Monday Morning Mailbag: Depth is tested


Monday Morning Mailbag: Depth is tested

The 49ers fear that receiver Kyle Williams' knee injury is a season-ender. Running back Kendall Hunter could miss several weeks with an ankle injury.This is why the 49ers signed Brandon Jacobs in the offseason and selected receiver A.J. Jenkins and running back LaMichael James in the first two rounds of the draft.RELATED: Kendall Hunter, Kyle Williams go down with injuries
Is this the opportunity LaMichael James & AJ Jenkins need to make the impact to this season? (@whizard4)
The 49ers will need a backup running back with Hunter out of action. Brandon Jacobs and Anthony Dixon are candidates to get more action. Both players saw action on two snaps on Sunday in the 49ers' 31-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints.And it could be that James will be active, too.Williams handled return duties on Sunday after Ted Ginn muffed a punt. Coach Jim Harbaugh alluded to Ginn having a wrist injury, too.James has been working on catching punts, but Harbaugh did not sound Friday as if he believes James is ready to perform that duty in games. It seems unlikely that James will have much of a role, even with the injuries.
With Williams expected to be out of action, the 49ers still have three proven wideouts: Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss. Ginn could be the No. 4 receiver, as well as the team's main return guy.Like James, Jenkins has not played this season. It's possible the 49ers will consider him for a role as a slot receiver. More likely, they'll stick with Crabtree, Manningham and Moss as their three primary wideouts. Moss played 25 snaps on Sunday. He did not catch any passes, but he made a big play to break up a would-be interception in the end zone. Manningham played just 24 snaps, as he missed some time with a left hand injury.
Backup tight end Delanie Walker appeared to sustain a hip injury. His status is not known. He received a ride on the back of a cart to go from the team's locker room at one end of the field to the team buses in the tunnel at the other end after the game. Walker played 31 snaps in the game, while starter Vernon Davis was on the field for all 60 snaps.
Undrafted rookie Brent Celek played five snaps. Defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs is also capable of filling in at tight end.
What's next for Alex? (@utefanjames)
Alex Smith said he believes he should be the starter.But coach Jim Harbaugh has not told him anything. Interestingly, Harbaugh said the only reason Colin Kaepernick started Sunday against the New Orleans Saints was because Smith was still experiencing concussion symptoms more than a week after the injury.Harbaugh will say anything and do anything that gives him a competitive advantage, so his statements should be met with a high level of skepticism. After all, he admitted that if creating any doubt about the quarterback situation gives the 49ers even a one-percent advantage, he's willing to do it.What's next for Alex? He's in limbo. He received final clearance to play the day before the game. Colin Kaepernick said he found out he was starting at a team meeting Saturday night.Smith must be prepared to play at any moment. He wore his helmet throughout Sunday's game, not because he expected to be summoned at any moment but because he wanted to listen to the playcalls via the radio transmitter in his helmet.After this season, I'm sure the 49ers would want to keep Smith around as Kaepernick's backup. But it seems unlikely the 49ers will guarantee his 7.5 million base salary by keeping him on the roster past April 1.
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Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Gerald Hodges is in search of a new team and he's looking at a division rival of the 49ers.

The unrestricted free agent is scheduled to visit the Seahawks on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Acquired in October of 2015 from Minnesota for a sixth-round pick, the four-year pro played in 25 games over the past two seasons with the 49ers.

In his time with San Francisco, the former fourth-round pick recorded three sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

But he was not considered a fit for the new 49ers under general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Hodges was deactivated for a game late in the season at Atlanta for breaking team rules. He did not offer an explanation or apology

The 49ers have signed three linebackers through two weeks of free agency: Malcolm Smith, Brock Coyle and Dekoda Watson.

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

On the same day the FBI director announced members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are under investigation for colluding with Russia to influence the election, Trump turned his thoughts to Colin Kaepernick’s status as an NFL free agent.

And Jim Harbaugh, appearing on Pro Football Talk, suggested teams that are not showing interest in Kaepernick are making a mistake.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh said Tuesday morning.

“He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”

On Monday evening, during a rally in Kentucky, Trump made remarks about Kaepernick. In the lead-up to the November election, Kaepernick called Trump “openly racist” and said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton, either.

“And you know, your San Francisco quarterback? I’m sure nobody ever heard of him,” Trump said.

“There was an article today, it was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that. I said if I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of Kentucky. Because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reported an AFC general manager told him there were three reasons Kaepernick has not signed. Some believe, according to the anonymous source, that Kaepernick can no longer play at a high level. Others “genuinely hate him” for kneeling during the national anthem as part of his protest of racial inequality in America.

And, “some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him,” according to the report. “They think there might be protests or Trump will tweet about the team. I'd say that number is around 10 percent. Then there's another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.”

Kaepernick’s teammates voted him the winner of the Len Eshmont Award for courage and inspiration last season. It is historically the most prestigious award among 49ers players. But the 49ers have already signed veteran quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

General manager John Lynch acknowledged last week on KNBR the odds of the 49ers bringing back Kaepernick are slim.

“I think the likelihood of that happening has gone down significantly. But we’re not going to close our mind or out options on anyone, including him,” Lynch said.

Even though there has been no reported interest in Kaepernick from any team around the league, Lynch said Kaepernick nearly signed with a team earlier during the free-agent signing period.

“I don’t know what happened to that market,” Lynch said. “He was, in everyone’s mind in this league, very close to signing a deal with a team at a really good number. And it fell through, apparently.”