49ers Mailbag: Brooks' replacement already on team

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49ers Mailbag: Brooks' replacement already on team

Programming note: 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco is headed to Indianapolis for this week's NFL scouting combine -- stay logged on all week log as Matt files his reports from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy!

EN ROUTE TO INDIANAPOLISOn Thursday, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh are scheduled to speak to the assembled media in Indianapolis at the NFL scouting combine.Baalke and Harbaugh, each of whom takes a lot of pride in being forthright with the media, will undoubtedly lay out the organization's offseason plan.Will they make a spirited run to sign Pittsburgh receiver Mike Wallace to an offer sheet if the Steelers, as expected, place a first-round tender on the restricted free agent?Baalke will definitely answer that question -- though he might have to be careful to avoid any potential tampering charges. So he'll probably speak in code, perhaps referring to Wallace as "Ecallaw" or something clever like that.Until Baalke and Harbaugh give us a peek behind the curtain, we'll go to the 49ers Mailbag to answer some of the more burning questions. . . Do you think the Niners will draft an outside linebacker with their first pick this year and waive goodbye to Ahmad Brooks? (John Drummond)
The 49ers have the No. 30 overall pick in the draft. At this point they might be able to narrow their first pick to any position other than a kicker, punter or long-snapper.RELATED: Ahmad Brooks 2011 game logs
The 49ers are not going to pay Brooks big money. The reason is because they already have his replacement at every-down outside linebacker on the roster.Perhaps you've heard of him. He's a guy who goes by the name Aldon Smith.In Smith's second NFL season, the 49ers plan for him to be an every-down player. Smith will work this offseason to get ready to play outside linebacker on base downs. Then, he'll move to defensive end to rush the passer in nickel situations.The 49ers believe Parys Haralson can continue in the same role that he filled last season as an outside linebacker on first and second downs to set the edge in the run game.Haralson, who has been an every-down player in the past, could be an every-down player again in 2012. But he'll have to win that job. The 49ers will sign a pass-rush specialist in free agency and draft someone who would fill a role similar to what Aldon Smith played last season as a rookie.What's the situation with Anthony Dixon? Will they bring him back or add another back? (John E. Commons)
Both.Dixon will be back for training camp to compete for a roster spot, but the competition will be much more stiff this season. The 49ers can be expected to draft a running back who is capable of being more of an every-down presence. Look for the team to focus on a player in the 220-pound range who is a one-cut, north-south runner.RELATED: Anthony Dixon 2011 game logs
The 49ers tried to light a fire under Dixon early last season when the team brought in three veteran running backs for a workout in October. Jim Harbaugh loves to create competition, and Dixon will have to bring his "A" game to remain on the roster next season.Are the Niners more apt to fill their need at wideout through the draft or free agency? Is there talent in the draft they deem worthy of a 1st round pick? (Axel Selapen)
The 49ers will draft a wide receiver. It won't necessarily be in the first round, but they will draft a wide receiver.But, first, the 49ers will sign a couple wide receivers after free agency begins on March 13. The 49ers need to add a wide receiver (or two) who can take some of the heat off Michael Crabtree, who led the team in receptions and receiving yards last season.RELATED: Michael Crabtree 2011 game logs
The market will dictate what the 49ers are able to do in free agency. Last year, they signed Braylon Edwards to a low-risk deal. Edwards got injured early in the season and never produced. He became disengaged and he was released.Remember what the 49ers did last season at cornerback? That could be the template the 49ers use to find a receiver, too.The 49ers drafted a cornerback (Chris Culliver), and they also kicked the tires on some of the top free agents, such as Nnamdi Asomugha and Johnathan Joseph.Once the prices for those players exceeded what they had budgeted for the position, the 49ers moved on. Veteran Carlos Rogers fell through the cracks, and the 49ers landed him on a one-year contract.The 49ers will undoubtedly be interested in receivers Vincent Jackson and the aforementioned Mike Wallace. Chief negotiator Paraag Marathe and Baalke have determined the price at which the 49ers can pay those players while not throwing the salary structure of the entire team out of whack.RELATED: Maiocco -- 49ers' free-agent options at wide receiver
If the prices get too high, the 49ers will move on to the next player on their list.And who might be a second-tier receiver on their list? One player to keep an eye on his Pierre Garcon.Garcon isn't particularly big (6-foot, 210 pounds), but he's relatively young (turns 26 in August), and he somehow had his best season in 2011 in spite of the Indianapolis Colts' mess at quarterback. Garcon caught 70 passes for 947 yards, averaging 13.5 yards a catch, while grabbing six touchdowns.RELATED: Pierre Garcon 2011 game logs
And, remember, Joshua Morgan remains very much in the 49ers' plans as he returns from a season-ending broken leg -- just above the ankle. He has been working out regularly at the 49ers' practice facility.

