San Francisco 49ers: San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers have been fairly quiet since the initial few waves of free agency, though they did make a move Thursday in waiving right tackle Jonathan Martin, who started nine games last season after being acquired in an offseason trade with the Miami Dolphins. Here is an updated scorecard of the team's offseason moves:


[+] EnlargeJarryd Hayne
AAP Image/Paul MillerJarryd Hayne will join the 49ers after rugby stardom in Australia.

RB Jarryd Hayne -- Australian rugby star chose the Niners, who he said gave him $100,000 guaranteed on a futures/reserve contract, over the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks to begin his American football adventure and plans to play running back and special teams ... if he makes the squad.

DL Darnell Dockett -- Former Arizona Cardinals Pro Bowler stays in the division to fortify defensive line, which will already be without Ray McDonald and possibly also Justin Smith, with two-year, $7.5 million contract.

WR Jerome Simpson -- Acrobatic wideout, known for his forward somersault touchdown for Cincinnati and legal issues, signed to two-year deal.

WR Torrey Smith -- Five-year, $40 million contract with $22 million guaranteed brings big and fast deep threat who could be the yin to Anquan Boldin’s yang .. like they were in Baltimore when the Ravens beat the Niners in Super Bowl XLVII.

RB Reggie Bush -- No. 2 pick of 2006 draft signs one-year contract to return to California as the San Diego native and USC product will be part of a three-headed Niners rushing attack, along with Carlos Hyde and Kendall Hunter.

CB Shareece Wright -- Started his last 27 games with the San Diego Chargers but has also led the NFL in defensive pass interference penalties since 2013.

OL Erik Pears -- Eight-year NFL veteran who spent past five years with Buffalo Bills signs two-year deal, $4.7 million contract to compete for left guard spot (Pro Football Focus gave him a -25.0 grade last season, 76th of 78 guards) and/or provide depth at right tackle.


RB Frank Gore -- Heart and soul of team will now run the ball for the Indianapolis Colts and block blitzers for Andrew Luck for three years and a guaranteed $8.5 million.

LG Mike Iupati -- Three time Pro Bowler moves to Arizona on five-year, $40 million deal with $22.5 million guaranteed to form a formidable left side of O-line for Cardinals with LT Jared Veldheer.

LB Dan Skuta -- Key backup the past two seasons who has started 18 of 30 games is off to the Jacksonville Jaguars on a five-year, $20.5 million contract.

LB Patrick Willis -- Spiritual leader retires at age 30 after eight seasons, seven Pro Bowls and five All-Pro selections due to sore feet and a desire to move on.

FS Bubba Ventrone -- Retired to take job as assistant special teams coach with Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

WR Stevie Johnson -- Released in cost-cutting move, signed three-year, $10.5 million deal with San Diego Chargers.

CB Chris Culliver -- Took his career-high four interceptions from 2014 and legal issues to Washington with a four-year deal worth up to $32 million.

CB Perrish Cox --Took his team-leading five interceptions to the Tennessee Titans on a reported three-year, $15 million deal.

LB Chris Borland -- Stunned Niners and NFL by announcing his retirement after one standout season, citing potential future health concerns.

RT Jonathan Martin -- Waived after starting nine games in his lone season with the Niners last year.

Staying put

QB Blaine Gabbert -- The only San Francisco quarterback to throw a fourth-quarter touchdown last season agrees to two-year, $2 million deal to return as Colin Kaepernick’s backup.

TE Garrett Celek -- Signed to a one-year deal.

LS Kyle Nelson -- Signed to four-year deal.

TE Derek Carrier -- Signed a two-year extension.

CB Chris Cook -- Re-signed to a one-year deal.

In limbo

DL Justin Smith -- Still contemplating retirement and Niners have given him as long as he needs to reach decision.

QB Josh Johnson

RB Alfonso Smith

RB Phillip Tanner

WR Michael Crabtree -- Visited Miami Dolphins and he has also drawn interest from Washington and San Diego Chargers. He is willing to wait for the right offer to come his way. Niners general manager Trent Baalke would not publically take him off the table.

