Walker: 'I'm a 49er now and I want to be a 49er'

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Walker: 'I'm a 49er now and I want to be a 49er'

In their 13-6 win over Seattle, the 49ers got away from the WildKaep and instead returned to a more familiar formation for offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the multiple tight end set. Vernon Davis played every offensive snap. Delanie Walker was on the field for 40 snaps or 69 of the offensive plays. Its the most Walkers played in a game this season. He also scored his first touchdown of the season, and his first since he grabbed the game winner at Detroit last October.

In 2006, the 49ers drafted Vernon Davis with the sixth overall pick. They selected Walker in the sixth round, and the two have complemented each other ever since. Davis was supposed to be the target on the 12-yard score against the Seahawks. Instead, he threw a needed block and Walker was the one who was open.

Davis is signed through the 2015 season. Walker will become a free agent at the end of the year. Every week I highlight a player for our weekly program, 49ers Central. I thought this week was as good a time as any to check in with Walker. My questions have been shortened for convenience, but his answers are word for word.

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MINDI -- Against Seattle, what was it about that game plan that fit you so well?
DW -- Im not sure. When we figure something out and it works, we try to run with it. I think the two tight end set was working just fine against them. Actually, it was the heavy package where we go U Will Tukuafu, we keep Bruce Miller in the game also and it was working so we stuck with it.

MINDI -- How has your role evolved? What are you doing this year that you werent last year?
DW -- Im doing the same that I was doing last year. I think Im getting better as a blocker so they tend to use me as the fullback a lot too this year, lead blocking. But Im doing everything I was doing last year just added a few more roles.

MINDI -- When you come into a season do you set goals for yourself? How do you approach a season?

DW -- You always set goals for yourself, individual goals. I set goals to get better every year, become a better blocker, a better receiver. I feel like Ive accomplished those goals right now.

MINDI -- How do you quantify that? What makes you a better blocker? What are you looking for in yourself?
DW -- Just finishing. Not letting my man make the play or getting his hand on it, always showing up on film as having my man controlled and basically just blocking him and not letting him beat me.

MINDI -- I know youre a car aficionado, especially of old American muscle. If you had to describe yourself in car terms what kind of car would you be?

DW -- American muscle most definitely, so Ill be probably a 57 Chevy something that in the 50s that everybody had. It was durable, it always worked and you knew you could count on it.

MINDI -- Youll be a free agent at the end of the season. I know you cant think about that, but how do you approach a season when that is out there?

DW -- I just do me. A lot of people talk about me staying here and get the deal done but Im not really worried about that as we play because we got a long season. Im a 49er now, and I want to be a 49er but we never know whats going to happen so I just try to stay focused on getting my job done job week by week and always showing up to play.

MINDI -- You play on special teams as well. What is your role on special teams? I have to admit I dont know much about it.

DW -- (laughing) Its funny, you know everybody thinks Im on special teams, but Im only on one unit, and I get that a lot, like, Man, you killed on special teams. But Im sorry fans out there, I only play on kick off and my role out there, Im like the hype man really. I just dance and get crazy when Tony Montana comes on and I just try to go down there and bust some heads.

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

The 49ers on Monday extended one-year qualifying offers to nose tackle Mike Purcell and linebacker Carl Bradford as exclusive-rights free agents.

Purcell appeared in 15 games last season. He started the first five games of the season at nose tackle and was a reserve for the remainder of the season. Originally signed in 2013 as an undrafted rookie from Wyoming, Purcell has appeared in 25 games over the past three seasons.

The 49ers claimed Bradford off waivers in December from the Green Bay Packers. He appeared in the final two games of the season with the 49ers and was credited with two tackles.

Bradford entered the NFL out of Arizona State as a fourth-round pick of the Packers in 2014. After being inactive for every game as a rookie, Bradford was among Green Bay’s final cuts in 2015. He spent the season on the practice squad.

He appeared in four games for the Packers last year. The 49ers claimed him after he was waived in December.

