Tim Harris believes the adversity he faced at Virginia in battling back from injuries will help him long term in the NFL.
Harris, the 49ers’ sixth-round pick (198th overall) in the 2019 NFL Draft, suffered two season-ending injuries in college, both at the beginning of the season. His 2016 campaign ended after two games, as he needed shoulder surgery from an injury he suffered the previous year. In 2017, he fractured his wrist in the season opener.
Even though Harris was quickly granted a sixth year of eligibility, it still was a tough road for the young cornerback.
“Especially after my second injury, it was a rough time for me,” Harris said. “… I just put it aside me. I just didn’t want to live 10 years down the road regretting my decision not coming back and playing. And having this opportunity to come here, I think it honestly benefited me going down the road.”
Harris returned for his final season of eligibility at Virginia with a personal best of 36 total tackles, four passes defensed and two interceptions.
Harris had the support of his family, friends and a few current NFL players who kept him focused on his goals.
“I’m close with [safety] Anthony Harris from the Vikings and [cornerback] Maurice Canady from the Ravens,” Harris said. “We kind of grew up together, so it was talking to those guys. Everybody wanted me to fulfill my dreams like I want to, so it was good to talking to those guys. Just keeping me on the right track.”
Harris also has a connection to current 49ers player Richard Sherman, whom he met when he attended Michael Robinson’s youth football camp at Varina High School in Virginia. He recalled that the veteran cornerback spoke to him more about life than football at the time.
Harris said he already reconnected with Sherman when he was at the facility for his visit before the draft. Harris already has mentioned looking forward to learning from his new teammate.
“He’s a smart football player,” Harris said of Sherman. “He always knows where to be, so I’m going to try to learn as much as I can from him, just because of the type of player he is. I’m just ready to come in and learn from the best.”
Vanderbilt offensive tackle Justin Skule was picked by the San Francisco 49ers in the sixth round of the NFL Draft Saturday.
Skule was the 183rd overall pick. He joined cornerback Joejuan Williams, a second-round pick of the Patriots, as the second Vanderbilt player selected.
Skule, a 6-foot-7, 317-pounder, started 40 consecutive games for the Commodores, playing right tackle as a freshman and sophomore and left tackle as a junior and senior.
He is the seventh Vanderbilt offensive linemen drafted since 2005 and first since Will Holden went to the Cardinals in 2017. Plus, center Spencer Pulley made the Chargers roster as undrafted free agent and now starts for the Giants.
Because he’s played on the right and left sides, Skule projects as the 49ers backup swing tackle as a rookie.
Skule also has an interesting backstory. His father, Joshua, is the FBI Executive Assistant Director for Intelligence. He often deals with terrorism, election hacking, massing shootings and mandates from the White House, sometimes on his son’s gamedays.
The San Francisco 49ers selected Stanford tight end Kaden Smith at No. 176 in the NFL Draft. We haven’t really talked about the sixth round pick, so let’s do that today. Here are three plays that highlight why the Niners selected Smith.
Contested catch king
One thing is evident, Smith does not need to be open to be successful. Watch Smith go against Utah. You’re not going to be wowed by his route running. What will impress you is his ability to catch the ball when a defender is hanging on his back. There were a handful of contested catches in that game. This was the best one.
Because Smith won’t win with athleticism, he’s going to have to win this way in the NFL. Luckily, he proved that won’t be an issue at Stanford.
On the play above, notice how he protects the ball at the end. Subtle things like that is when you can tell a receiver is nuanced. Being able to hold on to the ball through contact is another trait that Smith does at a high level.
This leads me to believe that Kyle Shanahan views Smith as a possible red zone threat, and we will touch on that in a little bit. If Jimmy Garoppolo will give him a chance, Smith has shown he’s more of a 70/30 receiver than a 50/50 in contested situations.
Stretch the seams
One thing that is consistent with Smith and where he produced in the Cardinal offense in 2018 was his ability to stretch the seams. Stanford threw him the ball down the middle of the field and he came through time and time again.
In the Washington game, that play was a touchdown. Using Smith as a vertical option down the middle of the field will allow the 49ers to create mismatches for George Kittle underneath. It will also allow force defenses to stay in their “base” packages, because of the threat to run the ball.
