As Willis' backup, Grant proves he knows 'jack'

607496.jpg

As Willis' backup, Grant proves he knows 'jack'

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers don't need Larry Grant to be a jack of all trades on Sunday in the likely event All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis does not play against the Arizona Cardinals.The 49ers just need Grant to fill-in at the spot that Willis plays -- the "jack" linebacker -- and maybe wear the green dot, as well. This season, the weak inside linebacker position is "jack," and the strong inside position is "mike."
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he has yet to decide whether Grant or "mike" linebacker NaVorro Bowman would wear the helmet with the radio transmitter. The player with the green dot on the helmet is counted upon to relay the defensive play from the sideline to the huddle.Grant had two different helmets available to him Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. When Willis left the game in the first quarter with a right hamstring strain, Grant wore the helmet with the transmitter to assume the duty that Willis has held with the team this season.
Grant recorded five tackles and a sack in the 49ers' 26-0 victory over the Rams."Sometimes you have to deal with the loss of a player," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "It didn't seem like it affected them very much even though I know how outstanding of a player Patrick Willis is." Cornerback Carlos Rogers said he will return to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday with a sore left knee. Rogers said there was some bruising, but he rested as a precaution. He said he is unsure how the knee got banged up Sunday against the Rams. His availability for Sunday's game against the Cardinals does not appear to be in question.

49ers select DE Solomon Thomas with No. 3 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers select DE Solomon Thomas with No. 3 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft

SOLOMON THOMAS
Position: Defensive line
College: Stanford
Height: 6-2 ½
Weight: 273 pounds
Selection: First round, No. 3 overall

SANTA CLARA – After some late intrigue surrounding the No. 1 overall pick, the Cleveland Browns went with the player universally considered the top NFL prospect.

Myles Garrett went with the first selection, then the 49ers traded back one spot with the Chicago Bears, who chose North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

The 49ers still got the player they would have chosen with the No. 2 overall pick: Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas with the second pick.

General manager John Lynch engineered a trade that enabled the 49ers to pick up third and fourth-round draft picks this year, as well as the Bears’ third-round pick next year to move back one spot.

With the selection of Thomas, the 49ers have now chosen defensive linemen with their first picks in each of the past three drafts.

The 49ers picked Arik Armstead with the No. 17 pick in 2015. Last year, in Trent Baalke’s final draft as general manager, the 49ers chose DeForest Buckner with the No. 7 pick.

Thomas becomes the highest-drafted defensive player from Stanford in school history. The Minnesota Vikings selected Stanford linebacker Jeff Siemon No. 10 overall in 1972.

The 49ers finished with a 2-14 record last season in Chip Kelly’s only season to land in the No. 2 draft slot. CEO Jed York fired Kelly and Baalke at the conclusion of the season.

Lynch had been shopping the No. 2 overall pick in trade scenarios in recent weeks. The 49ers accomplished their goal, trading back one spot and getting a bounty of picks to help in the rebuilding project.

The 49ers chose Thomas over such players as running back Leonard Fournette, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and safety Jamal Adams.

Thomas, who spent five years in Australia as a youngster, came to Stanford as a top 25 national recruit. In his final college season, Thomas led the Cardinal with 62 tackles, 15 for loss, and eight quarterback sacks. He was an All-American and chosen as the winner of the Morris Trophy, awarded to the Pac-12 defensive lineman of the year.

Thomas appears to be a fit at multiple positions along the line in new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme. While he might be best-suited for an interior position, new coach Kyle Shanahan said recently at Stanford’s pro day that he believes Thomas can play the team’s pass-rush position.

The 49ers have struggled to generate much of a pass rush since the departure of Aldon Smith, whom the club released prior to the 2015 season after multiple off-field incidents.

Ahmad Brooks and Buckner tied for the team-lead last season with six sacks. Brooks and Aaron Lynch led the 49ers in 2015 with 6.5 sacks apiece. Brooks and Lynch both recorded six sacks in ’14 to lead the team.

The 49ers have nine draft picks remaining. Their next scheduled pick comes Friday with the second selection of the second round, No. 34 overall.

49ers trade No. 2 pick to Bears for four total NFL Draft picks

49ers trade No. 2 pick to Bears for four total NFL Draft picks

The 49ers on Thursday dealt the No. 2 overall pick in the draft to acquire more selections to assist in the organization’s massive rebuilding project.

After advertising for weeks that the 49ers were “open for business,” first-year general manager John Lynch executed a trade on Thursday night with the Chicago Bears.

The Bears moved up to No. 2, while the 49ers took Chicago’s No. 3 overall pick. The 49ers received the Bears’ picks this year in the third round (No. 67) and fourth round (No. 111), as well as the Bears’ third-round pick next year.

Cleveland kicked off the NFL draft with the selection of Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. The Bears selected quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick.

The 49ers had engaged in preliminary trade discussions with six teams, a league source told NBC Sports Bay Area. Three teams were inside the top 10 and three teams were outside the top 10.

This draft appeared to set up for the 49ers to trade back because of their needs at so many positions. The 49ers finished 2-14 last season, leading to the firings of general manager John Lynch and coach Chip Kelly.

The 49ers entered the opening day of the draft on Thursday with a scheduled 10 draft picks, including the No. 2 pick in each of the first four rounds.

49ERS 2017 DRAFT PICKS
1. First round, No. 2: DL Solomon Thomas, Stanford
2. Second round: No. 34 overall
3. Third round: No. 66 overall
4. Third round: No. 67 overall (from Chicago for No. 2 pick)
5. Fourth round: No. 109 overall
6. Fourth round: No. 111 overall (from Chicago for No. 2 pick)
7. Fourth round: No. 143 overall (compensatory)
8. Fifth round: No. 146 overall
9. Fifth round: No. 161 (from Washington in 2015 trade for TE Derek Carrier)
10. Sixth round: No. 198 overall (from Baltimore in trade with C Jeremy Zuttah for No. 186)
11. Sixth round: No. 202 overall (pick acquired from Denver in 2015 trade for TE Vernon Davis)
12. Seventh round: No. 219 overall (pick acquired from Cleveland in 2015 trade for Andy Lee)