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.

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Gerald Hodges is in search of a new team and he's looking at a division rival of the 49ers.

The unrestricted free agent is scheduled to visit the Seahawks on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Acquired in October of 2015 from Minnesota for a sixth-round pick, the four-year pro played in 25 games over the past two seasons with the 49ers.

In his time with San Francisco, the former fourth-round pick recorded three sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

But he was not considered a fit for the new 49ers under general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Hodges was deactivated for a game late in the season at Atlanta for breaking team rules. He did not offer an explanation or apology

The 49ers have signed three linebackers through two weeks of free agency: Malcolm Smith, Brock Coyle and Dekoda Watson.

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

On the same day the FBI director announced members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are under investigation for colluding with Russia to influence the election, Trump turned his thoughts to Colin Kaepernick’s status as an NFL free agent.

And Jim Harbaugh, appearing on Pro Football Talk, suggested teams that are not showing interest in Kaepernick are making a mistake.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh said Tuesday morning.

“He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”

On Monday evening, during a rally in Kentucky, Trump made remarks about Kaepernick. In the lead-up to the November election, Kaepernick called Trump “openly racist” and said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton, either.

“And you know, your San Francisco quarterback? I’m sure nobody ever heard of him,” Trump said.

“There was an article today, it was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that. I said if I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of Kentucky. Because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reported an AFC general manager told him there were three reasons Kaepernick has not signed. Some believe, according to the anonymous source, that Kaepernick can no longer play at a high level. Others “genuinely hate him” for kneeling during the national anthem as part of his protest of racial inequality in America.

And, “some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him,” according to the report. “They think there might be protests or Trump will tweet about the team. I'd say that number is around 10 percent. Then there's another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.”

Kaepernick’s teammates voted him the winner of the Len Eshmont Award for courage and inspiration last season. It is historically the most prestigious award among 49ers players. But the 49ers have already signed veteran quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

General manager John Lynch acknowledged last week on KNBR the odds of the 49ers bringing back Kaepernick are slim.

“I think the likelihood of that happening has gone down significantly. But we’re not going to close our mind or out options on anyone, including him,” Lynch said.

Even though there has been no reported interest in Kaepernick from any team around the league, Lynch said Kaepernick nearly signed with a team earlier during the free-agent signing period.

“I don’t know what happened to that market,” Lynch said. “He was, in everyone’s mind in this league, very close to signing a deal with a team at a really good number. And it fell through, apparently.”