San Francisco 49ers: Vance McDonald

Examining the San Francisco 49ers' roster:


Because of heavy competition elsewhere, the 49ers will likely only carry two quarterbacks. They finished last season that way. The competition will be to see if undrafted rookie Kory Faulkner can take McLeod Bethel-Thompson's spot on the practice squad.


The fact that the 49ers drafted Hyde in the second round and Lattimore is healthy means some tough decisions will have to be made. Hunter is too valuable to let go. That means 2012 second-round pick LaMichael James will have difficulty making the roster.


The 49ers are so much deeper here this year than last. That means they will likely have to keep six receivers. Lloyd may look good and Patton has too much potential to give up on. That means it could be tough for Kassim Osgood to make it even though he is a special teams cog.


If Davis ends his holdout, I can't see the 49ers keeping more than three tight ends because of the glut at receiver. Unless Garrett Celek has a big camp, he may be in trouble. Carrier intrigues the 49ers because of his size and speed.


Assuming Boone ends his holdout, this is a pretty nice group of eight players. It's improved from last year. A solid veteran like Adam Snyder and a promising youngster like Ryan Seymour will have trouble making the team.


This is another power spot. It's deep. Players like Jerod-Eddie and Dial are too valuable to cut. Ramsey has looked good and I have a hunch the 49ers may like him too much to expose him to the waiver wire. That means Demarcus Dobbs could be in trouble.


Most teams carry six linebackers but the 49ers are stacked here, especially with NaVorro Bowman out for about half the season. Because fifth-round pick Lynch is promising he should make the roster. Dan Skuta is an excellent player, but there might not be any room for him. I could see him being one of those later-summer Trent Baalke trade specials because he has value.


This unit is in flux, but I see Johnson making it. Don't be surprised if there is some in-camp jockeying as the 49ers look for the best mix.


Ward, the 49ers' first-round pick, will play nickel cornerback as a rookie, but projects long term as a safety. Ventrone and Spillman should stick because they are great on special teams. Craig Dahl could be in trouble.


This group is set and it's excellent.
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NFL Nation's Bill Williamson examines the three biggest issues facing the San Francisco 49ers heading into training camp.

The holdouts: The 49ers, fresh off three straight trips to the NFC title game and seemingly poised for another long postseason run, have the weathered many storms this offseason.

Yes, there are some issues that still linger. The 49ers do not know if tight end Vernon Davis and/or guard Alex Boone will continue their holdouts into training camp.

Both players stayed away from voluntary workouts, and then became official holdouts when they did not report to mandatory minicamp last month.

Both Davis and Boone want a new deal. There are indications Boone will stay away until he gets a new contract. Davis has wavered, but he could also miss a chunk of camp.

Both players are key to the offense and would be missed. The 49ers would have to rely on youth at both spots if the holdouts linger. Vance McDonald would play for Davis and Joe Looney would play for Boone. Neither player is the caliber of the player they’d replace.

Aldon Smith: The 49ers head to training camp not completely sure of the future of the standout pass-rusher. The 49ers are set to start training camp next Wednesday. Two days later, Smith is set to be sentenced for pleading no contest to three felony gun charges. He could face some jail time.

He could also be facing an NFL suspension. If Smith is out, the 49ers will need to find some more pass-rush help, and that’s what training camp will be for. Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier helped the 49ers go 5-0 last season when Smith was in a treatment center. The team also drafted Aaron Lynch in the fifth round. If these players show a pass-rush burst in camp, that will make the 49ers feel better about the prospect of playing a long chunk without Smith.

New firepower: The 49ers have big potential on offense. Training camp and the preseason will be a time for the unit to gel and figure out the best approach to use all of the talent. The receiving crew is beefed up with addition of Stevie Johnson, through a trade with Buffalo, veteran Brandon Lloyd and fourth-round pick Bruce Ellington.

The depth of this season’s receiving group is light years ahead of last year’s unit. The thought of Johnson being the No. 3 receiver behind Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree is silly. Ellington, a South Carolina product, gives the 49ers an element they missed last season -- a burner who can take the top of the defense.

