Boone opens 49ers' camp as favorite for starting role

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Boone opens 49ers' camp as favorite for starting role

The 49ers saw an opportunity to upgrade at right guard. They did not offer contracts to incumbent Adam Snyder or his top backup from a year ago, Chilo Rachal. But, then, they did not spend a lot of time looking outside the organization for a new starter.
Then, the 49ers did not sign any veterans in free agency, and the only player added to the mix was a fourth-round draft pick who is recovering from a serious foot injury.Still, the 49ers believe they're in good position on the offensive line heading into training camp:Offensive line
When news broke this offseason that the 49ers planned to convert backup tackle Alex Boone to right guard, it was expected he would take part in a fierce competition for the starting job. Now, it's questionable whether there will even be a competition during training camp.Boone made a relatively seamless transition from his role as the 49ers' backup tackle on both sides. In the offseason, he showed plenty of promise as he adapted to his new assignments, stance and technique. If he can keep it going when the pads go on, Boone will undoubtedly be the starting right guard to open the season.The rest of the 49ers' offensive line appears set with incumbents: left tackle Joe Staley, left guard Mike Iupati, center Jonathan Goodwin and right tackle Anthony Davis.Early in the offseason, the 49ers took a look at veteran free-agent guards Leonard Davis, Jason Brown, Deuce Lutui and Geoff Schwartz. But the only interior lineman they have added is guard Joe Looney, a fourth-round draft pick whom the 49ers selected after trading out of the third round.Looney sustained a very serious Lisfranc foot fracture during practice before the Senior Bowl. Looney was seen rehabbing throughout the offseason, but he was not cleared to participate in practices. Coach Jim Harbaugh said he expects Looney to be available "at some point in training camp."The team's top interior backup figures to be second-year player Daniel Kilgore, who worked this offseason as the backup center and could be the long-term answer to eventually take over for Goodwin.The 49ers will suit up seven offensive linemen among the 46 players allowed to be in uniform for regular-season games. Kilgore appears to be in line to be the top backup. Kilgore could fill the role as the backup at center and both guard positions. If a replacement tackle were needed, Boone could take on that responsibility with Kilgore filling in at right guard.The 49ers figure to keep 10 or 11 offensive linemen around during the regular season (including practice squad). So there will be plenty of competition for those spots.Mike Person was on the 49ers' 53-man roster last season as a rookie, but he did not suit up for any games. He lined with the second team at left tackle during the offseason program. He also saw some action at guard.Rookie Jason Slowey, a sixth-round draft pick from Western Oregon, was the third-team center behind Goodwin and Kilgore. Chase Beeler, who underwent surgery to repair a broken right had, saw limited work during the offseason. He spent much of his rookie season on the 49ers' practice squad.Kenny Wiggins and Al Netter worked at right tackle. Garrett Chisolm and Derek Hall worked at guard on the second team, while David Gonzales lined up at guard with the third team.

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

PHOENIX – Coach Kyle Shanahan walked into a position with the 49ers in which he had no quarterbacks on the roster.

On the first two days of free agency, the 49ers added Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. He determined they were better fits for the offense he would be installing over Colin Kaepernick, who started 64 regular-season and postseason games for the 49ers over the past 4 ½ seasons.

Shanahan appeared to be looking for quarterbacks who are more proficient at going through progressions and making plays from the pocket. Kaepernick was not deemed as a good fit for Shanahan's offense.

“Colin’s had a great career, and he’s done some really good things,” Shanahan said on Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. “I think Colin has a certain skillset that you can put a specific offense to it that he can be very successful in.

“When we first looked at it, you got to look at each quarterback and what type of offense you want to put in. That wasn’t necessarily the direction I wanted to go. I wanted to put in a different type of offense.”

Kaepernick opted out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. General manager John Lynch has confirmed the 49ers would have released Kaepernick if he had not opted out of his deal.

“The type of offense I wanted to run was somewhat different and that’s why we went that type of direction,” Shanahan said.

The 49ers’ top target in free agency was Hoyer, who enters his ninth NFL season with his sixth different team. Shanahan was offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns in 2014 in Hoyer’s second and final season with the club.

Hoyer started five games with Chicago in 2016 before getting sidelined with broken left arm. Hoyer completed 67 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions in 200 attempts.

“All these questions about what I like in a quarterback, Brian is like that,” Shanahan said. “He’s obsessed with the game. He will learn your offense. He’ll be able to execute and run it. That gives other guys a chance to perform in your offense. If your quarterback can’t execute it and go through it, it doesn’t always matter what the O-line or the receivers are doing.

“With Brian, you have a very smart guy who works at it, will hang in the pocket and is fearless, will keep his eyes down the field and deliver the ball to the right spots. It gives people a chance to be successful.”

The 49ers also reached a contract agreement with Barkley, who started six games with the Bears due to injuries to Jay Cutler and Hoyer. Barkley saw the most extensive playing time of his career. He completed 59.7 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

“Just watching Matt since college, Matt’s always been a solid player, even coming out and playing at an early age at (USC),” Shanahan said. “He’s battle-tested in that way. He’s gone through the pressure of college, the pressure of the draft, being in the NFL, being with some different teams. Even watching Matt in Chicago this year, I think he played better this year than he has throughout his career. That means the guy is continuing to work at it.”

The 49ers figure to go to training camp with four quarterbacks, so the team is not finished at the quarterback position.

“We’ll look to add anyone who can really help us,” Shanahan said. “I’m very happy with the two we got. You know we’re not only going to take two to camp. So we got to see how the draft works out and then you see what else is out there.”

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

PHOENIX – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday he does not believe quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being “blackballed” in his attempt to continue his career.

“I haven’t heard that from our clubs in any way that that’s an issue,” Goodell said during his press conference to conclude the NFL owners meetings.

“My experience in 35 years is that our clubs make independent evaluations of players. They work hard to try to improve their teams. But if they think a player can help improve their team, they’re going to do that.”

Kaepernick remains unsigned as an unrestricted free agent after opting out of his 49ers contract earlier this month. Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman this week was asked on ESPN’s "First Take" whether he felt Kaepernick was being blackballed.

"I'm sure he is," Sherman answered. "It's difficult to see because he's played at such a high level, and you see guys, quarterbacks, who have never played at a high level being signed by teams. So it's difficult to understand."

General manager John Lynch on Tuesday said the 49ers have not had any contact with Kaepernick since he and coach Kyle Shanahan met with Kaepernick on Feb. 22 in Santa Clara. The 49ers signed free-agent quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley have shown no interest in re-signing Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, 29, created a controversy last season when he opted to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial inequality in the United States. Kaepernick has decided to stand for the national anthem this season.

Earlier in the day, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said it was “stupid” and “intellectually lazy” to think teams have colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the league. Last week, former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, John’s brother, said Kaepernick is still an outstanding player and can win championships.

“I absolutely think he’s going to get signed,” John Harbaugh said. “I agree with Jim. He can win games for people.”