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Golden Nuggets: Ray-Ray McCloud listed as the most exciting offseason addition for the 49ers

Your daily San Francisco 49ers links for Monday, May 30, 2022

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Pittsburgh Steelers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Enjoy the day off for those of you not working today. On Wednesday, practice will be open to the media. Then, defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans will speak after practice.

49ers draft pick Drake Jackson one of 2022 draft’s biggest stealsDrake Jackson might’ve gone in the first round had the 49ers picked there in the 2022 draft.

Jackson is a well-rounded defender who can get after opposing quarterbacks, as well as anchor the edge against the run. He joins an already formidable defensive front in San Francisco, where he’ll be able to make an immediate impact as a rotational player before becoming a full-time starter. Pass rushers with Jackson’s upside usually don’t last until the end of the second round.

Jason Verrett could be 49ers’ wild card on defense for 2022 season

“He’s involved,” Undlin said. “He’s interacting. He’s talking to us as if he’s going out there and playing every single down. Huge positive for me as a coach, for us as a coaching staff to have that type of leadership and knowledge, especially for the young guys and even for a guy like Mooney.

“He’s played a lot of ball so to see that type of relationship between those two guys come together, it’s really cool. It’s nice.”

Undlin detailed how Verrett spends every moment with the group when he is not rehabbing his knee. The coach added that from Verrett’s level of involvement, you would never think that he is not already playing.

49ers roster: Kevin Atkins a key stash-player candidate in 2021

More often than not, short and squatty 1-technique nose tackles are run-defense specialists only, but that’s not the case with Atkins, who recorded an impressive seven sacks and 13 tackles for a loss in 2021, capping off a collegiate tenure that revealed some notable interior pass-rushing abilities

Simply put, Atkins will have to beat out at least two or three of those other veterans to stand a remote chance.

In reality, Atkins probably winds up being pegged as a practice-squad candidate, someone who can hone his development in year one with the long-term projection of being a Givens-like player, finally getting a much better chance in 2023 at the earliest.

San Francisco 49ers OL Aaron Banks could be key to offense

“That’s where our strength and conditioning people have done a phenomenal job of just remaking that 330 pounds,” Foerster told the Athletic. “And so yes, his conditioning, his strength, have improved. … He has the ability to maintain, to play faster, to play harder, because he’s in better shape.”

Getting Banks to play at a high level would be a significant development for San Francisco since they don’t have any real answers along their offensive line. They need to figure out both starting guard spots and they made need to replace center Alex Mack.

NFL power rankings: Bills rise to top, AFC dominates

8. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers fell one quarter short of a second Super Bowl appearance in three years and aren’t ready to risk a step back by going from QB Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance. WR Deebo Samuel is irreplaceable in his unique role as the bulk of the offense, but he’s unhappy with his contract.

D.J. Jones ready to ‘dominate’ for Denver Broncos defense

“Dominate here,” Jones told the media this week on what he wants to accomplish in Denver. “I feel like I made my mark in San Francisco, but I think it’s time to bring that here and help this community and help this team. I’m here to do whatever they need me to do.”

To become a more complete player, Jones knows what he must improve on.

“Pass rush,” he said. “I want to exceed five sacks, and I think this is the perfect scheme to do it. It’s the perfect group of guys to work with and better myself in that.”

Jones doesn’t just have high expectations for himself, but for Denver’s defensive line.

“We can be the best D-line in the NFL as long as we continue to work hard, stay healthy and lean on each other,” he said. “We can be the best.”

Every NFL Team’s Most Exciting 2022 Offseason Addition

The San Francisco 49ers were hamstrung by poor special teams performances during the 2021 campaign and subsequent playoffs.

The team addressed that glaring issue with a single signing, adding return specialist and part-time wideout Ray-Ray McCloud.

He should instantly rejuvenate a special teams unit that Football Outsiders (h/t the Associated Press) ranked as the least efficient on kick returns and below average on punt returns last year.

Since entering the league in 2018, the 25-year-old has bounced between the Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers before spending the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In that span, McCloud amassed nearly 3,000 return yards. He posted career highs with 38 punts returned for 367 yards and 35 kicks returned for 776 yards last season.

While McCloud has yet to score a return touchdown as a professional, it will come given his talent.

Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan should also get some value out of McCloud as a wideout. He saw his most usage in that role last year, drawing 66 targets and catching 39 of them for 277 yards, and he could see it expanded further in San Francisco’s high-powered attack.