At running back -- the heart of the 49ers’ offense is still the ground attack -- Frank Gore will have second-round pick Carlos Hyde and Marcus Lattimore, who appears to be healthy after missing last season while recovering from a 2012 torn ACL.

Hyde has looked great as a runner and receiver in the offseason. The second-round pick from Ohio State has a chance to make a big impact.

All of these new weapons of course, should help the overall game of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is entering his second full season as a starter.

The 49ers have big capabilities on offense, but the real work begins now.

49ers' biggest key to success

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
The San Francisco 49ers are well positioned to remain as one of the NFL's elite franchises over the next three years.

The 49ers have advanced to the NFC Championship Game the past three seasons, cementing themselves as a top franchise. In the next three years, the 49ers should be in good shape because their roster is deep and young.

And it all centers around quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The key for the 49ers' success in the next three seasons starts with the quarterback. Kaepernick, 26, hasn't even entered his prime. He has started just 29 NFL games.

Earlier this offseason, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh predicted Kaepernick, who signed an extension through the 2020 season in June, would have a breakout season in 2014.

Kaepernick has tremendous skill as a passer and as a runner, but he needs to improve his accuracy and read progressions.

Kaepernick is a tireless worker, coachable and should continue to make strides. The 49ers are well equipped to help make Kaepernick better because they have a strong supporting cast.

The key is to try to extend the contract of receiver Michael Crabtree, who is Kaepernick's favorite target. Crabtree is entering the final year of his current deal. The 49ers are excited about second-year receiver Quinton Patton and fourth-round pick Bruce Ellington. They also have Stevie Johnson for the next three years. If Crabtree is re-signed, the 49ers should continue to be stacked at receiver.

At tight end, second-year player Vance McDonald needs to make strides as a receiver, especially with Vernon Davis being 30 and his contract ending after the 2015 season. The ground game looks set for the future with rookie Carlos Hyde and 2014 fourth-round pick Marcus Lattimore.

All of these weapons will make Kaepernick better and ensure the 49ers get as much as they can from him as he enters his prime.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Prior to the San Francisco 49ers' first mandatory minicamp practice, offensive coordinator Greg Roman said he was looking for sharp workouts.

The 49ers didn't exactly deliver.

There were plenty of drops in a mostly mundane workout. However, I wouldn't exactly say it's cause for alarm. It's June and a lot of players were held out or limited. This is not high-intensity times.

It's a time to continue to work on rhythm before the team takes a month break before starting training camp.

The 49ers worked a lot of red zone offense Tuesday. They often stalled in the red zone last season, settling for field goals.

Roman said Tuesday he hopes to see an evolved offense in 2014. With a more experienced Colin Kaepernick, deeper receiving core and rookie running back Carlos Hyde, Roman likes the potential changes.

"I think it's fair to make the statement that it's a different offense, 2014. Because we've got some new guys in," Roman said. "I think it's definitely evolved from (from when he arrived to San Francisco with coach Jim Harbaugh in 2011) and it'll probably change a little bit this year."

