49ers

49ers' youth, athleticism impress Kelly

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49ers' youth, athleticism impress Kelly

Editor’s note: Matt Maiocco is in Indianapolis to cover the NFL Combine. Check back for his comprehensive coverage and catch his nightly updates on SportsNet Central.

INDIANAPOLIS –- Chip Kelly said he did not enter his film study of the 49ers’ roster with any preconceived thoughts about the team's level of talent.

But upon going through all 16 games of last season, he said he felt good about what he saw from some of the team’s young performers. At the end of the season, the 49ers had 27 players with two years or less of NFL experience on their 53-man roster.

“I was impressed with the overall athleticism and youth of the team,” Kelly said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “They had to quickly turn it around. Three years ago they’re in the Super Bowl with Patrick Willis and Justin Smith, (Ray) McDonald, Aldon (Smith) and you look at that defense, they had some outstanding players. And now they’re all gone.

“I think there’s some really good young talent on the team. I think the safety position is really talented. That probably jumped out at you the most on the defensive side. At a position in this league, where there’s not a lot of safeties, I think you got a lot of capable players at that position.”

[MAIOCCO: Baalke assesses 49ers' roster: 'Good, young nucleus']

Eric Reid was in his third season as a starter, while Jaquiski Tartt was forced into a starting role as a rookie after veteran Antoine Bethea sustained a season-ending injury. In addition, Jimmie Ward saw action at safety while also being the team’s nickel back.

On offense, Kelly said he was impressed from what he saw from the running backs – even after Carlos Hyde was forced out of the lineup with a stress fracture in his foot.

“When I turned the tape on, I was really impressed,” Kelly said. “Carlos was out, but some of those other guys they were impressive down the stretch, and guys they got of the street. There’s some talent at the running back spot.”

Kelly said he would like for the 49ers to re-sign scheduled free agent Shaun Draughn, whom the 49ers signed off the street after injuries to Hyde and Reggie Bush. Draughn was the 49ers’ second-leading rusher behind Hyde’s 470 yards with 263 yards on 76 attempts. Draughn also caught 25 passes for 175 yards.

DuJuan Harris was added late in the season and ended up with 140 yards rushing on 27 attempts. Kelly also mentioned his excitement to see what Jarryd Hayne is capable of doing in his second year of American football.

But, clearly, Hyde is headliner of the 49ers’ run game.

“I’m really excited to get working with Carlos” Kelly said. “He had an unbelievable pro-day workout. I was at his workout at Ohio State. I was really, really impressed with him there. And, obviously, I know (Ohio State coach) Urban (Meyer) really well. He’s a really good friend of mine. I know how highly Urban thinks of him. Big, physical back that’s a combination of size and speed. He should be fun to work with.”

[RELATED: Hyde working out with Gore in offseason]

Kelly also said he believes the 49ers’ group of tight ends is more than capable with Vance McDonald, Blake Bell and Garrett Celek, whom the 49ers signed to an extension this week.

Wide receiver Bruce Ellington was not much of a factor last season in his second NFL year. He caught just 13 passes for 153 yards. He also averaged just 7.2 yards on 19 punt returns, but Kelly appears intrigued with the possibility of Ellington taking on a larger role on his team.

“When you look at just the short time that I’ve seen just film of him you’re like ‘Wow.’ That kid can do some interesting things,” Kelly said. “And it’s our job to figure out how we can use that to benefit us to help us win games.”

The 49ers have plenty of questions on the offensive line, but one player who caught his eye was 6-foot-8, 355-pound right tackle Trent Brown, who started the final two games of the season.

“He’s got great physical skills,” Kelly said. “He’s got great balance. He’s got great flexibility. You see him and you’re like ‘Oh my God. That guy’s gigantic.’ ”

Perhaps the player Kelly knows best was their first-round draft pick of a year ago. Kelly recruited defensive lineman Arik Armstead to Oregon, and he said the progress his former player made during his rookie season was noticeable.

“I think you saw him grow as the season went along, but I was really impressed with him,” Kelly said. “I obviously know Arik very well from recruiting him and coaching him. I think he’s still coming and I think he’s got a huge upside. I was really impressed just to see his progress in his first year from Week 1 to Week 17.”

49ers designate two linebackers waived/injured

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USATSI

49ers designate two linebackers waived/injured

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers are expected to replenish their linebacker to help the team get through upcoming practices and their final three exhibition games.

The 49ers on Wednesday created two roster spots to sign replacements, as the team designated linebackers Donavin Newsom and Jayson DiManche as waived/injured.

General manager John Lynch said the designation was a formality for Newsom, who will revert back to the 49ers after clearing waivers. Newsom will remain under contract to the 49ers after going on injured reserve.

“He’s doing better each day,” Lynch said. “We’re going to put him on injured reserve. It will come across the wire procedurally as a waived-injured, but he’s going to be on injured reserve. And talking with our doctors, he got great care up here at Stanford. It’s the best thing for the kid. Give him time to really get right. So, (I) had a good talk with him this morning.”

Newsom, an undrafted rookie from Colorado, sustained a serious concussion on Aug. 8 and was taken by ambulance off the practice field to Stanford Hospital. He spent two nights in the hospital as a precaution.

DiManche was signed last week and participated in seven plays on defense and 15 on special teams before sustaining a hamstring injury in the 49ers’ exhibition opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Newly signed linebacker Sean Porter sustained a quadriceps injury in the game against the Chiefs and has also not been available to practice.

Von Miller calls 49ers’ Trent Brown 'the best right tackle in the NFL’

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AP

Von Miller calls 49ers’ Trent Brown 'the best right tackle in the NFL’

Von Miller has 73.5 sacks to his name over six seasons in the NFL. He's a five-time Prow Bowl linebacker, three-time All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, and Super Bowl MVP. 

Trent Brown has played 21 games in two NFL seasons for the 49ers, 18 of them as starts. Despite his little time in the NFL and lack of honors, the Broncos' defensive star sees San Francisco's young offensive lineman as the best in the game at his position.

“He’s the best right tackle in the National Football League,” Miller said to the San Francisco Chronicle Wednesday after the first of two joint practices with the 49ers. “And he may even be a top-five tackle, period, in the National Football League. There’s not another tackle who’s that tall, that big and can move he way he moves.”

Brown, at 24 years old and standing 6-foot-8 while weighing 355 pounds, was the only offensive lineman invited to Miller's "Pass Rush Summit" at Stanford in June. Miller says he invited Brown so he could gain more knowledge, but also added, "from my point of view, we could get it (more knowledge) from a premier-offensive-tackle point of view.”

The two went up against each other in the trenches Wednesday in Santa Clara. After Brown held his own, Miller poured on the praise, but he made it clear how the young offensive lineman's future is all up to himself. Brown holds the keys to his potential. 

"He’ll be as good as he wants to be," Miller said. "When he’s on, there’s not another tackle in the National Football League that’s as good as him."

Miller also made a bold prediction. "He’s going to have one of the biggest (contracts) for an offensive lineman."

Brown's rookie deal ends after the 2018 season.