WR Brandon Lloyd -- Niners have had no conversations with veteran WR.

WR Kassim Osgood

LB Desmond Bishop -- Perhaps becomes more appealing to Niners with only three inside linebackers with NFL experience currently under contract.

PHOENIX -- One of the first bits of advice Jim Tomsula received upon becoming head coach of the NFL Europe's Rhein Fire in 2006 came in a letter from a fellow West Pennsylvania-bred football lifer.

Don't be the offensive coach. Don't be the defensive coach. Be the head coach.

The late Ron Lancaster, a four-time Grey Cup champion in the CFL, also offered up this nugget:

Head coaches can be meddlers, or enablers. Try to be the second one.

[+] EnlargeJim Tomsula
Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesNew 49ers coach Jim Tomsula said he got used to roster upheaval while working in NFL Europe.

Tomsula looked off in the distance as he recalled the advice Wednesday morning over breakfast at the NFL owners meetings.

"It kinda stuck with me," he said.

And while Lancaster's advice at the advent of his NFL Europe head-coaching excursion gave Tomsula encouragement, it is Tomsula's real-world experiences as a head coach across the pond that give him something to lean on now in his third full month as a first-time NFL head coach.

Because while perhaps no NFL team has had as turbulent an offseason as the Niners thus far -- courtesy of retirements, free-agent defections and an arrest -- Tomsula insisted he is used to team-building. And yes, it goes back almost a decade.

"Back to my roots [as] an NFL Europe guy," he said. "New team every year. The team-building process? This is a new year, a new team. Every NFL team has changed."

Even if general manager Trent Baalke insisted back in January that the 49ers were reloading, not rebuilding. The Niners, though, have lost nine players thus far, and those nine appeared in a combined 114 games a year ago, with a combined 82 starts.

"Every NFL team has changed," Tomsula reiterated. "Obviously, ours is a little different than most years, and most teams."

The wackiness of the Niners' offseason began with former coach Jim Harbaugh and the team parting ways, and has continued with running back Frank Gore, left guard Mike Iupati, linebacker Dan Skuta and cornerbacks Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox leaving Santa Clara via free agency, receiver Stevie Johnson getting cut and signing elsewhere and linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland and safety Bubba Ventrone all retiring.

Plus, receiver Michael Crabtree is still out there, the Niners have had no conversations with Brandon Lloyd and defensive lineman Justin Smith is still contemplating retirement.

And while Tomsula has reached out to another former NFL Europe confidante in Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett (he was working to become a broadcaster in the developmental league at the time), there has been no correspondence or sage Lancaster-like advice to Tomsula from the man he replaced in Harbaugh.

"We didn't talk," Tomsula said. "He was up in Michigan, I was down here. And we were rolling."

PHOENIX -- Jim Tomsula grew up in Western Pennsylvania a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. So the new San Francisco 49ers coach had a reference point, of sorts, to lean on when Patrick Willis retired two weeks ago with chronically sore feet.

“Jack Lambert, you know?” Tomsula said Wednesday of the Steelers Hall of Fame linebacker at the NFL owners meetings. “Toughest guy in the room and he left football with his big toe.”

Indeed, turf toe toppled the middle of the Steel Curtain, so with Willis’ feet bothering him so much in an eight-year career, Tomsula was not overly shocked at his guy calling it quits.

Chris Borland, retiring after one season for fear of future head injuries?

“Now Chris was a surprise,” Tomsula said. “But it’s the NFL offseason. Unexpected things. We’re moving along and we wish Chris well.

“I was surprised when I heard. I was like, 'Is he OK?' My initial thing was, 'What’s going on?' Chris is a real thoughtful guy, too. The initial [reaction was], ‘Whoa.’ After it happened ... he made a decision and I respect it. It’s his decision.”

