Monday Morning Mailbag: Depth is tested

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Monday Morning Mailbag: Depth is tested

The 49ers fear that receiver Kyle Williams' knee injury is a season-ender. Running back Kendall Hunter could miss several weeks with an ankle injury.This is why the 49ers signed Brandon Jacobs in the offseason and selected receiver A.J. Jenkins and running back LaMichael James in the first two rounds of the draft.RELATED: Kendall Hunter, Kyle Williams go down with injuries
Is this the opportunity LaMichael James & AJ Jenkins need to make the impact to this season? (@whizard4)
The 49ers will need a backup running back with Hunter out of action. Brandon Jacobs and Anthony Dixon are candidates to get more action. Both players saw action on two snaps on Sunday in the 49ers' 31-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints.And it could be that James will be active, too.Williams handled return duties on Sunday after Ted Ginn muffed a punt. Coach Jim Harbaugh alluded to Ginn having a wrist injury, too.James has been working on catching punts, but Harbaugh did not sound Friday as if he believes James is ready to perform that duty in games. It seems unlikely that James will have much of a role, even with the injuries.
With Williams expected to be out of action, the 49ers still have three proven wideouts: Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss. Ginn could be the No. 4 receiver, as well as the team's main return guy.Like James, Jenkins has not played this season. It's possible the 49ers will consider him for a role as a slot receiver. More likely, they'll stick with Crabtree, Manningham and Moss as their three primary wideouts. Moss played 25 snaps on Sunday. He did not catch any passes, but he made a big play to break up a would-be interception in the end zone. Manningham played just 24 snaps, as he missed some time with a left hand injury.
Backup tight end Delanie Walker appeared to sustain a hip injury. His status is not known. He received a ride on the back of a cart to go from the team's locker room at one end of the field to the team buses in the tunnel at the other end after the game. Walker played 31 snaps in the game, while starter Vernon Davis was on the field for all 60 snaps.
Undrafted rookie Brent Celek played five snaps. Defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs is also capable of filling in at tight end.
What's next for Alex? (@utefanjames)
Alex Smith said he believes he should be the starter.But coach Jim Harbaugh has not told him anything. Interestingly, Harbaugh said the only reason Colin Kaepernick started Sunday against the New Orleans Saints was because Smith was still experiencing concussion symptoms more than a week after the injury.Harbaugh will say anything and do anything that gives him a competitive advantage, so his statements should be met with a high level of skepticism. After all, he admitted that if creating any doubt about the quarterback situation gives the 49ers even a one-percent advantage, he's willing to do it.What's next for Alex? He's in limbo. He received final clearance to play the day before the game. Colin Kaepernick said he found out he was starting at a team meeting Saturday night.Smith must be prepared to play at any moment. He wore his helmet throughout Sunday's game, not because he expected to be summoned at any moment but because he wanted to listen to the playcalls via the radio transmitter in his helmet.After this season, I'm sure the 49ers would want to keep Smith around as Kaepernick's backup. But it seems unlikely the 49ers will guarantee his 7.5 million base salary by keeping him on the roster past April 1.
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Report: Gutekunst remains with Packers, withdraws from 49ers' GM race

Report: Gutekunst remains with Packers, withdraws from 49ers' GM race

Green Bay executive Brian Gutekunst, who was widely considered a favorite for the 49ers’ vacant general manager position, has reportedly decided to remain with the Packers.

Gutekunst has signed a new contract to remain with the Packers, according to reports from ESPN and the NFL Network.

Gutekunst, 43, is in his 18th season with Green Bay and his first as director of player personnel. He interviewed with the 49ers on Jan. 5.

Gutekunst becomes the second Packers executive in two days to withdraw from consideration for the 49ers job. On Thursday, director of football operations Eliot Wolf decided to remain with Green Bay with a new title and an increase in salary. Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wolf withdrew his name from consideration when it became apparent he would not get the job.

The race for the general manager position appears to be down to two known candidates: Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton and Arizona Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough. One source described the situation as "fluid."

