Swain bringing experience to upstart 49ers


Swain bringing experience to upstart 49ers

Hes appeared on the cover of surfing magazines and has played on the NFLs biggest stage. But for the most part, 49ers receiver Brett Swain flies under the radar.

Pretty neat guy. He comes in, hes down to business, down to earth, knows his stuff and always ready, said teammate Ted Ginn.

Swain came to the 49ers when Joshua Morgan went on injured reserve with a broken leg. The San Diego native beat out T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chris Chambers, Brian Finneran, Joe Hastings, and John Matthews for the roster spot.

Constant hustle is what we see from Brett, said offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Brett came in, obviously didnt have training camp with us, did a great job. We thought we worked out one of the best group of guys that I have been around during an in-season workout, and he won that workout really and earned his way on the team. He just hustles, hustles, hustles. Very much into precision with his routes, smooth. Hes got good hands. Hes got good quickness. Well be running the ball on right sideline, hell be on the left and hell always end up in the picture, so that jumps off the screen.

Swain appeared in all 20 games for the Super Bowl winning Packers last season, but has mostly remained inactive for the 49ers this season. Swain is one of only two players on the roster that has played in the Super Bowl and has experienced the mindset needed to make a run in the playoffs. So, I asked him about it.

Mindi Bach: The goal in the NFL is to get a Super Bowl ring. You are one of two people in this locker room to have that experience. What is this like for you as you see this team try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. What comes to mind for you?

Brett Swain: Well, first of all, you see the same tendencies in this team that you see in a Super Bowl team. I was with the Packers last year. We had a long run, a full season and we had our ups and downs. This season is a little different for me. Ive never been on a team thats been 9 and 2. Were having a great season. We hit a little bump in the road last week, so maybe that was good for us because now we can get back on track and get back on what we need to do to get back into the playoffs and win those games.

Bach: In your short career, is it strange to think you already have a Super Bowl ring and here you are with another team on its way to the playoffs?

Swain: Yea, for sure. It could be luck, it could not be. But I think a staff realizes what players fit good in good teams, and this is a good team. And I feel like when I came here to try out the coaches saw that Id be a good team player and thats what its all about to win Super Bowls - to have a great team, have great chemistry within the locker room and just overall be a great team going into the playoffs.

Bach: Greg Roman says what stood out about you, he was surprised how you out-hustled everybody else. Where did that drive come from?

Swain: Ive kind of had an up and down career myself. I was drafted in the seventh-round to the Packers. I went there, got cut my first year, had to practice squad-it, and luckily I was able to practice with guys that kind of went down the same road. Al Harris is a big guy. He was a defensive back for the Packers for a long time, really taught me how to practice and what it takes to be good in this league and also even try to make a team. He taught me how to practice, taught me how to work out, just taught me how to work and be a professional. And I feel like that was a good stepping-stone to my career. So having that background and then just having the guys that I came from with Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, having a locker room like that pushes you. So when you come here you just kind of bring what youve learned in the past. I think that the experience I have is just working hard and being a professional.

Bach: Have any of the other receivers asked you about that Super Bowl Ring?

Swain: Not yet. I put the Super Bowl ring back in San Diego. I left that back at home. That was the biggest thing for us winning last year was, put it back in the box when the new season starts and leaving it back because there are new goals for the next season and you want to make that same goal and go get another one.

Bach: You are from San Diego, you played at San Diego State. What was your familiarity with Harbaugh before you came to this team?

Swain: He was at USD and I was at San Diego State.

Bach: You didnt play each other, though?

Swain: No, we didnt play each other. We were kind of cross-town rivals. We did little passing leagues in the offseason. I dont think we played them when Harbaugh was there, but as players we're always trying to push for that game. We thought it would be a great competitive game, especially with USD winning as many games as they did, to get a D-1, D-2 game going. We really wanted it as players it just didnt work out. We thought it was great to see another San Diego team winning. We werent winning at the same time so we we're kind of jealous a little bit. That is what we we're familiar with Harbaugh. And being from San Diego I watched him growing up. He was with the Chargers for a season, and actually that season I had season tickets. I was there every Sunday watching Harbaugh play and its good to be with a guy that kind of understands that.

Lynch: There's interest in 49ers' No. 2 pick, 'it's coveted'

Lynch: There's interest in 49ers' No. 2 pick, 'it's coveted'

The 49ers have narrowed their list of potential draft picks for the No. 2 overall selection on Thursday evening but they are also keeping alive the possibility of a trade.

“I can tell you with the No. 2 (pick), there have been calls. There’s been interest, but, I think, nothing specific,” 49ers general manager John Lynch told reporters Monday at team headquarters in Santa Clara.

“It’s coveted. When you have a pick that high, I think that’s natural.”

Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, running back Leonard Fournette and several options at defensive back are among the options most often linked to the 49ers at the No. 2 overall pick.

“We’re going to listen right up until draft day,” Lynch said. “But otherwise we’re going to pick a player at two that we feel is a cornerstone for this franchise for years to come and we’ll be very passionate about that pick and what that player can do for us moving forward.”

The 49ers have two veteran quarterbacks – Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley – currently under contract. Lynch said the 49ers have not ruled out the possibility of selecting a quarterback with the team’s top pick.

“I think we’ve stated from the beginning that a franchise quarterback is something we believe is essential to winning in this league,” Lynch said. “We hope that Hoyer and Barkley come in, and they were both brought in for a reason, but we feel like we’ll continue, always continue, to try to improve ourselves at that position.”

