San Francisco 49ers Sign A.J. Jenkins To Rookie Deal

All you need to know about the San Francisco 49ers' roster - including grades, projections and gameday actives. Follow along for the remainder of the offseason for our take. For more on their picks, check out our stream from the draft, and head on over to Niners Nation to take part in the discussion.

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49ers Sign Safety Darcel McBath To One-Year Deal

According to a tweet from Adam Caplan, the San Francisco 49ers have signed safety Darcel McBath and the 49ers have announced that it is a one-year contract.

McBath was drafted by the Denver Broncos with the 48th pick in the 2009 draft but never lived up to the expectations of being picked in that spot. McBath only played 20 games for the Broncos in 2009 and 2010. He most recently played for the Jacksonville Jaguars but was waived by the team in late April. He only played one game for the Jags.

McBath's signing completes the 49ers 90-man roster heading into training camp. McBath joins a crowded defensive backfield as the 49ers try to keep their standing as one of the best defenses in the NFL.

The former Texas Tech standout has accumulated 45 tackles and two interceptions in three seasons with his rookie season still standing as his best season.

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Potential Future 49ers Pro Bowlers: DE Ray McDonald

The San Francisco 49ers had a very impressive season in 2011, and they're hoping to keep it rolling with Jim Harbaugh's second year as head coach. Hopefully the offense will be a little more expansive and the team will be able to work with the full playbook, which likely means we'll see even more things that we've never seen before. He's crazy like a fox and we'll be very happy just to see what he cooks up in that head of his.

But it comes down to the players ultimately, and the 49ers showed why pundits have been saying for years that they have the most talented roster in the NFC West. Sure, some key additions were made that put the roster over the top, but with guys like Justin Smith, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Patrick Willis on the roster, it was criminal that the coaching staff couldn't get things done with what was available.

Last season, the 49ers sent multiple players to the Pro Bowl, and we already took a look at which players from those sent could return there. But what about potential newcomers? Are there any who could make it for the first time or return after missing it for a year?

One player immediately jumps to mind: Ray McDonald. To be perfectly honest, I thought McDonald wasn't going to be worth the starter money that the 49ers paid him prior to him actually starting for any significant time. Aubrayo Franklin left, so the 49ers rotated Isaac Sopoaga to his position (again, much to my personal skepticism as Sopoaga had just had the best season of his young career at defensive end).

So that left the end position open and McDonald got the job seemingly by default. Defensive end was immediately pegged as a need for the 49ers, but McDonald was awarded a contract, despite showing he was a decent option for rushing the passer a few times a game at best. He was regarded as not having enough stamina or versatility to be a starter at the position, especially with what the 49ers expect out of their defensive linemen.

What is that you might ask? Well, the defensive line is there to stop the run and if they can't, make the linebackers look really, really good. Sopoaga did that very well and still does now that he's switched positions. Justin Smith does that very well ... in fact, he does it amazingly, it's just not totally evident that he's there to make the linebackers look good because he's so good at doing other things as well. But in short, McDonald had a lot he hadn't shown and a lot he needed to show before he could be considered successful.

Of course, he then went out and had some of the best games of any defensive end in the NFL. If not for getting a little banged up and disappearing for a couple games, McDonald might have made the Pro Bowl last season. He rushed the passer very well, he stopped the run better than he ever has, and he generally did everything that was expected of him. Some rankings had him as the best 3-4 defensive end in the entire NFL a couple weeks into the season.

If he regresses, then there's no chance he makes it. But if McDonald, in only his second year as a starter, steps things up and elevates his levels of play, then there's a very solid chance that he makes it to the Pro Bowl in 2012.

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49ers Offseason: Dashon Goldson Will Not Get Multi-Year Deal, According To Report

According to a tweet from CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco, a long-term deal for safety Dashon Goldson will not happen.

Goldson and the 49ers had to come to an agreement on a multi-year deal before Monday's 1 p.m. deadline.

Goldson, who was given the franchise tag this summer, will now make $6.2 million this season. Goldson has said that he will play out the tender.

"If I have to play for the tag, I'll play for the tag," Goldson told SiriusXM NFL Radio. "But any guy would love long-term security. ...If not, I'll still be a 49er."

Golson reportedly turned down a five-year, $25 million offer last season from the Niners and ended up returning during training camp on a one-year deal worth $2 million. He then proceeded to produce a career-high six interceptions, second-most among NFL safeties.

For more on the 49ers and their talks with Goldson, check out Niners Nation. Stick with SB Nation Bay Area for continued updates on the team throughout the year.


49ers Offseason: Dashon Goldson Contract Negotiations Going Nowhere

The San Francisco 49ers and all-pro safety Dashon Goldson have been attempting to work out a new contract extension in recent months. There's no denying that both sides are interested in working out a longterm deal, but this latest update from Matt Miaocco of CSN Bay Area suggests the talks are going nowhere.

Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson, the 49ers' franchise player, and the club have not made any progress toward a multi-year contract, a source told on Friday.

Goldson and the 49ers have until a Monday deadline to reach an agreement on a long-term contract.

After Monday, Goldson would only be allowed to sign the one-year, $6.212 million franchise tender with the 49ers. The sides would not be able to negotiate a multi-year extension until after the final regular-season game.

"I just hope something will get done," Goldson said on SiriusXM NFL Radio this week. "And if not, I'll still be a 49er."

It's good to see the two sides remain level headed while negotiating -- far too often do relationships between a player and his team get ruined because of dollars and cents. 49ers fans can only hope Goldson and the 49ers continue working on a deal throughout the weekend and they can come to an agreement shortly.

For more on the 49ers and their talks with Goldson, check out Niners Nation. Stick with SB Nation Bay Area for continued updates on the team throughout the year.


NFL Supplemental Draft Ready For July 12

Hey guys, another NFL Draft! Prepare your mocks!

The NFL Supplemental Draft takes place this July 12th at 1 PM. For those unfamiliar with how the NFL Supplemental Draft works, it involves players who didn't file for the regular draft or had eligibility issues due to academics or disciplinary issues.

Gregg Rosenthal of has more on what we can expect in the draft and players to watch out for who could end up getting picked.

The following players are eligible to be drafted: Boise State DB Quaylon Ewing, Baylor WR Josh Gordon, Syracuse RB Adam Harris, Iowa State T Adrian Haughton, Carson-Newman LB Larry Lumpkin, Georgia DE Montez Robinson, McMurray WR Houston Tuminello, and TCU RB Ed Wesley. No other players are eligible to apply for the draft.

Because the draft order works similarly to the NFL draft, you can expect the San Francisco 49ers to pick later on in the draft in the first round while the Oakland Raiders will go just a little bit earlier than them.

Talk about the Supplemental Draft with 49ers fans at Niners Nation, and with Raiders fans at Silver and Black Pride.

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Can 49ers Rookie Wide Receiver A.J. Jenkins Explode Onto the Scene in 2012?

