(This is Part 4 in a series that will spotlight five 49ers players to watch in the team's exhibition opener against the Minnesota Vikings on Friday, 6 p.m., at Candlestick Park.)
Five 49ers to watch: 5. Alex Boone
Five 49ers to watch: 4. Perrish Cox
Five 49ers to watch: 3. Demarcus Dobbs
The 49ers have a deep stable of wide receivers. Kyle Willams is competing for a spot. Look for the 49ers to keep six wideouts on their 53-man roster.The 49ers are also looking for a clear picture in the return game. Ted Ginn should be a lock. Currently, coach Jim Harbaugh considers Williams as the No. 2 man on punt returns.Of course, we all know what happened the last time the 49ers played. Williams' two turnovers on punt returns were pivotal developments in the team's overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC championship game.How does Harbaugh expect the home fans to react to Williams on Friday night?"To Kyle? He's a 49er. He's one of us," Harbaugh said.Clearly, Harbaugh would be disappointed in 49ers fans if they did not give Williams anything but their unconditional support.Williams handled the disappointment of his playoff experience with aplomb. He made himself available and accountable while addressing the topic with the media. He had a determined offseason, using the turnovers as fuel to come back faster and stronger.Williams had a strong offseason program. And he got off to a good start in training camp. He has put himself in prime position to earn a roster spot. Even 49ers CEO Jed York expressed his wish for Williams to have a "breakout" season.
But Williams struggled on Wednesday with a muffed punt and a couple of drops. Then, Harbaugh ordered him off the field after Williams got into a brief "scuffle" -- Harbaugh's word -- with rookie cornerback Deante' Purvis.There is more pressure on Williams than any other player. It does not matter that it's just an exhibition game. He will definitely return punts. And it will not be easy. After all, the capricious winds at Candlestick Park are generally worse during this time of year than any other.
The San Francisco 49ers Wednesday announced that Tom Gamble is leaving the organization.
“The 49ers organization has tremendous respect and appreciation for Tom Gamble and his many years of service,” said General Manager John Lynch. “He is a class act who has helped a great deal in this transition, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him. After working together over the last month, Tom and I agreed that it would be in both of our best interests for him to pursue other opportunities. Tom is a true professional and we wish him and his family great success in the future.”
“I must thank Jed, the York family and the entire 49ers organization for the wonderful memories they provided me and my family, but it is time I move on,” said Gamble. “This past month, I have had the pleasure of working alongside John Lynch and the talented staff he has assembled. The team is in capable hands and I wish them nothing but the best.”
Gamble, who recently completed his 29th NFL season and 10th with the 49ers, returned to the team in January of 2015 as the senior personnel executive and was later named assistant general manager on July 25, 2016. He spent the 2013-14 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles as vice president of player personnel. Gamble originally joined the 49ers in 2005 and spanned eight seasons with San Francisco including two as the director of player personnel (2011-12). He oversaw both the college and pro personnel efforts of the 49ers. As the 49ers director of pro personnel from 2005-10, Gamble monitored every NFL roster with an emphasis on scouting talent of upcoming pro free agents, while also maintaining continuous depth of personnel on the team’s roster.
49ers media services
General manager John Lynch confirmed during a radio interview that he and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan met with quarterback Colin Kaepernick at his office Wednesday morning at the team headquarters in Santa Clara.
“I would characterize it as just a really positive discussion,” Lynch said during an appearance on KNBR, confirming a CSNBayArea.com report the sides met for the first time since Lynch and Shanahan were hired in their new roles.
Lynch said he and Shanahan have committed to being completely honest with Kaepernick, who can opt out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent as early as next week.
Lynch did not divulge the topics of conversation. He said a commitment was also made to Kaepernick to not speak publicly about the specifics of their conversations.
“I do think that there are some things that are sacred,” Lynch said. “We did have a great discussion and I think Colin left excited and we left excited.
“And I think as Kyle and I believe, the evaluation process is still very much fluid. We’ve only been on the job a couple of weeks and I can tell you we both very much enjoyed being around Colin, and he seems like he’s in a real good place.”