Jason Verrett Jersey

Cornerback Jason Verrett wore No. 22 while he was with the Los Angeles Chargers and he might not be wearing it with the 49ers. We aren’t official with the jersey assignments for the 2019 San Francisco 49ers but a lot has been coming on some speculation. We know that Linebacker Kwon Alexander is going to don No. 56, the same number worn by Reuben Foster, and that Trent Taylor will be going to 15.

And then there’s Jason Verrett who doesn’t have his number yet, because the one he has belongs to someone else on the team. The aforementioned No. 22 is the same number as running back Matt Breida.

Verrett was on 95.7’s Greg Papa show the game to speak about his desire to continue playing under the double deuces and holds nothing back on how bad he wants Breida’s jersey:

When asked how much it might cost or a price Verrett may pay, he said he couldn’t think of a price, but that he wanted Breida’s No. 22 bad.

Matt Breida became a household name with his play in 2018, and he is fit to be a crucial piece in this Cerberus-like backfield that the 49ers are putting together. Getting that number off him isn’t going to be easy.If this was a camp body or a third-stringer, getting the jersey number wouldn’t be so difficult, but Breida has made himself a crucial part of the 49ers. Prying a jersey from someone who has made strides he has is not going to be easy.

There have been creative ways in the past for how new players get jerseys off other players. Sometimes it involves a check or donations to a charity. Other times it’s a competition for the coveted number. It has been done.

Breida may get a question about this soon and we’ll see what he thinks of any sort of number change.

Jaquiski Tartt Jersey

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SANTA CLARA — 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt’s versatility could help the secondary as the team struggles through injuries in the final five games.

It’s nearly a repeat of last season where a rash of injuries in the secondary created a need for players to be versatile as well as younger players to step up.

The team is preparing for their Week 13 matchup without Jimmie Ward, who went on injured reserve after breaking his forearm as well as rookie D.J. Reed who sustained a heel injury in the team’s 27-9 loss to the Buccaneers.

Tartt is prepared to play at either safety position going forward.

“It’s fairly easy to play strong and free in this system,” Tartt said. “So it won’t be a problem. I played free last year when I got hurt.”

Tartt is in disbelief that the team seems to be in the same position it was last year in regards to injuries, but adds that his group is up for the challenge.

“It’s challenging because you have important pieces missing,” Tartt said. “But at same time, everybody here can play and the expectations are still high. You’re expected to perform at a high level.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan says that there is a possibility of moving Tartt around. Antone Exum Jr. is another candidate that could see a positional change and rookie Marcell Harris who could see more playing time.

“Yeah, there’s always the possibility,” Shanahan said. “I think based on where Harris is at, Tartt can play both. He’s here to be a strong safety and Exum has done it. Exum is a free safety, but we’ve had things come up in games where he’s had to go to strong, too.

“We have guys who are interchangeable so all of it is an option. We’ll see how those guys look this week.”

Tartt played most of the defensive snaps in Tampa after sitting out of Weeks 9 and 10 with a shoulder injury. He registered three solo tackles, three combined and one tackle for a loss.

Prior to his injury, Tartt’s productivity was on the rise. Both he and Fred Warner topped the defense with nine total tackles in Week 6 against the Packers. His six solo tackles facing the Rams in Week 7 also was the team high.

Arik Armstead Jersey

INDIANAPOLIS — The 49ers don’t think Arik Armstead has realized his potential, but the towering defensive lineman has done enough to realize a prodigious salary in 2019.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday at the NFL combine that the 49ers will exercise the fifth-year option on Armstead’s contract, meaning the 2015 first-round pick will earn $9.046 million guaranteed this season. Armstead will have the 49ers’ fourth-highest salary-cap figure in 2019 — behind those of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, left tackle Joe Staley and cornerback Richard Sherman — as the roster is currently constructed.

“I don’t think it was difficult at all,” Shanahan said of the decision to retain Armstead. “We’re not into losing good players. He played very well for us. I think he can take it to another level, and I hope to see him do that this year.”