We examine the situation that 49ers rookie wide receiver A.J. Jenkins is currently in and whether or not he can put together a strong performance in year one. With a strong surrounding cast and proper environment, Jenkins could explode onto the scene in 2012. For more on the San Francisco 49ers, head over to Niners Nation


Sacramento Kings Draft Rumors: Damian Lillard Well-Liked, Thomas Robinson Not Being Worked Out

The Sacramento Kings are still looking at who they'll take with their lottery pick. Sacramento is slated to pick fifth overall in the first round, and it's still unknown who they'll end up selecting.

Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson is one player that fits Sacramento pretty well. Robinson is an athletic power forward who can crash the boards and really complement DeMarcus Cousins on the frontline. Robinson might be a little bit out of reach though, as he's likely to go somewhere very soon behind Anthony Davis at the number one pick. The news seems to reflect that decision.

Weber State point guard Damian Lillard could very well be a potential pick as well. Although Sacramento has a glut of guard, Lillard is that impressive that they might well take him.

Clearly Isaiah Thomas has been solid as their starting point guard, but he's probably best suited as the first guard off the bench as a change-of-pace player when people glimpse his full potential as a weapon on a great taem.

Talk about the Kings looking at Lillard or Robinson over at Sactown Royalty.

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49ers Offseason 2012: Brian Banks Completes 3-Day Workout, No Contract Offered

Brian Banks, the once highly-touted high school football prospect and wrongly-convicted felon who spent 10 years of his life behind bars and on probation has been finally getting back to game he loves. He's made the rounds in workouts with a number of NFL squads, including the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately for Banks though, not a single team has tendered him a contract, including the Niners.

Banks completed his three-day tryout with the team on Wednesday, and was certainly impressive considering his long time off from the game. Nevertheless, he is not in the type of physical condition to play in the NFL yet, and has been honest with himself about that, knowing that a deal may never come his way.

San Francisco has an open spot on the 90-man roster, but chose not to use it on Banks. Neither Jim Harbaugh nor Trent Baalke saw any of Banks' workouts this week.

Banks was exonerated of raping and kidnapping charges on May 24 after his alleged victim recanted her story, a story that took the 26 year-old Banks 10 years of his life to get out. Late is better than never.

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San Francisco 49ers Sign A.J. Jenkins To Four-Year, $6.9 Million Deal

The San Francisco 49ers have secured all their drafted rookies by locking up their first round draft pick A.J. Jenkins. Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reports that Jenkins, who was picked 30th overall out of the University of Illinois by San Francisco, agreed to a four-year, $6.947 million contract with the possibility of a $3.49 million signing bonus down the line.

Maiocco had this quote from head coach Jim Harbaugh on Jenkins.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said he has been impressed with Jenkins' attitude. When Jenkins first reported to the 49ers' offseason program, Harbaugh commented that Jenkins was not in the kind of physical condition that would be needed.

"He's very into it, very gung-ho," Harbaugh said. "Very fast, fast, fast. He's got excellent hands. He's got the ability to get in and out of cuts with his foot speed. And the turnover, he doesn't get stuck in routes. He doesn't get stuck at the top of the routes. He's able to get out of those cuts. And he's right on track. A.J. Jenkins is going to be just fine."

Jenkins had been working with the team this offseason, although he did have an injury waiver. He can now work toward trying to secure a starting spot, although with Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree ahead of him he might have some work to do to get onto the field at an early point.

Talk about Jenkins with 49ers fans by heading over to Niners Nation.

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San Francisco 49ers: Situational Football, Fundamentals and A New Beginning

We discuss the 49ers offense as they work on situational football this offseason. After not being able to perform on third down and in the red zone in 2011, San Francisco is working hard to rid those issues. For more on the 49ers, please head over to Niners Nation


49ers, Recently Exonerated LB Brian Banks To Meet For Three Days During Rookie Minicamp

After serving a 10-year sentence for a crime he did not commit, linebacker Brian Banks is receiving a tryout with the San Francisco 49ers.


49ers Offseason: Carlos Rogers' Calf Appears Healthy After Practice

If there is an area of the San Francisco 49ers roster that is a bit light on talent, it would be at the cornerback position. While the secondary was still solid in 2011, the team will not be able to withstand injuries to the unit if they hope to compete for a Super Bowl in the fall.

The 49ers had some good news come their way on Tuesday as cornerback Carlos Rogers went through practice and felt fine. Rogers' calf had been bothering him for months, but it appears he is finally healthy.

This can only mean good things for the Niners, especially with training camp right around the corner. This defense has a chance to be elite in 2012, but they'll need to stay healthy and on the field if they hope to do so. Rogers is a key member of the secondary and the team does not have a ton of depth at the cornerback spot, so you would have to think the training staff will take every precaution with him moving forward.

For more on Rogers and the 49ers be sure to check out Niners Nation.


49ers Offseason 2012: Perrish Cox Competing For CB Position

As the San Francisco 49ers continue with their OTA's, head coach Jim Harbaugh has a lot on his plate and even more things to think about. One of those thinking points is cornerback Perrish Cox, and how he brings more to the table than being just a solid special teams player.

Harbaugh spoke about Cox in his weekly press conference on Tuesday:

What do you see with CB Perrish Cox?

"That he can be a two-phase player. I think he'll contribute not only in the special teams, but he'll have a shot in our secondary. And it's a spot yet to be determined, in terms of where he'll contribute as the nickel corner. But he has the ability to do both of those, but that's been good. [CB] T [Tarell] Brown's having a real outstanding camp. I think our whole secondary is really performing very well. We've had a lot of passing work, a lot of throwing work has been the emphasis. [CB Chris] Culliver has really made strides. So has [CB Tramaine] Brock. Brock is really playing fast, really playing confident. And his speed is showing more this year than we noticed last year. [S] Donte Whitner, who you just talked to, has been very solid. Also [S] C.J. Spillman is making a real, real push and playing very well. So, secondary-wise and then some of those others I mentioned stand out right now."

With all of the offensive play-makers added to the team, much of the focus of intra-team competition has been on positions like wide receiver and running back. Cornerback is silently becoming one of the tighter races on this team with a number of solid options to utilize come the fall. Still, Cox is a year removed from the game do to injury, though Harbaugh doesn't seem him showing any signs of slowing down.

When we talked to Perrish Cox last week about his conditioning, even though he's been out for a year, he said he's kept himself in good shape. Did you see that too? Or did he have rust that he knocked off these last couple of months?

"Well, if he did, if he had rust or conditioning issues, it sure hasn't been noticed."

Add this to the list of intriguing positional battles on this 49ers team heading into the 2012-13 season.

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Dashon Goldson's Absence Beneficial For C.J. Spillman; 49ers Need Not Worry About Him Anyway

San Francisco 49ers safety Dashon Goldson is many things. He's a big hitter with a nose for the ball - a guy who looks to make the big play and gives it his all and doesn't get discouraged when he doesn't succeed. One thing Goldson is not ... is an idiot.

