49ers

49ers use free agency to find five players for key roles

49ers use free agency to find five players for key roles

Shortly after the beginning of the NFL’s new league year at 1 p.m. on Thursday, the 49ers are expected to finalize contract with five free agents with whom they reached agreements during the open-negotiating period.

New coach Kyle Shanahan is looking to re-tool the offense, and that’s what was accomplished with the influx of new faces.

Here’s a look at how each of the new players fits in with the 49ers:

QB Brian Hoyer (Chicago)
Hoyer, 31, was the most logical of the 49ers’ quarterback targets based on his recent starting experience and his history with Shanahan during their season together with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

He was the 49ers’ top target on the free-agent market, and the 49ers got him.

Nobody envisions Hoyer as a franchise quarterback, but he’s a good fit for the 49ers at this time. He averaged 329.5 yards passing in his four full games last season with the Bears. The 49ers, meanwhile, averaged an NFL-worst 181.9 yards per game.

The addition of Hoyer does not preclude the 49ers from using the No. 2 overall pick on a quarterback. And it does not close the door on the possibility of acquiring Kirk Cousins at some point down the road.

The 49ers can be expected to add another veteran quarterback before the draft, but it remains the long shot of long shots that Colin Kaepernick will end up back with the team.

WR Pierre Garçon (Washington)
Garçon, who turns 31 early in training camp, is coming off the second 1,000-yard season of his nine-year career. While he is likely to be the 49ers’ No. 1 receiver this season, this move was made with an eye to the future, too.

Garçon had his best NFL season in 2013, when Shanahan was calling the shots as Washington’s offensive coordinator. Known as a good pro, Garçon can help show the way to the young receivers the 49ers are bound to add during the offseason.

While there might have been more splashy free-agent receivers on the market, the 49ers wanted to add someone who fits into the big picture. That’s what they believe they are getting with Garçon.

The 49ers released Torrey Smith on Monday. Garçon is a more versatile receiver with an ability to run all the routes in Shanahan’s offense.

WR Marquise Goodwin (Buffalo)
Goodwin, 26, gives the 49ers’ offense an injection of speed, as he joins a receiving corps that includes Garçon, Jeremy Kerley and Bruce Ellington.

He had his best season with the Bills in 2016, catching 29 passes for 431 yards and three touchdowns, but there could be more for him in Shanahan’s offense.

Goodwin (5 foot 9, 179 pounds) is likely to fill a similar role that Taylor Gabriel held with the Atlanta Falcons last season. Gabriel (5-8, 165) caught 35 passes for 579 yards and six touchdowns.

The addition of Goodwin would appear to rule out the return of Quinton Patton, who started all 14 games in which he appeared last season. Patton is an unrestricted free agent after catching 37 passes for 408 yards and no TDs last year.

Goodwin qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games in the long jump, placing 10th overall.

FB Kyle Juszczyk (Baltimore)
Shanahan loves to play the matchup game, and he now has a great chess piece with Juszczyk, who earned a trip to the Pro Bowl last season.

His contract is expected to be $21 million over four years with $10.5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan.

Juszczyk, who turns 26 next month, can play fullback, tight end, H-back and wide receiver. In four seasons, he has not missed a game. He has carried the ball just seven times. He is a good blocker, and he can catch the ball. Juszczyk has 78 receptions for 587 yards and four touchdowns over the past two seasons.

The 49ers placed a priority on signing him over Patrick DiMarco, who played the past two seasons for Shanahan with the Falcons. Juszczyk graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics, so his ability to pick up the playbook is the least of the 49ers’ concerns.

LB Malcolm Smith (Oakland)
As the 49ers transition to the Seattle-style of defense, Smith is someone who comes in with a good handle on what new coordinator Robert Saleh is looking to install.

Smith will come to the 49ers on a five-year, $26.5 million deal with $13 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.

Saleh was the Seahawks’ defensive quality control coach during the first three seasons of Smith’s career in Seattle. Smith, who turns 28 in July, is best-suited to play alongside NaVorro Bowman at the weakside linebacker position in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme.

