Baalke: 49ers not looking to replace Gore

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Baalke: 49ers not looking to replace Gore

May 6, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOMatt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comRunning back Frank Gore enters the final year of his contract, and the 49ers have now selected running backs in the past three drafts.While the 49ers are planning for life without Gore as the 49ers' every-down back, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said the club has no intention of running him out of town."I think you always have to plan for the future," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said upon the selection of Oklahoma State running Kendall Hunter."We look at Frank as a 49er and a guy that we would love to have here for his career. This isn't a move to try to replace Frank by any stretch. He's a 49er. Those are the guys that we want to keep in the fold. This is just a chance for us to add a quality player at a position that we needed another player at."
The 49ers selected Hunter on Saturday in the fourth round with the No. 115 overall pick. Hunter rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore and again as a senior. Injuries limited his production as junior.Hunter (5-foot-7 14, 199 pounds) is outside the mold of running backs the 49ers have drafted over the past two decades. The last running back the 49ers selected -- and who wasn't immediately released -- that compares to Hunter's size was Dexter Carter. A first-round pick in 1990, Carter was 5-9, 170.The 49ers selected 236-pound Anthony Dixon in the sixth round of the 2010 draft. A year earlier, the 49ers invested a third-round selection in power-running Glen Coffee. After one full NFL season, Coffee abruptly retired last summer during training camp.Dixon ended up sharing time with veteran Brian Westbrook after Gore's injury. Westbrook was the 49ers' second-leading rusher with 340 yards on 77 carries, while Dixon gained 237 yards on 70 attempts. Westbrook is a free agent and the club has no intention of re-signing him with a backfield already consisting of Gore, Dixon and Hunter.
Prior to sustaining a season-ending hip fracture in the 11th game of last season, Gore was on the field for 558 or the 49ers' 602 offensive plays (92.7 percent). In selecting Hunter, the 49ers do not believe they are getting just a third-down contributor, Baalke said."We feel real good with him as a three-down, actually a four-down contributor," Baalke said. "He's a guy that proved that during the season. Obviously, he's a skilled running back. He also offers us some very good value as a kickoff returner. As he showed at the Senior Bowl, he can step up in pass-protection. He did very well in the one-on-ones. We're looking at him as a complete back, not just a change-of-pace guy."

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Vance McDonald became aware of a report the 49ers had engaged in trade talks involving him at his brother’s wedding in Austin, Texas.

But McDonald said he did not give it much thought because he had another immediate priority.

“I still had my best man’s speech to do,” McDonald said.

Later that evening during last month's draft, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan called McDonald to keep him in the loop. There was no trade, and McDonald returned to Santa Clara on Monday to continue participation in the 49ers’ offseason program.

“The first thing I told him was, ‘Man, there aren’t a lot of coaches that would do this,’” McDonald said of his talk with Shanahan. “He just wanted to fill me in.”

Nearly four weeks later, it is as if nothing ever happened.

“The only trade discussions we had was when another team asked us about Vance on draft day,” Shanahan said this week. “And after a team asked us about Vance then we asked other teams if they’d be interested in that same thing.”

McDonald said he completely understood why the 49ers would check with other teams around the league to see what they could acquire in a trade.

“Basically, it’s just like any other team in the NFL would do,” McDonald said. “If you’re a 2-14 team, obviously, there are a lot of things you can improve on, a lot of spots that need to be filled. There are a lot of things you need to improve upon in the offseason. So if teams are going to call and inquire about you, then obviously the next step is to … call around to every other team.

“So that’s exactly what happened to me. It isn’t like they don’t want me here. There was never a lack of communication on any level.”

Even before he knew his immediate future with the 49ers, McDonald said he tried to maintain the proper state of mind.

“I had the mindset this isn’t going to change anything,” McDonald said. “I’m going to end up where I end up and I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing, which is do everything to be a better football player.”

McDonald enters the fifth year of his NFL career after signing a new deal in December that amounts to a three-year, $19.7 million extension. Three days later, the 49ers placed McDonald on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

McDonald was on pace for his best season as a pass-catcher. In 11 games, he had 24 receptions for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

Now, he is competition for a spot in the 49ers’ offense, along with fifth-round draft pick George Kittle, undrafted rookie Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

McDonald said he likes what Shanahan has brought to the 49ers, including added responsibilities of the tight end position.

“Last year, all we talked about was how fast our pace was,” McDonald said. “With Kyle, it’s insanely quick. He’s a very detailed guy. It’s interesting to hear him present information. You try to apply it and play with the same mindset that he has. It’s a task that we all enjoy doing.

“We (tight ends) are the end of the line. There’s communication with us and the wide receivers and running backs. We’re also in command with receiving corps. There are a lot of things on our plate. Hopefully, this doesn’t get back to the wide receivers, but we’re supposed to be smarter than them. It’s a fun job to have. We don’t try to rub it in too much.”

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly is back in college football.

The former Oregon coach, who served as 49ers head coach last season, signed a multiyear deal as an ESPN analyst, the network announced Friday morning. He will work predominantly on pre-games, halftimes and in studio wraps each Saturday on ESPN2.

“Over the last 30 years, I have experienced football from one perspective – as a coach,” Kelly said in a statement. “Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different angle; simultaneously, I‘ll provide viewers an insight to the mindset of a coach and team while offering alternative views of various situations.

“Once I decided to make the move to TV, my familiarity with ESPN, combined with their high-quality production and vital role in college football, it was easily the best network suited for me.”

Kelly, 53, was fired on the evening of the 49ers’ season finale. The 49ers went 2-14 under Kelly and set the franchise record with 13 consecutive losses. Their only victories came against the Los Angeles Rams. Kelly also auditioned with FOX for the analyst job vacated when John Lynch became 49ers general manager, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Kelly served as Oregon’s head coach from 2009 to ’12. His teams compiled a record of 46-7. Under Kelly, the Ducks advanced to the 2011 national championship game, losing to Auburn 22-19.

Kelly won the AP College Football Coach of the Year. He twice won the Pac-10 coach of the year. He left Oregon to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. After his first two NFL teams went 10-6, Kelly was fired in 2015 with one game remaining in the season. The Eagles were 6-9 at the time of Kelly's firing.

“Chip is one of the most innovative football minds of our generation,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting said. “As a coach, he saw the game from a unique perspective, never afraid to take an unconventional approach. We want him to bring that mentality to our college football coverage each week, offering fans a varying viewpoint outside of the conventional thought process.”