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MT: 49ers Depth Chart Preview

Posted by Taylor Price on June 18, 2013 – 11:38 AM

The 49ers won’t reveal an official depth chart until preseason games begin in August, but Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee gave a preview of what San Francisco’s depth could look like when training camp begins.

Barrows placed fourth-year wideout Kyle Williams ahead of last year’s first-round pick A.J. Jenkins to start opposite of Anquan Boldin.

The wide receiver positions will certainly be evaluated closely all through camp. But for now, the speculation game will continue.

More 49ers headlines can be found in today’s Morning Tailgate.

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MT: Minicamp Day 3 Recap

Posted by Taylor Price on June 14, 2013 – 10:39 AM

An aerial display concluded the final day of 49ers minicamp. Colin Kaepernick completed his final five passes of camp and A.J. Jenkins turned in another standout reception.

The 49ers will return in late July for training camp. The minicamp previewed the upcoming competitions for 53 coveted spots on San Francisco’s roster.

Today’s Morning Tailgate recaps the final camp session and the standout performances.

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MT: Minicamp Day 1 Recap

Posted by Taylor Price on June 12, 2013 – 10:46 AM

The 49ers opened up veteran minicamp with C.J. Spillman taking first-team reps on defense alongside Pro Bowl safety Donte Whitner.

Second-year wideout A.J. Jenkins turned in the best offensive play of the day, snagging a high pass during a team period from second-team quarterback Colt McCoy.

Jenkins continues to improve this offseason and is looking to make a case to start Week 1 along with veteran Anquan Boldin.

More 49ers headlines and minicamp reviews can be found in today’s Morning Tailgate.

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MT: Nnamdi Asomugha at OTAs

Posted by Taylor Price on May 28, 2013 – 10:19 AM

He’s the fifth-most experienced player on the 49ers roster, but Nnamdi Asomugha is a rookie of sorts this offseason.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound cornerback has been learning San Francisco’s defense this offseason during Organized Team Activities and will continue his studying with another three-day OTA session at team headquarters. Even if Asomugha is entering his 11th season in the NFL, there’s still plenty of defensive nuances to master at this time of the year.

The veteran cornerback signed a one-year contract with the 49ers this offseason to compete for a coveted position in San Francisco’s defensive backfield and has been an active participant in the team’s offseason program. So far, Asomugha has stood out at practice.

The tallest cornerback on the roster was examined closely by Kevin Lynch of SFGate.com.

“In the first organized team activity practice open to the media, Asomugha was a 49ers’ starting cornerback in team drills,” Lynch wrote. “He was substituting for starter Tarell Brown, who was not in attendance during the voluntary practice.”

Lynch noted that Asomugha wasn’t afraid to use his physical tools to his advantage.

“Asomugha often latched on quickly to the receivers he was covering and he muscled them. However, he had difficulty sustaining coverage on longer plays, which isn’t surprising at age 31.”

Asomugha’s coverage skills will continue to be analyzed with Tuesday’s OTA session being opened to the media.

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MT: Replacing Michael Crabtree

Posted by Taylor Price on May 24, 2013 – 10:45 AM

It won’t be a one man job.

To replace Michael Crabtree’s production on the San Francisco 49ers (85 catches, 1,105 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2012) it’s going to take a collective effort from the team, the team, the team.

Jim Harbaugh is eager to see which young wide receiver will emerge to fill Crabtree’s shoes as San Francisco’s starting wideout opposite of Anquan Boldin. So far, the young wideouts have been letting their work on the practice field make their case. Players like A.J. Jenkins and Ricardo Lockette are intriguing prospects to line up with Boldin. Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams are also close to returning from late-season injuries.

It should also be noted that the 49ers can still continue their power-running approach in 2013. They also have the unique running threat of Colin Kaepernick. In the backfield, Kendall Hunter is working his way back from a season-ending injury. Plus, Frank Gore is Frank Gore.

Receivers are key in any offense, but the 49ers have shown the ability to be creative in personnel groupings. Not to be forgotten, Vernon Davis, one of the game’s most dangerous tight ends, still figures to be heavily involved in the passing game.

More on the team’s options to fill in for Crabtree can be found in today’s Morning Tailgate.

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MT: Harbaugh to Drive Pace Car at Indy 500

Posted by Taylor Price on May 22, 2013 – 11:22 AM

Jim Harbaugh will drive the pace car on Sunday at the 97th installment of the  Indianapolis 500.

The 49ers coach, who is a racing fan and has a principle role with Panther Racing, said it will be a “tremendous thrill” according to a news release sent out by track officials.

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Morning Tailgate: Competitive Secondary

Posted by Taylor Price on May 16, 2013 – 10:41 AM

Out of all the upcoming competitions set to take place on the 49ers defense, secondary roles will be most coveted. Cornerback and safety spots will feature the most spirited battles.

That’s the opinion of 49ers beat writer Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.

San Francisco’s front-seven appears to be set, other than the starting spot at nose tackle. Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey are two of the top contenders to fill Isaac Sopoaga’s role as the anchor of the 3-4 defensive alignment.

