Clemson QB Watson, a potential 49ers QB target, opts for draft

Clemson QB Watson, a potential 49ers QB target, opts for draft

After a remarkable performance against a defense that was talked about as being among the best in college football history, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson announced he is turning pro.

"It's my time to go," Watson told reporters Monday night after leading Clemson to a 35-31 victory over previously unbeaten Alabama in the national title game.

The 49ers own the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. If the 49ers have not filled their need for a potential franchise quarterback after the first seven weeks of the new league year with a free agent or trade, Watson figures to be in the conversation as an early draft pick.

Watson completed 36 of 56 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns against Alabama. He also gained 43 yards and a touchdown rushing.

The winning points came with :01 remaining when Watson found Hunter Renfrow on a 2-yard touchdown pass to cap a nine-play, 68-yard drive that took 2 minutes, 6 seconds.

As Clemson’s full-time starter in 2015 and ’16, Watson completed 67.4 percent of his pass attempts while averaging 8.1 yards per attempt with 76 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions.

North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, who also figures to get consideration for the No. 1 quarterback in the draft, announced Monday he is foregoing his senior season, too.

Texas A&M pass-rusher Myles Garrett is widely considered the top NFL prospect in the draft. The Cleveland Browns have No. 1 overall pick. ESPN recently reported, citing a source close to the situation, the Browns have an “astronomical grade” on Garrett.
 

Report: Wolf withdraws from 49ers' GM race

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Report: Wolf withdraws from 49ers' GM race

Executive Eliot Wolf has reportedly agreed to a new contract to remain with the Green Bay Packers and has pulled out of the running to become the 49ers’ next general manager.

Wolf’s decision to remain with the Packers, as first reported by USA Today’s Tom Pelissero, leaves the 49ers with three known candidates for the job to replace Trent Baalke as general manager.

The 49ers this week informed a handful of candidates they would not be given second interviews for the position. Wolf and Brian Gutekunst, also of Green Bay, George Paton of Minnesota and Arizona’s Terry McDonough remained under consideration for the job after the initial list was pared down.

The 49ers are expected to involve presumptive coach Kyle Shanahan in the process to name the next general manager. Shanahan, Atlanta's offensive coordintor, is prohibited from officially becoming the 49ers' next head coach until after the Falcons' season is over. The Falcons play the Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship game.

Wolf, 32, is in his first season as Green Bay’s director of football operations after receiving a promotion after being denied an opportunity to interview with the Detroit Lions last year. The 49ers interviewed him Jan. 5, along with Gutekunst, the Packers’ director of player personnel. Wolf is the son Hall of Fame executive Ron Wolf.

Adam Gase offers advice to presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan

Adam Gase offers advice to presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan

Coach Adam Gase, a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching position two years ago, learned in his first season with the Miami Dolphins it is essential to have a solid staff around him in order to remain focused on calling plays.

Presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has spent the past nine NFL seasons as an offensive coordinator, including the past two with the Atlanta Falcons. His teams have ranked within the top-10 in total offense in six of those seasons. The Falcons play Sunday in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers.

Shanahan’s knack for game-planning and play-calling are, perhaps, the biggest reasons the 49ers have tabbed him to become head coach. And he is not likely to delegate those duties when he becomes the man in charge on the sideline.

But Gase, speaking on “The 49ers Insider” podcast, noted the importance of being surrounded by a strong staff in order to continue to run his team’s offense.

“It really comes down to how good your coaching staff is around you and how good your support staff is and how you can manage the game during the game and still be able to call plays,” Gase said.

The Dolphins’ staff includes special-teams coordinator Darren Rizzi and his assistant, Marwan Maalouf, who have studied game management and are responsible for alerting Gase to impending in-game circumstances that require his attention. Rizzi is on the sideline during games, while Maalouf is located in the booth.

“They were staying one step ahead on things,” Gase said.

Gase and Shanahan have never worked together, but Gase said they have known each other for a long time because they are approximately the same age and came into the league around the same time.

“You see guys at the combine and the Senior Bowl," Gase said. "You’re at these functions and you see each other once or twice a year. And it’s always good catching up and getting a chance to talk football.

“We grew up in different styles of systems on offense, but at the end of the day, football is football, and there’s always great conversations to have. He’s really smart. . . (We’ve) crossed up a little bit, where he’s worked with certain guys I’ve worked with and vice versa. And I’ve heard nothing but great things about him, with what he knows football-wise and how he goes about his day-to-day activities and work ethic. All I’ve ever heard are great things about him.”

Shanahan is expected to be included in the 49ers' process of hiring a general manager. The 49ers this week informed four of the remaining eight candidates for the position they would not be included in a second round of interviews. That leaves Green Bay’s Brian Gutekunst and Eliot Wolf, Minnesota’s George Paton and Arizona’s Terry McDonough as those who are still under consideration.

When asked what advice he would give Shanahan, were he to officially become 49ers head coach, Gase said, “It’s all about communication.”

He added, “It’s all about that constant dialogue throughout the season. It’s really easy to get lost in doing your job as the head coach. But when you’re all invested in the same thing and you’re all striving to do the same thing and that communication is really rolling, that gives you your best chance to have success.

“It’s never guaranteed because there are so many factors that happen within the season with injuries and schedule and just all those little things you can’t predict, but when you have great communication and you’re all working toward the same thing, that’s going to give you your best chance.”