A day earlier, Niners general manager Trent Baalke admitted that the timing of Borland’s decision -- after the start of the “legal tampering period” -- altered the team’s offseason dynamic.

“I think the plan is, you look at all options available,” Baalke said. “You look at guys that are currently on the street, UFAss, you look at the draft, where you think you can address it within the draft, and you look at potential trade options.

“Everything’s in play.”

PHOENIX -- While the recent retirements of inside linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland may have thrown the San Francisco 49ers for a loop, and the Niners have only three inside linebackers under contract who have NFL experience and one of them, NaVorro Bowman, is still recuperating from a 14-month-old knee injury, their defense remains status quo.

The 49ers are remaining in a 3-4 defense, rather than flipping to a 4-3 scheme, new coach Jim Tomsula confirmed at the NFC coaches breakfast Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings.

[+] EnlargeAhmad Brooks
Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty ImagesIf depth issues become a concern, the 49ers may experiment by moving linebacker Ahmad Brooks to the inside this season.

Because while the Niners expect Bowman to make a full recovery, they also return Michael Wilhoite, who started 16 games a year ago, as well as Nick Moody, who started the final two games. And there are thoughts the Niners could move Ahmad Brooks inside as well as continue to scour free agency -- Erin Henderson and Lance Briggs have been linked to the Niners.

Beyond that, the defensive line, Tomsula's old stomping grounds as the team's D-line coach since 2007, should be enough of a strength to remain in a 3-4.

"The depth on the defensive line right now is as deep as we've ever had it," Tomsula said. "I'm really excited about the guys we have."

Yes, even with the very real possibility that Justin Smith might retire at any moment.

Tomsula was quick to point out that he refers to his grunts there as defensive linemen, rather than labeling them as a nose tackle or an end. He likes to say any of his players can play any position on the line.

"We cross-train everybody," Tomsula said. "That won't stop."

But for depth chart-sake, the three nose tackles are Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey, Mike Purcell and Quinton Dial, who, Tomsula said, might boast a skill set better suited for end in a 3-4.

The ends meanwhile, are Smith, newly-signed free agent Darnell Dockett, whom Tomsula used to seek out after games to compliment him as an opponent, "out of respect," Tony Jerod-Eddie and Tank Carradine, who is still adjusting to a new position as a 3-technique in the NFL after being an outside pass-rushing end in college.

"Tank came from the backyard to a phone booth," Tomsula said. "When you're out there on the edge, you've got all that space and you're working and there's nobody outside you as a blocking threat and everything is through that vision line.

"And now you scoot down inside, whether you're a 3-technique or a 4-, you've got stuff coming from both sides. The amount of space you have to work in is a lot smaller. So just getting used to it [is a challenge]."

It is worth noting, though, that health perhaps plays the biggest key as Bowman, Dorsey and Williams all were on injured reserve last season.

PHOENIX -- The question, when the San Francisco 49ers first began kicking the tires on Reggie Bush, went like this: How in the world would he fit when his skill set as a pass-catching running back hardly matched what the Niners did on offense in 2014?

After all, while Bush caught 40 passes last season, the Niners attempted five screen passes to their running backs, with their running backs catching 44 passes total, according to Pro Football Focus.

So when Bush signed a one-year deal to come to Santa Clara, it was apparent that both sides were satisfied with how Bush would be used in a revamped offense. Plus, Bush would be rejoining Tony Sparano, the Niners’ new tight ends coach who was Bush’s head coach with the Miami Dolphins in 2011.

“Reggie can be an every-down back; he’s done that in the NFL,” new Niners coach Jim Tomsula said at the NFC coaches breakfast Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. “I don’t know that we’re looking at it that way.

“Reggie’s a very good space player. Reggie can, it’s well-documented, his third-down, his skill set on third downs. Reggie’s a running back. He’s not a gadget guy, in my opinion. Reggie Bush is a running back, and I’m really excited about Reggie joining the crew.”

