Le'Veon Bell

Le'Veon Bell thanks Raiders' Jon Gruden for kind words on 'Hard Knocks'

Le'Veon Bell thanks Raiders' Jon Gruden for kind words on 'Hard Knocks'

Le'Veon Bell sat out all of last season in a contract dispute with the Steelers, and he now has a new team. That team isn't the Raiders, but before the dynamic running back signed with the Jets in March, that looked like a legitimate possibility.

Of course, Bell did sign with the Jets, and a month later, Oakland selected running back Josh Jacobs with the No. 24 overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Jacobs figures to lead the Raiders' rushing attack this coming season, and if coach Jon Gruden has his way, the rookie will take after the veteran with whom the team reportedly flirted with just prior to his arrival.

On a sneak preview of Tuesday's season finale of "Hard Knocks," Gruden lauds Bell's standout ability with a play on words.

"The one thing I always loved about this guy is he'll ring your -- what?" Gruden asks aloud.

Bell was keeping an eye on the Raiders back in March, and it appears he still is, as he was quick to thank Gruden on Twitter.

[RELATED: How to watch season finale of Raiders on 'Hard Knocks']

Certainly, Gruden and the Raiders would love nothing more than for Jacobs to act like Bell on the field. Off of it? Well, that's probably a different story.

49ers Mailbag: Should Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel contracts be concern?

49ers Mailbag: Should Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel contracts be concern?

Beginning on Monday, the 49ers can begin offense vs. defense drills in practices on their Santa Clara practice field as Phase III of their offseason program kicks off.

This portion of the offseason program is important because it gives the coaching staff and personnel department an opportunity to assess the talent on the team and evaluate whether there are available players who might be able to add upgrades.

We solicited questions from our followers on Facebook and, once again, we have a full 49ers Mailbag of solid topics:

What’s the status on Bosa’s and Samuel’s contracts? (Daniel Hernandez)
Neither player has signed his mandatory four-year contract. The dollar amounts are already set under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement.

Bosa’s four-year contract will be worth $33.55 million, while Deebo Samuel’s deal will be four years, $7.7 million. There is no issue with players who have yet to sign at this point. They can participate in all team-related activities before the opening of training camp in late-July.

Bosa and Samuel are both represented by CAA Football. That’s the same agency that represents Mike McGlinchey and Solomon Thomas, the 49ers’ past two first-round draft picks. McGlinchey was signed a week before camp, and Thomas joined his teammates in the middle of the first practice of training camp in 2017.

Because the money amounts are already set, the only true haggling points are the potential for offset language and how the signing bonus money will be paid (lump sum or over time).

Since the new CBA went into effect in 2011, I have generally granted myself the luxury of not spending much energy on the signings of draft picks. Again, I won’t spend a whole lot of time on it, until I return from vacation a day or two before training camp.

Do you think Bosa will have an immediate impact, or will it take him a year or two to get used to the speed of the NFL game? (Chris Munson)
My belief is that outside pass rusher is a position that allows for a rookie to come in and make an immediate impact. You either have it or you don’t. And I believe Bosa’s next-level technique and attention to detail give him an opportunity to excel from the first snap of his first game. (Great to see you this week, and tell everyone back in the land of jumbo shrimp, "Hi," for me.)

If Dee Ford or Bosa goes down, what’s the plan? (LoEs Carlos)
Ronald Blair, who was one of the team’s primary outside pass-rushers in nickel situations, is now a rotational player. So he would be the next in line. There will be a role for him, regardless. The team will be looking for a fourth outside pass rusher to emerge in competition.

Do you think, the 49ers should sign another safety like Tre Boston or Eric Berry? Is the position safe with Ward, Tartt, Harris and Colbert? (Frank Höhle)
Will we be making any more additions to the secondary? (Gil Hernandez)
Any veteran who signs at this point is likely to sign a one-year contract. If the 49ers saw any defensive back on the market that they considered a sure starter among the group they already have, they would have offered that player a multi-year contract some time ago.

I believe the 49ers viewed Jimmie Ward as their top target among the available safeties and they gave him a one-year, prove-it contract. They did the same with cornerback Jason Verrett. Ward will compete against Adrian Colbert at free safety, while Verrett will go against Ahkello Witherspoon and Tarvarius Moore.