In other camp notes:
  • Hyde and rookie receiver Bruce Ellington each had their moments Tuesday. Roman praised Hyde for his football knowledge. "Carlos, since he got here from the draft, really impressed me as a guy that football just makes sense to him," Roman said. "If you could just tell him what to do, and you don't have to tell him too much. And that's a beautiful thing in a running back because they have a lot of adjustments to make and protection, etc."
  • Several veterans such as running back Frank Gore and Justin Smith sat out practices as they did in the voluntary practices. It's just saving older players wear-and-tear. Receivers Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson didn't work in team drills as the team is being cautious.
  • Receiver Brandon Lloyd continued to make some nice catches as he continues to make a push to make the 53-man roster.
  • Roman was complimentary of young tight ends Vance McDonald and Derek Carrier as they get time with Vernon Davis holding out. McDonald is set to get the most time if Davis stays away. The 2013 second-round pick had some drops Tuesday, which was a problem in his rookie season.
  • Fifth-round pick Aaron Lynch, who will be a pass-rusher, didn't practice because of a hamstring injury. Seventh-round pick Kaleb Ramsey at defensive tackle looked solid. He will be interesting to watch in training camp and in the preseason.
  • Harbaugh maintained that he thinks Gore can play three more years. He is 31 and entering the final year of his contract.
  • Blaine Gabbert has the edge to be to Kaepernick's backup. Harbaugh heaped praise on him. "Very impressed with Blaine mentally, physically -- all attributes that you'd like to see in a quarterback. He's been very good, very solid. (He's) picked up everything very quickly. It's going well. Everything is progressing well. I think you'll watch it when you have a chance to see it today and look at it for yourself. In my eye, it looks very good."
  • Harbaugh said he is optimistic right tackle Anthony Davis will be ready for the start of training camp. He had shoulder surgery in April.
  • Running back Marcus Lattimore looked good and he is working full-go. He missed all of last season as he recovered from a torn ACL he suffered at South Carolina in 2012.
  • In a hint third-round pick Marcus Martin could push Daniel Kilgore for the starting center job, Roman heaped high praise on the rookie. "I think Marcus has done a really good job coming in as a rookie. The center position, there's so much that a center has to do in this league week-to-week," Roman said. "There's just so many different adjustments and whatnot. He's done a really good job so far against our defense, not only physically, but mentally as well."
  • Roman said he is happy with the play of Joe Looney at right guard. He is working with the starters with Alex Boone holding out.
Here are some highlights from our San Francisco 49ers chat, held Thursday:

Jeff: Does V McDonald look significantly better than D Carrier?

Bill Williamson: Different types of players. McDonald is probably the more talented, complete player. Carrier can run, though. He is still a project.

DK from VA.: How is Chris Cook looking? We went to high school together by the way

BW: The 49ers like his size and how he's looked. He will get good coaching. I think he has a chance to be better with 49ers than he was with the Vikings.

Derick from Los Angeles: Bill, do you see Brandon Lloyd still making the roster with Stevie Johnson's addition? Would he be content with a #4 WR role?

BW: If he makes it will be as the No. 4. It could keep Kassim Osgood off the roster. In that case, it would be Boldin, Crabtree, Johnson, Lloyd, Patton and Ellington. Pretty beefy WR unit.
Here are some thoughts in the aftermath of Colin Kaepernick’s huge new contract extension with the 49ers:
  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Kaepernick specifically requested his deal allow the 49ers flexibility to negotiate extensions with other players. Schefter reported that Kaepernick’s signing bonus was only $12 million, which is at least half of the usual signing bonuses that come with big quarterback deals. Kaepernick mentioned at his news conference Wednesday that the deal will be designed to allow the 49ers to keep signing key players.
  • Crabtree
    Receiver Michael Crabtree and guard Mike Iupati are free agents after the 2014 season. Tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone are staying away from the team in the voluntary portion of the offseason because they want new contracts. Not everyone will get paid, but I think the 49ers will be able to find some money. I’d think Crabtree becomes the next priority. Still, it may not be easy for the team to sign an extension with him before next offseason. But with Kaepernick secured, the franchise tag will be open for Crabtree or Iupati next winter. I’d think Crabtree would be the top candidate to be tagged.
  • Expect to see a relaxed Kaepernick this season. Getting this deal done before training camp takes away the pressure of him having to try to earn the deal during the season and having to talk about it with the media on a regular basis. If the contract wasn’t completed, Kaepernick’s future would be a topic after every 49ers loss in 2014. That takes away a major potential distraction.
  • Kaepernick’s situation was watched closely by other agents. Dating back to last season, I had multiple agents tell me they thought this situation could get ugly and that Kaepernick and his agents would have difficulty with this deal. As it turns out, the deal got done early.
  • This deal may look like a bargain in six months. The 49ers added receiver Stevie Johnson in a trade and running back Carlos Hyde in the draft. The 49ers have huge weapons on offense. Kaepernick is poised for a monster season. Second-year tight end Vance McDonald mentioned Tuesday that Kaepernick has been a bigger leader this offseason than he was last season. The 49ers bought a rising stock.
  • Authorities in Miami want to soon finish an investigation in which Kaepernick is part of a "suspicious incident.” Kaepernick has strongly denied wrongdoing and the 49ers have supported him. Cleary, they don’t expect anything to come of it.
  • It was a classy move by Kaepernick to thank former 49ers starting quarterback Alex Smith for mentoring him early in his career.
  • It doesn’t sound like Kaepernick is ready to go on a big spending spree now that he is officially rich. “I think the three most expensive things I own are my TV, my bed and my couch. I’m going to keep it that way for a while,” he said.
  • Kaepernick is well respected by his teammates. That showed Wednesday. Several 49ers tweeted their congratulations to their quarterback for the big deal.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Patrick Willis may have a slightly different look in the first half of the upcoming season.

