Monthly Archives: January 2021

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No, Blake Baker has not been relieved of his duties.

No, Jim Leavitt has not been rumored to the Miami Hurricanes for any position on the staff.

Yes, Manny Diaz should contact him if there so happened to be a defensive coordinator vacancy at The U.

Let’s meet Jim, shall we?

Flashback to that wild and crazy year in 2007 when the college football gods could not decide on who was worthy enough to remain atop the rankings. The USC Trojans, LSU Tigers, West Virginia Mountaineers, Florida Gators, Oklahoma Sooners, California Bears, and Ohio State Buckeyes all found themselves ranked in the top three at some point in both the AP and Coaches Poll before the BCS rankings were released.

That season was such an outlier, the Kansas Jayhawks reached a BCS number two ranking in week 13, and the Missouri Tigers were the top ranked team in the BCS as late as week 14.

But it was the initial BCS rankings that were unveiled in week eight that took college football by surprise. Jim Leavitt’s South Florida Bulls were victorious over the then 17th ranked Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare stadium in their second game of the season. That win helped propel the Bulls to the number two spot in the first installment of the BCS.

It was during his time at USF that Leavitt made a name for himself on the national scene as someone who could potentially be the next great hire at a big time program. A hard-nosed defensive mind that is known to get in the faces of his players, Leavitt is a no nonsense individual…what you see is what you get.

Throughout his time in Tampa which spanned from 1997-2009, he compiled a 95-27 record including three, nine win seasons, and a 3-2 bowl record. The star defender in that magical 2007 for the Bulls was George Selvie who tallied 14.5 sacks and 31.5 tackles for loss in Leavitt’s scheme. But the name that Leavitt is most known for producing out of USF is the fifteenth overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, Super Bowl champion, and three time Pro Bowl selection which starred for him in 2009 – Jason Pierre-Paul.

Leavitt’s dismissal from the program came after an investigation found he struck one of his players in the locker room during a halftime, Leavitt denied the allegations.

University of South Florida v University of Pittsburgh
Head coach Jim Leavitt of the University of South Florida Bulls looks on from the sideline during a game against the University of Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field. Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images
His tenure at USF was followed by an NFL stint under Jim Harbaugh with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014. He coached the linebacker unit throughout the entire Harbaugh era, a group that was regarded as the best in the NFL. Patrick Willis Jersey, Navarro Bowman, Aldon Smith Jersey, and Ahmad Brooks Jersey were some of the notable names he worked with.

Following his time in the NFL, Leavitt spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at the University of Colorado. His expertise saw the Buffaloes defense ascend to new heights in 2016 as he led a unit that finished the regular season eighth in the nation in yards per play (4.69), 17th in the nation in total defense (328.3 ypg), 13th in passing defense (182.5 ypg) and 18th in scoring defense (20.5 ppg).

He is now employed as the defensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic University who is allowing 16.5 points per game.

As someone who has knowledge in both the 3-4 and 4-3 defenses, Leavitt is an aggressive defensive mind that would mesh well with what Manny Diaz wants to accomplish. He likely would also coach the linebacker position, a group that seemed to be out of position at times throughout this season.

Being a former head coach in college and having NFL experience coaching an elite unit, Leavitt would fit nicely on the Hurricanes staff helping Manny Diaz grow as he enters his third season as a first time head coach. His familiarity recruiting the state of Florida is a plus, and who knows if the Harlingen, Texas native has recruiting inroads in his home state where high school football is king. However, it is his approach to the game that Miami is lacking the most.

Leavitt would likely have the Miami Hurricanes defense living in the backfield, and his fiery attitude is something that is sorely lacking on the defensive side of the ball. Fans notice the edge that Rhett Lashlee brings to games and his intensity has helped revamp a Miami offense. One could only imagine that Leavitt’s intensity would find its way on to the field as well.

