Daniel Kilgore

Ex-49er Daniel Kilgore describes 'crazy,' 'frustrating,' 'heart-breaking' week

kilgore-helmetoff-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Ex-49er Daniel Kilgore describes 'crazy,' 'frustrating,' 'heart-breaking' week

Daniel Kilgore’s mind was at ease on Feb. 14 after signing a three-year contract extension to remain with the 49ers – the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2011 draft.

But all that changed on the first day of the open negotiating period when he learned the 49ers reached an agreement with New York Giants free-agent Weston Richburg on a five-year contract. The same firm, Rep1, represents Kilgore and Richburg.

“Originally, I knew Weston was on the Niners’ board for left guard,” Kilgore said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “When I knew that he was going to sign with the 49ers, I was thinking, ‘Hey, we just got a new left guard.’ I hate it for Laken (Tomlinson).

“But, then, you kind of find out he was coming for center. That’s when I was thrown for a loop.”

Kilgore described the days that followed as “crazy,” “frustrating” and “heart-breaking.”

One day after the 49ers officially signed Richburg to a five-year, $47.5 million contract, Kilgore was traded to the Miami Dolphins. The 49ers got little in return for delivering Kilgore to what appears to be a good situation. The team’s swapped draft spots in the seventh round, with the 49ers now choosing at No. 223 overall, while the Dolphins pick at No. 227.

Kilgore lands in a situation to be a starter. He also received, in essence, a 13.3-percent raise for leaving California to go to Florida, where there is no state income tax. The 49ers structured Kilgore's contract so the first payout of a $2.3 million roster bonus was scheduled for after the start of the new league year – after the trade. The Dolphins pick up the entirety of the three-year, $11.75 million contract the 49ers negotiated with Kilgore.

Kilgore said he was never asked to compete for a job at guard with the 49ers. He said he did not request a trade, either. He was told, in essence, he was no longer in the 49ers’ plans.

General manager John Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area last week both Richburg and Kilgore are best at center. To ask either to submit to a change of position would set up one of them for failure.

Looking back, Kilgore said he wonders if he should have turned down the 49ers’ offer and gone into free agency. But that approach had its risks, too. All he wanted, he said, was to be compensated fairly and remain with the 49ers.

“I was really thrown for a shock,” said Kilgore, who won the Bobb McKittrick Award last season for his displays of courage, intensity and sacrifice. “You just wonder, ‘What If I did go free agency?’ (But) that wasn’t me. I knew where that team was going. I’m familiar with the area, familiar with the coaching staff, my best friends are on the team. So I knew this is where I wanted to be. I didn’t see myself going anywhere else.”

Now, he will be moving to South Florida, where he will attempt to establish what he felt he had with the 49ers.

“You want to be there and be a part of something on the rise," Kilgore said. "That was the frustrating thing, that you’re no longer going to be there. It’s frustrating and heart-breaking, but you move on. I’m going to South Florida, and that makes things a heck of a lot better.”

Kilgore said he had some hard conversations with Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan last week. Ultimately, he said he respects both men for the way they handled an awkward situation. Lynch said last week when the 49ers signed Kilgore to an extension, the club believed there was a likelihood Richburg would not still be available a month later as a free agent. Richburg was the only center the 49ers would have sought to replace Kilgore, Lynch said.

“I hope the fans out there know the truth about everything and know that Kyle and John did it in the best interest of me and the best interest for the team moving forward,” Kilgore said. “There’s no bad grudges or anything like that. We’re all still friends at the end of the day.”

Lynch explains his reasoning for trading Kilgore a month after extending him

kilgore-closeup-ap.jpg
AP

Lynch explains his reasoning for trading Kilgore a month after extending him

There was only one center scheduled to become a free agent the 49ers would have wanted over Daniel Kilgore, general manager John Lynch said Thursday.

But because the 49ers did not know a month ago if they would be able to get that player, they went ahead and re-signed Kilgore to keep him off the free-agent market.

Lynch said the 49ers’ top two targets in free agency were center Weston Richburg and running back Jerick McKinnon. They negotiated against a handful of teams for the services of both players and finalized the deals on Wednesday at the opening of the free-agent signing period.

After the 49ers signed Richburg, the club worked a trade with the Miami Dolphins to send Kilgore to a team that needs a starting center.

“We thought about, do we play Weston at guard?” Lynch said. “Ultimately, once we decided to invest in someone, you put him at his best position. That happens to be his best position and center is Dan’s best position, too.”

