San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Rogers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Last year, simply making the San Francisco 49ers' roster was a significant accomplishment for Darryl Morris.

This year, the goal is to get on the field for significant playing time on defense.

The undrafted rookie cornerback went from the practice squad to the 53-man roster to being a big part of the special teams as a rookie. Now, Morris is trying to take the next step: Being a nickel cornerback.

Morris is getting practice time in the slot. He has a chance to be in the rotation.

"He's a smart guy. He's fast. He's tough," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Morris. "So, he's got some good intangibles along those ways. He just has to learn to play the position and all the nuances that go at that, which is a tall order for him coming from a small school, just making the team, making the practice squad and then being called up is a major victory. And now to ask him to take this next step, we'll see how he does with it. And he's made slow but steady progress through the offseason."

Morris has been studying tape of Carlos Rogers from last season to help get accustomed to his new duties. He played a more traditional cornerback role in college at Texas State.

"There's differences, like angles and things," Morris said. "It's an adjustment, but I think it's an opportunity and I want to continue to work at in training camp."
The San Francisco 49ers will have their mandatory minicamp from Tuesday-Thursday. Here’s some things to watch for:

Davis
Boone
Will Davis and Boone show? Both tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone have stayed away from the voluntary portion of the offseason. That’s over. Starting Tuesday, everything the 49ers do as a team is mandatory and each player can be fined if they aren’t present. Davis said he expects to be at the minicamp. Boone has not said a word publicly about his plans. However, I’ve gotten the sense Boone is prepared not to show up until he gets a new deal. If neither player is at practice Tuesday, they will be holdouts and the stakes will change with their absences.

The cornerbacks: This is the biggest position of change. Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown are gone. Chris Culliver will start, but he is still working back from a torn ACL that kept him out all of last season. He should be fine for camp, but don’t expect him to go full-go in this camp. First-round pick Jimmie Ward is set to be the nickelback, but he is coming off a foot injury. He should be ready for training camp. A player of note in the minicamp is free-agent pickup Chris Cook. He will be in the rotation. Cook, who signed from Minnesota, has ideal size. He has looked good in the OTA sessions.

Offensive line: This unit, the pride and joy of the 49ers, should be fine in the long run, but it’s a little rough right now. Boone has been absent. Right tackle Anthony Davis is recovering from a shoulder injury and won’t be there until camp. Daniel Kilgore is taking over from Jonathan Goodwin and trying to hold off rookie Marcus Martin at center. Again, things will settle down, but don’t expect a well-oiled unit this week.

Passing game: Most of the receivers have been out during the voluntary sessions, mostly as precautions or for minor injuries. The passing game was rough in the OTA session that was open to the media last Tuesday. I’d expect to see more receivers during this camp, which is vital to help rhythm with quarterback Colin Kaepernick heading into training camp.

Inside linebackers: NaVorro Bowman is expected to be out until midseason as he recovers from a torn ACL. Michael Wilhoite has the inside shot to start for Bowman, but he will have to hold off Nick Moody and third-round pick Chris Borland.

Pass-rushers: Aldon Smith may face an NFL suspension. The 49ers need some extra pass-rush help. Keys to watch in camp is defensive lineman Tank Carradine, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, and second-year player Corey Lemonier, who looks like he’s added several pounds of muscle. The 49ers would love to see these two young players show a burst in this camp.

Marcus Lattimore: The 49ers are slowly bringing along the 2013 fourth-round draft pick. He has done some things in the OTA session, including showing nice hands out of the backfield. I wouldn’t expect Lattimore to go full-go in this camp, but the 49ers want to see continued comfort, speed and confidence from Lattimore, whom they hope can help this season.
There's little doubt the San Francisco 49ers' biggest question area is at cornerback because of all the flux this offseason.

So the fact two veteran cornerbacks were released Friday can't go unnoticed. Kansas City cut Brandon Flowers and Detroit jettisoned Chris Houston. Flowers is likely more intriguing because he has been the better player, while Houston is coming off an injury.

