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PFT Preseason Power Rankings No. 1: San Francisco 49ers

Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Willis AP

The San Francisco 49ers earn the top spot in our preseason power rankings after a trip to the Super Bowl last season.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick took over the helm midseason and was able to get the 49ers past their NFC Championship game appearance of 2011 and back to the game’s biggest stage. While the 49ers ultimately fell a few plays short of a title, they enter the 2013 season as a championship contender once again.

The 49ers will need to stem the tide of injuries to key players early in the season and find adequate replacements for a few departed veterans. They’ll also have to navigate perhaps the toughest division in the NFL but the outlook for the 49ers is still rosy as training camp gets underway.


The 49ers offensive line has been among the best in the league for several seasons. The starting group of Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone and Anthony Davis started all 16 games last season. Staley and Iupati both were selected to the Pro Bowl last season with Boone as an alternate. Adam Snyder is a veteran that should be able to fill-in adequately at guard should either Iupati or Boone go down with an injury as well.

San Francisco linebackers are also among the strongest units in the league. As with the offensive line, the linebacking corps for the 49ers was remarkably durable as the four starters each started all 16 games last season. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman form a formidable tandem inside and Aldon Smith has quickly become one of the best pass rushers in the league in his first two seasons. Parys Haralson is returning after a torn triceps forced him to miss all of last season and third-round pick Corey Lemonier adds even more depth to an already strong group.


With Michael Crabtree out for the foreseeable future with a torn Achilles and Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams on PUP while working back from ACL tears, the 49ers have serious questions at the wide receiver position. Anquan Boldin is a solid veteran option but he’s adjusting to his new team. A.J. Jenkins saw just one target in a wasted rookie season. The 49ers need Jenkins, Ricardo Lockette or fourth-round pick Quinton Patton to become contributors to bridge the gap until Crabtree and Manningham get healthy.

Vernon Davis is one of the best tight ends in the game. However, the loss of Delanie Walker to Tennessee will be a blow – especially if Davis is needed to help at receiver with the mounting injuries outside. Garrett Celek appeared in 13 games last season but isn’t much of a receiving option. Second-round pick Vance McDonald could fill the role of the departed Walker and be the complementary tight end the 49ers need.


The trade to acquire Anquan Boldin from the Ravens this offseason has become a pivotal move for the 49ers following the Achilles injury to Crabtree. Manningham and Williams are still working back from knee injuries and Boldin will be the only option with any real experience and proven production until they can return. San Francisco added cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey and safety Craig Dahl to add depth on the defensive side of the ball. Kicker Phil Dawson looks to solidify a position that was wildly inconsistent with David Akers last season.

Quarterback Alex Smith left to take over the starting job for the Kansas City Chiefs. The 49ers signed Colt McCoy from Cleveland to serve as the backup for Kaepernick. Tight end Delanie Walker left in free agency to sign with the Tennessee Titans. Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and safety Dashon Goldson signed a lucrative contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Camp battles.

Cornerback should be one of the more intriguing battles of camp for the 49ers. Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers starters all 16 games for the 49ers last year but should see competition from Asomugha for playing time. Chris Culliver also was a decent contributor for San Francisco at times last season and will be in the mix as well.

With the departure of Sopoaga to the Eagles, the 49ers will need to find a replacement along the defensive line. Dorsey is expected to compete with Ian Williams for the starting nose tackle job though Dorsey doesn’t have the traditional size attributed to a 3-4 nose tackle. Lamar Divens may have an outside shot at competing for the job as well if Dorsey or Williams don’t grab hold of the spot.


The San Francisco 49ers have one of the strongest rosters in the league and could be playing their best at the end of the season after players return from injuries. They’ll miss Crabtree early in the year and the receiving corps is very shaky with Manningham and Williams also working back from injuries. All three are likely to be back at some point during the season and the 49ers should be able to bridge the gap with enough victories to be in the playoff picture until they return. The running game will have to take on additional weight in the interim but Frank Gore and company should continue to shoulder the load well with Kaepernick bringing an added dimension as well.

The 49ers have been the benefactors of remarkable durability over the past few seasons, especially defensively and along the offensive line. Is the Crabtree injury a precursor of issues to come?  The 49ers should expect a serious fight for the NFC West from the rival Seattle Seahawks as well and an improved St. Louis Rams team could continue to cause problems for the 49ers this season. At full strength the 49ers are as talented as any team in the league and should be in the hunt to make the Super Bowl once again.

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Packers add 19 undrafted rookies

COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 06:  Josh Hawkins #28 of the East Carolina Pirates reacts after intecepting a pass thrown by Dylan Thompson #17 of the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on September 6, 2014 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packers have three undrafted cornerbacks on their current roster, including starter Sam Shields, and they added three more on Friday with the announcement of 19 undrafted rookie signings.

