Will any of the 49ers running backs be happy?


Will any of the 49ers running backs be happy?

SANTA CLARA -- Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, the 49ers' top two running backs a year ago, combined to play 95 percent of the team's offensive snaps.Those running backs return this season, as does seldom-used third-stringer Anthony Dixon.In the offseason, the 49ers added Brandon Jacobs, who played nearly 300 snaps with the New York Giants. The club invested a second-round draft pick in Oregon speedster LaMichael James.So you can appreciate the honesty of 49ers running backs coach Tom Rathman when he says, "We don't know if everyone's going to be happy with the time they get because we don't know what the situation is right now."It's difficult to imagine that any of the team's running back will be privately happy with his play time this season. And that includes Gore, who has been the unquestioned featured back since he made Kevan Barlow expendable in 2006.Among the group of Gore, Hunter, Jacobs and James, one of those players will likely be left off the regular-season roster of 46 active players on game days. Dixon, it appears at this point, faces an uphill climb to win a roster spot."First of all, you've got to figure out who's going to make the team," Rathman told a group of reporters on Wednesday. "That's where it all starts. You can't plan on who's going to play what role until you figure out who's going to make your team."We believe that it's open competition. We're going to play the best players because that's the way it should be. So they all have to understand that they've got to play at a high level when they're out on the football field -- that's the expectation of the San Francisco 49ers. When you do that, good things will happen to you as a player. You'll get more snaps."--The player with the most to lose is Gore, who played two-thirds of the 49ers' offensive plays last season. He rushed for 1,211 yards -- the second-most of his seven-year career -- during the regular season. He excelled in two playoff games, averaging 5.6 yards a carry to go along with a team-high 13 receptions (after catching just 17 passes in the regular season).As part of the contract extension Gore signed a year ago, his attendance during the 49ers' offseason program was required for him to receive a 400,000 workout bonus. This is the first time he has taken part in the full offseason program in his career. Gore can be expected to see a reduction in his playing time this season with a better group behind him.
--Jacobs played in 14 regular-season games for the Giants last season but saw action on just 27 percent of their snaps -- a little more than third running back Danny Ware. Ahmad Bradshaw played 45 percent of the time for the Giants. Jacobs has taken part in the 49ers' full offseason program and is working hard. He is incorporating squats into his training regimen for the first time in his NFL career. Jacobs could be the team's short-yardage back, but he'll have to earn his spot on the roster when training camp begins.--Hunter impressed in his rookie season. He rushed for 473 yards (4.2 average) on 112 carries. But in a sign that the 49ers have a strong roster and were set on building depth, the team selected James in the second round. James and Hunter will compete for the same role Hunter had a year ago. Because the 49ers have Hunter under contract through the 2014 season at minimum salaries, he figures to be around for a while. The 49ers have gotten only a brief glimpse at James since drafting him. He took part in a three-day rookie minicamp but has been ineligible to join the 49ers full time because Oregon has yet to hold its graduation.
--Dixon's role on the team is the most tenuous of those with previous NFL experience. He fell out of favor early last season because of concerns from the coaching staff about his level of commitment. At 235 pounds, two different 49ers regimes have wanted him to be a more decisive, no-nonsense runner. He must have an outstanding camp to lock down a spot on the 53-man roster. And if you're thinking his size would enable him to transition to fullback, think again. It is simply not a good fit for his style. He is not a pounder. He does not seek contact. The 49ers are focused finding others to back up fullback Bruce Miller, including defensive lineman Will Tukuafu.--The 49ers also signed veteran Rock Cartwright. But if Cartwright makes the team, it will be solely for his contributions on special teams. Cartwright is unlikely to see a snap of offense this season with the talent ahead of him on the depth chart.--The best hope for undrafted rookie Jewel Hampton (Southern Illinois) is to win a spot on the practice squad.--Said Rathman, "It's all going to play itself out. The good thing is we've got depth at the position, so we're going to lay it on the line when we get into training camp and see who fits what role."