Armstead, 6-foot-7 and 292 pounds, has not had more than three sacks in a season. However, his run-stopping ability was a huge reason the 49ers ranked 14th in rushing yards allowed per game (113.4), up from 22nd in 2017, and seventh in yards per carry (4.1) last year.

Armstead also made all 16 starts after missing 18 games because of injuries the previous two seasons. Shanahan said he envisions both Armstead and Solomon Thomas playing outside in running situations and moving inside on passing downs in 2019.

The 49ers hope Armstead has a season that will merit a contract extension after 2019.

That wasn’t the case last year for free safety Jimmie Ward, who earned $8.52 million in 2018 after the 49ers exercised his fifth-year option. However, Ward, who has been effective when he has been on the field, failed to stay healthy.

Last year, the 2014 first-round pick finished the season on injured reserve for the fourth time in his five-year career. As a result, the 49ers aren’t committed to retaining Ward, who will become an unrestricted free agent March 13.
San Francisco 49ers’ Arik Amsted stands over Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford after an incomplete pass in 3rd quarter during Niners’ 30-27 win in NFL game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on Sunday, September 16, 2018.
Photo: Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle

“We’ll see what the (free-agent) market holds for him,” Shanahan said. “We’ll probably get an idea for that (at the combine). I love Jimmie Ward. I really hope to have him back. We all know he’s struggled a little bit to stay healthy. But he’s a guy, as a person, that I’ll go to war with any day. I really trust him. Really believe in him. And I love him as a player, too.”

There has been speculation the 49ers could replace Ward with Seattle free safety Earl Thomas, a pending free agent who has spent his nine-year career in the 4-3 defense the 49ers employ. In addition, the six-time Pro Bowl selection is close friends with Sherman, his teammate for seven seasons, who has been in touch with Thomas about rejoining forces.
Related

Sherman told reporters at the combine Wednesday that Thomas hopes to sign with the Cowboys. Thomas is from Orange, Texas, and attended the University of Texas.

“If the money’s equal, if all things are equal, he’s going to Dallas,” Sherman said. “Now if that (compensation is) not the same, there’s more of a discussion — more of a fight. But then it becomes a bidding war. But that’s up to people make more major decisions than I.”

Thomas made it clear in Seattle that he wants a significant raise after he signed a six-year, $40 million extension in 2014. Kansas City’s Eric Berry is the NFL’s highest-paid safety with an annual average salary of $13 million.

Sherman indicated the 49ers could be Thomas’ Plan B.

“There’s serious interest. There’s obviously a clear and easy fit,” he said. “But financially, it has to make sense. If you go into free agency and say, ‘Hey, we offered Earl Thomas $7 million,’ it doesn’t matter how much I recruit … If finances make sense, then I would say (the 49ers are) a major player in it.”

“We’ll see what the (free-agent) market holds for him,” Shanahan said. “We’ll probably get an idea for that (at the combine). I love Jimmie Ward. I really hope to have him back. We all know he’s struggled a little bit to stay healthy. But he’s a guy, as a person, that I’ll go to war with any day. I really trust him. Really believe in him. And I love him as a player, too.”

There has been speculation the 49ers could replace Ward with Seattle free safety Earl Thomas, a pending free agent who has spent his nine-year career in the 4-3 defense the 49ers employ. In addition, the six-time Pro Bowl selection is close friends with Sherman, his teammate for seven seasons, who has been in touch with Thomas about rejoining forces.

DeForest Buckner Jersey

PHOENIX — At the beginning of this decade, the 49ers’ defense was anchored by the fierce duo of Justin Smith and Aldon Smith.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan believes his team might have something similar in DeForest Buckner and Dee Ford.

“You had Aldon Smith and Justin Smith. Those guys went very well together,” Shanahan said Tuesday at the NFL owners meeting. “I don’t know which one was more important to the other. They both played off each other well.”

The Smiths played together in San Francisco from 2011 to 2014. Over that four-season span, Justin Smith recorded 22 sacks and Aldon Smith racked up a whopping 44 — 33.5 of which were in his first two seasons.

Shanahan explained how Ford should fit in with Buckner on the defensive line.