Flowers
Could the 49ers make a run at Flowers?

Ultimately, I'd expect Flowers to get a better deal elsewhere. But I could see the 49ers considering the idea. They have some salary cap room and as previously mentioned, there are questions at the position.

Still, a pursuit of Flowers wouldn't necessarily be a certainty. Flowers is 5-foot-9 and the 49ers are trying to get bigger and more physical at the position. Plus, even though the 49ers have questions at cornerback, there are pretty full there.

Chris Culliver, coming off a torn ACL, is expected to start opposite Tramaine Brock after Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers departed this offseason. First-round pick Jimmie Ward will play the nickel cornerback. The 49ers also have veteran Chris Cook, Eric Wright and Perrish Cox and drafted three rookie cornerback (one, Keith Reaser, is not play because of an injury).

If the 49ers are nervous about what they've seen so far in the offsason they could make a run at Flowers, but I'm not sure they will think it's worth the financial investment.

49ers salary-cap update

June, 9, 2014
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Days after picking up more than $6 million in salary-cap room when Carlos Rogers was officially off the books following his release, the San Francisco 49ers extended the contract of quarterback Colin Kaepernick through the 2020 season.

Now, with the Kaepernick deal on the books for the 2014 season, the 49ers still have some cap wiggle room. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the 49ers have $6.422 million remaining in salary-cap room. The 49ers have signed their entire 12-player draft class.

Teams like to keep about $5 million in-season for an emergency reserve. But the 49ers also could potentially extend the deal of another veteran.

Receiver Michael Crabtree, guard Mike Iupati and defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey are among the players entering the final year of their contracts. Tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone have not participated in the voluntary portion of the offseason; the team's mandatory minicamp is next week.

Davis told ESPN.com last week he "should" be at the minicamp. Boone, however, is expected to stay away unless he gets a new deal.

 
With organized team activities in full swing for the San Francisco 49ers, the biggest on-field question the team must answer is at cornerback.

The team is undergoing a major transformation at the position. Two of their top three cornerbacks last season -- Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown -- departed this offseason. Rogers was cut and Brown left in free agency. Both signed are now with Oakland.

Tramaine Brock, who was superb last season after starting camp as a special teamer, has emerged as the team's best cornerback. Chris Culliver, who could be subject to an NFL suspension after a felony arrest this offseason, is set to start. He played well in 2012, but missed all of last season with a torn ACL.

Rookie Jimmie Ward, the team's first-round pick, is a safety, but he will play the nickel cornerback spot this year. He has experience there. Veterans Eric Wright and newly signed Chris Cook and second-year player Darryl Morris are among those who also have a chance at playing time. ESPN's Matt Williamson believes Cook, a former second-round pick who failed to live up to expectations with the Vikings, can improve as a 49er. He is big and physical and a good fit for the defense.

While there are question marks, the truth is, the 49ers were looking to move away from Rogers and Brown and think this can be an upgraded spot. The 49ers are very confident with their defensive coaching staff. Brock developed quickly and their cornerbacks this year can thrive as well.

In the long-term, this position is still a work in progress. Culliver is a free agent after the season and Ward is a long-term safety. The 49ers will likely add to this position next year and hope recent draft picks, Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser and Ken Acker can help next year. Johnson could even figure in this year's plan.

Again, this position will be a storyline all summer, but the 49ers are comfortable with it at this point.
Earlier Monday, we looked at the contract situations of tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone. Now, we take a look at some of the other storylines that developed while I was on vacation:

Aldon Smith pleads no contest to three felony weapons charges and two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence.
My thoughts: Smith is set to be sentenced July 25. He could face jail time. He could also face an NFL suspension. Smith’s future is very much up in the air.

Colin Kaepernick investigation goes to state attorney’s office in Florida
My thoughts: The case in Miami, in which Kaepernick and receiver Quinton Patton have been investigated in a “suspicious incident” has been ongoing for two months. It is said to be winding down.