Bush, 30, joins second-year player Carlos Hyde and Kendall Hunter, who missed the 2014 season with an ACL injury after Frank Gore, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, left for the Indianapolis Colts in free agency.

“Everybody understands right now we’ve got three guys in the backfield that we feel great about,” Tomsula said. “And they’re all just a little bit different from each other.”

Bush, though, is the most intriguing piece to the puzzle, given his skill set as a pass-catcher. His 466 career receptions for 3,489 yards and 18 touchdowns lead active running backs, to go along with 5,465 career rushing yards and 35 TDs, on 1,266 carries and a 4.3 yards-per-carry average.

Tomsula made a point to emphasize that the 49ers would “accentuate” players’ strengths this season.

PHOENIX -- While the Oakland Raiders continue their quest for a permanent home, be it in Oakland, Carson, or Parts Unknown, the door for them to jump into a 1-year-old stadium 34.3 miles down I-880 remains cracked open.

The Raiders, sharing what is undoubtedly the 49ers’ yard at red-clad Levi’s Stadium, may be beyond a last resort for the Raiders, but Niners CEO Jed York said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings the latest news of his team sharing the Santa Clara digs with another team remains status quo.

“It’s been the same answer all along,” York said. “The building has been approved for two teams. That hasn’t changed, and it’s not specific to who the team is, and it’s really out of our control.

“The Raiders, and whoever else is considering new stadium possibilities, they’re controlling their own destiny on where they want to go, and what they want to do.”

In other words, Levi’s remains an option for a team like the Raiders, albeit, a far-fetched alternative.

Niners fans, though, will be happy to know that team officials are working on improvements for those who sit on the sun-spashed east side of the stadium.

York and 49ers chief operating office Al Guido said the Niners, after consulting with the Jacksonville Jaguars -- no, the Niners will not be installing a swimming pool in the stadium -- will institute a couple of fan-friendly features for game days.

“Cool” seating benches will be installed in the concourse area of the east side while “misters” will be in the plaza. The team is also considering passing out hand-held misting fans to spectators on especially warm days.

Parking, specifically egress, a bane for so many fans in the early weeks of the stadium, is also being addressed. York and Guido said the time to exit certain lots at the stadium took as long as 1 hour, 20 minutes early in the season, but dropped to as little as 45 minutes by the end of the year. The average time to exit Candlestick Park, they said, was 90 minutes.

PHOENIX -- Sure, Patrick Willis retiring at the age of 30 stung the San Francisco 49ers a bit. But it happened before the dawn of the new league year, so the Niners were able to take a deep breath and focus on their depth at inside linebacker, with a standout rookie in Chris Borland returning for his second year.

Borland retiring less than a week later, after one season in the NFL? Yeah, that was the salt in the Willis wound, so to speak.

[+] EnlargeChris Borland
AP Photo/Tony AvelarChris Borland's retirement has made inside linebacker an area of need for the 49ers.

“Pat retired early enough to at least look at the potential in free agency,” Niners general manager Trent Baalke said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. “It wasn’t an urgency to anything, not that there is now, but then Chris walks away from the game and now you’ve got a whole new set of things to look at.

“And the timing of Chris’ [retirement] really wasn’t until three days into free agency, where certain options were already off the table. It certainly changed the situation when Chris walked away and made you look at the options a little bit closer.”

As it stands now, the Niners have only three inside linebackers with NFL experience under contract in Michael Wilhoite, Nick Moody and NaVorro Bowman.

So while Willis' departure may have staggered the Niners, Borland’s exit changed the dynamic of their offseason, the position going from one of anticipated strength to a position of need.

Even if, as Baalke said, the Niners return a 16-game starter at JACK linebacker in Wilhoite, a former All-Pro at MIKE linebacker in Bowman, even if he is still recuperating from a 14-month-old left knee injury, and Nick Moody, who started the final two games of the season last year.

“So it’s not like the cupboard’s bare, either,” Baalke said.

Then what’s the new plan?

