John Lynch

Jimmy Garoppolo wouldn't let down 49ers knowing eyes were on him in rehab


Jimmy Garoppolo wouldn't let down 49ers knowing eyes were on him in rehab

SANTA CLARA – Jimmy Garoppolo knows there is always a chance a set of eyes are on him, and that served as motivation during his time rehabbing at the 49ers’ practice facility during the early months of this offseason.

It will be another week before the coaching staff will be allowed to work with Garoppolo on the practice field, but there was nothing keeping Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch from keeping tabs on his movements from afar.

At one point in the offseason, Lynch said he looked out his window and got fired up when he saw Garoppolo throw a pass to running back Jerick McKinnon as the two players rehabbed from ACL injuries.

“He was a couple weeks ahead of me and everything so I was trying to play a little catch-up game with him,” Garoppolo said. “But we never know when those guys are watching. The windows are hard to see through. They must put tints on them or something.”

[RELATED: Jimmy Garoppolo, Jerick McKinnon lean on each other during rehab]

Garoppolo said he likes knowing that the higher-ups in the organization might be watching from their upstairs offices, which overlook the team’s weight room and practice field.

“It actually kind of turns it into more of a practice, kind of ramps you up a little bit, gets the energy going,” Garoppolo said.

Garoppolo said he is steadily rounding into form after the Week 3 injury to his left knee. He will undoubtedly wear a brace on his left knee, he said. He said he wore a brace during his rookie season with the New England Patriots as a preventative measure.

“I never played with one before in college or high school or anything like that,” he said. “So it was different. But these new ones that they got are titanium, lightweight. It’s like you’re not wearing anything sometimes.”

49ers' DeForest Buckner not worried about contract extension with teams


49ers' DeForest Buckner not worried about contract extension with teams

DeForest Bucker isn’t worried that he and the 49ers have yet to work out a contract extension as he heads into his fourth year with the franchise. 

Buckner is eligible to ink an extension this season, but both parties could wait if they so choose. Buckner did confirm that the lines of communication are open. 

“We had conversations here and there,” Buckner said. “You know honestly, it’s very early. Just because I’m eligible for a new contract going into my fourth year, it’s still very early in the process.”  

Buckner is going to focus on preparing for the season and leave the rest to his agent, CEO Jed York, chief negotiator Paraag Marathe, and general manager John Lynch to work out the details. 

Buckner’s third season was a break out year for the defensive lineman. He tallied a career-high 12 sacks and 17 tackles for a loss. He also racked up 20 quarterback hits and 67 total tackles, 44 of which were solo.  

To help with the teams beleaguered pass rush, the team signed edge rusher Dee Ford during the offseason. They could even acquire another force on the edge from the draft class that’s deep with talent. 

Lynch spoke during the offseason about the desire to build a defense that is a dominant force. Buckner sees that happening and isn’t worried about more defensive linemen coming into the fold, he relishes it, adding that can only make them better. 

Buckner even predicted that the 49ers second overall pick would be used on a defensive lineman. 

“It doesn’t matter who they draft, all the guys are good this year,” Buckner said. “We’ll just add another dominant guy to the d-line and whoever it is, it doesn’t matter, I’m just very excited to get working with them and I know everyone in the room is excited. And that’s the goal this year. We need to be dominant.” 

When asked if that was Buckner’s inside scoop on the 49ers draft pick he chuckled and expressed that he would be very happy with that choice.  

“That’s my hope,” Buckner quipped. “Every year you hope to add another guy to the d-line to be a dominant force so you know, that’s what I’m hoping.”  

[RELATED: Buckner knows he can improve on breakout season]

Buckner remains confident that the two sides will work it out eventually as they both share a common goal. 

“I’m really just looking forward to being here with the team long term,” Buckner said. “Jed and John and Paraag and all them, Kyle (Shanahan) they all know that. They all know what I can bring to the table, and what I bring to the team and there’s no rush to it.”  

Five things to watch as 49ers begin phase one of NFL offseason program

Five things to watch as 49ers begin phase one of NFL offseason program

The 49ers start their offseason program Monday, as veterans and newly-signed players will all meet for the first time as a group and start their conditioning program.

