Whitner grasps irony of hit against Saints

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Whitner grasps irony of hit against Saints

SANTA CLARA -- Rarely does a day go by without somebody approaching 49ers strong safety Donte Whitner about the game-changing hit he delivered against the New Orleans Saints early in the NFC divisional playoff.

Whitner understands that the play took on even added significance because of the offseason developments of the Saints' bounty scandal.

REWIND: Whitner's hit sets the tone
On the 12th play of the game-opening Saints drive that started at their own 20-yard line, Whitner delivered a legal helmet-to-helmet hit on running back Pierre Thomas. The blow did not leave Whitner woozy, he said, but it knocked out Thomas, whose fumble was recovered by Patrick Willis at the 49ers' 7-yard line. Thomas did not return to the game after sustaining a concussion."I'm not happy that he was injured on the play, but I am happy I was able to deliver a big blow and get the football for our team, because who knows what would've happened, confidence get a little shaken," Whitner said Monday. "You let Drew Brees and the prolific offense they have go down and score on the first drive, you don't know how the game would've turned out. I'm just glad I was able to help the team and get the football back."Afterward it was learned that Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had instructed his team to injure such players as Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams during his speech the night before the game.REWIND: Whitner KOs Thomas
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell levied severe sanctions against the Saints, including a year-long suspension against coach Sean Peyton and at least a year coaching ban on Williams."Very ironic because we don't have to talk like that around here," Whitner said. "So for a defensive coordinator to come up and talk about injuring players or knocking players out of the game, you don't have to say that when you have the right type of guys in the room."All coach Vic (Fangio) ever says is we have to go out and play physical football. We have to stop the run. We have to stop these certain players from beating us and running through our defense. And if you have the right type of guys in that room, you don't have to set bounties and pay money for guys to play physical and play hard. It's going to come naturally. And that's the type of guys we have on our defense. That's why we don't have to do those types of things."

Bruce Allen: Kirk Cousins will play for Washington in 2017

Bruce Allen: Kirk Cousins will play for Washington in 2017

PHOENIX – Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins will continue to be Washington’s quarterback for the 2017 season, according to team president Bruce Allen.

“That’s why we franchised him, yes,” Allen said during an interview with CSN Mid-Atlantic at the NFL owners meetings.

Cousins and Washington did not reach agreement on a multi-year contract extension before the start of the free-agent signing period. Washington tagged Cousins as the organization’s exclusive franchise player, taking him off the free-agent market for any interested clubs, such as the 49ers.

Cousins is set to earn $23.94 million in 2017, unless the sides agree to a new deal before the July 15 deadline. The price for Cousins to be franchised again in 2018 would be $34.47 million.

"We’ve had a lot of dialogue," Allen said. "He signed his tender. Obviously, we have an option for the ’18 season. Our goal from the beginning has been long term. I'm still hopeful and confident we'll do it."

The 49ers with new coach Kyle Shanahan are expected to be interested in Cousins, but there have no trade talks with any teams, Allen said. Shanahan was Washington's offensive coordinator under his father, then-head coach Mike Shanahan, for Cousins' first two NFL seasons.

"I can't keep up with the rumors," Allen said. "Kirk and I have talked almost a dozen times this offseason, and we get to laugh when we hear these different rumors. We haven't talked to anyone."

49ers keep all options open with No. 2 overall pick

49ers keep all options open with No. 2 overall pick

PHOENIX -- If the Cleveland Browns’ only reasonable decision with the top overall pick consists of Myles Garrett or Myles Garrett, the 49ers have considerably more options at No. 2 overall.

After Garrett, the Texas A&M pass-rusher, there appears to be no consensus second-best prospect in the draft. So the 49ers must be open to considering almost anything.

“You got to talk about every option because you never know what will happen,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “You got to be ready for anything somebody will call you on, whether it’s a trade or not. So you got to go through those because they can happen quickly, especially when you get closer to draft day.

“Right now, it’s not necessarily in my mind the No. 2 pick. It’s taking the time to understand the whole pool of people. Who’s going to be available at two? Who’s going to be available halfway through the first round? What are the players you can get in the second and third round? That’s not something that just gets done. You have to watch a lot of tape. You got to listen to your scouts and all the homework they’ve done with the character on these guys and soak it all in for a couple of months.”

Shanahan was on hand Thursday for Stanford’s pro day, during which defensive lineman Solomon Thomas worked out. Thomas is considered a strong candidate to be the No. 2 player off the board.

But does Thomas fit with the 49ers? Under former general manager Trent Baalke, the 49ers invested their top draft picks in Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in back-to-back years. Would the 49ers consider spending their top pick on another defensive lineman?

“It really doesn’t concern me what we’ve done in the past or what we’re going to do in the future,” Shanahan said. “It’s what we have now. If we think that player can help us and improve us, then that’s what we’ll do. You want to get the best guy possible. There are lots of options open.”

As the 49ers transition to a four-man defensive line, the team is in need or a pass-rusher. Ahmad Brooks tied with Buckner for the team-lead last season with six sacks. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch tied for tops on the 49ers with 6.5 sacks.

Brooks, 33, enters his 12th NFL season. Shanahan said he believes Thomas (6 foot 3, 273 pounds) is versatile enough to be a pass-rush threat at defensive end in the 49ers’ new scheme.

“I believe so,” Shanahan said. “I believe he can probably line up anywhere he wants. (But I’m) still not done with my research, yet.”

Thomas won the 2017 Morris Trophy, as the Pac-12’s top defensive lineman, as voted on by the conference’s offensive linemen.