49ers' York talks Kap: 'This is a fresh start for everybody'

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49ers' York talks Kap: 'This is a fresh start for everybody'

The 49ers have hired their head coach and assembled their next staff. But the most intriguing question remains: Who will start under center in the Chip Kelly era?

Kelly, general manager Trent Baalke and CEO Jed York have mostly remained hush on the matter, but they've contributed tidbits here and there to the conversation.

Leading up to Super Bowl week, the latest came from York, who spoke with NFL Network's Rich Eisen on the 'Rich Esen Show'.

Eisen raised the idea of how good, in theory, quarterback Colin Kaepernick fits with Kelly and the system he runs.

York was then asked who he sees starting for the 49ers in 2016.

"I'm not going to decide who the starting quarterback is. That's our coach, and then the staff," York told Eisen on Thursday. "But I think the nice thing is we have the third-most salary cap room in the league, and everybody wants to make a big issue of, 'Well, you need to make a decision on Colin.' Etcetera, etcetera. We want Colin to get back healthy as soon as possible. We want to make sure that he's able to take the field whenever he's available.

[RELATED: Rival DC: Kap 'Freddy Krueger' scary in Kelly's offense]

"And we've all seen what Colin can do," the 49ers CEO added. "Taking us to a Super Bowl, an NFC Championship game the year after. He's had a great career here. Obviously last year wasn't a great year for any of us in red and gold.

"And I think Chip is going to be a great addition, not just for Kap, but for the rest of the team. I'm excited to see where it goes."

But the fact remains, after a 2-6 record to start the year, Kaepernick was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert.

Once healthy, could Kaepernick earn back his starting job?

"There's no question in my mind," York replied. "I've always had a very, very high opinion of Kap. Kap's a great kid, he's done a lot of great things for us. And again, this is a fresh start for everybody."

Baalke, the team's GM, addressed the quarterback situation earlier in the offseason, telling 95.7 The Game: "Well the future's bright (for Kaepernick). ...But we've got two guys. Blaine (Gabbert) stepped in and did some awfully good things. Obviously Colin has done a lot of good things through his career here. And Chip's looking forward to getting together with both of them, and getting them on the field, and putting them into his system, and going to work."

49ers visit with free-agent defensive end

49ers visit with free-agent defensive end

PHOENIX – The 49ers had a recent visit with Tampa Bay free-agent defensive end Jacquies Smith, general manager John Lynch confirmed on Sunday.

Smith, 27, sustained a torn right ACL in the Buccaneers’ season opener in September while running down the field on punt coverage against the Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers gave Smith a physical during his visit to Santa Clara. The club has yet to make a contract offer, Lynch said.

"We wanted to get him checked out medically, and we’ll see," Lynch said at the NFL owners meetings.

Smith (6-foot-2, 260 pounds) recorded 6.5 sacks in 2014 and seven sacks in 2015 for the Buccaneers.

After going undrafted in 2012 out of Missouri, Smith signed with Miami. He spent time with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League before landing on the New York Jets’ practice squad. Smith worked his way into the Buccaneers’ defensive-line rotation in ’14 after being claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Bills.

The Buccaneers gave Smith the low tender of $1.797 million as a restricted free agent. Any team can sign Smith to an offer sheet. Tampa Bay would have the right of first refusal but would get no compensation if the team chooses not to match the contract.

With 71 players under contract, the 49ers have $74.5 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association.

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman/defensive end Clay Matthews Sr. passed away on Thursday, March 23rd at the age of 88. 

Matthews originally entered the NFL as a 25th round (247th overall) draft choice by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1949 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with San Francisco (1950, 1953-55), appearing in 45 games and registering one interception. After spending his rookie season of 1950 with the 49ers, he went on to spend two years (1951-52) in the United States Army where he served in the Korean War.

A native of Charleston, SC, Matthews attended Georgia Tech where he played guard, tackle and end while earning All-Southeastern Conference honors in 1948. In 1949, Matthews was the All-Southeastern Conference heavyweight wrestling and boxing champion at Georgia Tech.

Matthews was the first of three generations to play in the National Football League. His two oldest sons, Bruce and Clay Jr., each spent 19 seasons in the NFL. Originally selected by the Houston Oilers in the first round (9th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft, Bruce was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 after 14 Pro Bowl and seven First-Team All-Pro selections. Clay Jr. was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1st round (12th overall) in the 1978 draft and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Three of Bruce’s sons, Jake, Kevin and Mike, and two of Clay Jr.’s sons, Clay III and Casey, either have spent time or currently play in the NFL. Clay III is currently a member of the Green Bay Packers and a six-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker while Jake is currently an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons after being selected in the first round (6th overall) by the team in 2014. 

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