Reuben Foster: Shoulder recovery on pace for training camp clearance

Reuben Foster: Shoulder recovery on pace for training camp clearance

SANTA CLARA – Linebacker Reuben Foster is likely to be a spectator when the 49ers hold their rookie minicamp next week.

But Foster said he is on pace to be fully cleared for football activity by the time the 49ers open training camp in late July. Recent national reports have suggested Foster would require another surgery on his right shoulder.

“That’s not accurate at all,” said Foster, who took part in a press conference on Friday after the 49ers selected him with the No. 31 overall pick in the draft on Thursday. “I’m fine. I’m on schedule.”

Foster said he sustained the tear of the labrum in his right shoulder during Alabama’s national semifinal game against Washington. He played in the championship game against Clemson with the injury.

He underwent surgery on his rotator cuff that forced him to sit out drills at the NFL scouting combine in February. Foster was sent home from Indianapolis after an argument with a hospital worker while he was waiting to undergo a physical.

There were reports Foster could require additional surgery after he went through the medical re-check in Indianapolis.

“I’m making big progress,” Foster said. “I’ll be limited in OTAs. Training camp, I’ll be full-go, but if it’s my decision, I think I can go now.”

Later, Foster said the 49ers have all of his medical information.

“I guarantee they have enough X-rays, exams, MRIs to know where I stand,” he said. “I had the surgery. They already knew how many weeks I was out.”

Foster dropped in the draft over apparent concerns about his shoulder and character issues. Alabama coach Nick Saban told AL.com on Thursday that Foster did not consult him before undergoing surgery.

"Look, the way we like for things to get handled, that didn't get handled," Saban said. "We have the best doctors in the world in Dr. (James) Andrews and Dr. (Lyle) Cain who operate on most NFL players and his agent chose to take him someplace else. I think (Andrews and Cain) have tremendous credibility.

"So, you know, all these choices and decisions that you make have consequences and I hate it for our players when they do it, but he didn't seek my advice in what he should do. So, if that was an issue, that was an issue. It shouldn't have been an issue but if it was, I don't really know much about it."

Report: 49ers TE Vance McDonald available for trade

Report: 49ers TE Vance McDonald available for trade

Vance McDonald is reportedly on the trade block.

The 49ers tight end is available, according to The Ringer's Michael Lombardi.

In December, McDonald inked a five-year extension, with the final two years being club options at base salaries of $5.5 million annually.

As NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco reported:

"McDonald receives a $7 million signing bonus, according to the figures obtained Tuesday by CSNBayArea.com. His base salary of $2.1 million for 2017 is fully guaranteed for skill and cap.

McDonald is scheduled to earn $3.7 million in base salary in 2018 and $4.2 million in 2019. In addition, McDonald has 46-man roster bonuses of $46,875 per game, which total $750,000 annually if he suits up for all 16 games. McDonald also has a scheduled $150,000              in annual workout bonuses for participating in 90 percent or more of the team’s offseason program.

The deal would make McDonald the 16th highest-paid tight end in the NFL if he collects all of his per-game roster bonuses.

If McDonald remains on the 49ers’ 90-man roster on April 1, 2018, all $3.7 million of his 2018 salary becomes fully guaranteed. If he’s on the roster on April 1, 2019, $3.2 million of his $4.2 base salary is fully guaranteed.

There are also incentives in the deal for receptions and receiving yards that begin with 55 receptions ($75,000) and 700 yards ($75,000)."

The 49ers took McDonald in the second round (55th overall) of the 2013 draft.

In 11 games last year, he caught 24 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

After making two selections in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday, the 49ers enter Day 2 of the draft with two third-round picks -- No. 66 and No. 67 overall.

The 49ers also currently have two picks in the fourth round, two picks in the fifth round, two picks in the 6th round and one seventh round pick.