Smith isn’t the greatest run blocking tight end, but the effort is there. The threat of a vertical threat is what matters. Even throwing him the ball a couple times a game to make the defense honor him is worth it, especially knowing the quality receiver Smith is.
Another red zone threat
Consistently making plays in traffic in the most congested part of the field. That’s what a lot of the catches look like that Smith makes. When you have the worst red zone offense in the NFL, you are going to overcorrect. That’s what 49ers did this offseason. They went and got a combination of big-bodied, strong receivers that can hang on in the toughest situations. In the case of Smith, he gives the Garoppolo a target that can be trusted in the red zone.
This play came out of 12 personnel, where the offense has two tight ends on the field. One thing that I’m interested in seeing is how much more two tight end sets we will see in 2019, especially in the red zone. The 49ers played small in 2018. With the additions they’ve made during this offseason, my guess is that changes.
Smith is a Day 3 athlete, and if he’s ever going to become more than a number two tight end, he’ll have to figure out how to separate consistently. But just talking as a pure receiver in regards to catching, adjusting, holding on to and protecting the ball, Smith is superb. When you have the type of ball skills that Smith does, there’s a role for you on offense. Shanahan should be able to find one for Smith, even if it is minimal. Being able to put a package together of 15-20 plays that feature two tight end sets—where the defense has to honor you, will be a change in 2019.
With the 148th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the 49ers selected Arkansas linebacker Dre Greenlaw.
Dre Greenlaw is already the best. The San Francisco 49ers linebacker has been making headlines all week not for his play on the field, but things he did off the field. His upbringing and background are nothing short of inspirational, but the bigger story is how he saved a girl his freshman year from what could have been a traumatic situation. The girl’s father spoke of the event on Twitter, but Greenlaw’s side never was explored. Well that was until he met the Bay Area media at 49ers minicamp.
In an interview on Friday, it came up promptly and Greenlaw recalled his memory of the events. The following is him describing what happened at the Sigma Chi fraternity that night:
“Basically, what happened was, I had went to a Sigma Chi Party with some friends. Just kind of came in, had a big room, kinda like this, and just enjoyed myself, trying to meet everybody, I was a freshman at the time. That’s when I saw the girl, Meghan. She came to me, like “Hey, Dre.”
I had thought at first, I assumed she had been drinking. She came to me, had that, you could tell.
So I said, “hey,” back, kinda knew each other a little bit previously, not too much. She was a cheerleader, I was a football player, so obviously, she knew of me. It wasn’t like we were best friends, we never text or too much like that. She came to me and I kind of could tell something was off like I said.
And then two minutes later she was like, “I feel kind of bad, like something put something into my drink.”
When I first heard her say it, I really didn’t know what to say. We had just had a talk with Coach B about being careful at parties and being a freshman, and I had kind of already made a name for myself and I really didn’t want to get too much involved with it because I don’t want it to go nowhere. I didn’t want to put my name in a position to where I get myself in trouble.”
And then, you know a lot of times. We’re told that some girls act drunk and not really be drunk. Just didn’t want to get myself in a vulnerable position. So when she told me that I was like, I didn’t know what to think or do. Then, I saw a couple guys and one came and I saw her [ready to] leave with one of the guys. They were still on the dance floor. Kinda was thinking about it, had in the back of my head. Started letting it go. When I was looking at her, keeping out a little bit, I kinda saw she wasn’t really herself. Like I said, I knew her a little bit and she was kind of acting out in a way that wasn’t drunk, just a different type of way. I wasn’t sure at first, but saw her again.
She was like, “I need help, I think somebody but something in my drink.”
I was like “uhhhh” then I saw another guy try to come to her. I guess like talk to her and dance. I mean not all up on her, but on her a little bit. That’s when I was like I came to her, I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I remember grabbing her. I was like, “Who did you come here with?”
She was like, “I came here with a friend, Bethany. I don’t know where they are, they left me.”
So at that particular time I went from hanging with my friends and doing what I was doing to “All right, let’s go find your friends”
Probably about 20, 30 minutes. I told her to stay with me, probably went around the whole place, up, downstairs looking for her friend. Still couldn’t find her. I think I got her number from somebody and called her.