If current Miami Hurricanes defensive coordinator Blake Baker is given his walking papers, this is the first call Manny Diaz should make. Is there another hashtag in the making?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 01 Bowling Green at Oregon
University of Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt talks with S Ugochukwu Amadi (7) during a break in the action during a game between the Oregon Ducks and Bowling Green Falcons on September 1, 2018, at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Jim Leavitt career (head coach unless noted)

1978–1979 Missouri (GA)

1980–1981 Dubuque (DC/LB)

1982 Morningside (ST)

1983–1987 Morningside (DC)

1988 Iowa (intern)

1989 Iowa (GA)

1990–1991 Kansas State (LB)

1992–1995Kansas State (co-DC/LB)

1997–2009 South Florida

2011–2014 San Francisco 49ers (LB)

2015–2016 Colorado (DC/LB)

2017–2018 Oregon (DC/LB)

2019 Florida State (Analyst)

2020–present Florida Atlantic (DC)

Third-and-15. It’s a play forever part of 49ers’ lore, for how a cornerback’s gaffe could snowball into a Super Bowl collapse.

And it could be weighing on the 49ers’ minds as they enter the draft.

Emmanuel Moseley Jersey, despite his blown coverage on a third-and-15 heave, does not alone shoulder the blame for the 49ers’ Super Bowl LIV defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs. So many others factored into it.

On the other side of the 49ers’ defense, Richard Sherman Jersey later allowed a deep completion into the red zone, similar to a catch in the NFC Championship game. Not a great ending to an otherwise All-Pro season from the greatest shutdown corner of his generation.

San Francisco 49ers’ Richard Sherman (25) leaves the field after defeating the Minnesota Vikings during their NFC divisional playoff game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 27-10. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
All of which is to say the cornerback position could command the 49ers’ top priority in the draft, where they own first-round picks at Nos. 13 and 31 overall.

Sherman, Moseley, K’Waun Williams and Ahkello Witherspoon Jersey are signed only through the coming season.

Historically, the 49ers have avoided cornerbacks in the first round. That’s for good reason. Some, including Sherman, may cite how the NFL’s pass-happy nature and rules work against cornerbacks.

Some may simply list the 49ers’ most recent first-round cornerbacks: R.W. McQuarters Jersey (1998, 28th overall), Ahmed Plummer Jersey (2000, 24th overall) and Mike Rumph (2002, 27th overall). Jimmie Ward Jersey (2014) arrived as a nickel back but is now their free safety.

1990 FILE PHOTO–Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott Jersey comes down with an interception in this game against the Los Angeles Rams in 1990. (Nick Lammers/Staff) (Nick Lammers/Staff)
Ronnie Lott (1981, No. 8 overall) was a glorious exception, as were 1960s-era cornerbacks Jimmy Johnson Jersey (1961, No. 6) and Kermit Alexander Jersey (1963, No. 8).

Here is what to expect if the 49ers turn their attention to cornerback this draft:

Draft priority: High

Cream of the crop: Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah has the frame (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) the 49ers seek in cornerbacks, and because he has the play-making ability that every team covets, he’ll surely be gone by the 49ers’ top draft slot at No. 13.

“The cornerback position is deep on paper, but there really is only one great corner in this draft, and that’s Jeff Okudah,” draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said last week on ESPN’s First Draft podcast. “Everybody else is questionable. I’m taking the guy who can do it all, hoping he’s Stephon Gilmore, Tre’davious White, Patrick Peterson.”

ANN ARBOR, MI – NOVEMBER 30: Jeff Okudah #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates a fourth down strop during the fourth quarter of the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on November 30, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ohio State defeated Michigan 56-27. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images
Or is C.J. tops?: Florida’s C.J. Henderson has the size (6-1, 204) and speed (4.39-second 40-yard dash) that is extremely appealing. Henderson ranks himself as the draft’s top corner, saying at the combine: “What separates me is that I’m a competitor and I’m very smart. … I have a passion for the game, and I’m a good tackler as well. That’s not being said a lot.”

Time for Dantzler: Mississippi State’s Cam Dantzler (6-2, 188) posted a video last week of him running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds. That’s not only blazing fast, that is in stark contrast to the 4.64 he posted at the scouting combine. Speaking of videos, Dantzler said last week he’s already had virtual interviews with 16 teams, including the 49ers.

The other Buckeye: Damon Arnette (6-0, 195) returned for a fifth year to Ohio State at the urging of alumnus Cris Carter. Not only did Arnette play opposite the more heralded Okudah, he matured with the help of Buckeyes assistant Jeff Hafley, formerly of the 49ers. “He’s helped me become a smarter football player, a better football player, a better man,” Arnette said.