During Tuesday's organized team activity, Willis was playing the "Mike" inside linebacker spot usually occupied by NaVorro Bowman in the 49ers' 3-4 defense. Bowman is likely out until midway through the season as he recovers from a torn ACL. Michael Wilhoite, the leading candidate to take Bowman's spot in the staring lineup, took most of the first-team repetitions Tuesday in the "Jack" inside linebacker spot Willis played last year.

Willis said the change may stick for the season. It is just a subtle change and he is comfortable there because he has played in the spot before. Willis said it is still strange being on the field without his fellow inside-linebacker star Bowman.

In other 49ers' notes:
  • Star tight end Vernon Davis and standout guard Alex Boone continued to stay away from the voluntary session as they have all offseason. They are both unhappy with their contract. Neither player will be considered a holdout until they miss the June 17-19 mandatory minicamp. Second-year tight end Vance McDonald is starting at tight end with Davis gone. McDonald appreciates the extra reps, but admitted this about Davis: "I miss the dude." Joe Looney is working in Boone's right guard spot.
  • The 49ers cut guard Al Netter to make room for special teamer Blake Costanzo on the 90-man roster.
  • Veteran defensive end Justin Smith and running back Frank Gore were onlookers during the meat of the workout. Like Gore, cornerback Chris Culliver participated in early warm-ups and the did not participate in team drills.
  • The 49ers named Dr. Fergus Connolly director of elite performance. Connolly will work intimately with football operations to develop innovative sports and performance science practices geared towards player welfare and performance optimization. He spent the last three years as a performance consultant to teams in the NFL, NBA, English Premier League and professional rugby.
  • Because several receivers were out for various reasons, reserve quarterback Josh Johnson played receiver in some drills. And he didn't look too bad. But don't expect him to change positions. It's just an emergency deal.
  • Among the banged up receivers are Steve Johnson (hamstring) and Quinton Patton (foot). Both injures are considered minor at this point. Like he did last week, Brandon Lloyd had a strong day. Chuck Jacobs, who spent last season in the practice squad, was very active Tuesday.
  • The quarterback whisperer, 49ers' head coach Jim Harbaugh, spent some one-on-one time with undrafted rookie quarterback Kory Faulkner early in Tuesday's practice.
Weekend mail call:

Kyle from Austin wants to know if the signing of receiver Brandon Lloyd will affect the 49ers' draft plan:

Bill Williamson: I don't think it has any bearing on the draft. Lloydwill be 33 and signed a one-year deal. So, it doesn't change the need for a receiver. The truth is Anquan Boldin is also 33 and Michael Crabtree is entering the final year of his contract. So, the need to develop a young receiver is a need.