I was like, “Hey, Meghan is here and she’s not in a good state. She said somebody put something in her drink. I remember waiting the whole time, then Bethany. I said, Hey Bethany meghan is right here, something’s not right with hter.
I just know next day she [Meghan] called me and was thanking me for her and I guess she had to get her stomach pumped. Get that taken out. I guess somebody did put some roofies in her drink. That first time when she told me she needed help, it didn’t click. Then I saw that dude and how he was kind of grabbing at her, trying to get on her a little bit, that’s where I felt like I kind of needed to step in. I’m thankful it stopped when it did and I took action, because you never know what could have happened. I pray to God that nothing would have, but I felt like that was what was right at the time.
The 49ers are obviously looking for culture fits and men of high character. This certainly helps Greenlaw in that regard. A proactive player who is looking out for others is certainly a 180 from Reuben Foster’s antics and getting arrested.
If this guy yanks a starting gig in a few months, that will be a story.
Greenlaw (5-foot-11, 237 pounds) recorded 321 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, four sacks and three interceptions over four seasons with the Razorbacks. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com called him a “run and chase” WILL linebacker.
“I like his short-area quickness and what he did in the passing game,” Daniel Jeremiah said on NFL Network’s broadcast. “He’s very instinctive against the pass.”
Zierlein added that his speed and athleticism will give Greenlaw a chance to stand out as a special teams ace. On defense, he’ll provide depth behind Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander. His primary competition on the depth chart will be David Mayo and Malcolm Smith.
The 49ers acquired the 148th pick from the Denver Broncos in exchange for linebacker Dekoda Watson and pick No. 212.
The San Francisco 49ers announced on Tuesday that they have signed P Mitch Wishnowsky to a four-year deal.
Wishnowsky (6-2, 220) was selected by the 49ers in the fourth round (110th overall) of this year’s draft out of the University of Utah. He played three seasons (2016-18) at Utah after transferring from Santa Barbara (CA) City College in 2014. In three seasons with the Utes, he appeared in 40 games and registered 175 punts for 8,004 yards (45.7 average), while pinning 74 of his punts inside the 20-yard line. He also kicked off 68 times for 45 touchbacks.
As a senior in 2018, he earned AP Second-Team All-America honors and was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, presented to the nation’s best collegiate punter, after appearing in 14 games and notching 59 punts for 2,669 yards (45.2 average), with 24 punts inside the 20-yard line. He also forced 25 fair catches while registering 20 punts of 50-or-more yards. He was named a Ray Guy Award finalist as a junior after appearing in 13 games, recording 52 punts for 2,282 yards (43.9 average). Wishnowsky earned consensus All-America honors, as well as the Ray Guy Award, in his first season with Utah as a sophomore in 2016 after registering 64 punts for 3,053 yards (47.7 average) in 13 games. He ranked second in the nation in punting average (47.7) and punts of 50-or-more yards (30), while also leading the nation in punts within the 10-yard line (17). In 2014 at Santa Barbara (CA) City College, he played in 11 games and registered 63 punts for 2,509 yards (39.8 average).
A 27-year-old native of Perth, Australia, he attended Lumen Christi College (HS).
Jalen Hurd transferred from Tennessee to Baylor two years ago with a dream of making himself an NFL receiver.
Hurd will get his chance as the San Francisco 49ers picked him in the third round of the NFL draft Friday night with the 67th overall pick.
Most draft predictions pegged Hurd as a fourth or fifth-round pick, but the 49ers took the 6-4, 217-pound fifth-year senior earlier than expected.
After rushing for 2,660 yards and 20 touchdowns in three seasons at Tennessee, Hurd could have tested the draft waters in 2017. But Hurd felt his best chance to make the NFL was as a receiver, so he transferred to Baylor to learn how to play that position in Matt Rhule’s pro-style offense.
Hurd began learning Rhule’s system as a redshirt in 2017. The transfer year paid off as Hurd led the Bears with 69 catches for 946 yards and four touchdowns in 2018 while also still contributing in the backfield by rushing for 209 yards and three scores.
“I think I’ve shown I can be a receiver and do it very well,” said Hurd on Baylor’s Pro Day on April 2. “I showed I can be a pretty dominant and elite receiver. So I think I’ll be able to for sure do that at the next level. My biggest strength is my speed, my versatility and just being able to cut. I’m very big and I can move a lot better than most big people. I’m glad I have a year under my belt (at receiver).”
