Rounding Up the Latest San Francisco 49ers Offseason Buzz

Grant Cohn@@grantcohnFeatured ColumnistJune 16, 2015

Rounding Up the Latest San Francisco 49ers Offseason Buzz

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    Second-year cornerback Keith Reaser. Remember this face.
    Second-year cornerback Keith Reaser. Remember this face.Uncredited/Associated Press

    Before I round up the latest offseason buzz surrounding the San Francisco 49ers, allow me to create some buzz for second-year cornerback Keith Reaser.

    From what I saw during the six practices the 49ers held in front of the media, Reaser was the Niners’ best cornerback.

    Keep in mind the starting cornerbacks mostly didn’t participate. Shareece Wright and Jimmie Ward missed every practice, and Tramaine Brock missed all but one. They were working through injuries.

    Reaser was the best of the rest—clearly better than second-year cornerback Dontae Johnson and veteran corner Chris Cook. I never saw a receiver beat Reaser. But I saw Reaser intercept two passes and break up two more.

    If he continues to play like that during training camp and preseason, he might become one of the Niners’ two starting corners next season.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself. Reaser has plenty of time to create his own buzz this offseason. Let’s focus on what’s already buzzing.

Shopping Colin Kaepernick?

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The 49ers could make major changes to their roster if they miss the playoffs again next season, according to John Clayton of ESPN.

    Clayton wrote:

    An 8-8 season is unlikely to force a QB change unless there are viable replacement alternatives.

    But the 49ers might still be tempted to trade (27-year-old quarterback Colin) Kaepernick to a quarterback-starved franchise for two or three high draft choices, if they found the right deal. They could then look to find a way to come away with a top quarterback prospect in the draft, while retooling other parts of the roster.

    This would make sense. Kaepernick makes $19 million per year—a losing team doesn’t need to pay a quarterback that much money. Kaepernick should play for a contender.

    If the Niners aren’t contenders with Kaepernick in 2015, they might consider trading him. The Philadelphia Eagles and the Buffalo Bills seem like logical trade partners.

    Kaepernick fits Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly’s spread offense, and the Eagles desperately need a quarterback. So do the Bills. Their starting quarterback is currently Matt Cassel.

    Kaepernick probably would pick up the Bills offense pretty quick, too. He spent the first four seasons of his career under Buffalo’s current offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

Streamlining the Offense

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    The 49ers led the NFL in delay-of-game penalties each of the past two seasons.

    One of the major emphases of the new coaching staff this offseason has been to eliminate those unforced, self-inflicted mistakes.

    “We are on a mission, from the head coach down, to get out of the huddle and get on the line of scrimmage with the time we need,” said quarterbacks coach Steve Logan last Thursday. “Now, we may get up there and snap it quick. We may get up there and take our time and assess the defense. But it’s important to get up there with time on the clock.”

    Future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning almost always gives himself at least 25 seconds to assess the defense at the line of scrimmage. He may not use all 25 seconds, but he has those seconds if he wants them.

    Sometimes Manning spends 10, 15, 20 seconds staring at the defense pre-snap just because he can. Kaepernick never had that luxury under the previous coaching staff because they took so long to call the plays and radio them to Kaepernick.

    Sometimes it seemed Kaepernick had to predetermine in the huddle who he’d throw to on that particular play. Those days are over.

Vernon Davis Running Fast

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Vernon Davis was unstoppable during training camp in 2013. No one on the 49ers could cover him. He carried over that performance to the regular season and had one of the best years of his career.

    In 2014, Davis was invisible during training camp. He almost never got the ball during team drills. He carried over that performance to the regular season and had one of the worst years of his career. He seemed slow and uninterested.

    If Davis is in shape and ready to dominate, you can tell early in the offseason. If Davis is out of shape and unmotivated, you can tell early in the offseason. So far this offseason, he seems as fast and as difficult to stop as he was in 2013.

    None of the Niners linebackers or safeties can cover him man to man. They’re too slow. Davis runs by them at will. Almost every time Kaepernick throws deep to Davis during team drills, the result is a touchdown.

    Davis seems poised to have a major bounce-back season.

DeAndrew White Turning Heads

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    A dark horse to make the 49ers’ 53-man roster this year is undrafted free-agent rookie wide receiver DeAndrew White.

    During team drills last Thursday, he caught five passes—more than any other receiver that afternoon. He also made back-to-back touchdown catches during a red-zone drill.

    White is by far the best receiver on the second-team offense. He’s fast, he can jump for passes over his head and he can tap his feet inbounds on passes thrown toward the sideline. And he has good hands, too. I haven’t seen him drop a pass yet.

    White has been so good, he’s starting to work with the first-team offense during team drills. Once during a third-down drill last Thursday afternoon, he ran a crossing route and caught a short pass from Colin Kaepernick to convert a 3rd-and-5.

NaVorro Bowman Making Progress

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    NaVorro Bowman seems tentative in coverage when he has to change directions. He’s still wearing a brace during team drills to protect his surgically repaired knee.

    But he’s starting to show the explosiveness that made him arguably the NFL's best defensive player in 2013.

    On the seventh play of 11-on-11 team drills last Thursday, NaVorro Bowman burst through the A-gap as soon as the center snapped the ball and tagged Kaepernick for a sack. There was nothing Kaepernick could do to avoid Bowman.

    Bowman was one of the NFL's best blitzing inside linebackers before he tore his ACL and MCL. He seems to have regained that part of his Hall of Fame skill set.

    All quotations and practice observations obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

    Follow @grantcohn

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