Dave from Weston, Idaho, wants to know if the 49ers will get second-year tight end Vance McDonald more involved in the passing game this season:

BW: That's the plan. McDonald was a much better blocker as a rookie than a receiver. It was a bit unexpected, but he was known as a better receiver coming out of Rice. For a lot of young skill-position players, the jump in the second season is major. The 49ers are hoping McDonald will have that type of experience. The 49ers will not need a major contribution from McDonald as a receiver this year. He is a player they like for the long term, so a jump in production would be nice to see.

Juan from Cerittos, California, wants to know if the 49ers could draft Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater if he falls to the second round.

BW: It's an interesting question. There has been a lot of speculation Bridgewater, once considered a possible No. 1 overall pick, could fall to the second round. The question, as far as the 49ers are concerned, would be how far would he'd fall. If he was available at No. 56, would the 49ers really consider taking him? It would come down how much they like him. Coach Jim Harbaugh loves quarterbacks and the 49ers will likely take one in the second round. If they think a lot of Bridgewater and he is sitting there at the end of the second round, perhaps they'd take him. But I'd be surprised if he falls that far.
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:


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

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.


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

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

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.
The San Francisco 49ers are clearly looking for more help for Colin Kaepernick in the passing game.

They were linked to several receivers during the first week of free agency, including Julian Edelman, Hakeem Nicks and Emmanuel Sanders. None of the pursuits materialized and if the 49ers do add a receiver in free agency, it likely would be for depth unless trade talks for DeSean Jackson develop. The 49ers are expected to draft a speed receiver during the early rounds.

However, there are two in-house players the 49ers hope take the next step and are able to help the passing game: LaMichael James and Vance McDonald, each taken in the second round of the past two drafts.

The 49ers are particularly interested to see McDonald, who had an up-and-down rookie season, take the next step. He finished the season with eight catches and had just one in the final seven games, but he blocked well (he was known more as a receiver at Rice) as a rookie.

If McDonald can improve, it would take pressure off starter Vernon Davis and would give the team another field stretcher.

James hasn’t made much of an impact on offense in his first two NFL seasons. The 49ers didn’t run many screen plays last season, but James has the speed to be efficient on such plays. Last season, coach Jim Harbaugh, while answering a question on the subject, said perhaps the team would look into it.

As the team looks to open up the offense and have more explosive plays, perhaps McDonald and James will play a role.

49ers rankings: 21-25

February, 12, 2014
Feb 12
We are taking a look at the top 60 players in the San Francisco 49ers’ program and will rank them from 1-60. We are going to take a look in a 12-part series, moving upward. The ranking considerations are based on 2013 production, future projections, age, and contract status:

21. Cornerback Tarell Brown: He is a solid cornerback who has helped this team. He is a free agent who is expected to test the market, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the 49ers brought him back.

22. Punter Andy Lee: He is one of the best, most reliable punters in NFL history. A vital part of the 49ers’ defensive attack.

23. Kicker Phil Dawson: He had a brilliant first year with the 49ers. He saved many games. He is a free agent. The 49ers want him back and I expect him to return.

24. Tight end Vance McDonald: The rookie made strides as the season went on. He finished the season a fine blocker. He needs to work on his receiving game, but I expect him to be a big part of the offense moving forward.

25. Defensive lineman Tank Carradine: This is all projection. The second-round pick didn’t play because he was recovering from a torn ACL. But I expect him to get a chance to be in the rotation immediately.
Monday, we looked at the San Francisco 49ers' breakouts players in 2013. Today, let's look, in alphabetical order, at some of the candidates to take the next step in 2014:

Daniel Kilgore: Kilgore is a candidate to start if the 49ers don't re-sign 35-year-old free-agent center Jonathan Goodwin. Kilgore has been in the program for a few years and has played in some packages. He may soon get his chance to be a full-timer.

Vance McDonald: The 2013 second-round pick improved as the season went on, especially as a blocker. He was known as a pass-catcher in college, but he struggled in that area as a rookie. Still, the 49ers have high hopes for him.

Quinton Patton: This 2013 fourth-round pick played a lot in December and in the playoffs after he returned from a broken foot. Patton has skills, explosion and confidence. We could see big production in Year 2.

