Obstacles remain for Jenkins, James to play

952493.jpg

Obstacles remain for Jenkins, James to play

SANTA CLARA -- A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James, the 49ers' top two draft picks, remain on standby.Neither Jenkins nor James has stepped onto the field during the regular season. And even with season-ending injuries to receiver Kyle Williams and running back Kendall Hunter, there is no indication Jenkins and James will suddenly be asked to fill significant roles in the 49ers' offense.The 49ers' top three wide receivers are Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss. Receiver Ted Ginn, the return man, will also be among the 49ers' 46 active players.In order for Jenkins to find a regular role, he would have to be the team's slot receiver in three-receiver formations. Crabtree and Manningham are both capable of playing the slot. And both have done it quite well, according to Pro Football Focus.Crabtree has lined up in the slot 96 times, while Manningham has been there for 41 snaps. Among NFL players with at least 40 plays from the slot, Crabtree and Manningham rank second and third in average yards receiving on plays from the slot.In order for Jenkins to get regular playing time, he would somehow have to nudge out Moss in three-receiver sets. And that seems unlikely.Jenkins said he has learned all of the receiver positions on the outside and the slot. And he appears to be remaining patient for his opportunity."It's the first time in my life I've ever red-shirted," Jenkins said. "Right now, I'm going to use this time to learn my craft and everything, and learn from the vets. When my number is called, I'll be ready to go."A potential role for James is a little easier to envision, but it's certainly not a sure thing, either.With Colin Kaepernick as the starter, the 49ers run the zone-read play with greater frequency. It was one of the staples of the 49ers' offense when Hunter was on the field. Theoretically, Kaepernick and James could team up for that play with Hunter unavailable.After all, Kaepernick and James ran the play very effectively during the exhibition season."Kap ran this offense at Nevada, and I ran it at Oregon," James said. "He does a lot of reads, and I ran a lot of reads at Oregon. I think the chemistry was there, just working with him each and every day in practice. And I think it helped us out tremendously."However, Kaepernick and James have not practiced the play since the end of training camp."(It's) surprising, but I haven't," James said.The reason is because James has seen almost all of his practice time since the beginning of the regular season on the scout team. He is one of the players entrusted to run the opposition's plays in order to prepare the 49ers' defense for the upcoming game."I'm a competitor. I want to go out and play and compete," James said. "But I'm smart enough to know that I still have a lot to learn. This is the NFL. This is a complex offense. There are a lot of things I don't know."Another obstacle standing in the way of James making a contribution is special teams. For most of this season, the 49ers have activated three running backs. Anthony Dixon has been active for every game because he is a core special teams player.Brandon Jacobs, who now figures to be the backup running back, has played in only one game because he does not make a contribution on special-teams coverage units. To place James among the 49ers' 46 active players in Sunday's game means the 49ers would have two running backs in reserve who do not play on the coverage units.Both Jenkins and James are trying to make themselves more versatile -- and, thus, more valuable -- by remaining after practices to work on catching punts and returning kickoffs. James is listed on the 49ers' official depth chart as the backup to Ginn at both of those spots.

Report: Shanahan 'almost certain' to accept 49ers' offer

Report: Shanahan 'almost certain' to accept 49ers' offer

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is reportedly “almost certain” to accept the 49ers’ offer to become head coach.

Shanahan is the lone remaining candidate among the six individuals who interviewed with 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe. The 49ers plan for a second interview with Shanahan and a job offer, a source told CSNBayArea.com. Shanahan is expected to accept the 49ers’ offer, reports Michael Silver of the NFL Network, citing sources familiar with both parties.

The 49ers continued to work Tuesday evening on the process of narrowing down the general manager choices, a source said. Shanahan is expected to play a role in the select the team’s next GM, sources said.

On Tuesday, Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable and Seahawks co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner removed their names from consideration for the vacant coach and general manager positions. The 49ers fired Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke after the 49ers' 2-14 season.

One source said Cable and Kirchner believed the 49ers were using them as leverage to hire Shanahan. Cable interviewed with 49ers co-chair Denise DeBartolo York over the phone on Tuesday, NFL Network reported.

The 49ers are allowed to interview Shanahan for a second time after the Falcons’ NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The 49ers are prohibited from hiring or making a formal contract offer to Shanahan until the Falcons' season has concluded.

The top remaining candidates for the general manager job are believed to be Green Bay executives Brian Gutekunst and Eliot Wolf, Arizona's Terry McDonough and Minnesota's George Paton.

Source: 49ers plan second interview with Shanahan; Cable withdraws name

Source: 49ers plan second interview with Shanahan; Cable withdraws name

The 49ers will interview Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan after this weekend’s NFC Championship game, a source told CSNBayArea.com on Tuesday.

The only remaining head-coach candidate, Tom Cable, formally withdrew from consideration, according to his agent, Doug Hendrickson. Cable interviewed with the 49ers on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the 49ers also have a general manager vacancy to fill. The team is in the process of narrowing down their list of eight candidates, a source said. Seattle’s Trent Kirchner pulled his name from consideration on Tuesday. The 49ers could have a round of second interviews for the GM job.

The 49ers fired coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke after the club finished the regular season with a 2-14 record.

The 49ers conducted their first interview with Shanahan on Jan. 6, as allowed by NFL rules, when the Falcons were on their bye in the first week of the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 2 seed.

The 49ers are allowed to conduct a second interview with Shanahan next week, regardless of whether the Falcons advance to the Super Bowl or their season comes to a conclusion against the Green Bay Packers.

If the Falcons advance to the Super Bowl, the 49ers would not be able to make a formal contract offer to Shanahan until following the Super Bowl.

Shanahan, 37, is the son for two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan. He has served nine NFL seasons as an offensive coordinator. His offenses have ranked in the top-10 of total offense in six of those seasons.

Shanahan interviewed for the head-coaching vacancies with Jacksonville and Denver this offseason. Another scheduled interview with the Los Angeles Rams was canceled when Rams officials could not get to Atlanta due to weather conditions.