Tigers’ king: Kristian Fulton (6-0, 197) overcame a 2017 suspension as LSU built itself into a national champion this past season. He had only two career interceptions, and “not many” off Joe Burrow in practice. “Joe did not throw my way,” Fulton said at the combine. “… Joe’s smart with the ball. He knows what to do and where to go.”

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JACKSONVILLE – Aaron Lynch Jersey is unretiring.

Lynch, a defensive end/linebacker who announced his retirement from the Jaguars and the NFL in retired August, was reinstated from the Jaguars’ reserve/retired list to the team’s exempt/commissioner permission list on Wednesday.

Lynch must go through five days of COVID-19 testing and could be eligible to return to the team’s facility Monday.

Lynch, a fifth-round selection by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2014 NFL Draft, signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent from the Chicago Bears this past offseason. He has registered 20 sacks in six NFL seasons.

The San Francisco 49ers are one of the NFL’s most storied franchises, which means there are many historical greats who have been part of the organization. Here we’ll take a look at the best second-round draft picks in Niners history.
The San Francisco 49ers are no different in finding talent in the second round of the NFL Draft, where teams can find players who can contribute immediately to their new squad.

Over the franchise’s long and storied history, the Niners have selected 71 players with second-round picks dating back to 1950. The first of which was a defensive tackle out of Pacific by the name of Don Campora, who played 20 games in San Francisco before ending his career with five games in Washington in 1953.

Other early draft picks from the first decade or so of the franchise include defensive/offensive lineman Bruce Bosley Jersey (1956 draft, 15th overall), who played in 163 games for the Niners over 13 seasons at defensive end, left guard and center, defensive back Abe Woodson Jersey (1957, 15th overall), who played seven years for the team as a kick returner, corner and sometimes offensive weapon, defensive lineman Roland Lakes Jersey (1961, 24th overall), who played 10 seasons as a 49er, eight of which as a full-time starter and tackle Walt Rock (1963, 21st overall), who was in San Francisco for a little less than half of his 11 NFL seasons.

And while these are important members of the team’s history, in choosing this top-10 second-round draft picks list, I opted to begin with players drafted post the NFL/AFL merger in 1970.

From there, I took into account a player’s longevity (mostly as a 49er), impact on the team, accolades and overall statistical output to whittle the 52 remaining players down to a top 10.

With all that said, what follows are the top-10 second-round NFL Draft selections in San Francisco 49ers history.

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Going into the NFL offseason, the San Francisco 49ers have 27 players who are up for the unrestricted free agency. Two of them play the most crucial position in football.

Backup quarterbacks Nick Mullens Jersey and C.J. Beathard Jersey contracts have expired, putting the spotlight on how general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan will add a signal-caller this offseason.

Anything can happen between now and the beginning of the 2021 season. But based on Shanahan’s comments during his season-ending media availability, it looks like the 49ers intend on bringing back Jimmy Garoppolo Jersey as the starter.

The 29-year-old’s durability has come into question after missing the majority of two out of the previous three seasons. Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3 of the 2018 season and dealt with multiple ankle injuries that forced him to miss 10 games in 2020.

Mullens got a bulk of the starts with Garoppolo sidelined and finished the campaign with a 2-6 record. Mullens completed 64.7% of his passes for 2,437 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. While his stats look respectable, Mullens was responsible for several back-breaking turnovers that led to San Francisco losses.

The 25-year-old had a rough three-game stretch from Weeks 13 through 15, where he had seven turnovers that resulted in 34 points for the opposition. Pro Football Focus gave Mullens a 56.9 grade on the season, ranking 38th out of 40 eligible quarterbacks. His adjusted yards per attempt was 6.6, and he finished the year with a QBR of 44.4.

Beathard started the final two contests of the regular season, helping the 49ers beat the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16 before losing the finale against the Seattle Seahawks. The 2017 third-round completed 66-of-104 passes for 787 yards, six touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Beathard’s adjusted yards per attempt came in higher than Mullens at 8.7, and he had a 53.4 QBR.

Neither quarterback did enough to show that they should definitely be brought back for the 2021 season. With Garoppolo’s injury-history and a roster is among the best in the league when fully healthy, Shanahan and Lynch could look to bring in a veteran option as a backup.