It's not worrying in the slightest that Goldson hasn't showed up to any of the organized team activities thus far. You shouldn't be even a little bit concerned about Goldson's shape or mentality. Maybe you don't like his style of play and you're just worried in general, but don't think for a second that he's the kind of player to come in unprepared.

This isn't like when Aubrayo Franklin had that monster season and was hit with the franchise tag. He came back at the end of camp and preseason looking like a bloated carcass. It took him roughly six games to even look like a starter anymore. By the halfway point of the season, he was back to form, but the damage was done.

Now, if Goldson were to come into the season like that, it would definitely hurt the 49ers a lot more than their nose tackle being pushed around. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman have the speed to make up for mistakes at the safety position, but it'd certainly get old fast. The good thing about all this is what we've already talked about: Goldson isn't that kind of person.

He'll play hard ball and we'll hear that he and the 49ers are about $1 million apart when it comes to contract talks, but when its all said and done, he'll be here. If you need some further consolation on the matter, take solace in the fact that C.J. Spillman is taking plenty of first-team snaps in Goldson's absence, and that certainly bodes well for him.

We previously talked about why Spillman will be the primary backup this season, so the reps do nothing but help at this point. Who knows - maybe Spillman will turn out to be pretty darn good and takes the starting job. You decide whether or not that's hyperbole.

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Dashon Goldson, San Francisco 49ers $1 Millon Apart

The San Francisco 49ers have one critical order of business to fix up before they can feel totally ready to look ahead to next season. The matter of Dashon Goldson and his contract.

Goldson is coming off his best year as an NFL pro, He understandably wants a raise because NFL careers can be very short. Unfortunately, that raise is a bit steep even for the 49ers to consider reasonable. Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area has this report.

Goldson is seeking a contract with an annual average of $8 million, a source told He is scheduled to earn $6.212 on a one-year franchise tender. The 49ers probably are not be willing to go more than $7 million per year, the source said.

The 49ers have until July 16 to sign Goldson to a long-term extension. After that date, teams can sign their franchise players only to one-year deals. They are prohibited from reaching a multi-year extension until after the final regular-season game.

While it'd be more easily resolved if the 49ers would just pay up, Goldson asking for this much is probably not the way San Francisco wants to go. San Francisco likes its backup plans in C.J. Spillman and Trenton Robinson, both of whom have been thriving in Goldson's absence.

"It's a great feeling to get out there with guys I looked up to even before I got an opportunity to play in the NFL," Robinson said. "To get that opportunity to get out there and show what I can do, it's great. Even when I'm not running with the vets, I get a lot of reps with the rookies. It's a great opportunity."


"The coaches saw the potential I have with what little I played," Spillman said. "For them to sit there and put a lot of confidence in me, that showed me when it's time to go, I got to make sure I'm ready to go."

While these developments are encouraging, San Francisco would probably prefer Goldson in the lineup. That doesn't seem to be happening anytime soon.

Neither side is budging yet. How much of a distraction could this be if this progresses into camp?

Talk about Goldson with 49ers fans over at Niners Nation.

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Can 49ers' C.J. Spillman Be An Actual Backup At Safety?

Many things came together for the San Francisco 49ers in 2011. The team made some excellent pickups in free agency - most notably Carlos Rogers at cornerback and Donte Whitner at strong safety. Neither player were "sexy" signings, but both ended up being instrumental to the success the team experiences in the regular season and the playoffs.

It was a murky situation over at free safety though, with Dashon Goldson seemingly close to signing a deal with the New England Patriots and the 49ers apparently ready to make Madieu Williams the starter in his absence. But Goldson's deal with New England fell through and he came back to San Francisco on a one-year deal.

He wasn't perfect by any means, and has drawn the ire of many a fan in San Francisco, but his big plays are something that many teams have and will continue to envy. He just makes things happen one way or another, and at some point, the 49ers made the decision to take the bad with the good.

Sure, he's yet to sign his franchise tender and hasn't joined the rest of the guys in organized team activities, but that's just because he wants some leverage in getting a multi-year down. He'll be with San Francisco in 2012 and he'll likely be just as solid in 2012. If Donte Whitner's change-of-scenery continues to spell good things for him, then the 49ers are set, right?

Perhaps not.

There's really nobody there behind Whitner and Goldson. Reggie Smith had been that go-between guy who was surprisingly solid when he saw the field and he was the backup, with the aforementioned Williams riding the roster as a veteran backup as well. San Francisco had two other safeties: Colin Jones and C.J. Spillman, but they were of the special teams variety.

Hell, the former only saw one play in 2011 that wasn't on special teams, and that was as a wide receiver on offense. The latter saw defensive snaps in goal line formations (and did very well there, mind you). In short, they weren't legitimate backup options, at least in 2011.

But now Williams has signed with the Washington Redskins and Smith is working with the Carolina Panthers, and the 49ers haven't done much but draft Trenton Robinson all the way back in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. So there's not a whole lot of confidence on that front.

Then we get a piece like this one from the 49ers' official website, in which it talks about Spillman getting a bigger role on defense. It talks about how Spillman was covering Randy Moss in practice, and how he broke on an our route to swat the ball down. That's not something we've really ever seen of Spillman, who was given a vote of confidence on special teams this offseason with a three-year contract.

That's really a rarity for the 49ers - the three-year contract for a special teamer. Sure, the organization values special teams (they had the best special teams units in 2011 ... argue otherwise), but they've let guys like Blake Costanzo walk so as not to award multi-year deals, despite the huge role they may have played.

Which leads this writer to believe that Spillman will get every opportunity to be a backup in 2011. San Francisco doesn't hand out those deals, and it may be bold to say, but they wouldn't have done it if they didn't think he had a future in the lineup on defense at least a few times a game. They just wouldn't have.

Spillman is a heavy hitter, and a great gunner. The man who was once cut from the San Diego Chargers because he couldn't perform on special teams has become one of the best in the league at what he does, and it's that bounce-back that could make him into a surprisingly solid and dependable safety. San Francisco better hope that their investment pays off, because after Spillman, there's not much.

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San Francisco 49ers Position Breakdown: Safety

Entering the 2012 season, we have been conducting position breakdowns of the 49ers roster at SB Nation Bay Area. In this update, we discuss the San Francisco's new and improved safety position. The 49ers have struggled to situate that position for some time, suffering through years of mediocrity but after last year's performance, it looks to be a thing of the past.

The starting safety tandem for the 49ers looks to be one of the best in the league. If they can produce again in 2012 and show they can be consistent, there is no telling what they can do.

Dashon Goldson, FS: The starting free safety for the 49ers was a Pro Bowler in 2011, looking to improve in his second year in Vic Fangio's defense. Unless something gets done, Goldson will be playing under the team's franchise tag in 2012 -- he still hasn't reported to OTA's. In 2011, Goldson tied teammate Carlos Rogers with a team-high 6 interceptions; Goldson even had a pick in the NFC Divisional Playoff game against Drew Brees.

