49ers Mailbag: Competition at guard, quarterback

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49ers Mailbag: Competition at guard, quarterback

It's difficult to unequivocally refer to it as the craziest week of free agency in 49ers history, but I can't recall another time even coming close.Just think, within the past week . . .--Peyton Manning narrowed his choice to three teams, and the 49ers were under serious consideration;
--Alex Smith had a plane ticket in hand to take a free-agent visit to the Miami Dolphins;
--Manning signed with the Broncos; coach Jim Harbaugh visited with Smith; and a couple days later, Smith re-signed, just as everyone figured would happen since late November;RELATED: Full details of Alex Smith's contract
--Receiver Mario Manningham didn't get the big-money deal he anticipated and signed a two-year deal with the 49ers for far less money than what the Washington Redskins awarded former 49ers receiver Josh Morgan;
--Ted Ginn wrapped up his meetings with three other teams and signed a one-year deal to return to the 49ers;
--And, just as people had speculated could happen since Harbaugh took the job 14 months ago, the 49ers added quarterback Josh Johnson, who played under Harbaugh at the University of San Diego from 2004 to 2006.Free agency is pretty much over for the 49ers, so let's catch our breath and open the 49ers Mailbag . . .Are the 49ers planning on signing RG or something they will be forced to address in draft? @NorcalGREAT
Right now, Daniel Kilgore is the player penciled in to start at right guard. The 49ers traded up to select him in the fifth round of last year's draft. (It's not uncommon to find starting guards that late in the draft.)Kilgore played one snap of offense last season. He really didn't have a chance to beat out Adam Snyder or Chilo Rachal because of the lack of an offseason program due to the lockout. He'll get a chance to win the starting job this year, however.The 49ers will probably still bring in a veteran guard. They could wait to sign Leonard Davis, who underwent recent foot surgery and is expected to be fully healthy in two months. The 49ers do not have much cap space, so any veteran they sign would likely be for a minimum-money type of deal.Guard will also be a position the 49ers can look to add in the draft. So while Kilgore is currently atop the depth chart, he'll have to win the job against competition to be added later.Was there a 3rd QB last year? Why add when Colin Kaepernick is the future? @roger_chen
Yes, the third quarterback last season was undrafted rookie Scott Tolzien. He was inactive for all 18 games, including the two playoff games. Tolzien has practice-squad eligibility, so the 49ers will have a chance to keep all four quarterbacks through the 2012 season.The 49ers' decision to sign Johnson is all about competition. Harbaugh loves to promote competition. And there will be plenty of competition at the quarterback position.Alex Smith is the presumptive starter, of course. But if there comes a time when Harbaugh believes one of the other quarterbacks gives the 49ers a better chance to win games, that change will be made.The 49ers were not disappointed in what they saw from Kaepernick behind the scenes. But the club will have no idea what they have in Kaepernick until they see him in a meaningful regular-season situation.I don't see the move to add Johnson as a sign that the 49ers are looking at demoting Smith or Kaepernick. I see it as a move designed to strengthen the position as a whole. The practice and play of the four quarterbacks will determine the order in which the depth chart is stacked at the beginning of the season.Are they going to have enough money to sign Goldson? @mgganimal
Safety Dashon Goldson has not signed his one-year, 6.212 million tender as the 49ers' franchise player. But his unsigned deal counts against the cap. The 49ers would not have to devote more 2012 cap space to sign Goldson to a long-term contract this offseason. In fact, they could actually save quite a bit of money -- if they so desire -- with the conversion of base salary to signing bonus, which would then be prorated for cap purposes over the life of the deal.

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NEW YORK -- NFL owners will consider proposals next week to cut regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10; eliminate players leaping over the line on kick plays; and expansion of coaches' challenges and what can be reviewed by officials.

In what promises to be a busy annual meeting next week in Phoenix that will include discussing the Raiders' potential relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, the 32 owners also will vote on changing the mechanics on replay reviews and other items intended to reduce downtime during games.

