Brandon Jacobs, the New York Giants' 6-foot-4, 264-pound running back, was called "a little soft" this week by Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice.Jacobs' response on Thursday?"I've grown up a San Francisco 49er fan," said Jacobs, who grew up in Louisiana. "I've loved Jerry Rice, I still love Jerry Rice, I give him a lot of credit for the game being the way it is today. I have nothing negative to say about Jerry. If he feels that way, he feels that way. I bet you he won't tackle me."Laughter ensued and the interview with East Coast reporters was done.But Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride had a more philosophical approach. After all, Jacobs' 571-yard rushing season was the lowest output of his career since 2006, and his 3.8-yards-per-carry average was the third-lowest of his seven-year career.Still, Jacobs, soft?"I think it's just because you see this big, powerful man and if he's not running over somebody every snap then people are almost disappointed," Gilbride said. "Unfortunately, the people that he's going against are big, strong men, powerful men as well. I think once he gets going, as you've seen, I'm not sure there's many people that like to get in his way. It takes him, as it does any back, an opportunity to get his feet underneath him and get through the hole. But once he gets going he's really, and I mean this in a positive way, a freak of nature."To be that big and powerful and to run as fast as he does, there are not many people that have that combination. So when he is in the open space you see people shying out of the way. Until you get by the line of scrimmage -- those guys are 300-plus pounds -- they're bigger than he is, too. Plus he hasn't had a chance to build up much momentum. But once he gets going he's a powerful guy."Jacobs' words were just as powerful earlier in the day, when he was reminded of the 49ers knocking New Orleans running back Pierre Thomas out of the game early on a hit by Donte Whitner."To get knocked out, that means they hit you on the head," Jacobs said. "I wish like hell one of them would try to hit me in my head. That means they're staying up, not trying to hit in the legs."That means they're staying high, they're not digging in the ground trying to make tackles at the shoestring."In the 49ers' 27-20 defeat of the Giants at Candlestick Park on Nov. 13, Jacobs rushed for a game-high 55 yards on 18 carries.The 49ers limited the Saints to 37 yards rushing last week, with New Orleans becoming decidedly one-dimensional after Thomas was knocked out and lost a fumble at the San Francisco 2-yard line."(Knocking players out is) not really a thing they do on purpose," Jacobs said. "Guys are out there playing off instincts. It just so happens it went that way. And everyone tries to set a tone for their team -- offense, defense, it doesn't matter. It's a bunch of guys playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl. (The 49ers) went out there and played lights out. I'm looking forward to that challenge this week."
Under the 49ers’ new regime, the club has already invested more in the free-agent market than a year ago under then-general manager Trent Baalke.
Just a reminder: The free-agent signing period does not officially open until March 9.
The 49ers on Friday reached a contract agreement with veteran defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, who is penciled into be a starter in the team’s new 4-3 base scheme under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
"As soon as Earl hit the open market, he became a priority for us to sign,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement released Saturday morning. “A man of high character, he represents everything we want to be as a football team. Earl is a tone-setter who plays the game with a tremendous passion and the effort necessary to win in this league. We believe those qualities are contagious and will help to make our team stronger. We look forward to the impact Earl will have on the field, in the locker room and in our community.”
It was the first significant move under Lynch, who also signed a player with NFL experience earlier in the week.
The 49ers also added cornerback K’Waun Williams to a one-year contract. Williams served as the Cleveland Browns’ nickel back for two seasons. The Browns released him before the start of last season and he was unable to play due to an ankle injury.
Mitchell was available to be signed before the start of the new league year because the Miami Dolphins released him last week in a move to save the team $4 million in cap space.
Mitchell took four free-agent visits and after wrapping up his tour with the Atlanta Falcons on Friday, he and the 49ers quickly agreed on a four-year, $16 million contract that includes $5.5 million of money in the first year, according to a source.
Last year, Baalke did little to improve the roster for coach Chip Kelly. The 49ers, who finished 5-11 in Jim Tomsula's one season, dropped to 2-14. Just hours after the season concluded, the 49ers announced the firings of Baalke and Kelly.
The only veteran free-agent addition who stepped on the field for the 49ers last season was offensive lineman Zane Beadles. The 49ers signed Beadles in late-March to a three-year, $9.75 million contract with a $1.75 million signing bonus. Beadles had a good season for the 49ers, starting 12 games at left guard, two games at left tackle and the final two games at center.
The 49ers have already shown more willingness to be aggressive under Lynch’s leadership.
Mitchell, 29, is a seven-year veteran who began his NFL career from 2010 to ’13 with the Houston Texans. He was a rookie in Saleh’s final season as assistant linebackers coach in Houston.
Mitchell joins DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Quinton Dial on the 49ers defensive line. The 49ers view Mitchell as a high-energy player who bring good character to the locker room. The signing of Mitchell could be an indication the 49ers are moving on from Glenn Dorsey, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.
With 5.5 sacks in seven seasons, the 49ers do not figure to use Mitchell in passing situations. The club must try to bolster its pass rush in free agency or the draft. Last season, Buckner and Ahmad Brooks shared the team-lead with six sacks apiece. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch both led the way with 6.5 sacks.
The San Francisco 49ers agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal with defensive tackle Earl Mitchell on Friday, CSNBayArea.com has learned.
Mitchell, 29, will earn $5.5 million in his first year with the 49ers.
The seven-year veteran played in nine games last season for the Dolphins. He recorded 17 total tackles.
Since entering the league in 2010 as a third-round draft pick with the Texans, Mitchell has appeared in 100 games between Houston and Miami, totaling 206 tackles. He has also recorded 5.5 sacks.
#49ers reach four-year, $16M deal with DT Earl Mitchell, per source. He receives $5.5M in first year.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) February 25, 2017