• 49ers' entire draft class is signed
My thoughts: This is one of the best aspects of the new CBA. One of the silliest moments of every summer was signing a fourth-round pick holdout for a week and he would fall behind. Thankfully, that doesn't happen anymore.

LaMichael James joins workouts
My thoughts: James was open to a trade, and was staying away from the team. However, when he wasn't traded during the draft, James rejoined the team's voluntary workouts. It was a smart move. The team currently has no plans of trading James, and thus, he needs to make the roster. Being with the team helps his cause.

• Jerry Rice Jr. not signed after tryout
My thoughts: It’s no surprise. He didn't make much of an impact at UCLA and UNLV in his college career.

• Kaepernick loses to Richard Sherman in "Madden NFL 15" cover semifinal vote
My thoughts: That’s a good thing for Kaepernick and the 49ers, right? You now, the curse and all.

Salary cap update: Now, that June 1 has passed, the 49ers have gained $6.6 million in cap space per the release of cornerback Carlos Rogers. The 49ers have about $8 million in cap space. Some of that money could be used to sign Kaepernick, and perhaps another player, to an extension.
Speaking on the SVP & Russillo show on ESPN radio, San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said the team's goal of the draft was to select players who "reflect us."

Baalke said he thought the team's overall draft class -- the 49ers took 12 players -- was, indeed, "a reflection of our identity." The 49ers are known for being physical, rugged and smart on both sides of the ball. Several players, including safety Jimmie Ward, running back Carlos Hyde, center Marcus Martin, linebacker Chris Borland, guard Brandon Thomas and receiver Bruce Ellington seem to fit the team's mold.

Speaking specifically of Hyde, Baalke said the team had no expectation that he'd be available at No. 57 overall and the team was completed to take him. Meanwhile, in an Insider piece, Mel Kiper thinks Hyde can make a big impact as a rookie. Insider

In other 49ers news:

San Francisco is just approximately $796,000 under the salary cap. They will get $6 million-plus after June 1 for the Carlos Rogers release. Most of the leftover room will go to signing the draft class.
Free agency and the 2014 NFL draft are in the books and the San Francisco 49ers are essentially out of money. So let’s take a look at what has gone on so far:

Returning free agents: Receiver Anquan Boldin, kicker Phil Dawson, cornerback Eric Wright, receiver Kassim Osgood, cornerback Perrish Cox.

2015 free agents extended: Center Daniel Kilgore, fullback Bruce Miller.

Departed free agents: Safety Donte Whitner (Cleveland), cornerback Tarell Brown (Oakland), running back Anthony Dixon (Buffalo), receiver Mario Manningham (Giants), quarterback Colt McCoy (Redskins).

Released: Cornerback Carlos Rogers. He signed with Oakland.

Free agent addition: Safety Antoine Bethea (Colts), Cornerback Chris Cook (Vikings), Receiver Brandon Lloyd (last with Patriots in 2012).

Acquired in trade: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert from Jaguars; tackle Jonathan Martin from Miami, receiver Stevie Johnson from Buffalo.

Remaining free agents: Center Jonathan Goodwin.

Starting lineup changes: Bethea for Whitner; likely Kilgore for Goodwin, Chris Culliver or upcoming draft pick for Brown.
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers were supposed to be powerbrokers of the first round.

Everyone was expecting them to go make the big move for a top-end receiver in an effort to compete with Super Bowl champion -- and heated NFC West rival -- Seattle.

Instead, the 49ers ended up addressing their one true need -- albeit in an unexpected way.

Instead of trading up for stud LSU receiver Odell Beckham or taking one of the glamour cornerbacks, the 49ers grabbed Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward with the 30th pick.

At first glance, it smacked of a curious reach. Yes, Ward was a scout's favorite, but he was considered more of a second-round pick. And he played a position the 49ers made their biggest offseason investment at -- by signing veteran Antoine Bethea to a four-year, $23 million deal.