The coaching staff will get its first opportunity to evaluate the current roster, beginning Tuesday. With new coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers are allowed to conduct a voluntary three-day minicamp before the draft.

“We have a good understanding of where we are and what we’re looking for,” Lynch said. “In terms of just getting a look real quick, and whether that will change our mind on anything, but you would hate not to give guys an opportunity to go show what they are doing before you went out and did that.

“We’ll use it for what it’s worth. I don’t know how much value. I think more than anything our coaches are just really excited to get guys out on the field, so we’ll use it as such. We’ve got a couple players in here on a tryout basis and so we’re happy for that, to see if we can add some things. We’ll evaluate but continue to work on the draft process as well.”

Lynch said the 49ers have implemented changes to the team’s grading process for the draft, drawing on a model the New England Patriots set up. Vice president of player personnel Adam Peters worked in the Patriots’ scouting department before advancing to director of college scouting with the Denver Broncos. Shanahan is also familiar with the grading system from his time with the Atlanta Falcons under general manager Thomas Dimitroff, formerly a Patriots personnel executive.

“I think we tried to create an environment that’s collaborative, where people can be confident in sharing their opinions, and we had strong opinions,” Lynch said. “They didn’t always agree, but we’ve gotten to a point where there’s consensus. Ultimately, it will be Kyle and I together making those decisions and that’s kind of where we are this week.”

Owners of No. 1 overall pick, Browns still searching for franchise QB

Owners of No. 1 overall pick, Browns still searching for franchise QB

CLEVELAND -- Finding Bigfoot has been more productive than the Cleveland Browns' search for a franchise quarterback.

This flawed football quest drags on.

For nearly two decades, the Browns, once a standard of NFL excellence and now a league punching bag, have been running in circles as they try to find a quarterback to lead them from the darkness to relevance and respectability. Since the franchise's inglorious expansion return in 1999, they've started 26 quarterbacks, a roll call of names that haunt even the most loyal Cleveland fans holding out hope the team will one day get it right.

From Tim Couch to Trent Dilfer, from Derek Anderson to Cody Kessler, and let's not forget that year of fun with Johnny Manziel, QBs have cycled through Cleveland like tourists, with none sticking around for long.

It's been a running joke.

And until the Browns find that long-term answer at quarterback, they'll continue to be looked at as a laughingstock.

They'll have another chance to perhaps end this long pursuit in this week's NFL draft. With the No. 1 and No. 12 overall picks, and four more selections in the first three rounds, the Browns are positioned to finally fix the most important position on the field.

This could be the year Cleveland fans have longed for, the one when the Browns find their Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger. But as fate would have it, this year's QB class isn't highly regarded. Many draft experts feel there isn't a quarterback worth a first-round selection and that Cleveland should wait until 2018.

That's just so Browns, whose experiment with Robert Griffin III backfired last season, resulting in the latest QB confusion.

"We're going to keep searching," coach Hue Jackson said recently. "I think we all understand, no one's really claimed this position yet on our football team so we need to do everything we can to continue to add a player that we feel, as an organization, really good about, that can lead our football team and we'll continue to chase that."

The chase continues Thursday when the Browns try to find that elusive, essential piece. Or fumble again.

Here are some quarterback tidbits to chew on when the Browns go on the clock:

UP TOP: Cleveland seems locked in ON Texas A&M defensive stud Myles Garrett at No. 1, and while he's proficient at sacks, there are no three- or seven-step drops in his future. The Browns are impressed with North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky, a former Ohio Mr. Football, despite his inexperience (only 13 college starts), but probably not enough to take him first. Landing Garrett and Trubisky would be a dream scenario, but Cleveland may have to trade up as the rebuilding Jets have sent out vibes they prefer Trubisky.

WHY NOT WATSON? Clemson's Deshaun Watson would seem to fit Jackson's profile of the ideal QB: mobile, dynamic, successful. The Browns, though, don't seem enthralled with Watson - not in the first round anyway - unless their silence is a smoke screen. There are other good options like Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, Texas A&M's Patrick Mahomes or California's Davis Webb, who may all be available after Round 1.

DRAFT DEBACLES: The Browns' track record drafting QBs - or any position - is abysmal over the past decade, which is why many Cleveland fans fear the team will mess up again. Since 2007, only OT Joe Thomas and CB Joe Haden have proven to be good choices. Eight other first-round picks are no longer on the roster.

Along with Couch, the No. 1 choice in '99, the Browns have used first-round picks on Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden and Manziel, who was Johnny Goofball in an orange helmet. Those mistakes shouldn't deter the Browns from selecting a QB early, but they are grim reminders that there are no givens.

WAITING GAME: Would waiting one more year be so bad? Draft experts point to the 2018 QB class, led by UCLA's Josh Rosen and USC's Sam Darnold, as being more talented than the 2017 group. That wouldn't preclude the Browns from taking a quarterback later in this draft, just not in the first round.

HOMETOWN HEROES: Trubisky is the latest in a long line of Ohio-born QBs tabbed as the Browns' next savior. Quinn, Charlie Frye and Brian Hoyer all grew up as Browns fans, but none was able to lead the turnaround. If Trubisky is picked, the pressure on him to be the team's leader and face of the franchise will be immense.

BYE-BYE BROCK?: The Browns made a shocking move in free agency, acquiring QB Brock Osweiler, his $16 million guaranteed contract and a 2018 second-round pick from Houston. Cleveland made it clear Osweiler was not part of the future, but he's still on the roster and could be part of a fall-back plan if the Browns don't get their desired quarterback.