“When you have a guy like DeFo playing the 3-technique and you got a guy outside of him that probably has the best first step in the league of just getting off the ball, that makes the tackle have to expand a lot more, which gives more space for Buck,” Shanahan said. “And the more space you can give Buck, the better he’s going to do.”

Since the 49ers acquired Ford in a trade with Kansas City, there has been an expectation of how he will complement Buckner, who had career-bests last season of 12 sacks, 17 tackles for a loss and 20 quarterback hits.

Ford also finished 2018 with career highs in 13 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss and 29 quarterback hits.

The 49ers have an abundance of defensive linemen who have played well on the inside but they have needed to get pressure from the edge. Ford could be exactly what the defense needs to bring the level of play up along the entire defensive line.

“Yeah, I think it will help Buck a lot,” Shanahan said. “I think it will help all our inside players. Buck’s been great for us. He played at an extremely high level last year and they way Buck is, just as a man, the way he takes care of himself, the way he works, he’s going to get better each year regardless. And when you add better people around him, that will always help too.”

The coaching staff has not decided if Ford will play on one side or the other. Shanahan envisions him playing in a variety of places as long as it maximizes his talents.

“I think they will play all over,” Shanahan said. “Buck plays on both sides. I don’t know exactly how we will do it with Dee Ford, whether we will put him on both sides or just leave him just left or right. But I do think he will move around.”

Shanahan explained how much more difficult it is to prepare for a defensive line that does not have set positions.

“From an offensive standpoint it’s harder for me when I don’t know where they’re going to be,” Shanahan said. “It’s harder to game plan it. But also from a defensive standpoint, sometimes guys are a lot better on one side than the other and so we got to figure that out.

“But there’s a schematic advantage to never knowing where the guys is but you don’t want to take away his top assets like that.”

[RELATED: Jimmy G should be cleared by training camp]

Shanahan said even if the numbers aren’t flashy, adding a player like Ford can change the outcome of a game.

“It puts pressure on the whole offense,” Shanahan said. “And it’s not just the pass rush. You need to add difference-makers anywhere. Even when those guys aren’t impacting the game to where a fan can see it, the entire offense feels it. The field gets smaller and there’s not as much space and that’s what you want to do.”

Ahkello Witherspoon Jersey

To play corner consistently at a high level is rare. That’s what makes Richard Sherman Richard Sherman. Only the best of the best are able to pull off this feat. Ahkello Witherspoon showed plenty of promise as a rookie. That’s usually all you’re looking for. Guys that can be competent and you build on that play. Unfortunately, Witherspoon had a sophomore slump. At least during the beginning of the year. The second-year corner started to come on strong towards the end of the year, but a sprained knee ended a promising second half of the year.
By the numbers

During his final five games, Witherspoon had some impressive numbers. Against some pretty good competition, too. Witherspoon gave up eight catches on 23 targets. Per PFF, from weeks 10-17(obviously he missed the last two), Witherspoon had the fifth lowest passer rating when targeted, at 48.6. He seemed to be taking the next step and getting back on track.
By his play

Witherspoon was the benefit on some of those throws. For example the first throw to Odell Beckham Jr. was a drop. To me, he looked fine against everyone not named OBJ. Which, duh. There are some technical parts to Witherspoon’s game that he has to improve. There’s also plenty to like about him, and not just his obvious physical traits.

Eric Crocker, die hard Niner fan, has been talking a long look at Witherspoon as of late. Check this thread out:Crock has broken down quite a few of his games. Even if you don’t agree with his takes, it’s a good way to get visuals on what Witherspoon looks like.

Witherspoon will have to fully recover from his ankle injury, which 10 days after he was walking without crutches. He’ll have to compete against Jason Verrett, Tarvarius Moore, and whoever else the team decides to bring in. If Witherspoon picks up where he left off, he should find himself on the field often in 2019.

Solomon Thomas Jersey

The Carolina Panthers are in dire need of pass rushers heading into 2019. While they may be planning to address this in the draft, a first round pick alone won’t fill the gaping holes across the defensive line. Here are the defensive ends the Panthers currently have under contract going into 2019: Mario Addison, Bryan Cox Jr., Marquis Haynes, Efe Obada.

