Falcons coach Quinn: 49ers' offense, defense in good hands

Falcons coach Quinn: 49ers' offense, defense in good hands

INDIANAPOLIS – Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn believes the 49ers’ offense and defense have capable people charge.

Quinn, speaking Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine, has worked on the same staffs with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who will run the team’s offense, and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

Saleh, who served as Jacksonville’s linebackers coach the past three season, spent one season on the Seattle staff when Quinn was defensive coordinator.

“He has a really good and rock-solid understanding of the principles of playing three-deep and man-to-man,” Quinn said of Saleh. “He’s an excellent teacher. And, I think, as a coordinator that’s a really important thing, especially when you’re first putting the whole thing together so everyone has a real clear understanding and they’re all on the same page. So I think he’ll do a fantastic job.”

Shanahan did not hire an assistant to serve under the title of offensive coordinator. Instead, he will assume those duties with the 49ers while also overseeing the entire operation as head coach. Shanahan has been an NFL offensive coordinator for eight seasons, including the past two under Quinn with the Falcons.

“He is one of the few coaches who has a full understanding – run game, offensive line, quarterback play, receiver play,” Quinn said of Shanahan. “You could put him into any spot on the offense, and he’ll be able to coach that position. That’s a rare trait. There are some guys who are sto strong in one area. It might be in the run game or so strong in the pass game. But he has a really clear understanding how to do the whole thing.

“I never like to see anybody leave the staff, but what I can appreciate is a guy taking a risk to say, ‘Hey, I want to give this a shot and go battle for it.’ So I’m excited for him and the opportunity he has there.”

Report: Kaepernick's new agents inform teams he will opt out

Report: Kaepernick's new agents inform teams he will opt out

INDIANAPOLIS – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick will become a free agent for the first time in his six-year NFL career.

Kaepernick’s new agents, Jeff Nalley and Sean Kiernan, informed all 32 teams on Tuesday that he will, as expected, opt out of his contract to become a free agent, the NFL Network reported.

Kaepernick was scheduled to make $14.9 million in salary and bonuses for the 2017 season. If he did not opt out, the 49ers were expected to release him to avoid being on the hook for his scheduled pay.

The 49ers do not have a quarterback under contract for the upcoming season. Kaepernick is coming off his best season since 2013 – his first full season as the starter. Kaepernick completed 59.2 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Quarterback ranks as the team's top need for the upcoming season.

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said on KNBR last week. “And we’re committed to doing that.”

Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Thad Lewis are also scheduled to be free agents.

Washington places tag on Kirk Cousins, making him off-limits to 49ers

Washington places tag on Kirk Cousins, making him off-limits to 49ers

INDIANAPOLIS -- One of the 49ers’ apparent quarterback targets is no longer available for negotiations.

Washington designated quarterback Kirk Cousins as the team’s exclusive franchise player, the club announced on Tuesday. The move, in essence, takes Cousins completely off the free-agent market.

Washington opted for the exclusive tag, rather than the ordinary franchise tag. Once a player is tagged as an exclusive franchise player, his previous team holds his sole negotiating rights. It does not eliminate the possibility of a trade.

Under the non-exclusive tag, outside teams are still allowed to negotiate with the player. If a team were to sign a player an offer sheet under the non-exclusive tag, that team would owe two first-round picks as compensation.

Cousins, who becomes the first quarterback in NFL history to be designated as his team’s franchise player in back-to-back years, is expected to earn approximately $24 million on a one-year contract.

If Cousins and Washington do not agree on a long-term contract within the next year, Cousins would be eligible to hit the free-agent market next year.

The 49ers were viewed as a team that would be interested in acquiring Cousins this offseason. Mike Shanahan was Washington’s head coach and Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in 2012 when Cousins entered the NFL in 2012 as a fourth-round draft pick.

Cousins, 28, has been Washington’s starter the past two seasons. He completed 69.8 percent of his pass attempts in 2015 with 29 touchdown passes and 11 touchdowns and a passer rating of 101.6.

Last year, Cousins was third in the league with 4,917 passing yards with an 8.1 average per attempt. He ranked seventh in the NFL with a 97.2 pass rating.

New 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch are in the market for quarterbacks with the start of the free agency and trades scheduled for March 9.

Colin Kaepernick is expected to opt out of his contract. If he does not, the 49ers would not be expected to bring him back on his scheduled $14.9 million pay for 2017.

Each of the other three quarterbacks on the 49ers’ roster – Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Thad Lewis -- are scheduled free agents.