John Lynch: There's a lot to like in 2017 QB draft class

John Lynch: There's a lot to like in 2017 QB draft class

INDIANAPOLIS – The 49ers will meet with at least the top four quarterback draft prospects this week at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Although the draft is two months away, 49ers general manager John Lynch has already been impressed with what he has seen. The 49ers' top two picks are set for No. 2 and No. 34 overall.

“I think these guys are somewhat getting a bad rap,” Lynch said Thursday. “You turn on the film, and there’s a lot to like.”

The 49ers met Wednesday night with Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer. By the time the combine concludes, the 49ers will also have held 15-minute interviews with North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, Clemon’s Deshaun Watson and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes.

“This whole thing is not about an interview, but if you were grading him on that alone, he blew the doors off,” Lynch said of Kizer. “He’s an impressive young man. His film is very impressive.

“I think the same can be said for Deshaun Watson. You look what he’s done, just putting a team on his shoulders and taking down a great champion. Trubisky, Mahomes, I think it’s a very talented draft class at that position. We’re very excited about those guys. I don’t think you need to be too transparent to realize that’s a position we’re looking at. We don’t have any. That’s a position that’s a big focal point of our preparation and this week is a big part of that.”

Kizer (6 foot 4¼) was the tallest of the quarterbacks invited to the combine. Watson checked in 6-2½. Trubisky checked in over the 6-2 1/8.

“He measured over 6-2, so he made himself some money today, I promise you,” Lynch said of Trubisky.

“He grows on you. The more you watch him, the more you like him.”

Mahomes was the shortest of the quarterbacks at 6-2.

“He’s a guy the film is pretty special,” Lynch said. “We’re excited to watch more and learn more about him.”

Watson has the most decorated college career, leading Clemson to the victory over Alabama in the national championship game. Lynch said he spent time around Watson during Super Bowl week in Houston.

“There are certain guys who just carry themselves differently and have a presence about him,” Lynch said. “I’d put him in that category in the brief time you could just see there’s a confidence and an aura that he carries himself with is pretty special.”

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.”