Shanahan not closing door on Kaepernick's return to 49ers

Shanahan not closing door on Kaepernick's return to 49ers

INDIANAPOLIS – The 49ers’ organization has gotten a fresh start with a new coach and a new general manager.

And the team’s decision-makers are also starting with a new set of eyes to chart the course for the team’s future at quarterback.

“I won’t close any door,” Shanahan said of the possibility of re-signing Colin Kaepernick, who is expected to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent.

“We’re going to look for who we think gives us the best chance to win and who can help us the most. Kap is one of those guys that’s available.”

Kaepernick’s decision to become an unrestricted free agent is a formality that will not force the 49ers to release him in order to avoid his scheduled $14.9 million pay for the 2017 season.

“There had to be a decision made on Kap, and mainly he made that decision,” Shanahan said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “If he wouldn’t have, we would’ve had to make a decision. But by that happening, it throws him into the boat with everyone else. It’s not that you’re deciding to part ways or not, he decided to do that. It throws him into the boat everybody else is in, which makes it easy for us.

“We don’t have an attachment to Kap. We look at him just like all the other guys that I’m looking at. It was good to get to meet him, talk to him, but besides that, we’re looking at him on film like everybody else.”

Kaepernick met last week with Shanahan and general manager John Lynch at team headquarters in Santa Clara. During that conversation, Kaepernick intimated he would opt out of his contract, Shanahan said. The 49ers told Kaepernick he would be evaluated like all the other quarterback options this offseason.

“We told him straight up, we’re throwing you into the pool with all the other guys,” Shanahan said. “We have to evaluate all the free agents, the trade possibilities and the draft, and whatever we think the best scenario is the way we’re going to go. But Kap’s in that. He’s involved in that. Just like anybody else."

Kaepernick started 11 games for the 49ers last season and posted his best statistical season since 2013. Kaepernick completed 59.2 percent of his pass attempts with 16 touchdowns, four interceptions and a passer rating of 90.7. He also rushed for 468 yards.

Shanahan said there are no issues with designing an offense that accentuates Kaepernick’s strengths.

“What Kap did to go to the Super Bowl, he ran similar offense to what we did in 2012,” Shanahan said, referring to the Washington offense during Robert Griffin's rookie season.  “I think that’s the kind of stuff that gives him the best chance to be successful.

“You’ll adjust to anybody. Would I do the exact same stuff I’ve done in Atlanta? That’s different than what I’ve done for other people. So it’s going to always change. But with Kap’s skillset, if he was your guy, you’d adjust to him.”

The 49ers have discussed all the quarterback options, including trades, Shanahan said. Washington’s Kirk Cousins and New England’s Jimmy Garoppolo might not be available in trades. Even if they were, the price would be exorbitant.

But if the 49ers were to wait a season, it’s possible they could be available as free agents and the 49ers would not have to surrender draft picks.

“All that comes into play,” Shanahan said. “Yes, you have targets of people you want, but you have to be smart and value your initial needs with the organizational needs in the immediate future and the long haul. You’re always thinking about how to win now, but that can never be at the expense of the future, too.”

While the 49ers feel urgency to fill their need at quarterback, Shanahan said the decision must be calculated to provide the best long-term results for the organization. Both Shanahan and general manager John Lynch are on six-year contracts, which implies there will be patience to allow them to build.

“I’m very eager,” Shanahan said. “We’re all very eager. But it’s important, coming here, we’re also going to make the right decision. We’re not going to do something just because we’re eager. Everybody wants your quarterback and you want to not have to worry about that. But you also have to make sure the guy that you want is there. A lot of bad decisions are made by people who are just eager.

“John and myself came here and we knew we could make decisions might not always be the flashiest, but we truly think it’s best for our organization. That’s how you stay out of trouble.”

 

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.”