Hurd missed Baylor’s 45-38 win over Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl and the Senior Bowl after undergoing minor knee surgery.
Hurd was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February before working out at Baylor’s Pro Day.
The NFL draft will be completed Saturday with rounds four through seven beginning at 11 a.m.
I love when players show their personality. Just in these questions from San Francisco 49ers second round pick Deebo Samuel, you can see his confidence and how authentic he is. Check it out:
Did you have any expectation that you would be going to the 49ers at all?
“Throughout this process, I feel like we became a lot closer. It’s more than football with the conversations that I had with them.”
How have the last 24 hours been for you?
“The last 24 hours have been pretty hectic to be honest with you. It’s a lot of excitement and just to hear my name called today was kind of like a blessing.”
When you were in Mobile, the 49ers had not had wide receivers coach Wes Welker join the team yet. What was it like meeting him when you came out to Santa Clara and what did you guys discuss?
“It was great, knowing what type of player he was and how good he was when he played. Hearing about that was like a blessing because he’s been there and done it before. The conversations I had with him was the things I need to work on and where I fit in the offense.”
Having been in this offense now for a week in Mobile, how do you fit into the offense?
“I feel like being able to move all over the place is going to help me a lot and also playing special teams.”
Did you play the Z-receiver spot in Mobile?
“I think so.”
Okay. Did you play all the spots?
“No, sir. I was just the Z that week because we didn’t have enough time to put a whole lot in, so we just kind of focused on one position.”
What kind of rapport did you develop with head coach Kyle Shanahan starting there in Mobile? What was your impression of him?
“I think he’s a great guy. Just talking to him, the first day I got there, without even like really hitting the field yet, and after hitting the field, we had a pretty good bit of conversations after that, just how I could go about my business.”
What kind of mentality do you have to have as a receiver to be as good as you are after the catch?
“Me personally, I just feel like you’ve got to have that dog in you. Having that mindset, not one person is going to bring you down, and you’re going to make every catch that’s thrown your way.”
Was that an attribute that the 49ers expressed that they liked about your game?
“Yes, sir. Yards after catch, that’s one of the main things that we talked about.”
The San Francisco 49ers have wrapped up their 2019 NFL Draft, which aside from first-round EDGE Nick Bosa, is largely highlighted by offensive pass catchers.
For those wondering whether or not the San Francisco 49ers would upgrade their wide receiver corps in the 2019 NFL Draft, you have the answer.
The Niners picked up two wideouts on day two of the draft: South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel in Round 2, backed up by the 6-foot-5 Jalen Hurd from Baylor in Round 3. These two additions should help overcome what was a receiving corps which failed to produce a single 500-yard wideout in 2018.
Pass catchers highlighted the 2019 draft efforts from general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan, although the 49ers’ top get, Ohio State EDGE Nick Bosa, will be the vanguard of the class.
Here’s the breakdown of San Francisco’s eight total picks this year:Hurd, however, is a bit more interesting. A converted running back from the University of Tennessee, Hurd had to sit out nearly an entire season after transferring to Baylor to become a pass catcher.
“Yeah, definitely,” Shanahan said when asked if Hurd could be used as an H-back player. “I see him, he’s got that type of body. I think he can do a little bit more things.”
Smith, meanwhile, could push No. 2 tight end Garrett Celek for a roster spot as soon as training camp, especially considering the soon-to-be 31-year-old Celek had only five receptions in 2018, yet was penalized six times.
Still, San Francisco’s biggest prize is Bosa. Arguably the draft’s top prospect, he managed to find his way to the 49ers after the top-drafting Arizona Cardinals took Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick.
“I think it’s pretty awesome that I’m joining a team that’s already assembled a pretty darn good squad,” Bosa told reporters after being drafted. “Just playing here, seeing the Super Bowl trophies around, it’s definitely pretty cool.”
An Interesting Choice for Selecting a Punter
In 2015, then-general manager Trent Baalke used a fifth-round pick to take Clemson punter Bradley Pinion.
