49ers notes: Gore welcomes backfield party, etc.

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49ers notes: Gore welcomes backfield party, etc.

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers rushed for 245 yards on Sunday, getting positive yardage from nine different players.

With so much diversity out of the backfield, starter Frank Gore still carried the ball 21 times, but it was hardly the workload he's grown accustomed to as the 49ers' only featured back of the past.

What does he make of the crowd?

"I don't like it at all," Gore said before laughing. "It's cool. Show different schemes, it probably makes it easier for me, you know?"

Gore is averaging 81.5 rushing yards per game, and he has scores in three of the 49ers' first four contests. Even though his longest run this season went for just 23 yards, Gore is 14th in the NFL averaging 4.94 yards per carry. Kendall Hunter is right behind him, ranked 20th with an average of 4.62 yards per carry.

RELATED: NFL rushing leaders

It all makes the 49ers third in the NFL in total rushing yards (as well as third from the bottom in passing), but their next opponent is equally impressive on the ground. The Bills are ranked fourth -- right behind the 49ers -- and C.J. Spiller's 8.32 yards-per-carry average has a lot to do with it.

But the 49ers have explosive players of their own.

Kyle Williams was one of those nine contributors, as he took a toss nine yards to set up Colin Kaepernick's rushing touchdown.

Whether or not Gore likes it, the 49ers' dynamic ground game is developing, and there's one reason to suggest it will continue to expand under offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

MAIOCCO: 49ers offensive review -- Running backs

"We've got playmakers," Williams said.

You might not expect it, but 6-foot-3, 318-pound center Jonathan Goodwin knows what to do with the football in the end zone.

Following Kendall Hunter's one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 34-0 win over the Jets, Hunter flipped the ball to Goodwin and without hesitation, Goodwin spiked it like he was the one who crossed the plane.

It might surprise you to learn it's not his first NFL touchdown spike. Back in New Orleans, where he spent the past five seasons, Goodwin was on the receiving end of a post-score handoff from Lance Moore, and you know exactly what he did with it.

And Sunday's spike might not even be his last. Asked if he'll throw it down again, Goodwin replied: "Yeah, if they hand it to me, I'll do something with it."

Maybe one day he'll get to score the touchdown himself.

Frank Gore is a football player, but he entered the boxing ring in July, carrying San Leandro boxer Nonito Donaire's WBO super bantamweight title belt.

Gore attended Donaire's training session on Monday, looking to internalize that fighter's edge.

"It's tough," Gore said of fight sport training. "I just watched him (Monday). He was sparring. I love it. Three minute, thirty second rest, constantly moving -- it's tough. I like it."

Gore trained with Donaire while working with speed coach Remi Korchemny this offseason, and has remained in contact with the Bay Area boxer that is second in CSNBayArea.com's NorCal boxing pound-for-pound rankings.

Construction is the norm at 49ers headquarters -- the new stadium is being resurrected post-haste for the 2014 season -- but one project is in the books.

The 49ers returned home from their road trip through Minnesota, Youngstown, Ohio and New York on Sunday night to a completed weight room structure. Previously, just a tent held their lifting instruments.

"It was really neat and really special," head coach Jim Harbaugh said of coming home to the new facility. "A bunch of players got off the bus and walked through it. That building, I think it'll make us better, make us stronger. It's a good symbol of that. Guys were in there cranking it out (Monday), throwing the iron around."

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

The 49ers on Monday extended one-year qualifying offers to nose tackle Mike Purcell and linebacker Carl Bradford as exclusive-rights free agents.

Purcell appeared in 15 games last season. He started the first five games of the season at nose tackle and was a reserve for the remainder of the season. Originally signed in 2013 as an undrafted rookie from Wyoming, Purcell has appeared in 25 games over the past three seasons.

The 49ers claimed Bradford off waivers in December from the Green Bay Packers. He appeared in the final two games of the season with the 49ers and was credited with two tackles.

Bradford entered the NFL out of Arizona State as a fourth-round pick of the Packers in 2014. After being inactive for every game as a rookie, Bradford was among Green Bay’s final cuts in 2015. He spent the season on the practice squad.