On the back end of the defense, cornerback and safety will be the position battles to watch. Eric Reid, Craig Dahl and Trenton Robinson are some of the players who will have the opportunity to start at free safety opposite of Pro Bowl safety Donte Whitner. At cornerback, Nnamdi Asomugha’s arrival in San Francisco signaled an interesting competition for defensive back roles in the team’s base and nickel personnel groups.

The upcoming competitions will be intriguing all offseason and should only intensify when Organized Team Activities take place starting next week.

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MT: 2013 NFL Draft Preview

Posted by Taylor Price on April 25, 2013 – 10:21 AM

Finally.

The wait is over. The draft board is finalized. The prospects are eager. The fan base is ready. The draft bash is all set.

The 2013 NFL Draft begins tonight and it couldn’t have come any sooner. We broke down prospects and spoke with analysts about the endless possibilities, but that was all build up to the inevitable conclusion. The three-day draft gets underway tonight at 5 p.m. PT and the future of the San Francisco 49ers will come into greater focus when the team makes its first selection.

Will it be at No. 31, or will San Francisco move up to select a player they’ve been coveting all along? The outcome will be known shortly.

In Trent Baalke’s three drafts leading the team’s draft-day decisions, the 49ers general manager has traded nine times. In 2010, Baalke’s first year as Vice President of Player Personnel, Baalke moved up to select tackle Anthony Davis, a player who recently signed a five-year contract extension through 2019. Baalke also traded back in 2010 to select, two-time All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman, another player who has been extended until the 2018 season.

It’s worth noting that Baalke has never traded out of the first-round in three years. In 2011, he moved up in the second-round to select quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

With 13 selections heading into draft day, the possibilities for Baalke and his personnel staff are endless.

It’s safe to say the world will be watching. NFL Draft prognostications are endless, but they’ll stop very soon. We’ve compiled the top mock drafts for your consideration in today’s Morning Tailgate.

Share your draft opinions on social with #Draft49 and if you’re having a draft party or attending our event in San Jose tonight, use #49ersDraftBash to showcase your experience.

Thanks everyone for checking out our blog and enjoy the draft. 49ers.com/Draft will have you covered all weekend long.

Now, on to the links…

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Draft Chat with Mel Kiper Jr.

Posted by Taylor Price on April 11, 2013 – 12:56 PM

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. discussed his predictions for the 2013 NFL Draft in a Wednesday conference call.

The long-time draft analyst mentioned several players profiled in 49ers.com’s “49 in 49” draft series as potential first-round targets for San Francisco.

The first name mentioned from Kiper was a standout Pac-12 defensive lineman.

Datone Jones, a defensive end from UCLA, that would be a little bit of a curve ball,” Kiper explained. “He’s a had a great Senior Bowl week.  He had a heck of a year for Jim Mora.  He’s ideally suited for what they do.”

Kiper continued on his possible first-round targets for San Francisco by highlighting a player 49ers.com featured on Wednesday.

“As a safety, Jonathan Cyprien from Florida International, good football player,” Kiper said. “He’d be a great pick at 34 or 31.  Matt Elam, a safety at Florida, would be in that mix as well.”

The final possibility Kiper discussed was a player the 49ers coaches have worked with that also fits a position of need with the departure of tight end Delanie Walker.

“At tight end,” Kiper began, “do they look at Zach Ertz from Stanford?  Do they wait until late second round and look at either Ertz, if he’s still there, or Gavin Escobar from San Diego State or Dion Sims from Michigan State?”

Kiper summed up his thoughts on what the 49ers should do with their first two picks, No. 31 and No. 34 overall.

“I would think at defensive end, safety, and tight end, if you can get those three positions filled with those picks at 31, 34 and 61, it would be a nice draft for Trent Baalke and company.  And hope that A.J. Jenkins can come back year two and give you something at wide receiver.”

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Morning Tailgate: Smith Undergoes Surgery

Posted by Taylor Price on February 22, 2013 – 6:50 AM

INDIANAPOLIS – All the attention this week at the NFL Scouting Combine is on the incoming prospects and the domino effect they’ll have on pending free agents. It’s deservedly so.

But one non-prospect related item from Thursday’s opening media session should not go unnoticed.

General Manager Trent Baalke revealed positive news on 49ers four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Justin Smith. After the Super Bowl, San Francisco’s defensive co-captain underwent successful surgery on a partially torn left triceps tendon.

The comments, shared with CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco, indicate Smith will have a brief rehab and will be ready for training camp.

Smith missed the final two regular season games from the triceps injury, but returned for all three postseason games. Mock drafts around the country have the 49ers taking a defensive lineman to lighten the workload on Smith’s plate, but all that will play itself out in the coming months.

For now, let’s enjoy the combine process and get to know the top talent headed to the NFL Draft. Also, Jim Harbaugh will speak with reporters at 11:30 am P.T. make sure you watch it live on 49ers.com.

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