49ers' Edwards, Crabtree WR combo on hold


49ers' Edwards, Crabtree WR combo on hold

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
Wide receivers Braylon Edwards and Michael Crabtree have not stepped into a huddle together as 49ers teammates. And it might not happen for another month.But when it does occur, Edwards said the offense will feature two similar offensive threats.RELATED: Camp report (810) -- Edwards, Smith building rapport
"Crab is real smooth," Edwards said. "He has great hands. He always catches the ball away from his body. He's smooth in and out of routes. He's very smart. He's very similar to me, but I'm a little taller."

The 49ers' receiver positions are in a state of flux as the club prepares to open the exhibition season Friday at the New Orleans Saints. The team expects Crabtree to be cleared to practice within the next two weeks after he was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list at the beginning of training camp with a left foot injury.Crabtree is not expected to play in any exhibition games, but the club anticipates he will be available for the regular-season opener, Sept. 11, against the Seattle Seahawks.However, the 49ers are not so certain about Edwards. He faces a possible NFL suspension stemming from his recent guilty plea to a DWI arrest in September.While they have not been practicing together, Edwards and Crabtree have spent a lot of time around each other during the past week after Edwards signed a one-year, 1 million contract."Crab has been around," Edwards said. "He's very smart. He's been in our meetings. He's very attentive. He knows all the plays, and knows what he, as well as all the other receivers, are supposed to be doing on those plays."He comes to practice and watches. We go over some things when I'm not in -- kind of, what I'm thinking, what he's thinking. I feel like we could have a real good rapport and be a real good receiving corps once he comes back."Edwards (6-foot-3) caught 53 passes for 904 yards and seven touchdowns last season with the New York Jets. Crabtree (6-1) had 55 receptions for 741 yards and six touchdowns for the 49ers.Edwards has not missed a practice since coming to the team, but he is not 100 percent, either. He said he is adjusting to the rigors of the three-hour padded practices during Jim Harbaugh's first camp as 49ers coach."I'm not injured in any way, shape, fashion or form," Edwards said. "My legs are tight, going through the football drills we go through day-to-day. There's no shape like training camp. Nothing is physically wrong. It's just my legs are trying to get back to where they were."Edwards might not be recognized among the game's fastest players, but his legs have carried him to a career average of 15.8 yards per catch. Last season, he averaged 17.1 yards a catch with the Jets.In 2009, he was traded from Cleveland to the New York Jets in the middle of the season and had a difficult time adjusting. He experienced the lowest 16-game production of his career with a combined 45 receptions in four games with the Browns and 12 with the Jets.He said he is working hard to make the transition to the 49ers appear easier."The term they use now days, 'Swag.' When you don't know what you're doing, you don't have any swag," Edwards said. "You're out there trying to figure out what's going on. You might be right, but you're still questioning it. It's not until you know it and learn it, study it and master it, then you can play within it. You can start doing your own deviations of what the play is. That's what I'm trying to get to. I think these four games will help myself, as well as our receiving corps and our quarterbacks, get to that point."Edwards said he is spending extra time with quarterback Alex Smith -- on and off the field -- during camp to build their rapport. Edwards knows exactly where he can find Smith."Alex is always here," Edwards said. "He's always about football. He's always open to any extra work, so that makes it easier. Alex lives in this building, which is cool. I'll be here as much as I can. I can't say I'm going to live here, but I'll try to be with him as much as I can. His personality is very open. Very calm, down to earth. Working with him is going to be easier than it would be with somebody else."I've known Alex for a little while, so it's made it easier than it might be if I didn't know him. We're doing as much as we can. We're trying to get this thing rolling so we don't have excuses going into the Seattle game or Dallas, Cincinnati or Eagles game. We don't want that to be a factor. We want to roll as if we've played together before."

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

The 49ers have graduated back to the phase of the offseason when offense-vs.-defense drills are allowed.

Because of the hiring of Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers were allowed an additional “voluntary” minicamp before the NFL draft. That meant the 49ers were permitted to skip from the two-week conditioning phase of the offseason straight to what is allowed under Phase III.

But after the three-day minicamp in late-April, the 49ers were forced to retreat back to Phase II, when on-field drills but could not include offense vs. defense.

Beginning Monday – and over the next three weeks -- the 49ers can get back to conducting the standard one-on-one, 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 "non-contact" drills. The 49ers have the maximum number of 10 organized team activities scheduled. The official offseason program concludes with a mandatory minicamp scheduled for June 13-15.