With receivers Cody Latimer and Marqise Lee still on the board, picking Ward did not initially appear to make much sense. But after digesting the pick, I could see why the 49ers made this pick.

The 49ers' benchmark is defense. With star inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman out until about midseason with a torn ACL and star linebacker Aldon Smith's future clouded by a potential NFL suspension, the 49ers need to keep their edge in the early season.

This move should ensure they stay stout in the secondary. In addition to safety Donte Whitner (who Bethea replaces), the 49ers parted ways with their second and third cornerbacks -- Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers -- this offseason. Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver are expected to start.

The 49ers want to see Ward become the nickel. He played there often at Northern Illinois. Some teams are using safeties as a nickel and it seems the 49ers are going that route.

There were rumblings the 49ers didn't like any of the four cornerbacks that went in the first round -- Justin Gilbert, Kyle Fuller, Darqueze Dennard and Jason Verrett. They had the means to trade up and pick any of them and didn't.

Instead, they eyed the hard-hitting, competitive and smart Ward.

This may be out of the box, but it seems like a 49ers move. Having Reid, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie last season, the steady Bethea and Ward on the field together makes this a strong secondary.

49ers general manager Trent Baalke raved about Ward's competitive nature. Coach Jim Harbaugh simply said: "He loves football."

Baalke, who saw Ward play live once, said it was telling that when he asked scouts which games of Ward's he should watch, multiple scouts said, "Pick one." It was Ward's consistency that stood out to the 49ers.

Ward, who had the second most interceptions in the country last season with seven, led his team in tackles and interceptions the past two seasons. Baalke doesn't think coming from a smaller conference will be too much for Ward.

"The stage isn't too big for him," Baalke said.

Ward showed he had the mental toughness for the NFL when he ran for scouts with a broken foot, which is expected to be completely healed by training camp. Ward posted a 4.48 40-time on a bad wheel. That made Baalke smile.

The 49ers may not have stolen headlines with this pick, but they did add a key component to what makes them the 49ers -- an ornery defense.

Ranking draft needs

May, 2, 2014
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With the NFL draft looming in less than a week, let's break down the San Francisco 49ers' draft needs in order of importance.

Cornerback

Why: It's the only position on the field where the 49ers currently have a hole. Tarell Brown departed in free agency and Carlos Rogers was cut. They both ended up in Oakland. The 49ers could easily take multiple players at this spot. If the right players are added, the 49ers could bring in a starter and a nickel cornerback. At the very least, one player who will see significant immediate playing time should be added.

When area will likely be addressed: The 49ers easily could use a first-round pick here.

Receiver

Why: The 49ers need more speed at the position. They also have to develop a young player. One starter, Anquan Boldin, is 33, and the other, Michael Crabtree, is entering the final year of his contract.

When area will likely be addressed: The 49ers will likely add a receiver in the first or second round.

Pass-rusher

Why: Aldon Smith's off-field issues have made this a potential need position in recent weeks.

When area will likely be addressed: The impact pass-rushers will likely be gone before the 49ers want to address this area, but if they identify a player who they think fits their system, I could see the 49ers using a third-round pick at this spot.

Interior offensive line:

Why: Daniel Kilgore is going to get the chance to be the starting center, but he is unproven. The 49ers might want some immediate competition. Also, Mike Iupati is entering the final year of his contract. More youth could be needed at guard.

When area will likely be addressed: ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have linked USC's Marcus Martin center to the 49ers in the second round in mock draft. I'm not sure the 49ers will address this area so early, but I can see the 49ers using picks on a center and a guard, perhaps both on Day 3.

Inside linebacker

Why: NaVorro Bowman is expected to be out for about half the season while recovering from a torn ACL and Patrick Willis is 29. It wouldn't hurt to bring in a youngster.

When area will likely be addressed: I could see the 49ers looking here in the fourth or fifth round.

Quarterback

Why: The 49ers are interested in a long-term backup for Colin Kaepernick.