“I think the plan is, you look at all options available,” Baalke said. “You look at guys that are currently on the street, UFA’s, you look at the draft, where you think you can address it within the draft, and you look at potential trade options.

“Everything’s in play.”

Baalke confirmed the Niners have interest in Erin Henderson, though the two have not met. Former Chicago Bears ILB Lance Briggs is also a player of interest.

And about those reports that Wilhoite was on the trading block before Willis and Borland retired, Baalke said teams did inquire about Wilhoite, who is an exclusive-rights free agent. The conversations, though, never advanced to the compensation stage, Baalke said.

PHOENIX -- As noted Monday night, the San Francisco 49ers were awarded a pair of compensatory picks for the 2015 NFL draft at the owners meetings, a fourth-rounder (No. 132 overall) and a seventh-rounder (No. 254 overall) to give them nine draft picks overall.

Compensatory picks cannot be traded.

Here's a breakdown of the Niners' selections:

First round: 15th overall selection
Second round: 46th overall selection
Third round: 79th overall selection
Fourth round: 126th overall selection (acquired from Denver Broncos in 2014 draft-day trade)
Fourth round: 132nd overall selectoin (compensatory pick)
Fifth round: No. 151 overall selection
Sixth round: No. 189 overall selection
Seventh round: No. 246 overall selection (acquired from Indianapolis Colts for LB Cam Johnson in 2013)
Seventh round: No. 254 overall selection (compensatory pick)

PHOENIX -- Besides their usual NFC West road games, the San Francisco 49ers will travel in to play at the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants in 2015.

And in an effort to ease travel pains, Niners CEO Jed York said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings he would request the league to schedule any two of those games to be played on consecutive weekends. The Niners would then spend the week between said games in the York family’s homestead of Youngstown, Ohio, rather than fly back and forth to the Bay Area, as they did in early-season games in 2011 and 2012.

“Any time we’ve got multiple East Coast games,” York said, “we’ll try to do it.”

In 2011, the Youngstown stay occurred between games at the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles. A year later, it was between games at the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets.

The schedule is expected to be announced the third week of April.

“It makes it so much easier on the team, as opposed to going and coming back,” York said. “We’re always one of the top travel teams in the league, so if you can cut out 6,000 miles of travel, it helps.”

Consider the case of the Oakland Raiders: They have lost 16 straight games in the Eastern time zone, dating to 2009, by a combined score of 472-261, or by an average score of 30-16.

The 49ers, meanwhile, have been cleared to play host to a Monday Night Football game at year-old Levi’s Stadium for 2015, after being limited to weekend and holiday primetime games in the stadium’s inaugural season. The thinking was to get a gauge on how Santa Clara traffic would work before going live on a week night.

As far as the preseason goes, York said the only game the Niners are currently locked into would be at the San Diego Chargers.

And finally, with Levi’s Stadium playing host to Super Bowl L, San Jose State, Stanford and the Raiders' compound in Alameda are being considered as home bases for the two Super Bowl teams.

PHOENIX – While many observers may think Michael Crabtree was more trouble for the San Francisco 49ers than he was worth since they took him with the No. 10 overall pick of the 2009 draft, Trent Baalke apparently does not subscribe to that theory.

Not when the Niners general manager left open the possibility of the team re-signing Crabtree, who has found a dry market for his services as an unrestricted free agent.

“As long as Michael’s out there, he’s just like any other UFA; you never say never,” Baalke said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. “Michael did a heck of a job for us for six years.”

Crabtree has steered clear from the police blotter for a team that has become infamous for arrests the past three years. But his 49ers tenure began with a hiccup as he wanted money above his draft slot, held out the first four games of his NFL career, and was inactive for one game after signing his contract.

Foot and lower leg injuries have played a part in slowing him from becoming the game-changing receiver many thought he would be as a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner at Texas Tech.

Crabtree did have a career season in 2012, when he caught 85 passes for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns. But he missed all but five games in 2013 after tearing an Achilles’ the following offseason. He had 69 catches for 698 yards (a career-low 10.3 yards per catch average) with four TDs in 16 games last season.