Donte Whitner, SS: Whitner proved to be one of the gems from the Niners' free agent acquisitions last year. The safety joined the Niners after spending the first part of his career in the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills. Whitner is a tone-setter and punishing hitter from the strong safety position. He is dependable in pass coverage and even better in run support. Whitner has great instincts when playing the run, deceptively finding his way from the secondary to the line of scrimmage within seconds.

Goldson and Whitner both bring well-rounded, complete games to the table -- both equally as good against the pass as they are the run. They've also laid an intangible foundation for the coming years, in that they've established a strong physical presence. The league's receiver's are aware of the hard-hitting pair that lurks 20-yards away and will now think twice when going across the middle or challenging them deep.

But the truth is, either safety can come up and hit a receiver from anywhere on the field, and with a tremendous amount of force. They are as fast as cornerbacks and hit like linebackers.

The backups still on the 49ers roster as OTA's progress are Colin Jones, C.J. Spillman, Trenton Robinson, Mark LeGree and Michael Thomas. Jones and Spillman will be in their second year with the Niners and have been absolute studs on the San Francisco's special teams coverage unit. Meanwhile, Robinson (Michigan State), LeGree (Appalachian State) and Thomas (Stanford) are all rookies; Robinson being the only player the 49ers spent a draft pick on.

Goldson and Whitner will be the starters in 2012 but the position needs depth. While Jones and Spillman have already started paying their dues on special teams, Trenton Robinson could emerge as a talented late rounder. Thomas from Stanford University could also turn out to be a good player; being a smart athlete that had once played for coach Harbaugh. The battle in camp at the safety position will be for Goldson and Whitner's back ups, but it should be competitive nonetheless.


49ers Offseason 2012: Brandon Jacobs Training '10 Times Harder,' Ready For RB Competition

Competition is the name of the game for the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, with almost every single player having to battle for playing time for the upcoming season. One such position is running back, and one man trying to make the most of his new surroundings is former New York Giant Brandon Jacobs, who is working harder than ever.

The last time Jacobs won a super bowl (2007 not 2011), he balloned up to over 280 pounds and got complacent. Now his goal is to work his body to a sub-260-lb frame, the first time he's been that small since college.

"I'm training 10 times harder than I've ever trained," said Jacobs, listing himself at 266 to 267 pounds. "I'm trying to get my body back to where it used to be, get strength in my legs, because that was the weak point in me the last couple years."

With the likes of Frank Gore, who never likes to come off the field, solid second-year back Kendall Hunter and the addition of LaMichael James, Jacobs certainly has an uphill battle ahead of him for playing time. He still wants to lose more weight, using a low-carb diet and rigorous Niners conditioning program to get to where he wants to be.

An 1,000-yard rusher in both 2007 and 2008, Jacobs' production had fallen off significantly after rushing for 835 and 823 yards in 2009 and 2010 and only 571 yards last season, an average 3.8 yards per carry. Jacobs knows where his problem was and now is trying to fix it:

"My legs weren't as strong, my balance wasn't as good as it needed to be," Jacobs said. "I want to play down in the (2)50s for basically the first time in my career. I don't think it's far fetched."

One thing is certain, the blue-collar 49er mindset is contagious, and Branadon Jacobs has the fever.

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49ers Extend P Andy Lee Through 2018

The San Francisco 49ers have announced that they have signed Punter Andy Lee to a six-year contract extension through the 2018 season.

"The 49ers are pleased to have reached a long term contract extension with Andy," said General Manager Trent Baalke. "Andy has established himself as one of the top players in the game at his position. He is a valued member of our organization and community. As we stated earlier this year, it is our objective to keep the core of this team together long term, and this is just another step in that direction."

Lee is a three-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, Lee (6-2, 180) who has established himself as one of the NFL's best punters. In 2011, he set the NFL single-season record in net punting average (44.0), while his gross average (50.9) ranked third best in NFL history. Lee also set the 49ers single-game franchise records in both gross punting average (59.6) and net average (54.2) versus Seattle (9/11/11).

Lee has played in 128 games as a 49er, and holds the team records in all major punting categories: punts (723), yards (33,069), gross average (45.7), net average (38.9) and punts downed inside the 20-yard line (209).

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San Francisco 49ers Position Breakdown: Defensive Line

It's almost a shame that the majority of NFL fans cannot name the other two starting defensive linemen outside of Justin Smith. As far as 3-4 defenses go, and performing at a high level within your team's scheme, the 49ers have the best starting unit in the league - rivaled only by the New York Giants.

Justin Smith: Not just the league's best defensive lineman, but a top defensive player. Most people believe Smith should've won Defensive MVP of 2011, but it went to Terrell Suggs who plays a more glamorous position. Smith is the closer for the 49ers; he reigns terror on offensive lines and his performance ignites a ripple effect on the rest of the defense. This man's dominance was unparalleled in his season with San Francisco last season, and he will look to build on that in 2012.

Isaac Sopoaga: He is big enough to play the nose in the No. 1 defense's 3-4 scheme, while also being versatile and smart enough to play offense; catching, running and blocking. Sopoaga does not get a lot of press, but perhaps that's a good thing. He is one of the key components that allow all of the surrounding talent to fly around and make plays.

Ray McDonald: There were a number of games where McDonald was the defensive lineman stepping up. In his first year starting for San Francisco, McDonald had 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles at a position that isn't very stats-happy. He is powerful, consistent and a great complement to Justin Smith. McDonald, 27, will only get better as his best years appear to be ahead of him.

Other players to consider outside the starting three:

Ricky Jean-Francois

DeMarcus Dobbs

Ian Williams

Will Tukuafu

Tony Jerod-Eddie

Jean-Francois is the primary substitute behind the three starting defensive tackles. Dobbs, Williams, Tukuafu and Jerod-Eddie are young guys looking to secure a place for themselves on the team, with the hopes of being starters someday.

When San Francisco's defensive line takes the field in the nickel, their pass rushing down lineman include Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks coming off the edge - two players who would excel as 4-3 ends elsewhere. And a reason for the success for the speed rushers is due to Smith and Sopoaga clogging up the middle and absorbing double-teams.

It also must be noted that a relative part of the unit's success is because of their position coach Jim Tomsula. After seeing the results from the defensive line, it's clear that Tomsula is among the league's best position coaches. He gets elite level production out of unheralded players that were either acquired via free agency or in the late rounds of the NFL Draft.

From the perspective of a squad that doesn't take steps backwards, the defensive line could reach extreme levels of dominance in 2012. Sopoaga and McDonald are going to make improvements in their game as entrenched starters - Sopoaga now at nose tackle and McDonald at the left defensive tackle position.

And lucky for 49ers fans, Smith didn't win Defensive MVP or the Super Bowl in 2011, so if anything, that chip on his shoulder has grown larger. This is a position group that will unanimously be branded elite by all the league's followers in 2012.


49ers Roster Bubble Breakdown: WR Chris Owusu

So, we've had our early 53-man roster projection, but it's just that: early. There's plenty of variables, with the San Francisco 49ers at 90 players currently, all of whom wish for a spot come the end of training camp. It's true that the 49ers are a very complete team and that it's not going to be easy for any player to make his way onto the roster, but there are positions here and there with some free spots open for depth.

