In today’s nuggets, you’ll see a few potential wide receiver replacements if the Niners don’t re-sign Kendrick Bourne. Rashard Higgins from the Browns is an intriguing option. Why the 49ers should have competition at QB, ESPN’s take on three 49ers free agents, the new WR coach who is joining the staff, and Bosa and Thomas’s updates on their ACL recovery.
ElAttrache couldn’t go into the details of Bosa’s and Thomas’ injuries, but he said the damage was more extensive than a simple tear to the anterior cruciate ligament, which means their recoveries may take longer. The good news is that their surgeon is at the top of his field.
He said Bosa, the 49ers’ top pass rusher, and Thomas, who is scheduled to be a free agent next month, are doing “very well” in their recoveries.
“They weren’t just straight-forward, isolated ACL injuries,” ElAttrache said. “These were bigger injuries. But they’re both ahead of where ordinarily we’d expect them to be. And so they’re both going through their initial stages of functional performance training. So it’s looking very promising for both of those guys.”
The San Francisco 49ers are adding Illinois wide receivers coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker to head coach Kyle Shanahan’s staff. According to Adam Caplan of SiriusXM, he will serve as an offensive quality control coach.
Hayes-Stoker spent the last five seasons with the Fighting Illini, where he worked under Lovie Smith. He previously worked under Smith with the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and had a brief stint as an assistant with the Indianapolis Colts before joining Illinois in 2016.
“Andrew Hayes-Stoker is one of the brightest young coaches in the game,” said Smith via the Illinois football official website. “Since joining our staff with the Bears, I’ve seen him continue to learn the game and develop as a teacher. I know he’ll be outstanding in coaching our receivers and as a recruiter.”
All three have made valuable contributions and the Niners would love to keep them, but doing so will depend on the market. Jones and Bourne have starting ability and the right team might be willing to pay a little more to give them that chance. Hyder is coming off a career year and has earned a nice payday after bouncing around the league. All three could land nice deals elsewhere but they are also the type of players who could slip through the cracks with the cap dropping and return at reasonable rates.
They traded Garoppolo to the 49ers instead, and the 49ers anointed him their franchise quarterback after five meaningless wins at the end of a lost season. Made him the highest-paid player in the NFL at the time. And they’ve never seriously challenged his place on the depth chart. Never made him sweat for his job.
They coddled him.
Garoppolo has been coddled ever since he entered the NFL. And now he has at least $85 million and an extensive injury history. What’s driving him to improve? How much does he still want to play football?
Make him show you, Kyle. Make him compete head to head during training camp for the starting job with Josh Rosen, the 10th pick of the 2018 draft. Rosen is only 24. He’s younger, hungrier, healthier, more mobile and has a stronger arm than Garoppolo. Rosen is a real talent. If Garoppolo beats him out, good for him.
The top four inexpensive fits are Seattle’s David Moore, Cleveland’s Rashard Higgins, Buffalo’s Isaiah McKenzie and Jacksonville’s Keelan Cole.
Only six unrestricted free-agent wide receivers signed deals for over $2.5 million last offseason (per Spotrac). That class was much weaker than this year’s stacked market. The 49ers should try to take advantage.
Of the four, Cole had the highest salary in 2020. He played under the same second-round tender that netted Bourne $3.259 million.