49ers

Browns zeroing in on No. 1 pick in 2017 NFL Draft

Browns zeroing in on No. 1 pick in 2017 NFL Draft

BEREA, Ohio -- For nearly 30 minutes, Sashi Brown kept Cleveland's draft plans close to the vest, deflecting some questions, dodging others.

The team's top football executive was intentionally vague on a number of subjects, including which player the Browns will select with the No. 1 overall pick, though it appears Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is the choice.

But as he was wrapped up his news conference, Brown, who has spent the past year acquiring picks for this draft, finally gave a definitive answer. Asked if the team will trade for a veteran quarterback on draft weekend, he didn't mince words.

"No," Brown said firmly.

His comment would seem to ends months of rampant speculation that Cleveland is angling to acquire New England's Jimmy Garoppolo or Cincinnati's AJ McCarron to help solve their decade-old search for a franchise quarterback.

So there is no gray area, Brown was asked if a deal could happen before next week's draft.

"Could we in theory? Yes," he said after standing at the podium. "But are we planning on it or is that the plan? No."

And with that, Cleveland's seemingly endless quarterback quest took another twist.

But as the Browns prepare to pick a draft class he described as "momentous" for an organization still recovering from a 1-15 season, Brown feels the team is well positioned to add players that will "return to winning here in Cleveland."

Garrett appears to be the head of that rookie group.

Brown said the team has received calls about a possible trade for the No. 1 pick, but indicated the Browns will likely keep it, and that they've zeroed in on who they want.

"We feel really good about picking at one," he said, "and I'll leave it at that."

Both Brown and Andrew Berry, the club's vice president of player personnel, gushed when talking about the Aggies All-American, who has emerged as the consensus best player on the board in 2017.

Garrett could transform Cleveland's defense, giving it a ferocious edge rusher opponents will have to scheme to stop. The Browns don't have enough of those players on their roster.

The team has spent a lot of time getting to know Garrett over the past few months.

"We learned a lot about what makes him tick, what motivates him, how he spends his down time, how he spends his time with his teammates," Brown said. "You can learn a lot. He is an enjoyable young man, very bright. Whatever team gets him, particularly if it's us, would be proud to have him."

One of the only criticisms of Garrett is that it appeared he took plays off during his three seasons in college. Berry, though, said the Browns don't have any issues with Garrett's competitiveness.

"Sometimes those concerns are a little bit overstated," he said. "Every prospect is going to have his weaknesses. There is no such thing as a perfect player."

Or a perfect draft.

But with the No. 1 pick, No. 12 and six in the top 65, the Browns are in a commanding position to fill needs.

The biggest remains at quarterback, and Cleveland, which has started 26 QBs since 1999, could not only come away with Garrett but with the best young passer available as well. If they need to move up from 12, the Browns have the resources with 11 picks.

North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky is believed to be Cleveland's highest-rated quarterback, and his Northeast Ohio roots could make him irresistible to the team he grew up rooting for.

Trubisky started only 13 games for the Tar Heels, and his lack of experience could deter teams ahead of the Browns from taking him. A Garrett-and-Trubisky package would be considered a smashing success in Cleveland, where fans treat the event like the Super Bowl they've never gotten.

Brown isn't feeling any more pressure to get this draft right, but he knows it's vital not to get it wrong.

"We are not trying to take some approach where it is this draft or bust," he said. "My job is to make sure that our organization makes a series of good decisions. When you do that over time with a good plan, strategy and alignment, you are going to be good in this league. We have seen this in our division. The teams that we play against have all been together a long time and have those systems very right.

"That is what we are heading toward."

On eve of game vs Rams, 49ers only have two healthy safeties

jimmieward-49ers-seahawks-ap.jpg
AP

On eve of game vs Rams, 49ers only have two healthy safeties

Starting safety Eric Reid will not be available for the 49ers on Thursday night, and the other presumptive starting safeties are questionable, too.

Jimmie Ward (hamstring) and Jaquiski Tartt (neck) went through limited practice Wednesdsay and are listed as questionable to face the Los Angeles Rams in front of a national television audience at Levi’s Stadium on Thursday night.

Ward and Tartt are expected to be available for the game, but the 49ers’ only healthy safeties are rookies Lorenzo Jerome and Adrian Colbert.

Reid is expected miss more than one game with a sprain of the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Reid is listed as out for Thursday’s game, along with linebacker Reuben Foster.

The 49ers medical staff no longer requires Foster to wear an orthopedic boot to stabilize his high right ankle sprain. General manager John Lynch said Foster is making good progress, but the 49ers are going to be cautious with him.

“The one thing I know is that freak athletes tend to be freak healers, as well,” Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“He wanted to play the first week in the boot. That’s just the way he’s wired. We got to make sure he’s all the way healthy before we put him in, and we’re going to do that.”

Tight end George Kittle (hip) and linebacker Eli Harold (foot) are questionable for the game and are expected to play. Kittle sustained his injury during the 49ers’ 12-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Harold was stepped on during a practice this week.

49ers injury report
Out
LB Reuben Foster (ankle)
S Eric Reid (knee)
Questionable
LB Eli Harold (foot)
TE George Kittle (hip)
S Jaquiski Tartt (neck)
S Jimmie Ward (hamstring)

Shanahan: 49ers need Hoyer to step up

Shanahan: 49ers need Hoyer to step up

The 49ers entered the regular season feeling as confident in quarterback Brian Hoyer as anyone on the offensive side of the ball.

But Hoyer has struggled through the worst back-to-back games of his 33-start NFL career. And the 49ers need him to get going, beginning Thursday night against the Los Angeles Rams, coach Kyle Shanahan said.

"I want him to get his edge back. I want him to get his confidence,” Shanahan said Wednesday on the KNBR Morning Show.

“We need Brian to step up, and we need everyone around him to step up.”

In the first two games of the season, Hoyer has completed 62.9 percent of his 62 pass attempts but for just 292 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating is a lowly 60.7.

The 49ers have scored only four field goals and no touchdowns on their 21 offensive possessions in losses to Carolina and Seattle. Moreover, the 49ers have converted just four of 23 (17.4 percent) of their third-down attempts.

The quick turnaround on Thursday at Levi’s Stadium is something Hoyer said he welcomes this week -- of all weeks.

Last season with the Chicago Bears, Hoyer did not throw for fewer than 300 yards in any of his four full games. On Sunday in the 49ers’ 12-9 loss to the Seahawks, he managed just 99 yards passing.

“It was a tough game and now we move on,” Hoyer said. “Thankfully, this week we get to move on really quick and move on to LA.

”You get to put the last one behind you and move on to the next.”