More than that, there's some positions, like running back, with multiple players who are worthy of making the roster. There are plenty of guys who project to do well, but the spots just aren't there. It's going to be an exciting training camp and an even more exciting preseason as the battles get underway.

We've got multiple players at different positions vying for the same spots on the roster, which is always fun to see. We're at the point where we star hearing about the roster bubble. That bubble that defines who is on standby when it comes to making the roster or not. That doesn't mean that every undrafted rookie that the 49ers signed will be "on the bubble." It's simply not realistic to think that everyone has a tangible chance.

Below, we'll take a look at one guy worth noting - and over the next few weeks, we'll take a look at everybody we can.

The Bubble (Outside Looking In)

WR Chris Owusu

Owusu comes to San Francisco as an undrafted free agent out of Stanford, where he played under 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. Owusu is regarded as someone with a wealth of potential, and might have been drafted high in the draft, if not for some injury issues. Owusu had multiple concussions in college, and is considered "concussion prone," though there is much doubt as to whether that term is medically sound.

In the jump to the next level, if there is something about him that makes him more susceptible to concussions, he'll be at an even greater risk. It's a faster, more violent game in the NFL, and that's the first hurdle Owusu has. If he shows the 49ers that his skill is enough to overcome that, then he could find himself on the roster. More than that, he could find himself active on gamedays.

He's on the roster bubble because the 49ers have a full group of receivers that includes first-round draftee A.J. Jenkins and free agent signees Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. His best shot to make the roster is the chance that the 49ers coaching staff believes Ted Ginn Jr. is just a return man and they want a true sixth wide receiver on the roster.


Jim Harbaugh Likes What He's Seeing In Alex Smith And Randy Moss

Jim Harbaugh sat down with Kevin Lynch on KNBR in San Francisco to talk about offseason workouts, what he's seeing from Alex Smith and how well the Randy Moss experience is going.

"Well you can see a lot now, there's no doubt about that. Then you want to see a lot when we're in pads, too. You can see the athletic movement and getting the technique and the fundamentals down right now."

The offseason is a lot about getting on the same page as a unit and making sure guys know where they are supposed to be and when. It's also a means of seeing who has come back in shape and ready to go.

"Also, the mental side of it. Really become an expert in the playbook. And there's a lot of things taking place in the weight room. Right now Alex Smith, he stands out as a guy. Vernon Davis stands out as a guy. Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss. There's so many that stand out..."

But Harbaugh is really liking what he's seeing in Smith.

"...Alex, for example: Just to watch him mature physically in front of our eyes, even though he's 28 years old. I think if you look at some of the pictures of him when first came into the league as a young, skinny 20-year-old, and watch him develop, maybe you call it a late bloomer physically. But he's really a man now, a real strong man. He works extremely hard at it."

Moss has come in and done what a lot of people didn't think he would do - impress both on and off the field.

"He's been great at every single aspect. ...It doesn't look like he's running fast but when you put the watch on him it's fast fast. ...He eats up so much ground with every step. ...And then in the classroom he sits in the front row, he soaks up the knowledge and always gives the feedback too, which he's more than capable of doing."


49ers Offseason 2012: Alex Smith Contract, By The Numbers

The NFL Network's Albert Breer is a smart guy, and he recently took a closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

Here Breer breaks it all down for us nice and simple:

Alex Smith's contract

· 2012: $5 million base salary (fully guaranteed); $3 million roster bonus; $1.25 million in likely-to-be-earned incentives; $1.75 million in unlikely incentives.

· 2013: $7.5 million base salary ($1 million guaranteed); $1 million roster bonus; $1.25 million in likely-to-be-earned incentives; $1.75 million in unlikely incentives.

2014: $7.5 million base salary; $1.25 million in likely-to-be-earned incentives; $1.75 million in unlikely incentives.

What it means: Smith was guaranteed $9 million upon signing ($10.5 million with injury guarantees), but this could well be a deal that runs a year and is worth only that much. The 2013 roster bonus is due in March, and if Smith is on the roster on April 1 of next year, his $7.5 million base salary will be guaranteed. If they cut him before the roster bonus comes due, they only owe him the $1 million guarantee. So, at least from a practical standpoint, the Niners will have to make a decision next March if Smith will be the starter for 2013.

So, basically the 49ers have a year to decide what they want to do with Alex Smith. He's got a full season to prove he's worth his salt, and that 2011 wasn't a fluke. I like his chances of having a good 2012 season. They have Colin Kaepernick as a backup plan and possible future QB, but he is still progressing as an NFL QB. So, it's Alex Smith for now.

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49ers Roster 2012: Early 53-Man Projection

Is it too early to start predicting the 53-man roster? Nonsense! The San Francisco 49ers are a very complete team, and spots on the roster are scarce - get 'em while their hot, and get these roster projections and analysis while you're at it. For more on the team, head on over to Niners Nation.


San Francisco 49ers Position Breakdown: Linebackers

Arguably the strength of the San Francisco 49ers is their ferocious 3-4 linebacking corps, and at the nucleus, two All-Pros. The Niners have the best defense in football, largely because of the outstanding front seven. Behind the defensive line, Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks and now Aldon Smith make up one of the best linebacking groups in the NFL.

The Niners have great linebacking but will be looking to add depth this offseason, as well as smoothly transitioning last year's rookie superstar Aldon Smith into a full-time starter. San Francisco also has a great backup inside linebacker returning in Larry Grant.

As a leader in most statistical defensive categories, the 49ers linebackers led the league's No. 1 run defense with a record-setting 2011 campaign; and they only look to get stingier in 2012.

There isn't a group in the league with better tackling technique and fundamentals than the San Francisco 49ers linebackers - these guys don't miss tackles. The 49ers added two new names through the draft for depth purposes: Notre Dame's Darius Fleming (5th round) and Virginia's Cam Johnson (7th round).

The current roster of linebackers reads:

Eric Bakhtiari
NaVorro Bowman
Ahmad Brooks
Kourtnei Brown
Darius Fleming
Tavares Gooden
Larry Grant
Parys Haralson
Joe Holland
Cam Johnson
Aldon Smith
Patrick Willis

Unfortunately on Tuesday, rookie Darius Fleming tore his ACL at San Francisco's workouts and will likely miss the upcoming season. Fleming was the higher of the two defensive picks but Johnson had a more accomplished NCAA career and was significantly higher on most boards.

The things to watch would be the battle between Aldon Smith and Parys Haralson at that right outside linebacker spot. Smith, a high first round pick in 2011, should be in line for the starting job after a breakthrough rookie season where he registered 14 sacks. The Niners staff will want this guy on the field a lot more considering his impact as a pass rusher.

Assuming Aldon Smith wins the job, it's going to be interesting to see if there is another situational pass rusher that arises in 2012. Smith was that guy, but when he is spelled and the situation calls for a pass rusher, it might be interesting to see if there is another breakout candidate. Given his potential and skill set, Cam Johnson is a likely player to fill that role.

