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49ers free agents are now free to negotiate with other teams


49ers free agents are now free to negotiate with other teams

The 49ers no longer have sole negotiating rights with running back Carlos Hyde.

Finally, he and the rest of the 49ers’ scheduled unrestricted free agents can enter into contract negotiations with other clubs. Contracts are not allowed to be signed until Wednesday, 1 p.m. (PT).

Up until this point, players whose contracts are set to expire on Wednesday, the first day of the new league year, could only talk to their current clubs about contract matters. (Players, such as Richard Sherman, who were released by their former clubs were allowed to sign with any team as soon as they were cut loose.)

The 49ers took advantage of their exclusive negotiating rights this offseason to sign five free-agents-to-be to extensions: quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, center Daniel Kilgore, edge rusher Cassius Marsh, swing tackle Garry Gilliam and backup linebacker/special teams player Mark Nzeocha.

Here’s a look at the 49ers’ unrestricted free agents, who are now free to entertain offers from other clubs:

RB Carlos Hyde: The 49ers like Hyde. They say they want to re-sign him. But how far will they go to make that happen? There are other options available on the open market, and perhaps better fits for their system. Alfred Morris and Isaiah Crowell have both played for Kyle Shanahan. Both could be less-expensive, too. Dion Lewis is a versatile back, but maybe a little too much like Matt Breida. And if the 49ers do not land a starter-caliber running back in free agency, there will still be plenty of options available in the draft.

S Eric Reid: The 49ers are probably not inclined to extend Reid a competitive multi-year contract offer. They already have Jaquiski Tartt, Jimmie Ward and Adrian Colbert, and they like each those safeties a lot. The market will determine Reid’s future. Reid is an interesting case. His protest of social inequality could impact his attractiveness to some teams. If there is not much interest around the league, it is possible he could return to the 49ers later in the offseason on a one-year, prove-it contract.

DL Tank Carradine: Carradine had his best season, though the numbers were not eye-popping. He was a good fit for the 49ers’ system under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as a “big end” in the team’s 4-3 defense. But Carradine, who did not play a third-down snap all season, believes he can be an effective pass-rusher, too. The 49ers will certainly want him back, but the market will determine whether another team wants him more.

CB Dontae Johnson: He started all 16 games and had a chance in the second half of the season to play his way into the 49ers’ future. That did not happen. Johnson struggled down the stretch, and finding someone to take over in his spot was the major priority of the offseason. The 49ers filled his starting role with the signing Saturday of Richard Sherman to a three-year contract.

G Brandon Fusco: The 49ers want to upgrade the middle of their offensive line. Fusco, like the entire offense, played a lot better in the final five games with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. Fusco, who turns 30 in July, could come back. But he would certainly face competition to remain as the starting right guard, whether it’s from Joshua Garnett, another veteran or a draft pick.

LB Brock Coyle: Place Coyle at the top of the list of players most likely to re-sign. Originally brought in for his play on special teams, Coyle beat out Ray-Ray Armstrong for a full-time starting role after NaVorro Bowman was cut during the season. Coyle played better and better, and teamed with rookie Reuben Foster to form a productive tandem in the middle of the 49ers’ defense.

DE Aaron Lynch: It’s likely Lynch has played his final game with the 49ers after struggling to earn a spot as one of the team’s 46 active players. The 49ers even considered cutting him last season to create a roster spot for Carradine, who was returning from injured reserve. After a promising start to his 49ers career with 12.5 sacks in two seasons, Lynch appeared in just 14 games the past two years and was never able to fulfill the promise of his immense physical talent.

TE Logan Paulsen: The 49ers will likely look to add a blocking specialist to the roster. Paulsen, 31, is a low-cost option. The 49ers used him last season to create roster flexibility. He was released three times and re-signed three times, appearing in 13 games without catching a pass.

DL Leger Douzable: When he played, he played well. But it was clear the 49ers were more excited about seeing other players. Douzable was cut before the start of the regular season and re-signed in October due to injuries. He had good games against Philadelphia, Arizona and the New York Giants but was inactive for five of the team’s final six games.

WR Louis Murphy: He was among the 49ers’ final cuts before the start of the regular season. When the 49ers needed another wide receiver after Pierre Garçon sustained a season-ending neck injury. Murphy caught eight passes for 121 yards. Murphy turns 31 in May. The club will look to develop its young receivers.

CB Asa Jackson: After a strong exhibition season, Jackson was promoted from the practice squad early in the season. He appeared in four games on special teams before going on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.

CB Leon Hall: The 11-year NFL veteran appeared in nine games for the 49ers after replacing Jackson on the 53-man roster. At 33, the 49ers will look for younger backup players to develop.

DL Chris Jones: He played well for the 49ers in six games in 2016 and, at one point in training camp, looked to be a good shape to win a roster spot last year. However, Jones was moved to injured reserve before the start of the regular season.