Just one month ago, Kilgore signed a three-year, $11.75 million with the 49ers with the expectation he would remain with the club that selected him in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. Because of the way the deal was structured, the Dolphins will pick up every penny of the contract. The first payment from the Dolphins is a $2.3 million guaranteed roster bonus.

“I’ve been here for seven years,” Kilgore said on a conference call in mid-February. “I consider the Bay Area my second home. And to be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it.”

The availability of Richburg changed the 49ers’ plan, Lynch said.

Richburg was the only interior offensive linemen the 49ers pursued in free agency, Lynch said.. The team did not even place a call of interest to the agent of free-agent guard Andrew Norwell, who was not considered a fit for Kyle Shanahan’s blocking scheme.

Lynch was asked if there was anything he would have done differently in his handling of the center position this offseason.

“As we looked at this situation, we asked ourselves that question,” Lynch said. “But I really don’t think we could’ve. We are happy we were able to find a nice landing spot. He’s a starting center for an exciting team.”

Lynch, who played 15 NFL seasons, has made it a point to treat players as he would have wanted to be treated. He said the 49ers tried to do what was right for both sides.

They got little from the Dolphins in compensation for Kilgore. The 49ers sent Kilgore and the ninth pick of the seventh round (No. 227 overall) to the Dolphins in exchange for the fifth pick of the seventh round (No. 223 overall).

“I think our players know we genuinely care of them,” Lynch said. “I think they really get that. That’s one of our strengths, as far as the vibe we have going here. Yes, actions have to reflect that. I will tell you, we left this in a really good place with Danny. We’ve had really good conversations with him all the way through it.”

In other 49ers free-agent news . . .

Former 49ers defensive end/outside linebacker Aaron Lynch is signing a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears, the NFL Network reported. Lynch’s defensive coordinator will be Vic Fangio, who coached him as a rookie with the 49ers. Lynch had 12.5 sacks in his first two seasons, 2.5 in his last two years. The 49ers made no effort to re-sign him.

NFL coaches live the life of praise players in public, purge in private

gruden-jon-us.jpg
USATSI

NFL coaches live the life of praise players in public, purge in private

Jon Gruden’s arrival made Marshawn Lynch expendable.
 
Oh, sure this will be listed on Doug Martin’s legacy, as his new deal with the Oakland Raiders makes Lynch a likely early casualty in the Gruden Part Deux Era, but just as Jack Del Rio was hired by Mark Davis as a sop to the fan base he was planning to abandon, so too was Lynch, and finally Gruden.
 
And this just unchecks a thrice-checked box. Lynch as a face of the franchise was Mark Davis’ idea, he was one of the faces of a 6-10 team, and Gruden as the new face of the franchise has other ideas about whose face has the force of law.
 
At least that’s one superficial and probably misleading read from Martin’s signing, as the now-former Tampa Bay running back basically takes Lynch’s spot on Gruden’s first roster. It is a football decision (Martin may still have more tread), it is a cultural decision (Gruden isn’t all that warm or fuzzy with the employees) and it’s a new boss decision (Gruden wants his guys, not someone else’s).
 
But it also reminds us that coaches are liars unless forced into the truth, and when Gruden lauded Lynch a month ago, veteran observers could hear his fingers crossing themselves. After all, the rule of thumb for any public figure who isn’t either crazy or narcisstic is always “praise in public, purge in private,” and people who know Gruden well couldn’t see him nuzzling up to Lynch only to discipline him later for all the things he was allowed to do under Del Rio.
 
The same logic is being applied to the attraction for Jordy Nelson as a replacement for Michael Crabtree – well, except the mileage part. Gruden is recreating the Raiders in his image, which not only puts an interesting ellipsis on his own resume but puts all but a few players from the old regime (or regimes) in danger of being relocated.
 
And while we’re at it, the same is true for Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco, who watched center Daniel Kilgore get a new deal last month and traded to Miami this month – giving a fresh interpretation to the notion of being day-to-day. In the NFL, everyone is, right up to the door of the owner’s suite.
 
Whether the Martin signing is a good idea or not remains to be determined, of course, because the future has an odd way of not obeying the needs of the present, and March’s good idea can become October’s mistake. But Gruden reminded us yet again that coaches aren’t to be taken seriously when they say something in public because they don’t regard anything they say as binding. Every answer is simply a placeholder until it has to be changed, and that’s a valuable lesson for us to remember the next time we think a coach is leveling with us on anything. They live in an autocorrect world, and when it comes to taking them at their word, we should remember that.