That’s actually it. In 2018, this group combined for 11 sacks (Addison had nine). Help may be on the way through the draft, but it would be beneficial for the Panthers to explore outside options. General manager Marty Hurney could still go dumpster diving for a player like Shane Ray in free agency but, with limited cap space I wouldn’t hold my breath there. Enter a trade scenario that could provide Carolina a young, raw talent on a rookie contract: San Francisco 49ers defensive end Solomon Thomas.

Solomon Thomas was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, taken just five slots before his Stanford teammate, Christian McCaffrey, who some of you might be familiar with.

Many national pundits hailed Thomas as the best prospect of the 2017 class. So far, he’s had a slower than expected start to his NFL career. In two years, Thomas has only accumulated four sacks in San Francisco. In 2018, Pro Football Focus graded him as the No. 63 EDGE player, which is right around average. Not terrible, but not what we’ve come to expect from a top-five draft pick in the NFL.

After recently acquiring pass rusher Dee Ford from Kansas City for a 2020 second round draft pick, the 49ers are primed to pair Ford with the best edge rusher in the draft at the No. 2 overall pick in April. If San Francisco decides to move forward with drafting Nick Bosa, as many have indicated will occur, they should be looking to move Thomas and recuperate their losses.
What would it take?

The general consensus at this point is that the 49ers won’t be moving forward with Thomas into 2020 and are seeking at least some compensation for his leave. While this doesn’t give them much leverage, there are many teams who could seek interest in a young pass rusher like Thomas.

Player-for-player trades aren’t all too common in today’s NFL, but the Panthers could look into swapping first round busts (defensive tackle Vernon Butler) with the 49ers and throw in a mid-to-late round 2020 pick. Considering the Panthers are currently in line for multiple compensatory picks in 2020, this could be a win-win. Moving Butler seems to be a backburner offseason priority for this team. Acquiring a young pass rusher while dumping Butler would be a phenomenal move by Hurney, especially if the price is right for the pick(s) that would be tacked on.

Once acquired, Thomas’ 2019 cap hit is an absolute bargain relative to what most free agents at his position are seeking.

Update: With a $7.7 million cap hit in 2019 for the 49ers, the Panthers would essentially be filling the space created by the release of Matt Kalil with a 24-year-old former top-three draft pick at a position of need. Carolina would only need to pay his base salary and roster bonus, costing closer to $3 million in cap space and leaving $4 million in dead cap with San Francisco.

The Panthers need pass rushers, and this move could really boost their chances at establishing the multiple defense they want to run moving forward. Trading Butler (a player that they don’t intend to retain past this season) and a late round pick that will be replaced in compensation would be a helluva chess move for Carolina. If Hurney doesn’t even give 49ers general manager John Lynch a call, he’s only hurting himself.

Food for thought. What would you be willing to trade to the 49ers for Thomas?

Fred Warner Jersey

The 49ers’ release of Reuben Foster thrust rookie linebacker Fred Warner even further into the spotlight. The third-round pick from BYU has gone from nice complementary piece to one of the foundations in the middle of a rebuilding 49ers defense.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh knows Warner is equal to the task of running the show in his defense. The 22-year-old is already one of the smartest players Saleh has coached.

“It goes back to what I had mentioned earlier about Fred. He’s one of the smartest interviews I’ve ever had,” Saleh told reporters Thursday. “He can take in information better than anyone I’ve been around. He’s up there with [former NFL linebacker] Paul Posluszny to me, and Paul Posluszny was darn-near a rocket scientist.”

Warner quickly earned the green dot on the back of his helmet, which means he has the radio in his helmet and gets play calls from Saleh. He then relays them to the rest of the defense and ensures everyone is lined up in the right place. It’s a significant additional responsibility that requires an exceptional football IQ.

That cerebral approach to the MIKE linebacker spot gives the 49ers something different than they had with Foster in that position. Foster was moved to the WILL linebacker spot prior to his exit from Santa Clara.