When area will likely be addressed: I think the 49ers could use the final pick in the third round on a quarterback or perhaps use their fourth-round pick at the position.

Safety

Why: The 49ers need some youth and depth here.

When area will likely be addressed: I think if the right player is available and the 49ers feel comfortable about other positions they addressed, a safety could be nabbed in the third round.

Defensive line

Why: It's not a huge need area, but teams can never have enough defensive lineman.

When area will likely be addressed: There are some scenarios where the 49ers could use a premium pick here if the draft falls that way. But there are other scenarios where a mid-round pick is the highest priority they give the spot.

Will other positions be addressed? The 49ers don't have huge needs elsewhere, but they have studied and visited players at virtually every position, so it wouldn't be a shock if the 49ers added a running back or perhaps a tight end in the late rounds.

Updated offseason scorecard

April, 16, 2014
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Free agency continues and the San Francisco 49ers have been busy making roster changes. Let’s take a look at what has gone on so far:

Returning free agents: Receiver Anquan Boldin, kicker Phil Dawson, cornerback Eric Wright, receiver Kassim Osgood, cornerback Perrish Cox.

2015 free agents extended: Center Daniel Kilgore, fullback Bruce Miller.

Departed free agents: Safety Donte Whitner (Cleveland), cornerback Tarell Brown (Oakland), running back Anthony Dixon (Buffalo), receiver Mario Manningham (Giants), quarterback Colt McCoy (Redskins).

Released: Cornerback Carlos Rogers. He signed with Oakland.

Free agent addition: Safety Antoine Bethea (Colts), Cornerback Chris Cook (Vikings), Receiver Brandon Lloyd (last with Patriots in 2012).

Acquired in trade: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert from Jaguars; tackle Jonathan Martin from Miami.

Reportedly interested in: Receiver Josh Morgan (Washington free agent), but there hasn’t been any movement in the past several weeks, and the Lloyd signing likely ends any Morgan thoughts.

Remaining free agent: Center Jonathan Goodwin.

Starting lineup changes: Bethea for Whitner; likely Kilgore for Goodwin, Chris Culliver or upcoming draft pick for Brown.
Let's take a look at how the San Francisco 49ers' 2014 salary-cap status currently breaks down, thanks to ESPN Stats & Information.

The 49ers have about $4 million under the cap and will get another $6 million-plus June 1 because of the Carlos Rogers cut. Most of that money will go to signing the rookie class.

At this time of year, only the top 51 contracts count toward the salary-cap. Here's a position-by-position look at the 49ers' salary-cap situation under the top 51 rule. Let's start with the offense. We will look at the defense on Tuesday:

Quarterbacks

Jones
Kaepernick
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 3.32

Total cap charge: $4,258,920

NFL average: $11,667,289

Biggest cap hit: Blaine Gabbert: $2,011,587

Biggest bargain: Colin Kaepernick, $1,630,457

Outlook: This could change soon. Kaepernick has been discussing a long-term contract. The 49ers are on the record saying they'd like to give him a deal before the start of training camp. Kaepernick will likely command a contract averaging $18 million to $20 million a season. He currently accounts for 1.27 percent of the 49ers' salary cap. The team will soon lose the luxury of going cheap at the most vital position in the game.

Running backs

Gore
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 8.41

Total cap charge: $10,778,885

NFL average: $7,750,422

Biggest cap hit: Frank Gore, $6,450.000

Biggest bargain: Marcus Lattimore, $495,146

Outlook: Gore, who will turn 31 next month, is set to have the seventh highest salary cap number of all NFL running backs in 2014. The 49ers haven't felt the need to ask Gore to take a pay cut because he remains productive. Still, it is doubtful he will be paid top dollar next year if he remains with the team. The 49ers are looking for Lattimore to take on a big role. He missed all of his rookie season last year because of a torn ACL suffered in 2012. He is expected to be healthy this season.