C Tim Barnes:A six-year veteran, Barnes did not make the team coming out of training camp. He was re-signed in late-November due to injuries and appered in one game.

DB Antone Exum: He signed with the 49ers in November after a rash of injuries and appeared in two games. He was inactive for the final five games of the season.

Sacramento native Rhys Hoskins reaches Home Run Derby semis


Sacramento native Rhys Hoskins reaches Home Run Derby semis

WASHINGTON — Bryce Harper thrilled the home crowd and surely made his father proud, winning the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday night with an exceptional display of power that carried him past Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs 19-18.

Harper hit the contest-winning blast in extra time, the reward for hitting two homers at least 440 feet during the 4 minutes of regulation. After he connected with the game winner, the Washington Nationals slugger threw his bat in the air and pointed both index fingers toward the sky as a shower of streamers rained upon the crowd of 43,698.

The six-time All-Star arranged to have his dad, Ron, pitch to him in the annual contest on the eve of the All-Star Game. Harper responded with a performance that drew the loudest cheers of the night at Nationals Park.

It’s been a trying season for Harper, who’s hitting only .214 for the disappointing Nationals. He won a contest that many sluggers avoid, fearful it might wear them out and throw them off.

Harper can only hope this helps him get back into the swing.

The 2015 NL MVP beat Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves and Max Muncy of the Dodgers before trumping the fifth-seeded Schwarber, who put the pressure on with a solid outing before Harper stepped to the plate.

Wearing a headband that resembled the District of Columbia flag and displaying a right sleeve with stars and stripes, Harper trailed 18-9 with 1:20 left before rallying. He homered on nine of his last 10 swings before entering extra time.

Hours before the session, Harper spoke excitedly about having his dad pitch to him in the contest. The 25-year-old said his father “worked his tail off every single day to provide for me and my family” and “now being able to have him throw to me in a big league ballpark is the cherry on top.”

Harper advanced to the final with an astonishing spree of long-ball hitting. He trailed Max Muncy of the Dodgers 12-4 with 2:20 left, then peeled off six homers in 47 seconds before calling a timeout.

Harper returned to hit three more home runs in 22 seconds, the last of them inside the right-field foul pole.

The semifinal matchup between Schwarber and Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins was a thriller. After stunning top-seed Jesus Aguilar of Milwaukee in the opening round, the eighth-seeded Hoskins ripped 20 long balls to put the pressure on Schwarber.

Using a late surge, Schwarber pulled one ball after another over the right field wall to squeeze out a 21-20 victory — by far the highest-scoring matchup of the night.

The fans dutifully cheered most home runs during the first round, but they saved their loudest cheers for Harper, the last player to step to the plate.

After Freeman hit 12 home runs over the 4-minute span, Harper unleashed six shots of at least 440 feet and secured the victory with a drive to center long before the clock expired. As the ball cleared the wall, the left-handed hitting Harper walked out of the batter’s box and thrust both arms in the air.

Freeman was the oldest player in the field at 28, and the first Braves participant since Andruw Jones in 2005.

Milwaukee’s Aguilar, the NL home run leader at the break, was eliminated in the opening round by Hoskins 17-12.

Aguilar hit too many balls to straightaway center, where the wall stands over 400 feet from the plate. Hoskins pumped most of his drives into the left-field seats, where it’s 336 feet down the line.

The most thrilling first-round match featured a near buzzer-beater by Houston’s Alex Bregman, who fell to Schwarber 16-15. The difference was the pair of homers that Schwarber hit during 30 seconds of extra time, the reward for hitting two long balls of at least 440 feet.

Bregman — the lone AL representative — appeared defeated with a minute left, but he mounted a late surge and lost when his final swing produced a drive that landed at the base of the center-field wall.

Muncy advanced by defeating No. 6 seed Javier Baez of the Cubs, 16-15. Baez hit the longest shot of the Derby, a 479-footer.

Aaron Rodgers hits fan jumping off a boat in Tahoe in stride with perfect throw


Aaron Rodgers hits fan jumping off a boat in Tahoe in stride with perfect throw

Green Bay Packers quarterback (and former Cal Golden Bear) Aaron Rodgers is known for his downfield accuracy. 

Rodgers has three successful Hail Marys to his name. The first, on Dec. 3, 2015 against the Detroit Lions, kept his team's playoff hopes alive. Another, on Jan. 16, 2016 against the Arizona Cardinals, sent the Divisional game to overtime, and a third came en route to a Wild Card game win against the New York Giants on Jan. 8, 2007. 

At the American Century Championship Celebrity Golf Tournament in Lake Tahoe on Friday, Rodgers added another notch to his belt.

His latest effort won't be confused with the other three, but it's not like any of those receivers landed in a body of water, either. 

The real question? Whether or not that's a catch under the NFL's new rules.