He lamented his fall from grace as Colin Kaepernick's top target by calling himself a “third-down receiver” and a “fourth option” in the Niners offense.

The only free-agent visit Crabtree has taken thus far was to the Miami Dolphins last week.

PHOENIX – John Harbaugh may have lost that brotherly connection to the San Francisco 49ers with Jim Harbaugh having departed for Michigan. But the Baltimore Ravens coach still has his finger on the pulse of the Niners’ passing game.

Torrey Smith leaving the Ravens for the 49ers all but ensured that for Harbaugh.

“He’s a deep threat at all times,” Harbaugh said of Smith at the AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. “He’s very fast. He’s big. He can go up and make a play on the ball, so much so that teams interfere with him more than anybody in the league, to keep him from making those plays.

“He’s definitely going to be a guy who opens things up for underneath guys.”

Guys like another former Ravens receiver in Anquan Boldin, who will be entering his third season with the Niners.

But Smith was signed to that five-year, $40 million free-agent contract, with $22 million guaranteed, to be the deep threat the Niners need, even if, as reported, the Niners are “interested” in re-signing Michael Crabtree, who has taken only one visit, to Miami.

Smith had 213 receptions with 30 touchdowns and averaged a franchise-record 16.9 yards per catch in four seasons with the Ravens, including 11 TDs and the league-leading 12 PIs drawn for 261 yards last season. He has had 44 catches of at least 25 yards or more since coming to the league as a second-round draft choice out of Maryland and, per Pro Football Focus, his 51 receptions on targets of at least 20 yards since 2011 are just two fewer than than the 49ers had as a team in that same period.

“I can turn the simple play into a huge gain,” Smith said when he signed with the Niners.

Consistency has been an issue for Smith – he had a career-low 49 catches last year with 11 drops –though Harbaugh said Smith has improved in running routes.

“When he can run comebacks and stop-9’s and in-breaking routes off that deep vertical stem,” Harbaugh said, “he can get open that way, too.”

PHOENIX – Jack Del Rio played linebacker in the NFL for 11 seasons. Before that, he was an All-American at USC.

And in all that time, how many concussions do you think the hard-hitting Del Rio was diagnosed with in the entirety of his football career?

“One,” the new Oakland Raiders coach said Tuesday morning at the AFC coaches breakfast to kick off Day 2 of the NFL owners meetings.

“One in college, and that was it. My helmet never popped off, either. Not one time did my helmet ever come off.”

[+] EnlargeJack Del Rio
Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesJack Del Rio talked about player safety at the owners meetings and said his pet peeve is seeing helmets pop off.

The key word here, of course, is “diagnosed” as the medical definition of a concussion has evolved from merely getting one’s bell rung to neurological damage when it comes to the brain. So of course Del Rio, who spent about two decades banging heads, has opinions when it comes to what many see as a concussion crisis in the NFL.

And something that bothers him is the frequency with which helmets come off players in the course of games.

“You want to talk about player safety issues? Let’s see if we can stop the helmets from popping off,” said Del Rio, who added that his helmet fit so snug he had to use Vaseline under his ears to slide it on.

“Helmets have gone to comfort, and not necesarrily to safety. That’s my pet peeve. These things, when they pop off, how do you have a helmet that pops off? Man, I always wanted to make sure that my head had a shell around it. I didn’t ever want to be vulnerable and have my helmet off in a pile. That could be bad.”

Del Rio did say, though, that the culture has changed from his playing days to take better care of players’ health. He specified the teaching of players where to hit, how to hit and tackle and greater awareness among coaches, players and doctors.

In fact, San Francisco 49ers co-chairman Dr. John York, who is chairman of the NFL’s Health and Safety Advisory Committee, told three reporters on Monday that concussions in the league were down 25 percent in 2014 from 2013 and down 37 percent the past two seasons. York said there were “about .46 concussions per game” in 2014.