Makinton Dorleant of Northern Iowa, Josh Hawkins of East Carolina and Randall Jette of UMass are the three who got contracts from the team after the draft concluded. If Hawkins should make the club, the familiarity with overcoming long odds he gained while moving from walk-on to starter in college will probably be part of the reason.

The Packers also signed Lousiana Tech safety Kentrell Brice, Mississippi State linebacker Beniquez Brown, Arizona linebacker Reggie Gilbert, Idaho State defensive tackle Tyler Kuder, BYU linebacker Manoa Pikula and Texas-San Antonio defensive tackle Brian Price on the defensive side of the ball.

On offense, Green Bay signed Illinois wide receiver Geronimo Allison, Wesley quarterback Joe Callahan, Dartmouth center Jacob Flores, N.C. State tight end David Grinnage, Nevada running back Don Jackson, Carroll tackle Josh James, Rice wide receiver Dennis Parks, Utah State wide receiver Devonte Robinson and Miami wide receiver Herb Waters. Minnesota punter Peter Mortell filled out the group.

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Vikings sign all draft picks, except Laquon Treadwell

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As the Vikings launch into their rookie minicamp, all rookie draft picks have signed contracts, except one. The one who hasn’t been signed was the first one they picked.

Receiver Laquon Treadwell does not yet have a contract; the teams other seven selections do.

Under contract are second-round cornerback Mackensie Alexander, fourth-round guard Willie Beavers, fifth-round linebacker Kentrell Brothers, sixth-round tight end David Morgan, sixth-round receiver Moritz Boehringer, seventh-round defensive end Stephen Weatherly, and seventh-round safety Jayron Kearse.

As noted by Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Treadwell has signed an injury-protection letter that allows him to participate in minicamp and offseason workouts without a contract.

Whatever the hangup, Treadwell should refuse to practice until the deal is done — as should every draft pick who is expected to show up and work without a deal in place.

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Ravens announce signings of six picks, make several other moves

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 23: Ryan Graham #17 of the Northern Illinois Huskies is sacked by Kamalei Correa #8 of the Boise State Broncos during the second half of the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on December 23, 2015 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Boise State Broncos defeated the Northern Illinois Huskies 55-7 (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens announced the signings of six draft picks on Friday, including the previously reported agreement with fifth-round linebacker Matt Judon.

The others who have agreed to deals are second-round outside linebacker Kamalei Correa, fourth-round offensive tackle Alex Lewis, fourth-round wide receiver Chris Moore, fourth-round defensive tackle Willie Henry and fourth-round running back Kenneth Dixon. All the players got four-year deals with the Ravens, who drafted 11 players overall over the seven rounds of the draft.

The Ravens have also signed the same number of undrafted free agents. Those players are Baylor guard Jarell Broxton, Florida Atlantic defensive tackle Trevon Coley, Harvard offensive lineman Anthony Fabino, Middle Tennessee State linebacker Cavellis Luckett, Georgia State punter/kicker Will Lutz, Colorado tackle Stephane Nembot, Stony Brook linebacker Victor Ochi, Michigan linebacker Mario Ojemuda, Portland State linebacker Patrick Onwuasaor, Samford defensive tackle Michael Pierce and Duke center Matt Skura.

With all of the new faces hitting the roster, the Ravens had to make some room. They did so by waiving running back Terrence McGee and wide receiver Chuck Jacobs.

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Manziel lawyer reels in other Manziel lawyer’s “kiss and make up” remark


On Thursday, one of the lawyers representing unemployed quarterback Johnny Manziel said that the preferred solution to his pending charge of assaulting an ex-girlfriend would be for both sides to “kiss and make up.” Many regarded that comment as unfortunate — including the other lawyer representing Manziel.

Said Manziel lawyer Jim Darnell (pictured with Manziel), regarding the comment from Manziel lawyer Robert Hinton: “Mr. Hinton certainly misspoke and his comment does not reflect either the feelings of Mr. Manziel or his legal team.  I assure you we all recognize the seriousness of the situation.”

The lawyers may recognize the seriousness of the situation, but Manziel’s recent deleted tweet regarding his non-shirtless mugshot suggests otherwise.

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Mario Edwards says he’s been cleared to return from neck injury

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 20:  Defensive end Mario Jr. Edwards #97 of the Oakland Raiders stretches before a game against the Green Bay Packers on December 20, 2015 at Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Packers won 30-20. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards was placed on injured reserve late in his rookie year because of a neck injury that created some uncertainty about his future in the NFL.

Edwards’ injury was described by coach Jack Del Rio as “significant” at the time he was shut down for the season and Del Rio said a few months ago that the team was still hoping for a good outcome while waiting to find out if Edwards would be cleared to return to action. It appears they got that outcome.

Edwards posted an update to his Instagram account Friday announcing that he “got the final clearance I needed to return back to the game I love.”