Exclusive rights free agents are player who have fewer than three years of NFL service who have no outside negotiating power if a team extends a qualifying offer.

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

The 49ers’ new regime heads to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week with the first major wave of offseason activity set to kick off.

Already, the 49ers have made roster improvements. And there figure to be plenty of activity ahead in the coming weeks.

Here are some questions submitted by readers on Facebook for this edition of 49ers Mailbag:

Do you see the 49ers cutting ties with larger contracts like Bethea, Torrey Smith and Ahmad Brooks?‬ (Blair Wilkins)
The 49ers have approximately $75 million in space under the salary cap – and that’s before any adjustment of Colin Kaepernick’s contract. So it’s not as if the organization needs to create cap room.

Any decision made to part ways with veteran players will be made solely on how that player fits into what the 49ers envision on the field.

And that’s what general manager John Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff are doing now. They are studying the video from last season to determine which players fit their ideals.

Safety Antoine Bethea is scheduled to earn $5.75 million. Bethea, 32, enters the final year of his contract. There is no question he is everything the 49ers want in a player off the field. If one of the younger guys is not better than Bethea, there is no reason to get rid of him.

Brooks is on the books to earn $5.3 million in 2017. That’s not a huge amount for a starting outside linebacker or defensive end – whichever spot he might fit best. The 49ers must look to upgrade their pass rush. Brooks turns 33 next month. He’s good for six sacks a season. Again, it’s not as if the 49ers can’t afford him. And, as of now, it’s not as if the 49ers have anyone better.

Smith is scheduled to earn $8 million. He has been vastly underutilized in his two seasons since signing with the 49ers. He’s the most interesting case of the high-priced veterans.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense is predicated on using the running game to set up the play-action shot down the field. Smith is limited. He’s not a possession receiver. He’s not going to make plays over the middle. He is an outside receiver whose contributions come in the vertical passing game. But that’s what Shanahan wants.

If Smith is paired with a strong tight end, a running back who catch the ball out of the backfield, a slot receiver with short-area quickness to get open underneath, a very good receiver on the other side and an accurate quarterback who can throw the deep ball, there should be a role for Smith in the 49ers’ offense.

Will the 49ers continue to be aggressive pursuing free agents this offseason? If so, what positions?‬ (Bradley Lodge)
The 49ers have zeroed in on two veteran free agents and they signed them both.

The organization has already spent more money than it did all of last offseason on veteran free agency with the four-year, $16 million deal to sign defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, whom the Miami Dolphins recently released.

Nickel back K’Waun Williams has a history with 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley. The 49ers did not have to make much of a financial investment to sign him.

The 49ers will definitely go after a veteran quarterback or two in free agency or via trade. Pass rusher, inside linebacker and wide receiver are other positions the 49ers can be expected to look during free agency.

The opening of the new league year – when free-agent signings and trades can occur – is March 9. The draft is seven weeks later.

The 49ers must fill as many of their needs with smart deals that fit into the long-term plan with veteran acquisitions. Then, the draft is about taking the best players on their board when it’s time to select. Teams that reach for need generally strike out.

What are the chances of drafting a QB with first pick and playing them behind a Kap / Cousins until they're ready to become starter?‬ (Hillory Broussard)
If Colin Kaepernick returns, it will not be as a no-questions-asked starter. Just read what Lynch said on KNBR this week about the team’s needs:

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely. And we’re committed to doing that.”

That statement can easily be interpreted that Lynch does not believe the 49ers had a starting-caliber quarterback on the roster last season.

But if the 49ers were to go out and swing a trade for Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s going to take a big commitment – in terms of draft picks and a suitable new contract. Then, the 49ers would have that player.

Cousins or Garoppolo would unquestionably fill the 49ers’ need at quarterback for 2017 and beyond -- at least in the minds of the 49ers' new decision-makers. There would be no reason for the 49ers to then draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick – if the 49ers even had the No. 2 overall pick at that point.