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

SANTA CLARA – Despite recording seven interceptions in his first two seasons and being named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Eric Reid said he believes he is now in a role that best fits his skillset.

Whereas in the past, the 49ers’ safety positions were considered interchangeable, there is a clear delineation this season under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“Even dating back to college, this is the first time there’s a distinct strong (safety) and a distinct free (safety),” Reid said. “I’ve been used to the interchangeability type of role.

“(In) some situations, certain calls where there’s a motion, we might flip. There are a couple situations where I might be in the post in the free-safety role, but it’s not nearly as much as it has been in the past.”

Reid, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 213 pounds, said he is excited to be stationed closer to the line of scrimmage for run support while free safety Jimmie Ward patrols the deep middle of the field.

The 49ers offseason program concluded Wednesday, and Reid found himself in the middle of the action with an interception on a short Brian Hoyer pass over the middle. While he will still be counted upon for coverage, his biggest impact could come to assist a run defense that last season ranked among the worst in NFL history.

“I love it, being around the ball more,” Reid said. “I anticipate making more tackles, hopefully making more plays. I feel like I was made for this position with my body type, being a bigger safety. I’m excited about this year.

“I feel like I’m using what God has blessed me with, more, which is my size and being in the box in the run game. In the past, I felt like I could do more. And being in the post, I can’t use my size as much when it comes to the run game.”

After producing seven interceptions in his first two seasons, Reid recorded just one interception in 26 games over the past two seasons.

As a first-round pick in 2013, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option this season for $5.676 million. He is scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the season. Reid said the 49ers have not spoken to his representation about a long-term extension. That will come, he believes, if he lives up to his end of the bargain in his new, streamlined role.

“I look at it from a business standpoint,” Reid said. “I majored in business. They have me under contract. They don’t have any reason to talk to right now. I imagine if I play well in the first half of the season, they’ll reach out to me. Maybe they’ll reach out to me before training camp, I don’t know. It’s whatever route they decide to take. It’s a business. I’ll treat it as a business. I have a job to do, so I’ll do it.”

 

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan always wanted to coach football with his father. But, first, he knew he had to prove himself without any boost from his well-known dad.

Once the son established himself as one of the NFL’s respected offensive minds, the Shanahans teamed up for four up-but-mostly-down seasons with Washington.

Mike, the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach, hired his son to serve as his top offensive assistant in 2010.

“I thought we saw football similar, but we quickly realized after a few weeks that we saw it differently,” Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area in February. “We grew together. He gave me a lot of leeway while I was there. It was fun to try a bunch of different things, having to even incorporate the zone read when we got Robert (Griffin).

“We did our deal in Washington, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world, but that was pretty much the end of it.”

Kyle Shanahan broke into the coaching ranks under Karl Dorrell at UCLA. He moved onto the NFL to work with Jon Gruden on the staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gary Kubiak with the Houston Texans. But nothing prepared him for the scrutiny he would face as offensive coordinator under his father.

Kyle Shanahan adjusted the Washington offense to take advantage of Griffin’s skills as a dual-threat quarterback as a rookie 2012. The club qualified for the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

But things blew up the following season as the Mike Shanahan-Griffin relationship soured. Shanahan and eight assistant coaches, including Kyle, were fired the morning after Washington’s 3-13 season concluded.

Mike Shanahan has remained out of coaching, though he was a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching job after the 2015 season. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly.

