On Monday, the Atlanta Falcons released former first round pick Takk McKinley, who called out the Falcons on Twitter for rejecting trades that would send the edge rusher elsewhere. McKinley was drafted after Kyle Shanahan left, but he plays a position of need. McKinley is owed $875,000 for the remainder of the season.
The 49ers are 15th on the waiver wire, so McKinley may not even make it to San Francisco. If he does, claiming McKinley would factor into the team’s comp pick formula. As of now, the Niners are projected to pick up a 5th-round pick for Emmanuel Sanders.
McKinley fits that mold as the former No. 26 pick of the Falcons out of UCLA in the 2017 draft. In 49 games he racked up 17.5 sacks, 22 tackles for loss and 125 pressures per Pro Football Focus’ tracking. His 2020 campaign has been limited to just four games in part because of a groin injury.
His fit with the 49ers would likely be as a pass rusher in a similar vein to Dee Ford last season. He’s a bit undersized at 6-2, 265 pounds, but he has good speed off the edge that may be best utilized in that role.
One thing San Francisco may take issue with is the way McKinley’s time in Atlanta came to an end.
All the 49ers have to do is look around the NFL and see what they’ll have to contend with for the next decade: A crop of young quarterbacks built to own the NFL. Big-armed athletic field generals who can take over a game and deliver wins even when things aren’t going their way.
The next decade in the NFL will belong to quarterbacks who can do the things Mahomes, Murray, Herbert, Tagovailoa and Burrow can do.
The age of winning with an average NFL quarterback is over. Title building now starts with a game-changing quarterback on a rookie deal and then you go from there.
The 49ers know what they have in Garoppolo and how far he can take them.
James sustained a fractured wrist during an offseason workout and missed a large portion of training camp. He then suffered a hamstring injury in the 49ers’ Week 1 game against Arizona and was placed on injured reserve, keeping him out of the next four games.
Before an ankle injury sidelined him for the game against Seattle, James had worked into the No. 4 role, ahead of slot receiver Trent Taylor. But James entered the game Thursday night without a reception this season.
Last year, he appeared in all 16 games, primarily as a return specialist, and caught just six passes for 165 yards. He had more than a year’s production in just one game.
When James rolled up 184 yards in receiving against Green Bay, it was the 49ers’ best day for a wide receiver since Anquan Boldin had 208 yards receiving against the Packers in the season opener of 2013.
“I kind of expected him to do what he did because he is that type of player,” Shanahan said. “I was just glad he was able to make it through the game because I know he was coming off an injury, too.”
No. 1: Jimmy Garoppolo was dealt a bad hand in 2020
Jimmy Garoppolo will probably never be one of those Tier 1, elite-level quarterbacks capable of carrying his entire team regardless of the talent level around him. Those types of signal-callers are of the rarest variety.
When supported by a good cast and within a good system, he’ll succeed well enough. Last year was proof of that.
But Garoppolo hasn’t had that cast this year. Not by a long shot.
For starters, San Francisco’s ground game, so essential to Kyle Shanahan’s offense and Jimmy G’s success, has been banged up and has regularly missed top running backs, Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman. That’s one strike against Garoppolo’s efforts. The SF 49ers’ wide receiver corps has been a regular shuffle, too, with pass-catchers like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne and others in and out of the starting lineup for various reasons, mostly injuries.
Here are the 10 highest-graded players for the 49ers last season:
TE George Kittle, 94.4
CB Richard Sherman, 90.3
DE Nick Bosa, 89.8
DL Arik Armstead, 89.6
FS Jimmie Ward, 85.0
RB Raheem Mostert, 82.9
DL DeForest Buckner, 81.5
LT Joe Staley, 81.3
CB K’Waun Williams, 80.3
WR Deebo Samuel, 77.5
Of those 10 players, Armstead is the only one who hasn’t missed a game this season. Ward is the only player who’s missed just one game — a Week 7 showdown with the Patriots. He strained his quad going into that game and returned the following week.
Two are no longer with the club. Staley retired after last season, and Buckner was traded to Indianapolis in the offseason.
The 49ers can take advantage of that.
New Orleans knows they are a great team, especially coming off a win during which they completely curb stomped Tom Brady and the red-hot Buccaneers. Now the Saints have to turn their attention towards the 49ers who are a shell of themselves compared to their last matchup.
This game has the potential to be a blowout... for the 49ers. The Saints seems a bit cocky and overconfident right now. You know the cliché saying all football players say about “not getting too high or too low”? Well the Saints are showcasing themselves to be on a high horse. They are 6-2 and are rolling right now.
There is a really good chance they overlook the 49ers when they visit this Sunday at the SuperDome. New Orleans can easily see San Francisco as a wounded animal that cannot get right. They might not be able to psyche themselves up for this game and lock in like they did for the Buccaneers.