The Eagles proposed four rules changes, including abolishing the leaping techniques that league football operations director Troy Vincent said Thursday "don't belong in the game."

Seattle and Buffalo co-authored a proposal allowing a coach to challenge any officiating decision, whether a foul is called or not.

"That is a significant change to our current replay rule and it is something that will be on the floor and will be debated next week," NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino said.

Another major change would be the reduction of overtime in-season; the extra period in the playoffs would remain at 15 minutes. The powerful competition committee, of which Vincent and Blandino are members, believed it's a player safety issue, noting that number of snaps for games going to OT - especially deep into the overtime - is excessive. Especially if a team has a quick turnaround.

"We don't know where a team is going to be playing the next week, it could be four days later," said committee chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons. "We felt we should put an end to it. We don't think it will lead to more ties. Could it? It could, but we are not concerned with that."

As for changing the format of overtime to ensure both teams always get a possession - a popular topic after how the Super Bowl ended - Blandino said the league's wants to keep the element of sudden death in the extra period.

The "leaper rule" has taken some priority among competition committee members, the players' union and coaches. Vincent said coaches have begun scheming how to defense it, which can "create a real safety issue."

"It is really in the best interest of the game" to outlaw leaping on kicks," Vincent added.

McKay noted that the NCAA is in the process of passing a similar ban on the technique.

During the meetings that run from Sunday to Wednesday, the teams will be shown plays the competition committee believes should result in suspensions or ejections. Game officials already have had the leeway to eject players, but it rarely has happened; there were three in 2016.

"They don't happen very often, let's give the players credit," McKay said. "We have 40,000 plays in a year. We'll show a tape that will have four or five plays that would warrant suspension. This is not a widespread situation."

Added Vincent, a former NFL defensive back: "When you see the plays, they are catastrophic. We had two players who did not return for the season. They are high-impact plays that belong out of the game. It will be a real point of emphasis this season."

Kyle Shanahan attends Stanford pro day, while John Lynch scouts QBs

Kyle Shanahan attends Stanford pro day, while John Lynch scouts QBs

STANFORD – Coach Kyle Shanahan remained in the Bay Area while a contingent of 49ers hit the road this week to scout quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer.

On Thursday, general manager John Lynch, personnel executives Adam Peters and Martin Mayhew, and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello watched Notre Dame’s pro day, Shanahan remained close to home to watch Stanford prospects.

“We live right next door, so it’s easy to drive over and see it and I can go right back to the office,” Shanahan said. “They went out three days ago. So they have a whole week on the road and it’s been better for me to stay in the office with the film and get our coaching staff ready. In two weeks our players get here, so we got a lot to do.”

The 49ers’ offseason program can begin on April 3, but Shanahan has opted to spend another week preparing for the arrival of his veteran players.

Among the veterans who will be reporting for the offseason program are quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. The 49ers have not shown any interest in re-signing Colin Kaepernick.

“We’re pretty comfortable right now with the options that we’ve had and are available, but we never stop looking,” Shanahan said. “Every day something could pop up and you never know, so I’ll never tell you guys that we’re fully done because you never are.”

Lynch led the 49ers’ scouting effort this week to North Carolina, Clemson and Notre Dame. Shanahan, who will likely determine the direction the 49ers take at quarterback in the draft, said he will have plenty of time to evaluate the prospects up close.

“We haven’t mapped them all yet, but I’m sure I’ll do a couple private workouts, whether it’s me or our quarterbacks coach,” Shanahan said. “But one of us will do it – kind of spread us out a little bit.

“Most of the pro days, we get most of those videos anyway, so there are a few guys will have private workouts for, not just quarterbacks but other positions, too. Some guys you don’t have to do it with.”

The two headliners at Stanford’s pro day were defensive lineman Solomon Thomas and running back Christian McCaffrey. Thomas appears to be a strong candidate for the 49ers if they hold onto the No. 2 overall pick.