49ers special teams: Unlikely Ginn will muff return chores

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49ers special teams: Unlikely Ginn will muff return chores

The competition on special teams this summer will not involve those players kicking the football. Rather, the main focus will be on those assigned to catch it.In the final installment of this nine-part series looking at the 49ers' offseason, we examine the team's specialists.Special teams
Andy Lee, coming off a season in which he set the NFL single-season net-punting record at 44.0 yards, signed a six-year, 20.4 million contract this offseason to make him the third-highest paid punter in the league.Kicker David Akers is also coming off a record-setting season. He established an NFL record with 44 field goals even if he did rank in the middle of the NFL (14th) in field-goal percentage among kickers with 20 or more attempts.Undrafted free agent Giorgio Tavecchio (Cal) did not receive a signing bonus to join the 49ers. His presence will enable the 37-year-old Akers to remain fresh throughout camp.Of course, two 49ers turnovers on special teams will long be remembered as critical plays in their exit from the playoffs. Veteran Ted Ginn, who did not fumble last season while handling 56 punts and 29 kickoffs, was out with a knee injury. And Kyle Williams took his place.Ginn tested the free-agent market but could not find a team that envisioned him as a major contributor on offense. He returned to the 49ers on a one-year contract. Ginn did not participate in any 49ers practices during the offseason as he nursed a right knee injury. Toward the end of the offseason program, Ginn looked to be nearing 100-percent speed during his workouts.Williams is in line to be back as Ginn's backup in the return game. Williams was at the front of the line in handling kickoffs and punts during the offseason program.Another player to watch is cornerback Perrish Cox, who is attempting to return to the NFL after going through last season unemployed while facing sexual assault charges in Colorado. The 49ers signed Cox shortly after he was acquitted in March.Cox lined up deep on kickoffs in the offseason and also looked reasonably steady fielding punts. As a rookie, Cox returned three punts for the Denver Broncos. After a muffed punt in an early season game proved costly in a Broncos loss, Cox was replaced on returns.Rookie LaMichael James will likely get a chance to return punts and kickoffs in training camp. Because of Oregon's late graduation, James was not eligible to participate in the 49ers' offseason program until after the team's mandatory minicamp.Rookie receivers A.J. Jenkins and Nate Palmer, neither of whom returned punts in college, struggled on the final day of minicamp as they tried to catch punts from Lee on a windy day on the Santa Clara practice field.Kendall Hunter and Chris Culliver are in the mix on kickoff returns.Special-teams coordinator Brad Seely will also set aside a few roster spots for players to help on the coverage units. Veteran Rock Cartwright and second-year player Colin Jones are two players whose hopes for roster spots are tied directly to their contributions on special teams.Two-time Pro Bowler Brian Jennings returns as the long-snapper. The 49ers will also have first-year player Kyle Nelson in camp. The 49ers have one open roster spot after veteran long-snapper Ryan Pontbriand struggled mightily during minicamp and was released. If you missed them, here are the other 49ers offseason reports:Quarterbacks: Alex Smith leaves no doubt after a strong offseason.Running backs: Finally, some help for Frank Gore.Wide receivers: Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree set the pace (and, folks, let's stop hyperventilating and give A.J. Jenkins some time to develop -- like a year or two).Tight ends: Does Delanie Walker see a reduction in play time?Offensive line: Alex Boone takes a strong handle on right guard.Defensive line: With starters set, 49ers are looking for more from backups.Linebackers: Aldon Smith becomes an every-down player.Defensive backs: Top passing teams will test the secondary early and often in regular season.

49ers 2017 UDFA tracker: Southern Miss QB reportedly agrees to terms

49ers 2017 UDFA tracker: Southern Miss QB reportedly agrees to terms

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers are reportedly adding a fourth quarterback to their 90-man roster.

Nick Mullens a four-year starter at Southern Mississippi, agreed to terms with the 49ers after the conclusion of the Saturday’s NFL draft, he told the Hattiesburg American.

