49ers' quarterback search heats up at NFL combine

49ers' quarterback search heats up at NFL combine

INDIANAPOLIS – The 49ers met Friday night with North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky as part of the organization’s quest to eventually fill their depth chart.

The 49ers also had scheduled 15-minute formal interviews this week with Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech.

The opinions of the quarterbacks appear to span all ranges, according to scouts and coaches at the NFL Scouting Combine. There was some buzz gaining momentum that Trubisky could be in serious consideration for the Cleveland Browns and 49ers with the top two picks in the draft.

One of the top concerns with Trubisky is his lack of experience. He was a starter for just one season. Yet, one NFC scout told CSNBayArea.com that he showed he can make all the throws and stand fearlessly in the pocket.

When it comes to throwing the ball, Trubisky had ample opportunity to show what he can do. Trubisky started 13 games – all in his final season – and completed 386 of 572 pass attempts for 4,762 yards with 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

In comparison, Tom Brady completed 395 of 638 passes for 4,773 yards with 30 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his four-year career at Michigan from 1996 to ’99.

“They’re not even really grilling me on that really, they’re just trying to get to know me and pick my brain and see how well that I know football, and what kind of system I ran at North Carolina,” Trubisky said. “I don’t think that’s a big concern from the teams that I’ve talked to so far. They could tell I know the game very well. They’re impressed with my tape and I’m just trying to show them what kind of person I am and just stay confident and get ready for the rest of this process.

“I've studied the game. I'm a student of the game and I've seen a lot of defenses, and I think that's going to help me. And just my abilities, I feel like I'm in a really good spot right now to take my game to the next level, and I feel really confident."

General manager John Lynch said Thursday that Kizer “blew the doors off” of his interview with the 49ers the previous night. But his final season did not go as planned, with the Fighting Irish staggering to a 4-8 record.

Kizer completed just 58.7 percent of his pass attempts with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

“I’m pretty comfortable in opening up and expressing who I am as a guy and how I plan on going about this process,” Kizer said. “They’ve had a lot of questions about last season and how a guy who has the size and has the arm strength goes and becomes 4-8. I responded in the way I thought was the honest truth. From what I understand, they (the 49ers) were pretty impressed with that.”

Watson is the most decorated of the quarterback prospects after playing on the big stage and leading Clemson to a win in the national championship game over Alabama.

Watson completed 67.4 percent of his passes throughout his three-year career. But while throwing 90 touchdown passes the past two season, Watson was also intercepted an alarming 30 times over that stretch.

“I understand that was going to come and it happens,” Watson said of interceptions. “It’s something that they obviously are going to poke holes. If I were in their shoes, I would poke holes, too.

“I take full responsibility in all of that. Sometimes you just have bad luck. Sometimes the defense makes a good play. Sometimes I make a bad throw. One, two or three, maybe it was a bad decision, but it’s a learning lesson. I’ve learned from those mistakes and I’ve corrected those and [I’m] going to move on from it.

“The biggest question that I’ve heard from different coaches was if I can change a protection, run the offense and recognize defensive coverages. Every team I went to asked me those questions. I handled it well, answered the questions and they were very impressed. They know that I’m not just some other quarterback that’s running a spread offense. That [I’m a] guy that can operate, make good decisions and recognize what the defense is doing and be successful doing it.”

After Colin Kaepernick officially opted out of his contract on Friday, the 49ers have no quarterback on the roster under contract for the upcoming season. While there's a lot of work that needs to be done, it's not completely a bad thing, Lynch said.

"That also is somewhat liberating in that you can create this thing in that position that is so critical in the way that you want it," Lynch said.

While the quarterbacks took center stage at the combine, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported of a potential three-way trade in which the 49ers could end up with Kirk Cousins. In such a scenario, Washington would acquire Tony Romo and Dallas would collect draft picks.

Pro Football Talk reported sources with direct knowledge of the situation “scoffed” at the idea, with one source describing the report as “conjecture.”

Tom Rathman to be inducted into 49ers Hall of Fame

Tom Rathman to be inducted into 49ers Hall of Fame

Former 49ers fullback Tom Rathman, who was not retained this season on Kyle Shanahan’s coaching staff, will be coming back to the organization in a permanent fashion.

Rathman, 54, who spent a total of 23 seasons as a player and coach, will be inducted into the 49ers Hall of Fame, CEO Jed York announced on Tuesday.

“Tom Rathman embodies everything this organization wants in its players, coaches and staff,” York said in a statement. “Throughout his more than two decades with our team, Tom set a tone for the 49ers both on and off the field. As a player, he was selfless, hard-working and dedicated to bringing his best every single day. Tom coached very much the same way.