“When you look at Reuben, Reuben’s personality, he wants to run, hit and hurt. That’s his personality, so just let him go do that,” Saleh said. “Not that he wasn’t capable of playing the MIKE, because he’s very, very capable. He’s very intelligent, very smart. But, when it came to Fred, just his intelligence and his IQ is off the charts.”

That IQ is why the youngest player on the 49ers’ roster is able to take on such a vital leadership role in San Francisco’s defense.

“When you talk about the MIKE linebacker and having presence in front of the huddle, he’s staring at a bunch of veterans,” Saleh said. “For them to have trust and belief in what is coming out of his mouth as truth, that’s more important than anything. Because of what he’s been able to do, his study habits and his work habits, he’s got full trust of the huddle and because of it those guys can trust that their play will be right.”

Part of a rookie’s journey to gaining respect from veterans is on-field production. Warner leads the 49ers with 84 total tackles. No other player has more than 40. His tackle numbers put him at No. 17 in the NFL, No. 10 in the NFC, and No. 4 among rookies.

Warner is also outstanding in coverage – an essential aspect of playing linebacker in the modern NFL. He’s broken up a pass in three consecutive games. He’ll be the first 49ers player since Patrick Willis to break up passes in four consecutive games if he breaks up one more Sunday against Seattle according to a release from the 49ers. Pro Football Focus has him as the top-graded linebacker in coverage from Weeks 8-12, and the No. 3 linebacker overall.

The statistical production is key for San Francisco, but Warner’s ability to orchestrate the defense and be the quarterback of that unit is what has him primed to now be the face of the 49ers defense.

“Even though everyone’s responsible for their own alignments and getting lined up, like I said, he’s the trump card and his voice has to be the loudest to get people lined up and he’s got to do it with great conviction,” Saleh said. “You can’t have great conviction unless you know what you’re doing. So, that’s what makes him special.”

Dante Pettis Jersey

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Let’s get one thing straight: The 49ers do not need a No. 1 wide receiver.

Would they like to get one? Of course. Do they need one? No. After all, championship teams of late rarely are headlined by a All-Pro caliber wide receiver.

But what the 49ers want to accomplish this offseason is to add a starting wide receiver to strengthen the overall depth chart. Dante Pettis, a second-round pick last season, is projected as a starter.

The other starting position is up for grabs between Kendrick Bourne, Marquise Goodwin and a player or two not yet on the team’s 90-man roster.

“I have big expectations for Dante,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. “We did before we drafted him. We had it throughout this year, and we expect him to continue to get better. I think he went through the normal rookie-type ups and downs that a lot of them do as receivers.

“I expect him to come in (this) year and be even better. He’s a guy who can play all three of the positions. He’s also a good returner, and we’re very excited that we have Dante.”

Due to Pettis’ versatility, the 49ers have the flexibility acquire a big, possession-style receiver or a speed-burner to match with Pettis on the outside.

On the roster: Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Richie James, Max McCaffrey, Steven Dunbar, Jordan Smallwood.

On the market: The wide receivers scheduled for free agency include Golden Tate (Philadelphia), Tyrell Williams (L.A. Chargers), John Brown (Baltimore) and Donte Moncrief (Jacksonville). Tate is the most-productive of the group, but he is 30 and figures to receive a sizable contract as an unrestricted free agent. Williams (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) is coming off a 41-catch season that totaled 653 yards and five touchdowns. He started 10 of the Chargers’ 16 games. Brown and Moncrief may not be improvements over Bourne, who caught 42 passes for 487 yards and four TDs as a second-year player.

Offseason approach: The 49ers showed no interest in adding Antonio Brown in a trade. However, Odell Beckham might be a different story. If he were to become available in a trade with the New York Giants, the 49ers would almost certainly be interested. Then, all of a sudden, there’s a No. 1 receiver. Otherwise, it is difficult to see the 49ers spending big money to lure one of the free agents currently on the market. The team’s most likely approach would be to invest their second-round pick, No. 36 overall, on the top available rookie wide receiver on their draft board.

Mike McGlinchey Jersey

Mike McGlinchey was an industrial-size baby who was the first of six siblings, making him, by size and birth order, a natural protector.