And being a linebacker, surely Del Rio had a thought or two on Niners linebacker Chris Borland retiring last week after one NFL season, fearing future brain injuries.

“I think every individual can make his own decision for how they feel and what they want to make of thir potential career,” Del Rio said. “I didn’t have the same reaction as a lot of people; I kind of feel like it’s a shame a young man came to a place where he doesn’t feel like he can play. I feel bad for him. I played a long time and enjoyed every bit of it. I was very blessed. So it’s very unfortunate, you know?

“I think it’s a league of men and it takes a lot to come in and sacrifice and discipline yourself and do things that need to be done to play at a high level. You’re talking about grown men that are trying to feed their families and so it’s a very competitive, very competitive job. And if you’re heart’s not in it or you don’t feel like you can continue, then you’re doing the right thing (by) stepping away. Because it’s got to be miserable to come to work every day and spend the time that we spend if you’re not really dialed in and excited about being here.”

PHOENIX -- The San Francisco 49ers, who lost the likes of safety Donte Whitner and running back Anthony Dixon to free agency last year, were awarded two compensatory draft picks Monday -- a fourth-rounder and a seventh rounder -- at the NFL owners meetings.

They now have nine selections in the 2015 NFL draft, which will be held April 30 to May 2 in Chicago.

PHOENIX -- Sure, Reggie Bush has tweeted out a few thoughts since officially becoming a member of the San Francisco 49ers last week. But he has yet to speak publicly, or take questions from Niners' beat writers on returning to his native California -- he's a SoCal native from San Diego.

Still, it got me thinking about the night he won the 2005 Heisman Trophy as a junior running back at USC, before his legacy became tarnished and he forfeited his title in the midst of an extra benefits scandal while playing for the Trojans.

I was in Manhattan that night, there to cover an Oakland Raiders-New York Jets game the next day for the Sacramento Bee, and caught up with Bush just after he won the award in a Times Square theater. Remember, this was in early December and factions were already forming for the upcoming Bush Bowl between the Niners and Houston Texans in the season finale.

A big storyline, as far as the Niners were concerned, was the possibility of Bush joining the 49ers to reunite with his old San Diego Helix High School buddy, Alex Smith, who had been taken No. 1 overall the previous April.

"Yeah, I think it is [special], just because Alex is a former teammate of mine and I'd love the opportunity to go up and play with him again," Bush told me that night on Dec. 10, 2005.

"He's a great competitor and a good friend of mine."

Of course, Smith is long gone to the Kansas City Chiefs and Colin Kaepernick is now under center for the Niners.

But Bush, apparently, has long had a soft spot in his heart for the 49ers.

"Oh yeah, I was a big Niners fan growing up," he said at the time. "Oh, man, Ricky Watters, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, all those guys."

Nearly a decade and four teams later, can Bush add his name to that list?

PHOENIX -- The NFL owners meetings are under way and apart from watching team owners and coaches walking a media gauntlet here at the Arizona Biltmore, which includes getting from one meeting to another, not much has happened thus far.

The media conference, though, hosted by the league's competition committee is scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m. ET/1:15 p.m. PT in which tweaks to league rules are expected to be addressed.

From a San Francisco 49ers' perspective, new coach Jim Tomsula is not scheduled to meet with reporters until a breakfast session Wednesday at 7:15 a.m. PT.

Tomsula caught up briefly with the Sacramento Bee and on Sunday and addressed a few topics sure to come up over bagels and orange juice.

  • On whether Tomsula has spoken with Justin Smith, to gauge if the veteran has decided whether to retire: "I have nothing to report," Tomsula said, per
  • On if the 49ers have had discussions of moving outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks back to inside linebacker, with the recent retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland: Not yet, per the Bee.
  • On if he was surprised by Borland's retirement: "Yeah, I was, I was a little surprised by that. But I was in Europe [coaching] for so long, you have to expect the unexpected and get going," Tomsula said, per