Lynch promises 49ers will be aggressive in free agency: 'Stay awake'

Lynch promises 49ers will be aggressive in free agency: 'Stay awake'

INDIANAPOLIS – Before the start of the new league year next Thursday, the 49ers hope to make some deals with some of their own scheduled free agents.

The 49ers have 18 players scheduled for unrestricted free agency, including quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is expected to opt out of his contract. While the 49ers are expected to take things slow with Kaepernick, general manager John Lynch said there is some urgency to get other deals completed.

“Some of those are in the process of going on right now,” Lynch said. “Hopefully, we see some things in the next couple of days.”

Among the 49ers’ top scheduled free agents are kicker Phil Dawson, and wide receivers Jeremy Kerley and Quinton Patton.

The 49ers have already invested more in veteran free agents than a year ago. The 49ers last week signed defensive tackle Earl Mitchell to a four-year, $16 million contract. Mitchell became available when the Miami Dolphins recently released him.

The start of the free-agent signing period under former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke was usually a slow time for the franchise. Lynch promised a more-aggressive approach when nearly $90 million in cap room.

“Stay awake,” Lynch said.

The 49ers want to fill needs in free agency, so the organization can avoid the shackles of drafting for need.

“We need players and we’ve got to get ourselves in a situation with certain pieces that we made priorities and certain type of guys so we don’t go into this draft saying, ‘We have to have this,’” Lynch said.

“It’s the best way to go in and take the best player, but sometimes you can’t do that. You need certain positions and we don’t want to be in that position everywhere. So there are certain things we have high on our priority list and get accomplished. And we’re going to be aggressive in getting those done.”

49ERS FREE AGENTS
Unrestricted

--QB Colin Kaepernick*
--QB Blaine Gabbert
--QB Christian Ponder
--QB Thad Lewis
--RB Shaun Draughn
--RB DuJuan Harris
--WR Jeremy Kerley
--WR Quinton Patton
--WR Rod Streater
--TE Jim Dray
--OL Andrew Gardner
--K Phil Dawson
--DT Glenn Dorsey
--DT Tony Jerod-Eddie
--DL Chris Jones
--LB Nick Bellore
--LB Gerald Hodges
--LB Michael Wilhoite

Restricted
--OL Andrew Tiller
--DB Marcus Cromartie
--CB Chris Davis

Exclusive rights
--DL Mike Purcell (tendered)
--LB Carl Bradford (tendered)

*-Expected to opt out of contract.

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.”