Defensive line: Two-way players fight for roles


Defensive line: Two-way players fight for roles

The 49ers opened the 2011 regular season with seven defensive linemen. And we're not even counting Aldon Smith, who played mostly defensive end and only a few snaps of outside linebacker a year ago.The organization kept around three young defensive linemen because they saw potential and did not want to close the door on any of the players. Now, it's time to show that potential, as the 49ers might look to form more of a rotation to give the starters occasional breaks.Defensive line
The starting defensive line could very well be the strength of the 49ers. Right end Justin Smith has been the team's best player the past two seasons. He was chosen as the winner of the Bill Walsh Award, which the coaches present to the team's MVP.On the other side, left end Ray McDonald had his breakout season in his first year as a starter. Both Smith and McDonald played a lot. Smith was third in the NFL among defensive linemen, playing 91.1 percent of the defensive snaps. McDonald was 16th at 83.5 percent.Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga was a big reason the 49ers' run defense was tops in the league. Where the 49ers could use more production is from the players behind the regulars.Ricky Jean Francois showed is versatility as the first defensive lineman off the sideline. He filled in admirably for Sopoaga when he missed a game with a staph infection. Jean Francois also handles backup duties about both end positions.Last season, the 49ers kept Will Tukuafu, Demarcus Dobbs and Ian Williams on their regular-season roster to develop. Tukuafu's season ended early due to a wrist injury.
Coincidentally, two of those linemen expanded their resumes this offseason with extensive work on the offensive side of the ball. Tukuafu worked with the second team at left end, while Dobbs worked on the second unit at right end. In addition, Tukuafu spent a good share of time at fullback and Dobbs got a lot of work at tight end."There is a fine line there to where a guy has to have a primary position and that's how he makes the team," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "And then if he can contribute in a secondary role, he does so that way. So, we have to be careful that we don't spread them too thin and they don't master a position on either side and then they don't end up making the team."Williams opens camp as the No. 3 nose tackle. Williams made the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie from Notre Dame last season but did not suit up for a game.
The 49ers added three undrafted rookies who will be scrambling for a potential spot on the practice squad: Tony Jerod-Eddie (Texas A&M), Patrick Butrym (Wisconsin), and Matthew Masifilo, who joined the offseason program in time for the mandatory minicamp due to Stanford's late graduation.

Report: Seahawks could lose second-round pick in 2017 draft

Report: Seahawks could lose second-round pick in 2017 draft

The Seahawks might be in some trouble.

Seattle may lose its second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft after failing to disclose Richard Sherman's knee injury, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

The league is reportedly mulling a penalty after Pete Carroll revealed on Monday that Sherman dealt with an MCL injury during the season.

Back in September, the NFL took away the Seahawks' fifth-round pick, fined the team $400,000 and fined Pete Carroll $200,000 for violating work rules that prohibit excessive contact in all offseason workouts.

The Seahawks will also forefit their first week of 2017 OTAs.

49ers sign free-agent wide receiver

49ers sign free-agent wide receiver

The 49ers, a team with no head coach and no general manager, on Thursday added their third player in the past week to a reserve/future contract.

The 49ers signed wide receiver Rashad Ross, a product of Vallejo High School. Ross has appeared in 20 NFL games the past three seasons with Chicago and Washington. In 2015, Ross caught eight passes for 184 yards and a touchdown in 13 games with Washington.

Ross (6 foot, 180 pounds) played collegiately at Arizona State via Butte College in Oroville. Ross caught 37 passes for 610 yards and six touchdowns in 2012 with the Sun Devils.

Washington released Ross on Dec. 22. In addition to seeing game against with Chicago and Washington, he has also been on the practice squads of Tennessee and Kansas City.

The 49ers also signed Nick Rose, a kicker who spent last offseason with the Atlanta Falcons, to a reserve/future contract on Wednesday. Rose made 27 of his 38 field-goal attempts duringhis four-year career at Texas.

Last week, the 49ers signed left-footed punter Brock Miller (Southern Utah) to a reserve/future contract. A reserve/future contract takes effect at the beginning of the new league year on March 9.

The 49ers’ personnel department remains intact after the firing of general manager Trent Baalke. Assistant general manager Tom Gamble and director of pro personnel Mike Williams are most likely responsible for the signings.

CEO Jed York said on Jan. 2 that the new head coach and general manager will have full power to assemble their staffs.