49ers focused on sustained success

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49ers focused on sustained success

If the early portion of this NFL offseason has proven anything to 49ers fans, it's that the organization is in it for the long haul.General manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh do not view the 2012 season as the team's one chance to win a Super Bowl.That's why the 49ers signed veteran receiver Randy Moss to a contract that, essentially, is a six-month tryout before the start of the regular season. If the 49ers decide any time between now and the final cuts that Moss does not fit with the team, they can move on without ever paying him a penny.
And it also explains the reasonable contracts to retain cornerback Carlos Rogers and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, as well as why the 49ers allowed Joshua Morgan to sign with the Washington Redskins and why they didn't pay big money to lure a receiver through the first three days of free agency.After all, Laurent Robinson secured a reported five-year, 32.5 million deal with 13.6 million guaranteed from the Jacksonville Jaguars, who will be his fourth NFL team in six seasons. That's the kind of market that the 49ers refused to enter when teams eagerly paid big money to fill holes.
"I think it's going to be: Who fits us? What are we looking for? What do we need?" CEO Jed York said this week of the 49ers' approach to free agency. "I have full confidence in Jim and Trent to go out and get that done."We want to build through the draft and supplement through free agency."Although the short-term satisfaction might be low, the fans ultimately benefit from this approach. On Thursday, the 49ers announced that all available 2012 season tickets have been sold.A release announcing the news stated: "Team officials say fans have seized the opportunity to buy tickets following a successful 2011 season, and those fans have apparently recognized a new benefit to holding ticket packages at Candlestick: They will be one of the first-in-line for seats at the new stadium in Santa Clara."The 49ers expect to play the 2014 season in the new stadium, and the 49ers want to make sure that the organization is in good shape when the 49ers move to the South Bay, as well as into the future.The organization is not mortgaging the future in hopes of breaking through in 2012. Thus far, the 49ers' approach to free agency has not been flashy -- though the addition of Moss was national news before the opening of full-fledged free agency.When the season ended, it seemed unrealistic that the 49ers would be able to retain Dashon Goldson, Brooks and Rogers to essentially keep their dominant defense of 2011 intact for another season. But chief negotiator Paraag Marathe made the pieces of the puzzle fit.
Through the first few days of free agency a year ago, fans and media seemed to get restless, waiting for high-profile additions to the roster. Eventually, the 49ers acquired such players as Donte Whitner, Carlos Rogers and Jonathan Goodwin while welcoming back Goldson.
With fewer holes to fill this season, the 49ers are maintaining the same approach. And it worked pretty well a year ago.

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Until now, Kyle Shanahan’s hiring by the San Fracisco 49ers looked great because of his two-and-a-half predecessors – the last days of Jim Harbaugh, the misplaced concept of Jim Tomsula and the couldn’t-make-chicken-marsala-out-of-old-Kleenex problems surrounding Chip Kelly.

But now, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has told us all that Shanahan has a gift we in the Bay Area know all too well. Specifically, that Shanahan took too long to call plays to the Super Bowl the Falcons vomited up to the New England Patriots.

Now who does that remind you of, over and over again?

Yes, some things are evergreen, and too many options in this overly technological age seems to be one of them. Data in is helpful, but command going out is what bells the cow. Ryan said Shanahan was, well, almost Harbaugh-tastic in his timing.

“Kyle’s play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in,” Ryan told Bleacher Report. “As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you’re talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, ‘There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.’ You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

“With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You’re not being aggressive not running it there.”

And the reason this matters is because the Atlanta Shanahan had multiple good options on every play. In San Francsco, at least in the short term, he’ll be dealing with minimal options. That could speed up his choices, as in “What the hell, we don’t have Julio Jones.” But it could also mean more delays, as in, “Okay, him . . . no, maybe not . . . no, he just screwed up that play last series . . . oh, damn it, time out!”

In short, it’s growing pains season here, children. On the field, on the sidelines, and maybe even in Kyle Shanahan’s head.

49ers defense: Top training camp competitions

49ers defense: Top training camp competitions

Before starting six games as a rookie, Rashard Robinson had not played football since the 2014 season at LSU.

Yet, Robinson is the closest thing to a sure bet to win a starting job among 49ers cornerbacks.

Tramaine Brock was projected as the starting cornerback on the other side until his arrest on suspicion of a troubling domestic incident prompted the 49ers to release him more than three months ago.

The 49ers open training camp next week, and here are the top competitions for starting jobs on defense:

LEFT CORNERBACK
Keith Reaser has yet to make an NFL start while appearing in 28 games the past two seasons. The 49ers rotated cornerbacks with the first-team defense during the offseason program, and Reaser put himself in position to enter camp as the slight favorite to replace Brock.

Veterans Dontae Johnson and Will Davis will try to work their way into the picture. And the 49ers are hopeful talented rookie Ahkello Witherspoon will develop a willingness to play with more physicality. The 49ers selected Witherspoon in the third round. He has the size and all the tools to win the starting job, but there were times in college he showed an alarming lack of aggression as a tackler.

NICKELBACK
K'Waun Williams is healthy after missing last season due to an ankle injury and falling out of favor with the Cleveland Browns. Defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley, one of the few holdovers from Chip Kelly’s staff, thinks highly of Williams after coaching him with the Browns. Hafley said he believes Williams can become one of the top covermen in the slot in the entire league.

Williams lined up with the first-team defense throughout the offseason program. His biggest competition could come from Will Redmond, whom the 49ers selected in the third round of the 2016 draft but did not play as a rookie due to a knee injury. Redmond has some rust to knock off, but he did not appear to show signs of the injury during the offseason program.

RIGHT DEFENSIVE END
Arik Armstead is not the prototypical player at the “Leo” position. At 6 foot 7, Armstead does not have the low center of gravity that is typically associated with that position. But Armstead is certainly not lacking for athleticism.

The 49ers need a more consistent pass rush to assist their unproven cornerbacks, and this spot will be counted upon to provide more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Veteran Elvis Dumervil, who believes he has regained his explosion off the edge after being hampered with Achilles injury, was added last month to do what he does best. Dumervil, 33, enters the season with 99 career sacks.

Aaron Lynch is on notice as he enters his fourth NFL season. He moves from outside linebacker to defensive end in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme. Multiple competitions will be ongoing at this position, as the 49ers will look to determine the best fits for base downs, as well as passing situations.

WEAKSIDE LINEBACKER
The signing of free-agent Malcolm Smith raised a few eyebrows. It was just the offseason program, but Smith was as impressive as any player on the team during the non-padded practices. He is clearly comfortable in Robert Saleh’s scheme, which is based on the Seattle Seahawks’ defense.

The 49ers had Reuben Foster rated as their No. 3 prospect in the entire draft. They traded with the Seahawks to move up to select him at No. 31 overall. The 49ers seem thoroughly unconcerned with Foster’s shoulder. The club believes he will be medically cleared for the opening of training camp.

The 49ers might want to bring Foster along slowly, but it is clear they do not expect him to be a backup for very long.