Boston is interesting because he has played for three teams in the past three years. There are reasons why no team that’s had him has been willing to give him a multi-year contract. (But I do not know the reasons.) He is considered more of a hybrid nickel back and cover linebacker.

Berry is a nine-year veteran who has played in just three games total the past two seasons due to Achilles and heel injuries. The 49ers' actions would suggest they believe Jaquiski Tartt and Marcell Harris are better options because of health, age and ability to continue to develop.

Will the 49ers make any additions to the secondary? More than likely, anyone they add will be somebody who would come in and compete for a roster spot, not necessarily someone who is viewed as a legitimate contender for a starting job.

If Nick Mullens beats out C.J. Beathard for QB2, what happens to C.J.? (William Winter)
Are Nick Mullens and Beathard eligible for practice squad? (Fred Reimers)
As I understand it, any team can retain four exemptions from the 2017 and 2018 rookie classes regardless of how many games they have played.

What happens if Mullens beats out Beathard? What happens if Beathard beats out Mullens?

The 49ers must make a decision whether they want to keep two or three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. If they keep two, they would try to bring back the other for the practice squad. But it’s possible that the player who gets cut would get claimed by another team. That’s a situation that will play out over the course of training camp and the four exhibition games.

Is there any chance that 49ers pursue a trade with the Jets for Le’Veon Bell? (Rick Orozco)
What’s the probability we trade Matt Breida or Jerick McKinnon before the season? (Matthew J Azar)
Is there any chance? There’s always a chance.

But the 49ers have to feel pretty good about their running back situation after signing Tevin Coleman to a two-year, $8.5 million deal. The Jets have already paid Bell a signing bonus of $10 million, so any team that wants to trade for Bell would pick up the entire Jets contract, minus that $10 million.

Still, Bell’s contract is a steep price to pay. Bell is not taking part in the Jets’ offseason program, so I’m sure the 49ers would not be in a hurry to add a player they know they would not see until training camp.

We saw last season how depth at running back is important. A) I do not see why the 49ers would be so eager to trade any of their running backs at this stage. B) I don’t see why any team would give up a good draft pick for any of the 49ers’ running backs when every team just had an opportunity to add RBs in the draft.

[RELATED: Buckner sees 'bright future' for Bosa]

What's going on with Robbie Gould? (Kasie Miller)
This:

The 49ers tagged kicker Robbie Gould as their franchise player. He wanted to be free to negotiate with any and all teams and make his own decision. He has requested a trade. The 49ers have said they are not going to trade him. Gould has not signed the one-year deal. He continues to work out on his own in the Chicago area, where he lives with his family.

The 49ers are hopeful that Gould will be there when the team opens the season on Sunday, Sept. 8, at Tampa Bay.

NFL free agency rumors: 49ers made Le'Veon Bell 'strong' contract offer

leveonus.jpg
USATSI

NFL free agency rumors: 49ers made Le'Veon Bell 'strong' contract offer

It seemed like a quiet Tuesday of NFL free agency for the 49ers from the outside, but that apparently wasn't the case inside the organization.

The team agreed to a trade for, then contract terms with Kansas City Chiefs edge rusher Dee Ford in the early evening, and they also reportedly were in the Le'Veon Bell sweepstakes before the All-Pro running back chose the New York Jets.

Bell's most likely landing spot always was the Jets, but the 49ers evidently were interested, just as they were with Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who reportedly was traded to the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday.

It’s always interesting when a team is mentioned after a superstar trade or signing is made public. What makes the Bell-49ers discovery even more curious is what it says about San Francisco's current roster.

If the 49ers were willing to pursue Bell -- who reportedly landed a four-year, $52.5 million deal with $35 million guaranteed in New York -- what does that say about their backfield? Is the team not sold on Jerick McKinnon’s return to the field after ACL surgery? Is Matt Breida’s durability a concern?

[RELATED: Why 49ers were right to trade for Ford, not OBJ]

Obviously that would require reading between the lines, and 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan preach that they always closely look at players who could improve the team. Lynch even confirmed that the team “went real hard” for Khalil Mack before the Raiders traded the star linebacker to the Chicago Bears last year.

Beckham and Bell are playmakers who clearly would have improved the 49ers. So of course the team kicked the tires … and even negotiated with the salesperson. A deal just couldn't be brokered.