With limited cap space available, the 49ers could bring in a cheap quarterback in free agency.

Here is a rundown of some of the QBs who could be available on the open market:

The two best QBs on the market

Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome leg injury in Week 5 while playing under the franchise tag. Prescott will likely end up re-signing with the Dallas Cowboys, and unless the Niners cut Garoppolo, his contract demands are way too rich for their blood.

Veteran Phil Rivers has shown he can still play, helping the Indianapolis Colts to an 11-5 record. The 39-year-old threw for 4,169 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 11 picks this season, but unless San Francisco completely changes course in the offseason, it’s doubtful it will have any interest in Rivers.

The dual-threat options

Mitchell Trubisky’s tumultuous time with the Chicago Bears could be coming to an end. The Bears declined to pick up the fifth-year option for the second overall pick from the 2017 NFL Draft. Trubisky was benched after Week 3 in favor of Nick Foles but got the starting job back when the veteran got hurt in Week 10. Trubisky led Chicago to a 3-1 record over the final four games and helped the franchise sneak into the playoffs.

Jacoby Brissett was Rivers’ backup in Indy and could re-sign with the Colts. He helped Indianapolis to a 5-2 start in 2019 but then proceeded to lose seven out of the final games, which resulted in Colts’ general manager Chris Ballard bringing in Rivers. A reunion with the New England Patriots could be in the works.

Cam Newton looks to be one-and-done with the Patriots. Although Newton can still make plays with his feet (he ran for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns), his arm-talent isn’t close to what it used to be. The former NFL MVP wouldn’t be a great scheme-fit in Shanahan’s offense and his best days are definitely behind him.

Robert Griffin III was Lamar Jackson’s backup with the Baltimore Ravens and had a history with Shanahan. The pair spent two seasons together in Washington, where Griffin won the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

Tyrod Taylor was projected to be the starter for the Los Angeles Chargers until a team’s trainer’s mistake resulted in the veteran losing his job to rookie standout Justin Herbert. The 32-year-old is 24-22-1 as a starter since 2011.

Jameis Winston signed with the New Orleans Saints after spending the first five years of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former No. 1 overall pick started all 16 games for the Bucs in 2019 and became the first QB in NFL history to throw for at least 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions.

The veteran retreads

Ryan Fitzpatrick helped the Miami Dolphins win five out of the nine games he appeared in, but head coach Brian Flores ultimately gave the keys to 2020 first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa. The 39-year-old showed he could still play, as we saw first-hand when he lit up the Niners (and cornerback Brian Allen) for 350 yards and three touchdowns in Week 5. Fitzpatrick could be an attractive option to a team that is looking for a bridge quarterback. He was disappointed with how things ended in Miami and may have his sights set on being a starter in 2021.

Andy Dalton was thrust into action for the Cowboys once Prescott went down. The Red Rocket played in 11 games and finished with 2,169 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, and eight picks. The 33-year-old has a career record of 74-66-2.

Some of the other names that should be available in the offseason include Joe Flacco, Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon, Blake Bortles, and Blaine Gabbert Jersey.

The 49ers could also look at bringing back Josh Rosen. The 24-year-old is an ERFA this offseason, so San Francisco would get the first crack at signing or matching Rosen’s offers.

There are a couple of intriguing younger options as well. Brandon Allen spent the 2020 season with the Cincinnati Bengals. The 28-year-old went 1-4 after Joe Burrow went down, completing 63.4% of his passes for 925 yards, five touchdowns, and four picks.

The other Allen — Kyle — is just 25 years old and appeared in four games with the Washington Football Team. He came off the bench in all four contests and went 60-of-87 for 610 yards, four scored, and an interception. Washington only has Alex Smith Jersey under contract in 2021 but could move on from the veteran.

Lynch and Shanahan could also add a QB in the 2021 NFL Draft. If they don’t, the duo will have to decide if re-signing Mullens or Beathard is the best option or trying to acquire one of the quarterbacks listed above.

Which of the veteran free-agent quarterbacks do you think is the most realistic target? Do you think it would just be a lateral move by signing one of the vets instead of Mullens or Beathard?