The 10-pound, 6-ounce infant grew into a 6-foot-8, 315-pound rookie right tackle who will make his NFL debut when the 49ers visit Minnesota in their season opener Sunday. His ability to shield others from harm made him a first-team All-American at Notre Dame and the No. 9 pick in the draft.

His elite skill to safeguard isn’t limited to quarterbacks.

As the oldest sibling by three years, McGlinchey’s protective instincts kick in with his gigantic and athletic family. It includes an uncle, brother and eight cousins, including Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who have played college football.

And McGlinchey, who has 24 first cousins, is particularly fierce when it comes to two relatives who could not play organized sports.

McGlinchey’s brother, Jim, 15, was diagnosed with autism at 18 months. And his cousin and best friend, Dan McCain, 26, continues to deal with significant health issues: He was born with microscopic holes in his lungs, had open heart surgery at 16 and underwent another procedure in February to replace the valve that was inserted 10 years earlier.

At one point when discussing his bond with Dan, McGlinchey, a genial giant with a passion for karaoke, politely but firmly made a request when it came to how his cousin would be portrayed: “As long as he’s perceived as my biggest fan, best friend and coach,” McGlinchey said, “and not the story that’s heartwarming.”

And when it comes to both Jim and Dan, McGlinchey protects them from potential pity. This story, he says, is not about what he’s done for them.

“It’s hard to put into words what the two of them have shaped me to be,” McGlinchey said, “but they certainly have had their fair share in my development, that’s for sure.”

McGlinchey credits his brother and cousin for keeping him grounded and connected to his family-first, blue-collar suburban Philadelphia roots.

Last month, a few weeks after signing a four-year, $18.4 million fully guaranteed contract, McGlinchey bought a house that remains largely vacant and undecorated. The only artwork is a framed picture that Jim, a talented artist, drew for him the day after he was drafted. It depicts them, together, celebrating his selection above the words, “Congratulations, Mike McGlinchey!”

A few weeks ago, Dan, after receiving permission from his cardiologist to fly, was the first of McGlinchey’s brothers or cousins to visit him in the Bay Area. On an off day, Dan toured the 49ers’ facility and met quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, among others.

“They keep me tied back to home, which is where I should be,” McGlinchey said. “They have given all of us perspective on what to appreciate out of life and what’s important to us. Like my grandfather always said, remember who you are and remember where you came from. And Jim and Dan are the anchors in which all that is experienced in our family.”

In a family filled with accomplished athletes, McGlinchey stood out.

Despite his size, McGlinchey played eight positions, including quarterback and wide receiver, at William Penn Charter in Philadelphia. As a high school sophomore, he dunked on Ryan, then an NFL quarterback, during a driveway game that’s part of family lore. And that same year, he took up the shot put to strengthen his lower body for football. The result: He won two state titles in the event.

“I figured out how to do it pretty good,” he said.

At Notre Dame, McGlinchey was a two-time captain, and his blend of size, skill and character placed him on the 49ers’ wish list. Adam Peters, the team’s vice president of player personnel, acknowledges that background work on college prospects often yields varying degrees of positive feedback. McGlinchey was different.

“With Mike, it was superlatives, superlatives, superlatives, superlatives,” Peters said. “And then you meet him, and he’s everything that everyone described. … He’s more mature than a lot of the (veterans) we have. He might be more mature than I am.”

In their digging, the 49ers presumably didn’t track down the senior-citizen stadium ushers McGlinchey befriended at Notre Dame. Or the maintenance workers with whom he connected in high school. McGlinchey’s mom, Janet, says Mike’s upbringing is why her son’s lofty accomplishments didn’t cause him to elevate himself.

“Growing up, we called Mike ‘Midas’ — everything he did turned to gold,” Janet said. “But Jim and Dan have helped him keep him grounded to know that there is another world out there. And some people aren’t as gifted as you. So stay humble, remember where you came from, and remember to give back.”

McGlinchey has given as much as he has gained in his relationships with Jim and Dan.

Like many with autism, Jim craves routine, which explains why he attended only four of his brother’s games in college (Dan went to too many to count). Last season, when Notre Dame played in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, the family tried to cajole Jim by explaining it was the home of Disney World. Jim wasn’t interested. Moments after McGlinchey was drafted, Jim, who has not flown, made an announcement: He was never traveling to San Francisco.

