers uniform. We’re excited to see him play for us.”

STRENGTH OF DRAFT CLASS
A year ago, the 49ers were connected with every top quarterback in the draft. This year, they do not have a strong need at the position with Garoppolo locked up as the long-term answer.

Still, Lynch has formed some opinions about the free-agent market and draft class.

“We aren’t one of the teams looking at it, but if you need a quarterback, it’s not a bad year,” Lynch said. “It’s rare that you have a lot of options in free agency. A lot of quarterbacks never get to free agency. It seems like there’s a lot this year. The top end of the quarterback class is stronger than it was last year. If you’re looking for a quarterback, this is a good year to be in the market. I’m really happy we aren’t, but we still study these guys.”

Lynch pointed out that the running back class is deep, too.

“Running back has some good options,” he said. “There’s strength at running back – some really good players.”

FIFTEEN MINUTES AT A TIME
The work started Tuesday night for Lynch and his staff, as they held their first of their maximum 60 interviews with draft prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine. Each team is allowed 15 minutes with each player on its list.

Lynch said he gets the most out of those interviews with prospects as he tries to gain an understanding of the individual’s makeup.

“A lot of people ask, ‘What can you get in 15 minutes?’ But we try to be very effective with that time.”

Everything you need to know about Cal Olympic swimmer Abbey Weitzeil

Everything you need to know about Cal Olympic swimmer Abbey Weitzeil

Abbey Weitzeil came to Cal with plenty of pedigree. 

She arrived in Berkeley in the fall of 2016, soon after competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Weitzeil had two Olympic medals -- a silver in the 400-meter freestyle relay and gold in the 400-meter medley relay -- before she swam a single race for the Golden Bears. 

Now, Weitzeil is eyeing a ticket to Tokyo. She can seal her spot on the 2020 United States Olympic Swimming Team at the Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Neb. in June. 

Here's everything you need to know about the Cal star swimmer. 

Bio

Name: Abbey Weitzeil
Age: 23
Sport: Swimming 
College: Cal

Olympic History

Weitzeil won a gold medal as part of the United States' 400-meter medley relay team, swimming the freestyle leg in the preliminaries to secure the Americans' spot in the final. She also anchored the 400-meter freestyle relay team in the final of that race, earning a silver medal in the process.

The Saugus, Calif. native also swam in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events, finishing seventh and 12th, respectively. She and Simone Manuel, who silvered in both, were the only Americans who swam in those races.

Fun Facts

Weitzeil originally started swimming as a 9-year-old, and only because her sisters did it. She wasn't a fan of weekend practices, either, and briefly gave up on the sport. 

"It just wasn't for me at the time and I didn't like it, so I quit," she said told NBC Sports in the feature story embedded in this piece. "And then I immediately was like, 'You know what, I miss it -- for some reason, I don't why.' So I went back to it, and when I started dedicating myself and going to all the practices and everything, that's when I started to take off and really realize that I like it."

It's safe to say she made the right call. Here are some more facts about Weitzeil. 

  • She set the American, U.S. Open and NCAA record in the 50-meter freestyle (21.02 seconds) in March 2019 and broke her own record in December (20.90 seconds) at the Minnesota Invitational. Weitzel became the first woman to cross the 21-second threshold.
  • Her national team experience has only gotten more extensive since Rio. She silvered in the 400-meter freestyle relay at the 2019 FINA World Championships in South Korea, and she represented the United States at the 2017 Worlds in the 50-meter freestyle.
  • Weitzeil originally committed to Cal in 2014 and would've started at Berkeley in 2015 had she not competed in the Olympics. She is a public health major. 

Social Media

Twitter: @abbeyweitzeil
Instagram: @abbeyweitzeil

NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports California reveal brand-new studio

NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports California reveal brand-new studio

NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California are about to get a whole new look. 

The home of Authentic Bay Area Sports will unveil its new state-of-the-art studio Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with "Sharks Pregame Live."

The sleek 2,270 square-foot studio boasts an interactive demo area and multiple anchor and reporter positions designed for movement and flexibility. 

“Our new studios will provide our anchors, analysts and insiders the ability to provide the region’s most comprehensive, informative and entertaining sports coverage across multiple platforms,” NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California Senior Vice President and General Manager Matt Murphy said in a statement. "We’ve created a world-class facility that is designed for innovation and the creation of compelling content for local sports fans.”

Every part of the studio can be used as a broadcast location, thanks to the litany of large displays integrated into its architecture, and a sleek LED display running the length of the studio forms the backdrop for the main anchor area. Located at the network's headquarters at 360 3rd Street in San Francisco, the studio includes 120 LED tiles in all: 75 are in the walls, and 45 are on the demo area's floor.

The studio, which was designed as part of a partnership between NBC Sports and the design group at Jack Morton Worldwide, primarily will serve as the main set for Warriors, Giants and 49ers pregame and postgame shows, as well as news updates, press conferences, breaking news and magazine shows.

A secondary studio will debut with "Sharks Pregame Live" on Oct. 16 at 7 p.m., and it primarily will host NBC Sports California's pre- and postgame shows, news updates, press conferences and breaking news.