Two years ago, Paton and Falcons coach Dan Quinn, the boss of presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, were reportedly connected as part of a possible general manager-coach team. Paton and Quinn know each other from their time together with the Miami Dolphins. Paton and Shanahan interviewed with the 49ers on the same day – both in Atlanta.

McDonough is a highly respected talent evaluator who was believed to have Shanahan at the top of his list all along for coaches with whom he wanted to work, according to sources.

Source: Shanahan does not insist on full personnel control

Source: Shanahan does not insist on full personnel control

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the presumptive coach of the 49ers, promised 100-percent focus on his current job.

Shanahan confirmed Thursday he expects to meet with 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe for a second time after the Falcons’ NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Shanahan interviewed with the 49ers on Jan. 5 in Atlanta. He is the last remaining available candidate among the six coach candidates with whom the 49ers met after firing Chip Kelly. The 49ers announced the firings of Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke after the team concluded a 2-14 season.

Shanahan met with the media three days before the conference championship wearing a gray shirt that read, “The only fight that matters is the one we are in.

“You don’t have an option, so there’s nothing to get distracted about,” Shanahan said. “You can put this aside and totally focus on right here and right now. That’s not tough to do.

“This is an opportunity that I personally as a coach – I’ve wanted to win a playoff game my entire career and got to do that last week. Right now, that we have a chance to play for a Super Bowl, is pretty much what’s consuming my mind.”

The 49ers are prohibited from officially hiring Shanahan until the Falcons’ season is over. If Atlanta defeats the Packers on Sunday, the 49ers can still interview Shanahan next week and have him involved in the process to hire the team’s next general manager. But Shanahan could not be officially hired until following Super Bowl 51, which will take place Feb. 5 in Houston.

Shanahan admitted there is “some interest” but denied there’s been any spoken agreement he will become the 49ers’ next head coach.

“There’s a lot of stuff out there,” Shanahan said. “My friends growing up hear all that stuff. My wife hears that stuff. But everyone’s asking me what’s going on. I don’t know.

"I’m in my office looking at film all day and there’s nothing I’m allowed to do about it. So I think I’ll have an idea of that after the game. I don’t know what date that will be, whether it’s Monday or the following week, I’m not sure, and right now, I truly don’t care.”

The 49ers are expected to hire a general manager next week that will be matched with Shanahan. A source close to Shanahan told CSNBayArea.com that Shanahan is not insisting on full control over personnel and is fine working together with a general manager, on whom he would lean, to execute the plan with free agency, trades, the draft and determining the 53-man roster.

Green Bay director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst and Minnesota’s assistant general manager George Paton are expected to meet Tuesday with the 49ers and, possibly, Shanahan. The 49ers are keeping the door open on Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough. The 49ers informed a handful of candidates early this week they would not be brought back for second interviews. McDonough was not among those cut from contention.

Eliot Wolf, Green Bay’s director of football operations, pulled out of the running on Thursday. Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wolf withdrew his name from consideration when it became apparent he would not get the job. The Packers increased Wolf’s salary and will give him a change in titles, according to the report.

If Shanahan and the 49ers determine Gutekunst is the man they want, Packers general manager Ted Thompson is expected to let him leave immediately even if Green Bay advances to the Super Bowl, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Two years ago, Paton and Falcons coach Dan Quinn, Shanahan's current boss, were reportedly connected as part of a possible general manager-coach team. Paton and Quinn know each other from their time together with the Miami Dolphins. Paton and Shanahan interviewed with the 49ers on the same day – both in Atlanta.

McDonough is a highly respected talent evaluator who was believed to have Shanahan at the top of his list all along for coaches with whom he wanted to work, according to sources.

The second interviews are reportedly scheduled for Tuesday in Atlanta, according to the report. The 49ers could have their next coach and general manager in place by the middle of next week – depending on the outcome of Sunday’s game.

“My situation outside of this week, I’m definitely excited about that,” Shanahan said.

“You’re only allowed to talk to teams when you do have a bye week. I got that opportunity a couple of weeks ago. Regardless of what happens in this game, win or lose, you can talk to them again when your season’s over or if you get another bye week. I know I think I’ll get that opportunity next week, whatever happens, and I plan on doing that.”