The real competition does not begin until the pads go on during training camp. but here’s a look at the team’s most notable offseason competitions (one position you will not find is quarterback, where the depth chart of Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley and C.J. Beathard appears clearly set):

Running back: Carlos Hyde, entering the final year of his original four-year contract, has a lot of competition to hold onto his role as the featured back. He is coming off his most-productive season, finishing just 12 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark when he sustained a knee injury with one game remaining. Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner lobbied for Utah running back Joe Williams in the draft. They clearly see a fit for him within the system.

Pass-rush end: The 49ers’ pass rush was among the worst in the NFL the past two seasons. Arik Armstead will be given an opportunity to see if he can adapt to the “Leo” position. Aaron Lynch must earn the confidence of the coaching staff and front office. The 49ers added explosive, 243-pound pass Pita Taumoepenu in the sixth round.

Tight end: The 49ers confirmed Vance McDonald was available for a trade during the draft. After finding no takers, the 49ers brought back McDonald and he rejoins the competition among rookies George Kittle and Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

Cornerback: Rashard Robinson is the obvious choice to start on one side. And assuming Jimmie Ward remains at free safety, the 49ers have no other player on the roster who has started a significant number of games at cornerback. Rookie Ahkello Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, will have a legitimate opportunity to win a starting job, as long as he displays a willingness to stick his nose into the action and play with the requisite level of physicality. Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser and Will Redmond should also be in the mix to replace Tramaine Brock, who was released shortly after his arrest after an alleged domestic incident last month.

Center: Jeremy Zuttah, a Pro Bowl performer, was added in the offseason via a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Daniel Kilgore has been the 49ers’ center the past three seasons but injuries have limited him to just 23 starts over that period of time. Zuttah has position flexibility. The 49ers could determine the best thing for the offensive line is to move Zuttah to one of the guard positions – to challenge Zane Beadles or Joshua Garnett -- if he is not clearly better than Kilgore.

Weakside linebacker: The 49ers signed veteran Malcolm Smith on the first day of free agency, providing him with $11.5 million of fully guaranteed money. The 49ers ranked Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster as the No. 3 overall prospect in the draft. They traded up to select him at No. 31 overall. Assuming Foster is ready to compete at the beginning of training camp after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, it appears likely he would line up in that position and compete with Smith. The 49ers’ medical staff does not believe Foster will require any additional surgery, and Foster said he expects to be cleared for the opening of camp.

Barkley continues work with personal coach of Brady, Ryan

Barkley continues work with personal coach of Brady, Ryan

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan spent last offseason working with Tom House and Adam Dedeaux on his throwing mechanics.

Ryan went on to set career-bests in completion percentage (69.9), yards passing (4,944), touchdowns (38), interceptions (7) and passer rating (117.1).

New 49ers quarterback Matt Barkley worked with House and Dedeaux for the fourth offseason in Southern California before reporting to Santa Clara for the team’s offseason program.

“Kyle (Shanhan) is on board with what House and those guys are doing – I think, really, because of the year Matt Ryan had,” Barkley said on “The 49ers Insider Podcast” on NBC Sports Bay Area.

“He’s a believer in that. He saw the benefits of what Matt did with some of his drops and the timing on routes, how he changed his feet on some things. So we’re kind of sticking with that plan. Everyone is a little different, but for the most part we’re all on the same page when it comes to what our drops are looking like, our footwork and how the ball is coming out.”

House is a former major league pitcher and pitching coach who founded the 3DQB training facility in Los Angeles. Dedeaux pitched at USC and is the grandson of USC baseball coaching legend Rod Dedeaux. Former NFL quarterback John Beck is a motion mechanics instructor.

Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Alex Smith and Carson Palmer are among the NFL quarterbacks who have worked with 3DQB.

“I believe in those guys and what they’re doing,” Barkley said. “They’re at the top of their game, working with Brady and a bunch of other guys. They’ve helped me.

“He won’t change your throwing motion or really tweak how the ball comes out, but he’s going to try to maximize velocity and ground force production and torque -- a lot of sports science terms. But, really, just maximizing efficiency with your motion and making sure you’re sequencing is right.”

Barkley had never played for Shanahan before signing a two-year contract with the 49ers on the first day of free agency. But there are two obvious connections. Barkley’s offensive coordinator last season with the Chicago Bears was Dowell Loggains, Shanahan’s quarterbacks coach in 2014 when Shanahan was the Cleveland Browns’ offensive coordinator. The other connection is House.

"It’s kind of funny, he worked with Atlanta’s staff all of last year, helped Matt Ryan, kind of build his base from the ground up and helped him a lot and he had an MVP year," Barkley said of House.

"There may have been talks down the pipeline, who knows. I don’t think that was the deciding factor by any means, but it never hurts.”