Tolzien closely following Texans rookie QB


Tolzien closely following Texans rookie QB

SANTA CLARA -- Third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien, an undrafted rookie the 49ers acquired off the waiver wire after San Diego Chargers cut him in September, has no problem getting motivated to come to work every day.
And all he has to do is look at his buddy, T.J. Yates, to see how quickly things can change.
Yates was a fifth-round draft pick of the Houston Texans. He was the No. 3 quarterback behind Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart. But in the span of two weeks, both veterans experienced season-ending injuries.And, now, Yates is the starting quarterback for the playoff-bound Texans, who are pursuing home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.RELATED: NFL Standings
"It's crazy," Tolzien said. "I remember texting him four weeks ago and he was actually playing scout-team receiver because they were low on numbers and he was helping out the team any way he could."And now he's starting, wins a game and throws a touchdown. I couldn't be more happy for him. He's a really unassuming, down-to-earth guy. He's a smart guy and hard-worker."As the No 3 quarterback, Tolzien has not suited up for a game this season. During practice, he's not real active either.He has participated in some special-teams work during practice, but he has not been asked to line up at any other positions. He does not get any practice snaps with the 49ers offense, either. Instead, he and backup Colin Kaepernick run the scout team -- the unit that simulates the upcoming opponents' plays to get the 49ers defense prepared."You try to make it as game-like as possible and try to relate it to your playbook and maximize it so it's not wasted reps," Tolzien said.Tolzien (Wisconsin) and Yates (North Carolina) spent a lot of time together in February at the NFL scouting combine. Considered among the lower ranked of the quarterbacks invited to the combine, Tolzien and Yates were tabbed as "throwing quarterbacks."After the entire group of quarterbacks worked out for NFL coaches, scouts and executives, Tolzien, Yates and Ryan Colburn (Fresno State) remained in Indianapolis as the throwers for receivers, running backs, defensive backs and linebackers."Every position group is there for only three days," Tolzien said. "We were there all week. We did our workouts with the quarterbacks, but then we kind of serviced the other positions."Tolzien said he felt the assignment gave him additional opportunities for NFL decision-makers to get to know him."It got you into the combine," he said. "It was increased exposure. We were there all week. It's the receivers day, but I'm throwing to the receivers. Maybe the coaches are up there and I'm throwing to the receivers and maybe it pops out, 'This kid throws a nice ball.' It was fun, too. I hung around all the position groups and got to know a lot of guys."Tolzien went undrafted but chose to sign a free-agent contract with the Chargers instead of the 49ers, who had already invested a second-round pick in Kaepernick.And if there's anything he has learned from Yates, it's that a third-string quarterback is only two snaps away from being thrust into a playoff push. In his first NFL start, Yates completed 12 of 25 passes for 188 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions in a 17-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Tolzien said he planned to watch the video of that game."Yeah, definitely, for two reasons," Tolzien said. "He's a buddy and you're curious to see how he did. And, also, it's good learning. He started the year as a third-string quarterback, so I want to see how he attacked it and learned from it?"

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.”