As a senior, Mullens completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 3,272 yards with 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Mullens joins a quarterback group that includes starter Brian Hoyer, backup Matt Barkley and third-round draft pick C.J. Beathard.

Other reported 49ers free-agent agreements include:

--RB Matt Breida, Georgia Southern: In three seasons at Georgia Southern, Breida rushed for 3,740 yards and 37 touchdowns while averaging 6.9 yards a carry. (Tampa Bay Times)

--OL Erik Magnuson, Michigan: Magnuson (6-6, 305) was a first-team All-Big Ten performer who started every game at right tackle. He announced on Twitter that he has agreed to terms with the 49ers.

--WR Kendrick Bourne, Eastern Washington: He caught 211 passes for 3,130 yards and 27 touchdowns in his four-year career. Bourne (6-1, 203) had his best season as a senior, with 79 receptions for 1,201 yards and seven touchdowns. Eastern Washington announced Bourne’s three-year contract.

--OT Darrell Williams Jr., Western Kentucky: Williams (6-5, 315) started 41 games. He played his final two seasons at right tackle after moving from right guard. Western Kentucky announced the contract agreement with the 49ers.

--WR KD Cannon, Baylor: Cannon caught 195 passes for 3,113 and 27 touchdowns in his three-year career. He turned pro after a junior season in which he caught 87 passes for 1,215 yards and 13 touchdowns. He announced his contract agreement with the 49ers via Twitter.

--DB Lorenzo Jerome, Saint Francis (PA): Jerome, a Senior Bowl invite, was named first-team FCS All-American. He intercepted six passes in 2016 with 59 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 11 pass break-ups. He added a touchdown on a kickoff return. (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

--LB Jimmie Gilbert, Colorado (Denver Post)

--OL J.P. Flynn, Montana (NEPatriotsdraft.com)

--DE Noble Nwachukwu, West Virginia (NEPatriotsdraft.com)

--TE Cole Hikutini, Louisville (NFL Network)

--LB Donavin Newsom, Missouri (Columbia Daily Tribune)

--WR Victor Bolden, Oregon State (Bolden via Twitter)

Lynch: TE McDonald to return to 49ers after being on trade block

Lynch: TE McDonald to return to 49ers after being on trade block

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers explored trade options for veteran tight end Vance McDonald during the three-day draft, but he is scheduled be back with the team when the club reports Monday for the fourth week of the offseason program.

“I think that’s the reality of new regimes coming, new schemes,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Saturday at the conclusion the seven-round draft. “That’s not to say that he can’t fit into our scheme. Frankly, we received some interest from some other people, then we did explore some options throughout the league with Vance. Nothing ended up happening, so Vance will come back and have an opportunity to compete.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he called McDonald on Friday night to keep him updated on the team’s though process in pursuing trade options. McDonald was at his brother’s wedding, Shanahan said, so he left him a long voice message. McDonald responded Saturday morning with a text. Shanahan said the two men will speak on Monday in Santa Clara.

“We did take over a 2-14 team,” Shanahan said. “We don’t feel all the answers are here right now. We have a lot of work to do. We need to improve in any way possible. And we’re going to do that. We’re going to do that from an organizational standpoint. How can we improve the building? How can we improve the coaching staff? How can we improve the personnel department? How can we improve the players?

“Just from Vance’s text back, I think people understand that. I think it does make sense. I don’t think that’s something personal.”

Former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke signed off on a five-year contract extension for McDonald in December that consisted of a $7 million signing bonus. McDonald appeared in 11 games last season, catching 24 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns. The 49ers acquired McDonald as a second-round draft pick 2013. In 48 career games, McDonald has 64 receptions for 866 yards and seven touchdowns.

The 49ers signed veteran tight end Logan Paulsen in the offseason. On Saturday, the 49ers selected Iowa tight end George Kittle in the fifth round of the draft. Kittle joins fellow tight ends McDonald, Garrett Celek, Paulsen, Blake Bell and Je’Ron Hamm on the 49ers’ 90-man roster.