Receiver

Crabtree
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 8.65

Total cap charge: $11,082,318

NFL average: $13,535,504

Biggest cap hit: Michael Crabtree, $4,770,443

Biggest bargain: Quinton Patton, $592,875

Outlook: The 49ers are likely going to add a rookie with one of their top picks that will affect the cap. Crabtree is entering his final year of his contract. He could be playing with a much higher franchise-tag number next year. Starter Anquan Boldin signed a two-year $12 million deal, but his cap number is in the $2 million range this season.

Tight end

Davis
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 8.32

Total cap charge: $10,658,911

NFL average: $6,117,287

Biggest cap hit: Vernon Davis, $7,342,916

Biggest bargain: Vance McDonald, $817,995

Outlook: The 49ers pay the position well above the league average. But that's because Davis is one of the best tight ends in the league. He is a focal point of San Francisco's offense and the team has no problem paying for what they get here.

Offensive line

Davis
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 18.30

Total cap charge: $$23,458,004

NFL average: $21,430,114

Biggest cap hit: Anthony Davis, $7,531,666

Biggest bargain: Alex Boone, $2,590,000

Outlook: The 49ers pay more than the league average, but the line is known as one of the best in the NFL. It could get more expensive next year when guard Mike Iupati becomes a free agent.
Free agency continues and the San Francisco 49ers have been busy making roster changes. Let’s take a look at what has gone on so far:

Returning free agents: Receiver Anquan Boldin, kicker Phil Dawson, cornerback Eric Wright, receiver Kassim Osgood, cornerback Perrish Cox.

2015 free agents extended: Center Daniel Kilgore, fullback Bruce Miller.

Departed free agents: Safety Donte Whitner (Cleveland), cornerback Tarell Brown (Oakland), running back Anthony Dixon (Buffalo), receiver Mario Manningham (Giants), quarterback Colt McCoy (Redskins).

Released: Cornerback Carlos Rogers. He signed with Oakland.

Free-agent additions: Safety Antoine Bethea (Colts), cornerback Chris Cook (Vikings)

Acquired in trade: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert from Jaguars, tackle Jonathan Martin from Miami.

Who are they reportedly interested in: Receiver Josh Morgan (Washington free agent), but there hasn’t been any movement in the two weeks since the report.

Remaining free agents: Center Jonathan Goodwin.

Starting lineup changes: Bethea for Whitner; likely Kilgore for Goodwin; Chris Culliver or upcoming draft pick for Brown.
Tuesday we took a poll asking readers what position the San Francisco 49ers should address with their first pick of the May draft: wide receiver or cornerback?

The answer didn’t surprise me. But I wasn’t quite expecting the landslide it ended up being. As of 7:40 p.m. ET, 76 percent of the votes were in favor of the 49ers taking a cornerback with their first pick.

Again, I can't disagree with the majority vote. With the team losing Tarell Brown in free agency, cutting Carlos Rogers and seeing Chris Culliver get arrested and facing potential league discipline, the immediate need is greater in the secondary. Whoever the 49ers take at cornerback will be asked to play a big role right away.

The 49ers have been looking for receiving help in free agency and there’s no doubt, it will be a high priority in the draft. But cornerback appears to be the bigger immediate need. Thanks to everyone who participated.
If the San Francisco 49ers want to add a veteran presence at cornerback in light of the Chris Culliver arrest, they might want to act fast.

Carlos Rogers, who the 49ers cut earlier this offseason, signed with the Oakland Raiders on Monday night. The 49ers did not completely close the door on bringing back Rogers, according to a league source, but they didn't make much of a move toward doing so before he signed with the Raiders.

The top veteran available cornerback on the market, Champ Bailey, is taking an undisclosed visit Monday, according the source. The 49ers, who currently have $4.1 million in salary cap room, have not yet shown interest in Bailey.

Bailey could be interesting to the team because they are pretty young at the position and they could use some veteran leadership. Culliver was arrested on felony hit-and-run and weapons possession charges Friday in San Jose. He could face a league suspension.

The 49ers are expected to use a high draft pick on the position.

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