Walker's full-circle NFL evolution points toward playmaker


Walker's full-circle NFL evolution points toward playmaker

SANTA CLARA -- First he was only a receiver. Then he was only a blocker. Now, 49ers tight end Delanie Walker is emerging as one of the league's most versatile big-bodied playmakers.

Walker entered the league with the 49ers in 2006 and saw little action, in part because of the knock on his ability to occupy his opponent.

"People said I couldn't block when I first came in," Walker said. "So I focused on blocking a lot and got good at it.

"Now they're starting to use me a little too much at it," he added with a laugh.

Sunday's win over the Jets was indication that the playbook could be re-opening for Walker, as he was featured in a number of different offensive looks.

Implementing a new wrinkle in the first quarter, backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick was used to run the read-option, and it was Walker who was flanked left awaiting his toss. Walker also hauled in two catches for 31 yards on a day when there weren't many passes to be caught.

"We always start doing something new to put us in situations to win the game," Walker said. "And that option is one of them. Kaepernick can run the option well. He's got great speed down the field.

"We tried it out and it worked out perfectly."

Well, almost perfectly. True, Kaepernick used Walker as a decoy and picked up the first down before he was brought down for a 17-yard gain, but even once they got upfield, Walker was looking for the lateral, and he was looking at the end zone.

"Yeah," Walker answered when asked if he thought he had the touchdown. "I got back on level with him. I was on the left side of him waiting on the pitch. Hopefully if we run it again, he'll know that I'll be on his side."

Walker indicated that he practiced staying on Kaepernick's outside hip and the team focused on maintaining position for a potential pitch even after crossing the line of scrimmage. But it's not too surprising Kaepernick kept it himself; he is the only D1 quarterback ever to have passed for over 10,000 yards and rushed for over 4,000.

Walker, 28, provides matchup problems all over the field, and the 49ers have tried to manufacture plays that allow him to exploit his size and athleticism. At six-feet, 242-pounds, Walker has receptions as well as rushing attempts in each of the past four seasons.

Protected by weapons all around him, and benefiting from a full season under the belt of offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Walker's chances of making an impact with the ball in his hands have never been better. And while he likes the new-look plays geared toward getting him the ball in space, Walker hasn't forgotten the blocking skills that entrenched him as a part of the 49ers offense.

"My plays will come when they come," the seven-year veteran said. "I like doing whatever I got to do to help the team out."

49ers designate two linebackers waived/injured


49ers designate two linebackers waived/injured

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers are expected to replenish their linebacker to help the team get through upcoming practices and their final three exhibition games.

The 49ers on Wednesday created two roster spots to sign replacements, as the team designated linebackers Donavin Newsom and Jayson DiManche as waived/injured.

General manager John Lynch said the designation was a formality for Newsom, who will revert back to the 49ers after clearing waivers. Newsom will remain under contract to the 49ers after going on injured reserve.

“He’s doing better each day,” Lynch said. “We’re going to put him on injured reserve. It will come across the wire procedurally as a waived-injured, but he’s going to be on injured reserve. And talking with our doctors, he got great care up here at Stanford. It’s the best thing for the kid. Give him time to really get right. So, (I) had a good talk with him this morning.”

Newsom, an undrafted rookie from Colorado, sustained a serious concussion on Aug. 8 and was taken by ambulance off the practice field to Stanford Hospital. He spent two nights in the hospital as a precaution.

DiManche was signed last week and participated in seven plays on defense and 15 on special teams before sustaining a hamstring injury in the 49ers’ exhibition opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Newly signed linebacker Sean Porter sustained a quadriceps injury in the game against the Chiefs and has also not been available to practice.

Von Miller calls 49ers’ Trent Brown 'the best right tackle in the NFL’


Von Miller calls 49ers’ Trent Brown 'the best right tackle in the NFL’

Von Miller has 73.5 sacks to his name over six seasons in the NFL. He's a five-time Prow Bowl linebacker, three-time All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, and Super Bowl MVP. 

Trent Brown has played 21 games in two NFL seasons for the 49ers, 18 of them as starts. Despite his little time in the NFL and lack of honors, the Broncos' defensive star sees San Francisco's young offensive lineman as the best in the game at his position.

“He’s the best right tackle in the National Football League,” Miller said to the San Francisco Chronicle Wednesday after the first of two joint practices with the 49ers. “And he may even be a top-five tackle, period, in the National Football League. There’s not another tackle who’s that tall, that big and can move he way he moves.”

Brown, at 24 years old and standing 6-foot-8 while weighing 355 pounds, was the only offensive lineman invited to Miller's "Pass Rush Summit" at Stanford in June. Miller says he invited Brown so he could gain more knowledge, but also added, "from my point of view, we could get it (more knowledge) from a premier-offensive-tackle point of view.”

The two went up against each other in the trenches Wednesday in Santa Clara. After Brown held his own, Miller poured on the praise, but he made it clear how the young offensive lineman's future is all up to himself. Brown holds the keys to his potential. 

"He’ll be as good as he wants to be," Miller said. "When he’s on, there’s not another tackle in the National Football League that’s as good as him."

Miller also made a bold prediction. "He’s going to have one of the biggest (contracts) for an offensive lineman."

Brown's rookie deal ends after the 2018 season.