"It was his mission to help every man he coached realize his full potential, as both a player and a man. Tom is family and we are so thrilled to induct him into the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame, where he will take his place among the all-time greats in our team’s history.”

Rathman discussed having a role on the 49ers’ coaching staff after the hiring of Shanahan. But Shanahan had already promised the position of running backs coach to Bobby Turner.

“It was all positive,” said Rathman told NBC Sports Bay Area in February. “I have no hard feelings. It’s just the nature of the business. Everybody just has to understand that. In pro football, coaches get fired and new guys come in and they bring their guys. I totally understand it. I don’t have a problem with it. Being in the business for 28 years, playing and coaching, you understand what it is. You can never take anything for granted.”

Rathman played for the 49ers from 1986 to ’93. He was a starter on two Super Bowl-winning teams and seven NFC West champions. Used mostly as a lead-blocker for Roger Craig, Rathman’s best season came in 1989, when he caught 73 passes for 616 yards.

After his playing career concluded with the Los Angeles Rams in 1994, Rathman entered into a career in coaching. He coached under Steve Mariucci from 1997 to 2002. He returned to coach with the 49ers in 2009, serving on the coaching staffs of head coaches Mike Singletary, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly.

“I’ve always considered myself a 49er and I always will consider myself a 49er," Rathman said in a statement. "I’ll take that brand with me wherever I go because that’s who I am. It feels great to be with the guys who are already in the 49ers Hall of Fame. Dating back to Joe Perry, it’s an honor to be associated with the likes of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig and Dwight Clark.

"That’s a lot of history right there. To be able to say that you’re in a fraternity with those guys so to speak, the 49ers Hall of Fame fraternity, says volumes. It’s pretty special.”

49ers draft board consists of nearly 200 prospects

49ers draft board consists of nearly 200 prospects

The 49ers new draft grading system is inspired by the New England Patriots, but their draft menu consists of a lot more options.

“We’ve got just under 200 players on our draft board, that we see as draftable players on our board,” 49ers general manager John Lynch told reporters Monday at team headquarters in Santa Clara.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time in here and it was needed this year because I had a lot of catch-up to do. I can tell you that just (Sunday) night I finally got to the point, I always knew as a player like, ‘OK. I’m ready.’ That moment was (Sunday) for me where I said, ‘OK. I’m ready. I’m ready to go on this thing.’ That’s a good feeling.”

The 49ers have 10 draft picks scheduled for the three-day draft, including the No. 2 overall selection. With 73 players under contract, the 49ers figure to add approximately 17 rookies through the draft and as free agents. The NFL's seven-round draft will result in 253 players being selected.

Lynch was hired out of the FOX broadcast booth a week before the Super Bowl. The following week, Lynch assembled all of the team’s scouts for meetings in Santa Clara.

“When we first brought scouts in right after the Super Bowl we were kind of working off the old grading system,” Lynch said. “But what helped was the grading system that they use in Denver, which kind of derived from one that was developed in New England.”

One of Lynch’s first hires was former Broncos college scouting director Adam Peters as 49ers vice president of player personnel. New coach Kyle Shanahan was also familiar with the system because, like Peters, Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff worked in the Patriots’ scouting department.

“In these last three weeks of draft meetings we moved over to that grading scale,” Lynch said.

“I’ve always been someone who thinks you should listen to multiple opinions and we’ve been very collaborative. I believe in strong opinions. Someone once told me, ‘Strong opinions, weakly held.’ So are you open to different thoughts and someone makes you think? But ultimately someone’s got to make decisions.”

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio recently told Boston-area reporters that New England's draft board consists of only 50 to 75 players who fit as draft picks for their team. The Patriots have seven scheduled draft picks but none in the first two rounds.

"I would say it varies year to year, but I would say our draft board is smaller than most," Caserio said. "We are trying to find players that we feel comfortable with on all levels that we would actually draft -- not that are going to get drafted.

"It's players that we would draft, that we would actually feel comfortable with in our program in some capacity."

49ERS 2017 DRAFT PICKS
1. First round: No. 2 overall
2. Second round: No. 34 overall
3. Third round: No. 66 overall
4. Fourth round: No. 109 overall
5. Fourth round: No. 143 overall (compensatory)
6. Fifth round: No. 146 overall
7. Fifth round: No. 161 (pick acquired from Washington in 2015 trade for TE Derek Carrier)
8. Sixth round: No. 198 overall (from Baltimore in trade with C Jeremy Zuttah for No. 186)
9. Sixth round: No. 202 overall (pick acquired from Denver in 2015 trade for TE Vernon Davis)
10. Seventh round: No. 219 overall (pick acquired from Cleveland in 2015 trade for Andy Lee)