49ers

Torrey Smith could benefit from Shanahan's big-play philosophy

Torrey Smith could benefit from Shanahan's big-play philosophy

Wide receiver Torrey Smith has not lived up to the five-year, $40 million contract he signed with the 49ers in 2015.

Or have the 49ers been the problem for failing to properly take advantage of Smith’s skills as the deep threat that was sorely lacking in previous seasons?

New 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan figures to bring a more aggressive mindset to the team’s offense. Now, it’s a matter of finding the right players to plug into the right spots.

Smith could find a situation similar to what he enjoyed during most of his four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. In 2014, Smith caught 11 touchdown passes before leaving for the 49ers as a free agent.

“It’s not rocket science. Football is football. Plays are plays,” Smith said. “It’s the way they scheme it up and put it together. The way I watch it from afar, he (Shanahan) tailors it to people’s strengths, which is always a plus. So I’m excited to see what his plan is for us.”

The plan, according to new 49ers running backs coach Bobby Turner, is to use the running game to set up big plays down the field.

“At times, you can’t run it if they put eight or nine in the box,” Turner told CSNBayArea.com during Super Bowl week in Houston. “It’s tough to run the ball. We might only get a yard on that play. But by doing that, being consistent and continually trying to run the ball, you exploit them through the air with the play-action game.”

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan led the NFL with 17 passes of more than 40 yards in the regular season.

Smith caught a 53-yard touchdown pass against Buffalo for his only reception that covered 40 yards or more last season.

”The offense, I have experience with it,” Smith said. “I’m interested to see how he teaches it. You just have to execute. But with his track record, it kind of speaks for itself. I’m excited for him to have that opportunity. He’s a young guy. I feel like he could fit in in our locker room. He looks that young. He has a proven track record and he knows what he’s doing. It’s his time, so I’m excited for him.”

Smith has a scheduled salary-cap figure of $9.475 million for the 2017 season, but the 49ers are comfortably under the salary cap with an estimated $80 million in cap room heading into the new league year.

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

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Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

I hadn’t considered the notion of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles bombing quite so badly Thursday night, so I hadn’t considered the notion advanced by Pro Football Talk Friday morning that Jacksonville might be a great place for Colin Kaepernick.

That’s because I long ago stopped considering the idea that Kaepernick’s exile from football was, or is, about football. It isn’t. He is the example for future player/miscreants, and trotting his name out every time a quarterback in the new NFL vomits up a practice game on national television is simply perpetuating a lie.

Until someone gets so desperate that it isn’t any more.

That’s the problem with being so definitive about Kaepernick’s perpetual ban. It only takes one owner with a willingness to stick a middle finger up to the objections and say, “I own a football team, not some branch of the USO” to end this national spitfest once and for all. And yes, I say owner because this is an owner’s decision, solely and completely. In the hypothetical of Kaepernick the Jaguar, it will be made not by Doug Marrone, who is merely a coach, or by Tom Coughlin, who is only the general manager, but Shahid Khad, one of the brightest and quietly more powerful owners in the league.

But the odds still scream No Kaep For You, because it would mean that exhibition games matter for judgmental purposes (which they don’t), that Bortles is somehow worse than half the quarterbacks in the NFL (he is part of an amorphous blob of non-producers whose numbers are growing as the differences between college and pro football offenses expand), and that owners easily break away from the herd once the herd has decided on something (Khan is not a rebel in the Jerry Jones mold by any means).

In other words, I remain unconvinced that there is a place for Colin Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL. And he’s probably better off.

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

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Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

One week after center Jeremy Zuttah played his way off the 49ers’ roster in short order, he ended up back with the team that got rid of him to open the offseason.

The Baltimore Ravens on Friday announced the signing of Zuttah, whom the 49ers released on Aug. 9 after acquiring him from the Ravens in a March trade.

The 49ers determined center Daniel Kilgore was clearly better than Zuttah. Moreover, Zuttah he did not demonstrate any promise of being an asset at either of the guard positions.

Zuttah, 31, played the past three seasons with the Ravens after six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Zuttah was named to his first Pro Bowl after last season.

The 49ers originally acquired Zuttah in a swap of sixth-round draft picks. The Ravens received the 49ers’ pick at No. 186 and selected Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark. The 49ers took over Baltimore’s selection at No. 198 and chose Mississippi defensive tackle D.J. Jones.

The 49ers are confident in Kilgore and offensive tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown. However, there is concern at the guard positions.

Brandon Fusco appears to be earning the confidence of the coaching staff at right guard. But left guard remains a concern. Zane Beadles is currently the starter while Joshua Garnett rehabs from arthroscopic knee surgery to repair cartilage. The 49ers are hopeful Garnett will be available for the opening of the regular season.