The good news is that the starters are the best in the business; therefor anyone playing behind them will have to be that much better. The opportunity the second-team players have to learn from guys like Willis and Bowman is tremendous, so whoever takes advantage could be in line for some situational playing time in 2012.

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San Francisco 49ers LB Darius Fleming Tore ACL At Rookie Minicamp

Darius Fleming from Notre Dame was one of those under-the-radar players you'd consider picking midway through the 2012 NFL Draft. Fleming didn't stand out with his measureables and there were concerns he wouldn't have a position in the league, but there was definite talent if people recognized it.

Mike Mayock had this to say about Fleming in the lead-up to the Draft:

"Darius Fleming to me is underrated. He’s one of those tweener-sized guys — 247 pounds. Where do you play him? He’s more explosive than teams thought; he ran in the mid-4.5s. He caught the ball in the linebacker drills and he’ll be a core special teams player. He ran really well today. I think he’s a middle-round pick."

However, it looks like the San Francisco 49ers will have to wait awhile to see what Fleming can do on the football field.

Darius Fleming tore his anterior cruciate ligament during his first rookie minicamp practice on Friday, according to his agent Andy Simms. That puts his 2012 in serious jeopardy.

Fleming, a 6-foot-1, 245-pounder from Notre Dame suffered the injury in a non-contact drill, coming down on his knee awkwardly. He attempted to continue doing drills, but quickly realized his knee was giving out. He had an MRI, which confirmed the injury.

The 49ers don't have any glaring weaknesses in their defense, but they could afford some more depth from their outside linebackers to generate more pass rush off the edge and better pass coverage on short and intermediate routes. Losing Fleming isn't a huge blow, but it is a significant one.

Talk about Fleming with 49ers fans, head on over to Niners Nation.

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San Francisco 49ers, Dashon Goldson Still Not Seeing Each Other

The San Francisco 49ers would really like their free safety to rejoin them at their offseason workouts, but Dashon Goldson is taking his time in getting there. Goldson did not show at the voluntary workouts this past weekend in Santa Clara. Mindi Bach of CSN Bay Area files this report.

This is not the first time Goldson has had offseason issues with the 49ers. Goldson had a five-year, $25 million deal in place last season but it was not satisfactory to the defensive back. Goldson signed a one year deal and was franchised this season. It looks as if he's committed to getting the best deal possible and will not be with the team until he gets what he's looking for. It's very likely that until Goldson receives the deal he really wants, he will continue to miss workouts.

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49ers To Sign LB Eric Bakhtiari

When the opportunity arises, you have to pounce and it looks like linebacker Eric Bakhtiari has done just that.

According to reports, Bakhtiari is expected to get a contract offer from the San Francisco 49ers soon. You have to respect guys like Bakhtiari. He's bounced around the league for four years after signing with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He's signed with the Niners, Chargers (again), Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs since entering the league out of the University of San Diego. At USD is where he played for Jim Harbaugh.

With draft pick Darius Fleming and undrafted free agent Kourtnei Brown suffering hamstring injuries, Bakhtari has had a strong minicamp. This doesn't mean he'll make the 90-man roster when the season starts but at least he'll get the chance, and that's all an athlete can ask.

For more on the 49ers offseason, check out Niners Nation.


49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh Looking for "Creative Destruction" at Workouts

In the 2012 offseason, the 49ers added some much needed depth to their team. But 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is expecting a few diamonds in the rough to come out and cause a stir. For more on the 49ers, visit Niners Nation


49ers Offseason 2012: Niners Announce Attendees Of Rookie Minicamp

The San Francisco 49ers have announced their complete list of attendees of their offseason rookie minicamp this weekend at team headquarters in Santa Ana, CA, with a total of 46 players scheduled to be in attendance.

Amongst those 46 will be all of their draft picks this season, as well as a number of non-drafted signees and 12 non-roster invitees. Seven of those invitees were under Harbaugh's tutelage at one point at either Stanford or the University of San Diego, which will be good for the other rooks to have players on hand that understand Harbaugh and his way of doing things.

The offensive players will wear red jerseys during the minicamp, while the defensive and special teams players will wear white.

Full listing of players is below:





Tavecchio, Giorgio



Milan, Italy

Tyms, Brian


Florida A&M

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Jenkins, A.J.



Jacksonville, Fla.

James, LaMichael



Texarkana, Texas

Nelms, Cory



Neptune, N.J.

Robinson, Trenton


Michigan State

Bay City, Mich.

Hampton, Jewel


Southern Illinois

Indianapolis, Ind.

Mosley, Anthony



Cleveland, Ohio

LeGree, Mark


Appalachian State

Columbus, Ga.

Thomas, Michael



Houston, Texas

Purvis, Deante



Richmond, Calif.

Bell, Cameron


Northern Illinois

Columbia, S.C.

Nelson, Kyle


New Mexico State

Waco, Texas

Brown, Kourtnei



Charlotte, N.C.

Celek, Garrett


Michigan State

Cincinnati, Ohio

Johnson, Cam



Greenbelt, Md.

Holland, Joe



Indianapolis, Ind.

Wilhoite, Michael



Topeka, Kan.

Fleming, Darius


Notre Dame

Chicago, Ill.

Chisolm, Garrett


South Carolina

Charleston, S.C.

Beeler, Chase



Jenks, Okla.

Slowey, Jason


Western Oregon

Medford, Ore.

Jerod-Eddie, Tony


Texas A&M

DeSoto, Texas

Murphy, Kevin



San Clemente, Calif.

Netter, Al



Rohnert Park, Calif.

Looney, Joe


Wake Forest

Lake Worth, Fla.

Gonzales, David


Washington State

Fresno, Calif.

Butrym, Patrick



New Berlin, Wis.

Wiggins, Kenny


Fresno State

Elk Grove, Calif.

Hall, Derek



Overland Park, Kan.

Masifilo, Matt



Ewa Beach, Hawaii

Owusu, Chris



Westlake Village, Calif.

Reuland, Konrad



Mission Viejo, Calif.

Palmer, Nathan


Northern Illinois

Elkhart, Ind.

Non- Roster Invitees:

Fleming, Jeff


Sacramento State

Fullerton, Calif.

Pritchard, Tavita



Tacoma, Was.

Whitaker, Nate



San Diego, Calif.

Derricks, Gabe


San Diego

Oak Park, Calif.

Boudreaux, Chris



Las Vegas, Nev.

Hannula, Ben


San Diego

Tacoma, Was.

Nawrocki, Luke



Mineola, N.Y.

Bakhtiari, Eric


San Diego

San Mateo, Calif.

Ngatikaura, Manu


San Jose State

Kahuku, Hawaii

Snyder, Clint



San Diego, Calif.

Udofia, Ekom



Scottsdale, Ariz.