Reaction wasn’t particularly good, especially considering the turmoil the 49ers went through in the months preceding that year’s NFL Draft. Pinion was the 2015 NFL Draft’s first specialist taken, and he stayed with the Niners until finally departing via free agency in 2019.
Influenced by that, Lynch grabbed former Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky, not in Round 5, but in the fourth round.
Niner Noise edges closer to the conclusion of our 2018 “Who Is?” series, taking a look at veteran San Francisco 49ers cornerback K’Waun Williams and his role this upcoming season.
Early on in 2017, nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams was having some notable issues during his first year with the San Francisco 49ers.
Williams, of course, was one of general manager John Lynch’s first pickups after taking over duties that season. The former Cleveland Browns corner had some upside despite missing all of 2016 with an ankle injury.
The positive traits are certainly what drew Lynch to target Williams on a one-year deal in 2017. And despite his early struggles, Williams ended up appearing in 14 regular-season games with San Francisco last season, emerging as one of the more reliable defensive backs on the team’s roster.
The 5-foot-9, 183-pound Williams played his college ball at Pittsburgh, going undrafted in 2014 before signing on with the Browns that season.
His smallish frame certainly influenced his UDFA status. Despite that, Williams earned a reputation for playing bigger than his actual size indicated. And as a nickel corner lining up over the slot, Williams managed to carve out a nice niche for himself at the pro level.
He’ll be pressured in training camp, though. Despite inking a three-year extension with the Niners earlier, the 49ers’ selection of Kansas State nickel back D.J. Reed in this year’s NFL Draft should create a nice little competition.
It’s one Williams could easily win out of camp, but he’ll have to show some serious effort to do so.
MOBILE, Ala. — The San Francisco 49ers are parting with one of the first free-agent signings of the Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch era.
The Niners confirmed Wednesday that they have informed defensive tackle Earl Mitchell they won’t be exercising his option for the 2019 season. The 49ers made the move now in part to give Mitchell a head start on looking for a new team before free agency begins in March.
“Earl has been a fantastic asset to this entire organization,” defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “… It’s an opportunity for other guys to try to step up and it will not be easy to try to replace him, for sure.”
Mitchell was scheduled to count $4.45 million against the salary cap had he been on the roster next season. The 49ers are open to bringing Mitchell back at a lesser price should the opportunity arise.
In the meantime, the Niners move forward with multiple in-house options to replace Mitchell. Third-year nose tackle D.J. Jones is the best bet to step in for Mitchell. Mitchell was a healthy scratch for the last two games of the season, with Jones starting in his stead over the final four contests.
Jones, who joined the Niners as a sixth-round pick out of Ole Miss, had 17 tackles on the season with 13 coming in those last four games. But Jones isn’t the only option, as the Niners also toyed with different looks that included end Arik Armstead playing the nose tackle spot in nickel packages. Armstead’s play there could pave the way for more of that look in 2019.
“I thought [Jones] did a good job,” Saleh said. “Obviously, he still needs to get better. There’s still going to be a lot of competition for him. I thought Arik Armstead stepped in at the nose in nickel and showed some things that created versatility for that entire room, so his competition is not just at nose, it’s can he be one of the best 10 defensive linemen? And that goes for everyone.”
The Niners signed Mitchell on Feb. 28, 2017, less than a month after officially hiring Shanahan as head coach and Lynch as general manager. Miami had released Mitchell in a scenario similar to the one that played out with the Niners, as a means to give him an early bite at free agency.
In two seasons in San Francisco, Mitchell had 61 tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery and three batted passes.
Mitchell, 31, could be one of multiple high-priced veterans the Niners part ways with before free agency. Receiver Pierre Garcon and linebacker Malcolm Smith, both of whom have had injury-plagued tenures since signing as free agents in 2017, are scheduled to count $8.275 million and $5.45 million, respectively, against the salary cap in 2019.
Shanahan said Tuesday he has already had some open discussions with veterans like Garcon and while nothing has been made official, he’s expecting those decisions to be made in the near future.
“We’ve got to see what our roster is like, how the salary cap plays out through free agency and everything, and we’re not there yet with our whole plan,” Shanahan said. “There’s a lot of things that are fluid and we’re working through those things.
“I think we’ll have it resolved sooner than later.”