Baalke: Late-round DBs caught 49ers' attention

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Baalke: Late-round DBs caught 49ers' attention

May 17, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOMatt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comSANTA CLARA -- Through the typically mundane process of cataloging 40-yard dash times at pro days, the 49ers became aware of two defensive backs they targeted with late-round picks.Safety Colin Jones of Texas Christian and cornerback Curtis Holcomb of Florida A&M were solid college players, all right.Jones was a second-team Mountain West selection as a senior, while Holcomb was a first-team All-Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference honoree as a sophomore and a second-teamer his junior and senior seasons.But neither was viewed as a potential draft pick until both demonstrated NFL-quality speed at their pro days to go along with size and smarts. Then, when the 49ers checked out the video of their game action, scouts and coaches determined both had unique qualities to offer.Jones' future in the NFL is directly tied to his ability to run down on kickoffs and punts to make tackles for 49ers new special-teams coordinator Brad Seely.RELATED: The Colin Jones File
"When we went out and got coach Seely, one of the questions he had in the process was, 'Are we going to be able to carry one or two or three core (special) teams guys?'" 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said.Jones could be one of the answers to that question. In fact, Baalke said he believes Jones can be one of the NFL's elite special teams player."When you look at the measurable, he's 6-foot, 210 pounds, runs low 4.4s and you can see it on film," Baalke said during his annual film review of the team's draft picks. "He loves special teams. You look at the TCU film, covering kicks, covering punts, he's the first one down and he's not afraid of contact."Jones will learn strong safety upon his arrival with the club, but the 49ers are not expecting a whole lot from him on defense. Eventually, Baalke said, Jones might be able to develop into the 49ers' dime linebacker -- a job veteran safety Michael Lewis held until he quit the team early last season. After Holcomb's impressive showing at his pro day, the 49ers began doing some catchup work to learn more about the player who opened their eyes late in the draft process."He's similar to Phillip Adams (the 49ers' seventh-round pick in 2010 from South Carolina State)," Baalke said. "He's from a smaller school and a little unknown. But at his pro day, he has a real good workout."RELATED: The Curtis Holcomb file
The 49ers saw what they deemed as a "plus workout" from Holcomb. (Baalke declined to outline the exact measurables that caused them to take notice.) But when a player with certain size, speed and agility opens their eyes, they go back to game film to learn more about the player.Director of pro personnel Tom Gamble and his staff, including pro personnel scout Ryan Myers, compiled cutups of Holcomb that demonstrated NFL-quality attributes."What we're looking for is the quickness," Baalke said, while showing film of Holcomb. "(It's the) same thing we saw last year in Phillip when we were (scouting) Phillip -- the quickness, the close."And, then, when the 49ers dug a little deeper, they were blown away with Holcomb's intangibles. Holcomb, the eldest of eight children, was voted as a team captain at Florida A&M for each of his four college seasons."I don't know that anybody in our building has ever heard of it, a guy who's been a four-time captain at the college level," Baalke said. "He's all about football. He's a very smart young man and competitive."RELATED: 49ers' post draft depth chart
The 49ers were not disappointed in Adams' rookie season. He made the team and worked his way onto the field on defense and special teams before sustaining a broken ankle late in the season. Adams' rehab from that injury is on schedule, according to his agent and the 49ers.Holcomb, as most of the 49ers' 10 draft picks, will be required to follow the same path -- beginning with strong work on special teams. "All these guys we feel very comfortable that the value of the pick was the right value," Baalke said. "Now they have to come here and they got to do it. That's the bottom line. The picks have been made and it's up to them now to come in and prove they're worthy of where they were picked." GM Trent Baalke is scheduled to appear Tuesday at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's "Chronicle Live." The program is scheduled to re-air Tuesday at 11 p.m.

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.”