Luck shines pro day spotlight on teammate Fleener


Luck shines pro day spotlight on teammate Fleener

STANFORD -- With his draft status all but assured as the No. 1 overall pick of the Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck decided to share the wealth Thursday at Stanford's pro day.The main beneficiary was tight end Coby Fleener."I'm in a very unique position and I feel very fortunate," Luck said. "Nothing's ever set in stone, but I think I'll have the chance to be drafted very high."Maybe a pro day isn't going to help or hurt me as much as some of the other guys on our team. So I wanted to show the strengths of our receivers."The coaches, scouts and media who packed the sideline on the Stanford practice field already knew the strengths of Luck, who negotiated the windy elements with aplomb. The physical tools are undeniable, but Luck also rates high in the category of intangibles."Andrew's going to be a great pro because of his brain and hard work," Fleener said.And he proved to be an outstanding teammate on Thursday. Luck went out of the game to help his receivers, with a throw behind a running back here and a low throw to a receiver there. And it was all by design.And, in the process, Fleener did his fair share to solidify his standing as a likely first-round draft pick, too. He had an impressive showing while running 40 yards with representatives from all 32 NFL teams watching and clocking his every move.Fleener checked in at last month's NFL scouting combine at 6-foot-6, 247 pounds with a 79 14-inch wingspan and 10-inch hands. But he did not run due to a right ankle sprain.He ran on Thursday, and he ran fast. Fleener was timed from 4.45 to the low 4.50s in his two runs. And when Luck was asked about his best throw during his 48-toss showcase, he pointed to one he put up for Fleener to go get.Near the end of the workout, Luck lobbed a high fade in the end zone that enabled Fleener to showcase his jumping ability and soft hands."I was secretly very proud of putting it in the right spot," Luck said.Two young, tall, athletic tight ends had dominant seasons in the NFL last season, and Fleener is likely to be viewed in that mold.New England's Rob Gronkowski had 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns, and New Orleans' Jimmy Graham caught 99 passes for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns."I'm thankful for the Gronkowskis and Jimmy Grahams of the world and what they've done the past couple years," Fleener said. "It's helped our tight ends draft class and I'm absolutely thankful."The Stanford campus was the place to be for NFL types on Thursday, as four potential first-round draft picks, including offensive linemen David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin, were on display.The NFL Network and ESPN televised the event live because of Luck's presence. While Luck was impressive with a relatively low level of difficulty from his workout, he preferred to share the spotlight."If I go out and throw a ball I don't really want to throw, I'll do it for those guys," Luck said.Fleener, who caught 34 passes for a 19.6-yard average and 10 touchdowns as a senior at Stanford, caught passes for Luck, along with wide receivers Chris Owusu and Griff Whalen, and running back Jeremy Stewart.Owusu did not run a 40 on Thursday, as he let his 4.31-4.36 from the combine stand on its own. He ran routes, and generally looked smooth. After Luck's workout, one scout requested a "deep throw." Owusu ran a go pattern and Luck, throwing into a slight head wind, unleashed a pass that traveled at least 70 yards in the air that Owusu dropped.The 49ers had several representatives, but neither coach Jim Harbaugh nor general manager Trent Baalke was in attendance. It seems unlikely any of the four possible first-round picks will be available if the 49ers do not move up from their pick at No. 30 overall.The 49ers already have Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker, but could the 49ers be a possibility for Fleener?"I won't know until draft day," he said. "To guess is a fool's game."
Washington's Mike Shanahan and Arizona's Ken Whisenhunt were the only NFL head coaches watching the Stanford pro day. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin, who worked out Wednesday in Waco, Texas, is expected to be the Redskins' choice with the No. 2 overall pick.

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.

The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.

An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.

Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.

"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.


49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

49ers head coach Shanahan: Lynch going in the right direction

SANTA CLARA -- General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan sat down with 49ers pass-rusher Aaron Lynch shortly after assuming their new roles to give him an outline of what was expected.

Aaron Lynch entered the NFL in 2014 as a fifth-round draft pick despite having the talent worthy of a much-earlier selection. There were concerns about his commitment and character.

Lynch showed plenty of promise in his first two seasons. He tied for the club lead both seasons with six and 6.5 sacks, respectively. Last year, Lynch reported to the offseason program 30 pounds overweight. He was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy of substances of abuse. Then, he missed considerable time with an ankle injury. In seven games, Lynch recorded just 1.5 sacks.

John Lynch and Shanahan told Aaron Lynch his past transgressions would not be held against him, but he had to work hard and prove himself. As Lynch enters the final year of his original four-year contract, his spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster is anything but a certainty.

“Basically, everybody on this team, no matter what has happened before you came into the league or when you’ve been in the league, they’re not holding that against you and it’s a new clean slate,” Lynch said. “So I need to do everything I can to make sure I have a clean slate with them.”

Lynch is currently working with the second unit at the “Leo” position on the 49ers’ defensive line, behind Arik Armstead.

“’Leo’ is a lot of damn fun, so, yeah, I like it a lot,” Lynch said. “You get to set the edge and go get the quarterback.”

Lynch said he is in better physical condition than he was a year ago at this time. He said his target playing weight is in the 260-270 range. He said he is currently in the 280s.

“I came in heavy, but I’ve been working my (butt) off to get down to where my coach wants me to get down to, and where I feel I would be best to give everything I can for my team and do what I can for my team,” Lynch said.

While the 49ers did not witness any improvement in Lynch's commitment at the beginning of the offseason, things seem to be turning around. Shanahan said Lynch has missed only one day of the team's voluntary offseason program -- an excused absence to deal with a situation concerning his wife.

“There’s no doubt Aaron’s going in the right direction for us," Shanahan said. "He came in in the offseason, we challenged him hard with just the way we worked and stuff. He hasn’t shied away from any of it. He’s jumped in on all of our stuff.

"So he’s gotten better each day. He’s gotten more in shape each day and I’m seeing it on the field each day.”