McGlinchey’s football prowess means little to Jim, who think he’s at his best in another role.

“He’s good at being my brother,” Jim said in 2016 in a Bleacher Report video on their relationship. “He takes care of me.”

Mike has done that since Janet sat down her older children shortly after Jim’s diagnosis. At the time, they were told they would have to take particular care to look out for Jim as he grew up. In later years, it was explained they would care for Jim if there came a time when Janet and her husband, Mike Sr., no longer could.

“I explained this is our family,” Janet said. “This is what happens.”

And what has happened with Jim has been unexpected. He initially was not expected to talk, but now “he won’t shut up,” says Janet, laughing. He was an honor student in middle school, and the family has started rethinking whether he could live independently.

Jim still struggles with emotional control and social cues, and he has a very specific list of intense likes (hotel pools) and dislikes (being told what to draw). McGlinchey highlights his brother’s grades, spot-on drawings of Nickelodeon characters and gift for creating videos.

“Jimmy,” McGlinchey said, “is absolutely smarter than everybody in our family.”

Unlike Jim, Dan grew up as sports-crazed as his four younger brothers and collection of cousins. However, his health issues meant he couldn’t truly channel his competitive drive into athletics.

He was born with a heart murmur and a disorder that caused his lungs to leak oxygen. Dan slept with an oxygen tank growing up, and Mike, with his size, often would lug it upstairs when the family members gathered for their annual summer vacation in North Wildwood, N.J.

“Mike, from an early age, sensed that Dan had a tough time with things,” said Dan’s mother, Mary. “He’s always been that type that just wants to protect people. … Mike isn’t happy until he gets Dan happy. He’s shared all his success with him.”

Mike and Dan grew up in the same neighborhood and were constant companions. In pickup football games, Dan was the all-time quarterback. In Wiffle ball, he was the all-time pitcher.

However, there were times he got carried away in a family in which the boys once played a tackle football game, in suits, at McGlinchey’s grandmother’s wake. As Mary says, even “Monopoly became fisticuffs.”

“Dan always went at it with them on our front lawn,” Mary said. “I couldn’t even watch. If I tried to hold him back, he’d get really mad at me.”

Mike and Dan were separated for the first time when Mike went to Notre Dame, but the pattern was established: Dan would remain in the game.

Through McGlinchey’s college career, Dan was a regular in South Bend and became friends with several of his Notre Dame teammates. Mike would FaceTime Dan the day after every game to “get his report,” which could include praise and critiques.

In 2015, after previously unbeaten Notre Dame lost 24-22 at Clemson, McGlinchey called Dan twice the day after the game. No response. He texted him. Nothing. Finally, Dan called back about four days later.

“He was like, ‘Sorry, I had to take some time to decompress from that one,’” McGlinchey said, laughing. “I told him, ‘Yeah, I hear ya.’”

For Dan, Mike’s setbacks and successes cause wild emotional swings.

“I definitely have that competitive drive,” Dan said. “I don’t think it’s as prevalent as it was back then (growing up) because I’m not playing. But I definitely like to consider with Notre Dame, and now all the way up to the 49ers, (Mike’s) wins are kind of like my wins in a way.”

Dan’s lung disorder eventually resolved itself, but for years, it stressed his other organs, particularly his heart. In February, the valve that was inserted when he was 16 was replaced. Doctors didn’t think his body could withstand a second open-heart surgery, so they performed a TAVR procedure, which is less invasive and involves guiding a catheter through the leg to the heart to replace the valve.

However, it is a temporary fix. And it’s unlikely the TAVR can be repeated when Dan requires another procedure in as soon as five years. The families are praying a medical advancement can resolve the issue.

The uncertainty is a reason the months after the surgery were difficult for Dan, and Mike hoped his recent visit to the Bay Area would raise his spirits. His plan worked. After Dan arrived home, it was clear he officially was part of his best friend’s new team.

“He feels like he belongs,” Mary said. “… It gives him a whole new kind of purpose.”