Iupati, Andrew


Humboldt State

American Samoa

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San Francisco 49ers Sign LaMichael James, Five Other Rookies

The San Francisco 49ers agreed to terms with six rookies on Thursday afternoon, including electric playmaker LaMichael James and big offensive lineman Joe Looney. We do not have the contract details on any of the deals as of right now, although SB Nation Bay Area recently took a look at what figures each of the rookies were expected to earn next season.

Adam Schefter confirmed the news over Twitter:

As for the players, James was selected in the second round, Looney went in round four and Fleming in the fifth. Robinson and Slowey were sixth round selections, while Johnson went in round No. 7.

This leaves rookie A.J. Jenkins as the only pick that is yet to sign. He is expected to earn a little more than $1.2M in base salary next year and the two sides are working towards a deal.

This can only be good news for the 49ers. There was never much doubt that these guys were going to sign, but you always worry about a player or two holding out for extra money. That does nothing more than just cause headaches for all parties involved.

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49ers Offseason 2012: Matt Maiocco Calculates Rookie Contracts

CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco has been flexing his mathematical muscle, combing over all of the San Francisco 49ers draft picks this season and calculating what their rookie contract will likely look like comparative to previous draftees in the league.

And despite all the offseason additions, Maiocco believes that there is no reason for worry when it comes to signing these rookies, as the new CBA has their failsafe procedures in place to avoid elongated hold outs:

With the collective bargaining agreement, which was signed last July, a contract stalemate, such as the one that kept Michael Crabtree out of the first five games of the 2009 season, should be a thing of the past.

Clubs and agents are given a specific set of parameters for every draft pick. The 49ers rookie compensation pool for this season is $4.026 million.

So using his personal data processing machine, known as a calculator to most laymen, Maiocco computes what he believes all the drafted rookies will be getting paid.

Below are all of Maiocco's calculations, along with a little explanation for each:

WR A.J. Jenkins, first round
First-year allotment: $1,263,187
First-year minimum allotment: $1,215,364
Jenkins can be expected to sign a four-year deal with an option for the fifth year that will pay him $6.9 million over the first four years with a signing bonus of more than $3.49 million.

RB LaMichael James, Second round
First-year allotment: $603,436
First-year minimum allotment: $598,533
James can be expected to sign a four-year, $3.3 million deal with a signing bonus of approximately $853,000.

OL Joe Looney, fourth round
First-year allotment: $496,301
First-year minimum allotment: $486,413
Looney is expected to have non-guaranteed base salaries of $390,000, $480,000, $570,000 and $660,000 on his four-year deal with a signing bonus of approximately $425,000.

LB Darius Fleming, fifth round
First-year allotment: $431,200
First-year minimum allotment: $426,075
Fleming is expected to have non-guaranteed base salaries of $390,000, $480,000, $570,000 and $660,000 on his four-year deal with a signing bonus of approximately $164,000.

DB Trenton Robinson, sixth round
First-year allotment: $417,625
First-year minimum allotment: $412,058
Robinson is expected to have non-guaranteed base salaries of $390,000, $480,000, $570,000 and $660,000 on his four-year deal with a signing bonus of approximately $110,500.

OL Jason Slowey, sixth round
First-year allotment: $413,128
First-year minimum allotment: $408,058
Slowey is expected to have non-guaranteed base salaries of $390,000, $480,000, $570,000 and $660,000 on his four-year deal with a signing bonus of approximately $92,500.

LB Cam Johnson, seventh round
First-year allotment: $401,787
First-year minimum allotment: $397,474
Looney is expected to have non-guaranteed base salaries of $390,000, $480,000, $570,000 and $660,000 on his four-year deal with a signing bonus of approximately $47,000.

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San Francisco 49ers Position Battles: Wide Receivers

In 2012, the San Francisco 49ers look to have a very competitive group at wide receiver. In this piece, we breakdown the receivers and possible training camp battles to take place. For more on the 49ers, visit Niners Nation


San Francisco 49ers Position Battle Breakdown: Running Back

If there's anything the San Francisco 49ers have a surplus of this coming season, it's running backs. With the drafting of Oregon feature back LaMichael James in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the 49ers officially "loaded up" on guys who can run the ball. There was already talk about players being on the 53-man roster bubble before he was drafted.

Now it looks like the 49ers have seven running backs worthy of making the final roster. They've got multiple potential feature backs, a couple short-yardage guys, some outside runners and some inside runners, not to mention the fullback. We'll start by listing all of the guys currently in contention at halfback, shall we?

Frank Gore
Kendall Hunter
Brandon Jacobs
LaMichael James
(Second-round pick)
Anthony Dixon
Jewel Hampton

Now, how about the fullback position? We'll expand a little bit and list the guys who are hoping to make a contribution in a backup role, as well.

Bruce Miller
Rock Cartwright
Nate Byham
Cameron Bell

First, we'll talk about the running backs. Frank Gore is the unquestioned starter and will get the bulk of the carries in his eigth season with the team. He's coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,211 yards and had eight touchdowns - the fifth time he's rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season. Gore might be slowing down due to all of the workload (with carry totals of 282, 312, 260, 240, 229, 203 and 127 in his seven seasons), and it's time the 49ers start looking to future successors.

More than that, it's time they look for guys to take some carries. They definitely have that at this point, and the most notable battle will be which running back takes the most carries. This likely means we'll be looking at a fierce competition between last season's fourth-round pick, Kendall Hunter and this year's second-round pick, LaMichael James.

They're not carbon copy players, but they both possess some great speed and quickness. Hunter is smaller, but he's got insanely thick thighs and has insane burst through the hole. Most just immediately assume that Hunter is an outside guy due to his speed and quickness, but his small size also makes him an excellent to disappear into a pile of guys and come bolting out the other side.

It's a pretty heavy debate even among 49ers fans where Hunter stands. Is he a change-of-pace guy or is he the successor to Gore? He'll be competing with James, who is also no slouch at inside running, but is quicker and seemingly more explosive. At the very least, one can assume that one of these two will be the successor to Gore, and they'll work that out during the season.

Initially, Hunter will have the leg-up, but Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke drafted James because they want competition everywhere. They sent a message by grabbing a fantastic play-making running back and now he'll get his chances to make plays. But will it be at the expense of anyone? That leads up to Brandon Jacobs and Anthony Dixon.

The latter is a player who the 49ers like, and actually gave him some crucial carries in 2011. Unfortunately, he didn't do much with them, and doesn't amount to much more than a special teams player. He's hard to bring down, but he's not hard to catch, which means he'll go down under a couple guys after only a few years, and hasn't yet gotten over his tendency to dance.

Jacobs, on the other hand, is seemingly a guy who will only be in on short-yardage and doesn't have much special teams upside. These two players do entirely different things, but will be battling for the same spot on the roster, which is just fascinating. Maybe Jacobs will light a fire up under Dixon and "Boobie" has a resurgence. Or maybe it's Jacobs that will have the resurgence. Who knows at this point?