As tight end George Kittle explained, it’s like the first day of school. 

Phase one of the offseason program lasts for two weeks and consists of eight four-hour days for the team. It is limited to strength and conditioning or “dead ball” exercises only. 

The team can specify the plan for two of the four hours, with a maximum of 90 minutes on the field with only the strength and conditioning staff. The remaining two hours can be used for weight training and other activities. 

These workouts are strictly voluntary but most of the players under contract are expected to be in attendance. Since the last time the team was assembled in January, a few things have changed. 

Here are five things to watch as the 49ers unofficially open their 2019 season.

Free-agent signings 

There will be several new faces in the ‘classroom’ this week. Defensive lineman Dee Ford, linebacker Kwon Alexander, receiver Jordan Matthews, cornerback Jason Verrett and running back Tevin Coleman will meet their new teammates for the first time since they signed. 

Verrett, who is returning from a torn Achilles, can pick the brain of fellow cornerback Richard Sherman who has gone through the same process. Verrett has been rehabbing in Southern California during the offseason. The staff hopes he can return to the top caliber player he was when healthy.

GM John Lynch revealed that Alexander would be around the facility for a few weeks prior to organized team activities (OTAs) working on rehabbing from a torn ACL. Lynch added that Alexander’s return to the field will not be rushed as the plan for the linebacker is long-term.

New strength and conditioning staff

It’s not only the first day of school for the players, it is also the first offseason program in Santa Clara for the new health and performance/strength and conditioning staff. Rehabbing players have been able to work with the staff since they were hired, but many have been away from the facility since January. 

The 49ers overhauled their strength and conditioning and medical staff after 17 players spent time on injured reserve in 2018 and 24 did so in 2017. 

Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan looked to other professional sports like basketball and hockey to have a more cohesive union between the two staffs to hopefully prevent the same issues in the future. 

Injuries like ACL and Achilles tears cannot be solely blamed on the S&C staffs but they do affect players returning from soft tissue injuries like hamstring strains. Lynch and Shanahan hope that better communication and a cohesive program will prevent, or at least expedite the return of players with those types of injuries. 

Garoppolo and McKinnon on track to return

All reports regarding QB Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerrick McKinnon throughout the offseason have been positive. Both players have been at the facility during the time off, working with the medical and training staffs. They're both on schedule to be full-go for training camp in July. 

Garoppolo will not participate in any 11-on-11 work through OTAs as a precautionary measure but will be allowed to throw in 7-on-7s starting in phase three of the program. Lynch, Shanahan and CEO Jed York reported that Garoppolo has been practicing drops and throws to trainers and appears to be looking very sharp.

McKinnon’s participation during that same time is uncertain, as movement for running backs is a much early need than for quarterbacks. He is still reported to be on schedule to participate during training camp. 

Kicking game questions 

The 49ers used the franchise tag on veteran kicker Robbie Gould, punter Bradley Pinion signed with the Buccaneers, and long-snapper Kyle Nelson will serve a 10-game suspension for the use of PEDs 

Gould has still not signed his franchise tender and will not attend OTAs. He has been very vocal on social media about his love for Chicago, where his family remained for the last two seasons of his time with the 49ers. Gould could sign prior to the start of the season and remain with the team -- or he could hold out. 

The 49ers signed long-snapper Colin Holba and punter Justin Vogel to the team during free agency but could still look to add options through the draft or with an undrafted free agent. 

[RELATED: Here's Mel Kiper Jr.'s dream three-round mock draft for 49ers]

New faces on the coaching staff

Although the 49ers finished the 2018 season with only four wins, much of the coaching staff was still poached -- to the surprise of Shanahan. 

Shane Day is the team’s new quarterbacks coach and Wes Welker will be working with the wide receivers. Former defensive backs assistant Daniel Bullocks will oversee the safeties under secondary coach Joe Woods. 

Kris Kocurek will look to improved the team’s pass rush, having taken over the defensive line coaching duties.