For Mike, he has a specific purpose as he begins a journey that, if his Midas touch remains, will include fame to go along with rookie fortune. He wants to keep the proper perspective as a pro. And he thinks that those he has safeguarded the most will shield him from losing his way.

Postgame calls to his best friend, and a picture on his otherwise vacant wall, will protect him from forgetting who he is and where he came from.

Kwon Alexander Jersey

FILE - This is a June 6, 2018, file photo showing Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Kwon Alexander during a studio photo session at the team training facility, in Tampa, Fla. The San Francisco 49ers have agreed to sign linebacker Kwon Alexander to a four-year contract worth $54 million. A person familiar with the contract said the sides came to an agreement Monday, March 11, 2019, soon after teams were allowed to contact pending unrestricted free agents. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal can’t be finalized until the new league year starts Wednesday. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File)

The 49ers remain unclear when their most expensive free-agent acquisition, linebacker Kwon Alexander, will be ready to play with his new team.

But they should have a better idea when Alexander returns to team headquarters in Santa Clara on April 2 to have his surgically repaired torn ACL examined by San Francisco’s medical staff.

“It’s kind of an empty feeling that we know he was in good hands with the (Tampa Bay Buccaneers),” general manager John Lynch said Monday at the NFL owners meetings. “But all of a sudden once we acquire him, he can no longer start doing his rehab or continue doing his rehab with the Bucs.”

Alexander, 24, signed a four-year, $54 million contract with the 49ers despite suffering the injury Oct. 21 in a victory over the Cleveland Browns. His contract includes $14.25 million in guarantees for 2019, even though there’s a chance Alexander misses time or doesn’t return to 100 percent.

“We’re going to get to assess exactly where he’s at,” Lynch said. “I can tell you … when you do a deal like that, you want the return right away but we had discussions that, hey, when you’re making an investment like this, we’ve got to make sure he’s right. So we will hold true to that. … Our conversations with the people from the Buccaneers (indicate) that he’s on track.”

Alexander’s $13.5 million average annual salary is higher than star linebackers such as Carolina’s Luke Kuechly ($12.4 million) and Seattle’s Bobby Wagner ($10.75 million). Alexander was brought in to play the “stack linebacker” position vacated by the release of 2017 first-round draft pick Reuben Foster in November.

Alexander’s contract includes just $3 million in true guarantees over the remaining three years of the contract after 2019, perhaps insulating the 49ers if Alexander can’t return to his pre-injury form. He led the NFL in solo tackles in 2016 and was named a Pro-Bowl alternate after the 2017 season.

McKinnon to remain in the fold

The 49ers’ addition of free-agent running back Tevin Coleman raised questions about the future of Jerick McKinnon, a free-agent signing in 2018 who didn’t play last season because of a torn ACL suffered before the season opener.

But Lynch on Monday quelled any speculation that McKinnon wouldn’t be in the mix in the 49ers’ backfield, confirming he would be on the roster beyond April 1, when his 2019 salary becomes fully guaranteed. He’s due $3.7 million and would cost $5.75 million against the salary cap if his various bonuses are realized.

“Jerick is going to be a part of us. We’re excited to see that through,” Lynch said. “Jerick is working incredibly hard. It was an unfortunate blow that happened to him, but you never like to see that and this year, last year, we were extremely excited that we had him, but he’s always had kind of a chip on his shoulder because that was his first opportunity to be the guy and I’m sure he’ll have a bigger chip on his shoulder.”

San Francisco dealt with several injuries to running backs throughout 2018 but could have a quality duo if Coleman and McKinnon can stay healthy. Coleman last season had a career-best 1,076 yards from scrimmage and has scored 28 touchdowns over the past three seasons.

The 49ers were surprised they were able to get Coleman — who played under coach Kyle Shanahan when he was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator in 2015 and 2016 — on a two-year, $8.5 million contract.

“We saw an opportunity with Tevin and we pounced on it because we knew the player he was, and that’s one where Kyle had first-hand experience with him,” Lynch said. “If we can do it at that price, absolutely we’d be involved. And we worked hard to get it done and we’re really thrilled.”