The wild card here is Jewel Hampton, an undrafted free agent, who is described as a bowling ball with legs. No seriously, check out Niners Nation for that. The 49ers will put their best guys on the roster, and if Hampton can provide some nitty gritty short-yardage production, then he'll get in over Dixon and Jacobs. It's just that simple, but it's all up to him and that's an uphill battle.

So we then get to the fullback position - the 49ers have Bruce Miller, and he's the starter going forward. It's all relatively simple. There's no danger there, and though Rock Cartwright already had his job secured by being a leader on special teams, his ability to be a backup fullback. The one wild card is Cameron Bell, who the team might try to place on the practice squad if they're wanting another fullback. Byham is listed because he enjoys doing that kind of thing, but the 49ers are going to cry and create a weapon out of him in the passing game.


San Francisco 49ers Position Battle Breakdown: Quarterback

With the wrap-up of the 2012 NFL Draft, most teams in the league have their rosters more or less set heading into training camp. That is to say, there's going to be battles and things of that nature to finalize the final 53-man roster, but for the most part, teams have wrapped up their signings and are good to go for training camp.

As noted, the 53-man roster will be the biggest point of focus going forward. Rosters are at 90 players right now, but they'll be trimmed down to 80, and then a couple more cuts later, we'll be at 53 players. There's going to be some very interesting position battles for the final 53, and then some more heated battles to see who is going to be inactive on gameday.

So we'll take a look at each position over the coming weeks, and for now, we'll start with quarterback. The San Francisco 49ers will almost assuredly carry three quarterbacks on their roster and one on their practice squad. Alex Smith is the unquestioned starter of course, but the interesting battle will be at backup. First, let's look at who is in the mix.

Alex Smith
Colin Kaepernick
Josh Johnson
Scott Tolzien

Smith is, again, the starter and only screwing up and leading the 49ers on a colossal losing streak will lose him that job at this point. 2011 was a fantastic year for Smith, and he'll be looking to build on that in 2012. Most are of the opinion that, if Smith can maintain his impressive turnover margins, he'll have a great year.

The starting quarterback job was actually in flux this offseason as the 49ers pursued Peyton Manning and Smith went unsigned and was courted by the Miami Dolphins. There was a sizable vocal group that would have been fine with Smith going even if the team couldn't land Manning, with Kaepernick taking over. That definitely would have been ... interesting, at this point.

As it stands, the main battle to watch will be Kaepernick vs. Johnson for the gameday active role - or rather, the primary backup role. Kaepernick is the QB the 49ers are invested in for the future - the team traded up to draft him in 2011. Some thought he might be starting by now, but Smith had a great year, so he's the backup. Or he was the backup, now it's not guaranteed with the signing of Johnson.

Johnson has history with Harbaugh, as the quarterback at San Diego State and is still very young with solid potential. Some feel that he got a little screwed in Tampa Bay when he "lost" a starting "battle" to Josh Freeman, the team's No. 1 draft pick. His signing came after the Smith signing, and caught many off guard, but in reality, it just promotes what this team has been doing all along.

It's all about competition. Harbaugh wants competition on this roster. That's why he (and Trent Baalke) drafted wide receiver A.J. Jenkins in the first round despite having signed Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, and why they drafted running back LaMichael James, despite having Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs and Anthony Dixon at the position.

Kaepernick and Johnson will throw down in training camp and preseason, but the scales do seemed to be tipped in Kaepernick's favors at this point. After all, he's the guy the team has invested in. Don't rule out Tolzien, who the team will try awfully hard to stash away on the practice squad. He competed very well with the San Diego Chargers in the preseason last year, and could be on some teams' radars as a guy worth developing, but he stands little chance of making the 53-man roster unless the 49ers like his contract better than, say, Johnson's.


49ers Offseason 2012: Rookies Reveal Jersey Numbers

With the San Francisco 49ers nabbing a solid collection of talent in the 2012 NFL Draft, there was a much larger task at hand once these youngsters joined the team. No, I don't mean trying to make the squad or get some starters minutes, I mean picking out their jersey numbers!

Per CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco:

Here's a better look at the numbers:

  • WR A.J. Jenkins- No. 17
  • RB LaMichael James- No. 23
  • G Joe Looney- No. 66
  • LB Darius Fleming- No. 58
  • S Trenton Robinson- No. 30
  • C Jason Slowey- No. 62
  • DE Cam Johnson- No. 50

Now go buy a jersey already!

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NFL Power Rankings: 49ers Sitting Pretty At No. 6

The San Francisco 49ers had a giant turnaround last season, but want to take it to the next level in 2012, winning themselves a sixth Super Bowl. And after the offseason they've had so far it's looking like they'll have a legitimate shot at making it.

SB Nation released their latest NFL power rankings, and the 49ers are right in the thick of things at No. 6 on the list.

Here is Joel Thorman with the commentary:

6. San Francisco 49ers (13-3, LW: 6): The 49ers biggest issue was the vertical passing game and they added Randy Moss and A.J. Jenkins in the offseason. Barring any injuries, this team will be very good again

They also added Mario Manningham, picked up former Stanford Cardinal Chris Owusu and Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn certainly aren't slouches either. I think this wide receiver battle will be one of the toughest in all of football this offseason with all that talent hanging around.

Coming off their 2011 season Jim Harbaugh will certainly be setting the standards high for his 49ers.

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49ers Wide Receiver Position Battle Should Be A Fun One

Aside from the battle at running back, the wide receiver position will likely be the most active for the San Francisco 49ers during training camp and preseason. The battle will probably carry into the regular season as well, as several viable candidates will be vying for supremacy.

Round one draftee A.J. Jenkins will be expected to contribute immediately, but only if he's able to win his battles. He's going to be up against guys like Kyle Williams and tight end Delanie Walker when it comes to playing time. What's going to be interesting is really seeing where Williams fits in all of this.

49ers fans are quick to assume that Williams does not factor into the team's plans after he royally screwed things up in the NFC Championship game, but they're quick to forget that he was considered someone with an awful lot of potential at the wide receiver position prior to that. And he still is.

But here's what Matt Maiocco has to say about Jenkins and playing time:

Jenkins will be given an opportunity to win playing time as a rookie. After all, Harbaugh is a big fan of a player who was widely viewed as a surprise first-round selection.

Jenkins has the advantage of being able to play each of the team's receiver positions. He has the combination of quickness and speed to excel in the slot position. However, he needs to work on his upper-body strength to enable him to break free from press coverage.

It should be interesting to see just how the full battle will go - with Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Jenkins, Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams, Brett Swain, Joe Hastings, John Matthews, Chris Owusu, Nathan Palmer and Brian Tyms. That's a lot of guys vying for the roster in whatever way they possibly can. You can check out the full piece from Maiocco to get his take.


2012 NFL Draft Results: A Look At Where All 49ers Draftees Fit In San Francisco's Roster

We take a quick look at the San Francisco 49ers' 2012 NFL Draft haul and project what they're likely to do and who's in danger of losing their job because of 'em. For more on their picks, check out our stream from the draft, and head on over to Niners Nation to take part in the discussion.

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