Michael Wilhoite: Wilhoite will likely start at the beginning of the season at inside linebacker if NaVorro Bowman has to miss time because of his torn ACL. Wilhoite has played well as an injury replacement for fellow inside linebacker Patrick Willis in the past. I'd expect him to do the same if needed.
With the San Francisco 49ers' season over, let’s take a look at the impact made by the rookie class:

First round: The 49ers traded up to take safety Eric Reid at No. 18 and they have not been disappointed. He made the Pro Bowl after a strong season in which he showed the game is not too big for him. Reid was very polished and he seems like he will be a big part of the team's future for many years.

Second round: The 49ers feel very good about tight end Vance McDonald's future. He improved as the season went on, especially as a blocker, but he must improve as a receiver, too.

Third round: Auburn linebacker Corey Lemonier played more earlier in the season when Aldon Smith was away from the team, but he did play on special teams for much of the season. He has potential and provides the 49ers with good depth.

Fourth round: Receiver Quinton Patton returned from a Week 4 broken foot in December and showed a real burst. He has explosion and plays with a lot of confidence. He looks like he may be a find.

Fifth round: Defensive tackles Quinton Dial didn’t play much, but the team likes him and he has a chance to be a rotational player soon.

Sixth round: The 49ers like linebacker Nick Moody's his special-teams potential.

Undrafted free agents

Long snapper: Kevin McDermott's battle with longtime snapper Brian Jennings was a story during the preseason. McDermott won the job partly on price tag, and the move paid off. McDermott did a great job all season and had chemistry with kicker Phil Dawson and punter Andy Lee. He looks like he will be a 49er for many years.

Cornerback: Darryl Morris has developed into a key piece for a vastly improved coverage unit. The team likes his potential on defense, as well.

Note: This class can get a lot better. Second-round pick Tank Carradine, a defensive lineman , and fourth-round pick, running back Marcus Lattimore, missed last year with torn ACLs. Both were considered first-round picks had they been healthy. Both are expected to be healthy in 2014, and have a lot of potential.

Conclusion: This looks to be a strong class after a mostly wasted 2012 draft. This class is deep with long-term potential, especially if McDonald takes the next step and Carradine and Lattimore can stay healthy.
In an Insider piece, Mel Kiper re-graded the 2013 draft.

The San Francisco 49ers fared well in Kiper’s re-evaluation. Immediately after the draft, Kiper assigned a 'B' to the 49ers. Now that the season is over, Kiper stuck with his original grade.

Here are some of Kiper’s thoughts:
It's tough to add impact to one of the deepest rosters in the league, but the Niners did, and we could see some dividends going forward. (Eric) Reid was a success story -- he stepped in at free safety and acquitted himself well. Elsewhere, (Corey) Lemonier and (Vance) McDonald had moments, and could develop into starters. I thought (Quinton) Patton had the potential to play a bigger role ...

I think Kiper’s assessment is fair. Reid is a stud, but the key, in the long-run, will be the development of the other players Kiper mentioned. The wild cards are the injured players -- running back Marcus Lattimore and defensive lineman Tank Carradine. They are both expected to have roles in 2014.
Carlos Rogers is hopeful to finally play in a playoff game this month.

The cornerback told reporters he hopes to practice this week and barring a setback, he expects to play at Seattle in the NFC Championship Game Sunday. Rogers missed the games at Green Bay and at Carolina with a hamstring injury he suffered at Arizona in Week 17. Rogers hasn't practiced since.

Perrish Cox took Rogers' role in his absence.

Meanwhile, fullback Will Tukuafu told reporters he is day-to-day. He missed most of the Carolina game with a knee injury. He will likely be a game-time decision. Tukuafu shared time with Anthony Dixon. If he can't play, rookie tight end Vance McDonald will likely share time with Dixon as he did against Carolina.

Meanwhile, the 49ers signed receivers David Reed and DeMarco Sampson and defensive tackle Christian Tupou to future contracts.