49ers mailbag: Don't expect much from rookie class

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49ers mailbag: Don't expect much from rookie class

There are eight days until rookies report for 49ers' training camp. But will any of those guys who show up at the team's practice facility on July 21 have much of an impact this season?Q: What rookie do you see making the biggest impact? (Danny Esparza)
The player with the best chance of making a contribution on offense or defense is former Oregon running back LaMichael James, whom the 49ers selected in the second round.I'm still of the opinion that Kendall Hunter is the 49ers' second-best running back behind Frank Gore. But the 49ers would not have selected the dynamic James if they did not envision a role for him as a rookie.I find it difficult to believe that first-round pick A.J. Jenkins can supplant Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss or Mario Manningham to find a steady role as one of the team's top three wide receivers. So it might be difficult for him to earn the right to put on a uniform as part of the active 46 players on game days.Jenkins' value as a first-round pick will be measured over the course of his four-year deal, so let's not get too carried away with expecting much production early in his career.
I don't know that there was any player the 49ers could've selected at No. 30 overall -- at any position -- who could've made an impact on offense or defense as a rookie.Guard Joe Looney (fourth round) did not participate in the offseason program due to a foot injury. He'll have a difficult time landing on the regular-season, game-day roster as one of seven active offensive linemen. Sixth-round pick Jason Slowey, who converts to center, will fight for a roster spot.Outside linebacker Darius Fleming sustained a torn ACL in rookie minicamp, and likely saw his season end before it ever began. Seventh-round pick Cam Johnson, also an outside linebacker, had a clean-up surgery in the offseason and should be fine for camp. His hopes are likely tied to special teams.Safety Trenton Robinson has a solid chance to win a roster spot as the No. 4 safety behind Donte Whitner, Dashon Goldson and C.J. Spillman.So that's why the answer is James . . . by default.
Q: Will FS Dashon Goldson miss part of training camp? (Tyler Hanley)
Goldson will play for the 49ers this season. The sides have until the Monday deadline to work out a long-term extension. Otherwise, Goldson will sign the one-year, 6.212 million deal and be scheduled for free agency again next year.RELATED: Goldson -- 'I'll still be a 49er'
Of course, Goldson has provided no indication of when he plans to sign the one-year deal -- if the sides fail to reach a long-term pact. He remains focused on a long-term contract, and there's no reason for him to show his cards and, perhaps, lose some bargaining power before Monday. After Monday, he has no bargaining power.
What Goldson has to keep in mind is that if he returns on a one-year deal, he must have a strong season to get a multi-year contract next year. And the way he can do that is with a good 2012 season.The 49ers open against Green Bay, so Goldson's biggest challenge of the season comes in Week 1. He better be ready.

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

PHOENIX – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday he does not believe quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being “blackballed” in his attempt to continue his career.

“I haven’t heard that from our clubs in any way that that’s an issue,” Goodell said during his press conference to conclude the NFL owners meetings.

“My experience in 35 years is that our clubs make independent evaluations of players. They work hard to try to improve their teams. But if they think a player can help improve their team, they’re going to do that.”

Kaepernick remains unsigned as an unrestricted free agent after opting out of his 49ers contract earlier this month. Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman this week was asked on ESPN’s "First Take" whether he felt Kaepernick was being blackballed.

"I'm sure he is," Sherman answered. "It's difficult to see because he's played at such a high level, and you see guys, quarterbacks, who have never played at a high level being signed by teams. So it's difficult to understand."

General manager John Lynch on Tuesday said the 49ers have not had any contact with Kaepernick since he and coach Kyle Shanahan met with Kaepernick on Feb. 22 in Santa Clara. The 49ers signed free-agent quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley have shown no interest in re-signing Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, 29, created a controversy last season when he opted to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial inequality in the United States. Kaepernick has decided to stand for the national anthem this season.

Earlier in the day, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said it was “stupid” and “intellectually lazy” to think teams have colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the league. Last week, former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, John’s brother, said Kaepernick is still an outstanding player and can win championships.

“I absolutely think he’s going to get signed,” John Harbaugh said. “I agree with Jim. He can win games for people.”

 

49ers GM Lynch speaks with Harbaugh about Michigan prospects

49ers GM Lynch speaks with Harbaugh about Michigan prospects

PHOENIX – John Lynch’s draft preparation as a first-year NFL general manager prompted him to make a phone call Monday to Jim Harbaugh.

“I talked to an old 49ers coach yesterday,” Lynch said at the NFL owners meetings. “He was great. He has a lot of players who are draftable. (He) gave me a lot of great information, and it was entertaining, as it always is with Jim.

“He just said, ‘Fired up for you, man,’ then we started talking about his players. He had to go to a meeting and I had to go to a meeting, so it was quick.”

Before Lynch could quiz Harbaugh about some of the Wolverines’ draft-eligible prospects, Harbaugh had a brief chance to catch up with his brother, John, the Baltimore Ravens head coach.

“It was fun because right when we called, his brother was right there,” Lynch said.

“So John came over and before I could get on the phone, John and Jim were talking. I said, ‘Hey, you’re cutting into my time, give me the phone.’ We had a good time.”

Michigan’s top prospects are safety Jabrill Peppers, who won the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most-versatile player, and edge rusher Taco Charlton.

Lynch said he does not ask “lazy questions” of any college coach about his former players. Instead, he’s looking at specifics, such as what position a player is better suited to play at the NFL level.

Harbaugh, who was let go after the 49ers' 8-8 season of 2014, enters his third season at his alma mater after two seasons with 10-3 records.