Kyle Shanahan rebuilt his career with one season as offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns and two successful seasons with the Atlanta Falcons to enable him to become CEO Jed York’s choice to replace Kelly.

There is no official role for Mike Shanahan, 64, on his son’s staff with the 49ers. But the father has attended several of the team’s practices this offseason, including both days of the 49ers’ mandatory minicamp this week. Mike has been issued his own iPad that gives him access to the 49ers playbook and coach's film. He will likely visit for an extended stay during training camp. But Kyle said he believes his dad will mostly remain home -- only a phone call away -- during the regular season.

“He’s enjoying life right now,” said Kyle, 37. “He’s got a pretty good deal in Denver, where he lives. He can help me out in other ways anyways without having to be here every day.”

Mike Shanahan does not need to be in the building every day to counsel and have influence on his son as he tries to navigate his first season as the head coach while also maintaining the responsibilities of running the team’s offense.

“You’re going 1,000 miles an hour,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Sometimes to see everything you’ve got to really slow things down and take your time to look at stuff and you don’t always have that time as a head coach.

“It’s nice when someone you know who thinks similar to you has a similar background and he just sits in a room all day and watches stuff. He doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He can see some things that I’m not always seeing and just to bring things to light that maybe I missed or other people have missed.”

Mike Shanahan was a successful NFL offensive coordinator for seven seasons. He won a Super Bowl on George Seifert’s staff with the 49ers in January 1995. His dad believes his time around the 49ers has a lasting impact.

“When I was with San Francisco, Kyle was at the 49ers training camps in Rocklin,” Mike Shanahan told Fangirl Sports Network. “He stayed with me at camp and we talked about football every night.

“He had the opportunity to experience an organization that had won four Super Bowls in nine years. He also had the opportunity to be around some great people and leaders. He still tells stories and talks about people like Steve Young, Joe Montana, Harris Barton, Tom Rathman, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Deion Sanders, and many others. What a great experience to see how these men handled themselves on and off the field.”

The Denver Broncos hired him to become head coach shortly after the 49ers’ 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Shanahan went on to win two Super Bowls in his 14 seasons with the Broncos.

Kyle Shanahan was a wide receiver at Duke before finishing college at Texas, where he caught 14 passes for 127 yards in two seasons. He figured he would have a career in football and it would not be as a player.

“I’ve wanted to coach my whole life,” Kyle Shanahan said. “This is all I’ve known, just growing up around football. It’s almost all I’ve been into, too. Since I was little, it’s distracted me from everything I’ve done, especially school. I always tried to tell my mom, ‘Just be patient, it’ll play out for us in the long run.’ Fortunately, it did.

“Once I realized my genes were a little bit better as a coach than as a player, I pretty much locked into that – and that was about halfway through college. I haven’t looked back.”

During his short time with the 49ers, players on both sides of the ball have expressed amazement at how knowledgeable Kyle Shanahan is about the game of football. His dad told Fangirl Sports Network to succeed as a head coach he must always be dedicated to stuyding, learning and teaching the sport.

“He loves the game and knows it inside and out,” Mike Shanahan said. “My advice to him is to never lose the drive to study the game as he’s done over the last 13 years. To stay in the NFL as a head coach and have success for any length of time, you must never lose your drive to teach and stay abreast of what the top teams are doing every year: offense, defense, special teams. You must be able to coach all positions to really understand the whole game.”

Former 49ers president Carmen Policy said he remembers young Kyle serving as a ball boy during 49ers training camp in the early 1990s. Policy, who remains close to Mike Shanahan, has followed Kyle’s rise in the coaching ranks while playfully questioning the sanity of the family business.

Said Policy: “I used to tease Mike, ‘What kind of father are you to let your kid go into coaching?’ I said, ‘You should be charged with dereliction of parental duty.’ And he’d laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I tried talking to him and then my wife tried talking to him, but that’s his passion, and that’s what he wants to do, so I’m not going to dissuade him from it.’

“And, then, look at what happened. Here he is. He’s the head coach of the 49ers, and that’s just incredible.”