He appeared in four games for the Packers last year. The 49ers claimed him after he was waived in December.

Exclusive rights free agents are player who have fewer than three years of NFL service who have no outside negotiating power if a team extends a qualifying offer.

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

The 49ers’ new regime heads to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week with the first major wave of offseason activity set to kick off.

Already, the 49ers have made roster improvements. And there figure to be plenty of activity ahead in the coming weeks.

Here are some questions submitted by readers on Facebook for this edition of 49ers Mailbag:

Do you see the 49ers cutting ties with larger contracts like Bethea, Torrey Smith and Ahmad Brooks?‬ (Blair Wilkins)
The 49ers have approximately $75 million in space under the salary cap – and that’s before any adjustment of Colin Kaepernick’s contract. So it’s not as if the organization needs to create cap room.

Any decision made to part ways with veteran players will be made solely on how that player fits into what the 49ers envision on the field.

And that’s what general manager John Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff are doing now. They are studying the video from last season to determine which players fit their ideals.

Safety Antoine Bethea is scheduled to earn $5.75 million. Bethea, 32, enters the final year of his contract. There is no question he is everything the 49ers want in a player off the field. If one of the younger guys is not better than Bethea, there is no reason to get rid of him.

Brooks is on the books to earn $5.3 million in 2017. That’s not a huge amount for a starting outside linebacker or defensive end – whichever spot he might fit best. The 49ers must look to upgrade their pass rush. Brooks turns 33 next month. He’s good for six sacks a season. Again, it’s not as if the 49ers can’t afford him. And, as of now, it’s not as if the 49ers have anyone better.

Smith is scheduled to earn $8 million. He has been vastly underutilized in his two seasons since signing with the 49ers. He’s the most interesting case of the high-priced veterans.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense is predicated on using the running game to set up the play-action shot down the field. Smith is limited. He’s not a possession receiver. He’s not going to make plays over the middle. He is an outside receiver whose contributions come in the vertical passing game. But that’s what Shanahan wants.

If Smith is paired with a strong tight end, a running back who catch the ball out of the backfield, a slot receiver with short-area quickness to get open underneath, a very good receiver on the other side and an accurate quarterback who can throw the deep ball, there should be a role for Smith in the 49ers’ offense.

Will the 49ers continue to be aggressive pursuing free agents this offseason? If so, what positions?‬ (Bradley Lodge)
The 49ers have zeroed in on two veteran free agents and they signed them both.

The organization has already spent more money than it did all of last offseason on veteran free agency with the four-year, $16 million deal to sign defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, whom the Miami Dolphins recently released.

Nickel back K’Waun Williams has a history with 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley. The 49ers did not have to make much of a financial investment to sign him.

The 49ers will definitely go after a veteran quarterback or two in free agency or via trade. Pass rusher, inside linebacker and wide receiver are other positions the 49ers can be expected to look during free agency.

The opening of the new league year – when free-agent signings and trades can occur – is March 9. The draft is seven weeks later.

The 49ers must fill as many of their needs with smart deals that fit into the long-term plan with veteran acquisitions. Then, the draft is about taking the best players on their board when it’s time to select. Teams that reach for need generally strike out.

What are the chances of drafting a QB with first pick and playing them behind a Kap / Cousins until they're ready to become starter?‬ (Hillory Broussard)
If Colin Kaepernick returns, it will not be as a no-questions-asked starter. Just read what Lynch said on KNBR this week about the team’s needs:

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely. And we’re committed to doing that.”

That statement can easily be interpreted that Lynch does not believe the 49ers had a starting-caliber quarterback on the roster last season.

But if the 49ers were to go out and swing a trade for Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s going to take a big commitment – in terms of draft picks and a suitable new contract. Then, the 49ers would have that player.

Cousins or Garoppolo would unquestionably fill the 49ers’ need at quarterback for 2017 and beyond -- at least in the minds of the 49ers' new decision-makers. There would be no reason for the 49ers to then draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick – if the 49ers even had the No. 2 overall pick at that point.