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."

Report: 49ers increase offer to Bradley to become D-coordinator

Report: 49ers increase offer to Bradley to become D-coordinator

The 49ers reportedly continue to pursue Gus Bradley to serve as defensive coordinator on presumptive coach Kyle Shanahan’s staff.

The 49ers have increased their offer to Bradley, Mike Siliver of the NFL Network reported on Friday. Bradley wanted to work with Tom Cable, according to the report.

Cable interviewed with the 49ers on Sunday but removed his name from consideration on Tuesday after he and Seattle co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner sensed their 49ers’ interest in them intended to receive a commitment from Shanahan, sources told CSNBayArea.com.

Bradley served as defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks from 2009 to ’12. In Bradley’s final season on Pete Carroll’s staff, Seattle ranked first in the NFL in points allowed and fourth in total yards.

Bradley became head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013. His teams went 14-48 before he was fired with two games remaining in the season.

The 49ers this week inquired with the Chicago Bears about the possibility of bringing back Vic Fangio to the organization to serve as defensive coordinator. The 49es were informed, according to a source, that the Bears would not let Fangio out of his contract. Fangio was the defensive coordinator for all four seasons with the 49ers under Jim Harbaugh.

Report: Jim Tomsula interviews for Saints DL job

Report: Jim Tomsula interviews for Saints DL job

Former 49ers coach Jim Tomsula reportedly interviewed this week for the New Orleans Saints’ defensive line job.

Tomsula, 48, who was fired as head coach of the 49ers after a 5-11 record in 2015, spent last season out of the football. He interviewed with Saints coach Sean Payton to replace fired line coach Bill Johnson, the Alex Marvez of The Sporting News reported, citing two sources.

Tomsula was hired as head coach to replace Jim Harbaugh after the 49ers announced a “mutual parting” with Harbaugh following the team’s 8-8 season of 2014.

Tomsula was well-regarded as the organization’s defensive line coach from 2007 to ’14.