The 49ers had an alarming lack of depth at linebacker last season. Smith joins a group that includes Bowman, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Carl Bradford and Shayne Skov. The 49ers are also likely to add at this position in the draft.

TE Logan Paulsen (Chicago)
Paulsen’s first four NFL seasons were with Shanahan in Washington. He started 30 games in those four seasons. He had his two-highest reception totals in 2012 and ’13 with 25 catches for 308 yards and 28 receptions for 308 yards. Paulsen's agreement on contrat terms was first reported by CSN Bay Area's Fallon Smith.

After five seasons in Washington, Paulsen moved on to Chicago, where he was used primarily as a blocker. He caught just three passes in 16 games, including 10 starts. Paulsen, 30, will compete for playing time with Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, Blake Bell and Je'Ron Hamm.

On eve of game vs Rams, 49ers only have two healthy safeties

jimmieward-49ers-seahawks-ap.jpg
AP

On eve of game vs Rams, 49ers only have two healthy safeties

Starting safety Eric Reid will not be available for the 49ers on Thursday night, and the other presumptive starting safeties are questionable, too.

Jimmie Ward (hamstring) and Jaquiski Tartt (neck) went through limited practice Wednesdsay and are listed as questionable to face the Los Angeles Rams in front of a national television audience at Levi’s Stadium on Thursday night.

Ward and Tartt are expected to be available for the game, but the 49ers’ only healthy safeties are rookies Lorenzo Jerome and Adrian Colbert.

Reid is expected miss more than one game with a sprain of the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Reid is listed as out for Thursday’s game, along with linebacker Reuben Foster.

The 49ers medical staff no longer requires Foster to wear an orthopedic boot to stabilize his high right ankle sprain. General manager John Lynch said Foster is making good progress, but the 49ers are going to be cautious with him.

“The one thing I know is that freak athletes tend to be freak healers, as well,” Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“He wanted to play the first week in the boot. That’s just the way he’s wired. We got to make sure he’s all the way healthy before we put him in, and we’re going to do that.”

Tight end George Kittle (hip) and linebacker Eli Harold (foot) are questionable for the game and are expected to play. Kittle sustained his injury during the 49ers’ 12-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Harold was stepped on during a practice this week.

49ers injury report
Out
LB Reuben Foster (ankle)
S Eric Reid (knee)
Questionable
LB Eli Harold (foot)
TE George Kittle (hip)
S Jaquiski Tartt (neck)
S Jimmie Ward (hamstring)

Shanahan: 49ers need Hoyer to step up

Shanahan: 49ers need Hoyer to step up

The 49ers entered the regular season feeling as confident in quarterback Brian Hoyer as anyone on the offensive side of the ball.

But Hoyer has struggled through the worst back-to-back games of his 33-start NFL career. And the 49ers need him to get going, beginning Thursday night against the Los Angeles Rams, coach Kyle Shanahan said.

"I want him to get his edge back. I want him to get his confidence,” Shanahan said Wednesday on the KNBR Morning Show.

“We need Brian to step up, and we need everyone around him to step up.”

In the first two games of the season, Hoyer has completed 62.9 percent of his 62 pass attempts but for just 292 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating is a lowly 60.7.

The 49ers have scored only four field goals and no touchdowns on their 21 offensive possessions in losses to Carolina and Seattle. Moreover, the 49ers have converted just four of 23 (17.4 percent) of their third-down attempts.

The quick turnaround on Thursday at Levi’s Stadium is something Hoyer said he welcomes this week -- of all weeks.

Last season with the Chicago Bears, Hoyer did not throw for fewer than 300 yards in any of his four full games. On Sunday in the 49ers’ 12-9 loss to the Seahawks, he managed just 99 yards passing.

“It was a tough game and now we move on,” Hoyer said. “Thankfully, this week we get to move on really quick and move on to LA.

”You get to put the last one behind you and move on to the next.”