Edwards played 14 games as a rookie and made 10 straight starts before he hit injured reserve. He had 42 tackles, two sacks and three forced fumbles up front for the Raiders and should resume a prominent role up front in Oakland as long as he remains healthy.

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Giants sign two-thirds of their draft class at once

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Eli Apple of Ohio State holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #10 overall by the New York Giants during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

With rookie deals becoming rote, more and more teams are announcing their signings in bulk.

The Giants are the latest, announcing they’ve gotten four of their six picks under contract already.

Included in the group are first-round cornerback Eli Apple, second-round wide receiver Sterling Shepard, fifth-round running back Paul Perkins and sixth-round tight end Jerell Adams.

Although, it kind of makes you wonder what the holdup is with Darian Thompson and B.J. Goodson, since the third-and fourth-rounders haven’t signed theirs yet. Maybe their plane was late or something.

Either way, it allows Apple and Shepard in particular the chance to hit the ground running, since both are going to have to play big roles immediately. While Apple will be another part to their defensive makeover, Shepard gives them the kind of game-breaking receiver they need, in case Victor Cruz isn’t able to come back to his previous form.

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Mel Blount’s son among 12 Dolphins UDFA signees

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 13: A Miami Dolphins helmet sits on the grass before the start of their game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 13, 2015 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Dolphins on Friday announced the signings of 12 undrafted rookie free agents.

The 12 are linebackers Akil Blount, Tyler Gray and James Burgess; kicker Marshall Koehn; offensive lineman Ruben Carter; long snapper Ryan DiSalvo; wide receivers Rashawn Scott and Brandon Shippen; cornerback Lafayette Pitts; tight end Gabe Hughes; safety A.J. Hendy and defensive end Farrington Huguenin.

Blount is the son of Steelers Hall of Famer Mel Blount. Akil Blount was a three-year starter at Florida A&M.

The 6-foot-1 Scott played college football at Miami (Fla.) and had a big senior season, recording 52 receptions for 695 yards and five touchdowns. He was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in February but probably went undrafted due to injury and character concerns stemming from his up-and-down college career.

Gray reportedly chose the Dolphins over contract offers from four other teams.

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Lions sign 12 undrafted free agents

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01: Running back Ezekiel Elliott #15 of the Ohio State Buckeyes (right) celebrates his second quarter touchdown with offensive lineman Chase Farris #57 (left) during the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Getty Images

The names have been floating around for the last couple of days, but the Lions formally announced their list of 12 undrafted free agent signings on Friday.

Among the names on the list is Ohio State offensive lineman Chase Farris, who got $20,000 in guaranteed money to sign with the team. Farris is listed as a guard by the Lions after playing tackle in Columbus and former NFL center LeCharles Bentley told that he thinks the Lions may have gotten “one of the Jason Peters-like surprises of this draft class” with the signing.

The Lions also signed tight end Cole Wick from the University of The Incarnate Word. He joins Eagles signee Myke Tavarres as the first two players to make it to the NFL from the school, which started its football program in 2009.

The rest of the group is made up of Louisiana Tech cornerback Adairius Barnes, Baylor wide receiver Jay Lee, Southern Illinois tight end Adam Fuehne, Maryland guard Andrew Zeller, Fresno State cornerback Charles Washington, North Carolina wide receiver Quinshad Davis, Northwestern defensive end Deonte Gibson, Georgia defensive end James DeLoach, Eastern Oregon wide receiver Jace Billingsly and Ohio University cornerback Ian Wells.

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Buccaneers sign first-rounder Vernon Hargreaves

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 29: Defensive back Vernon Hargreaves of Florida listens to a coach during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 29, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Vernon Hargreaves signed his first contract before his first practice with the Buccaneers.

The team announced the 11th overall pick had signed his rookie deal, making him their third draft choice to get a deal done, and continuing the trend of early signings. Like all first-rounders, it is a four-year deal with an option for a fourth.

They signed fourth-rounder Ryan Smith and fifth-rounder Caleb Benenoch yesterday, leaving just a pair of second-rounders and a pair of sixths.

Hargreaves can now get to work improving a Bucs secondary which can certainly use it. They also added Brent Grimes in free agency, giving them a pair of high-profile additions, which should help solidify things.

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Dolphins sign Laremy Tunsil


Eight days after sliding down the draft board to No. 13, tackle Laremy Tunsil is getting paid. But not nearly as much as he could have gotten paid.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that the Dolphins have signed tackle Laremy Tunsil to a contract.

It will be, as all first-round contracts now are, a four-year deal with a team-held option for a fifth season. Last year’s 13th overall pick, Saints tackle Andrus Peat, received a four-year, $11.4 million deal.

That’s $7.2 million less than the Jets paid No. 6 overall pick defensive lineman Leonard Williams last year. And that’s reportedly where Tunsil would have been picked this year but for the gas-mask-and-bong video that showed up on Tunsil’s Twitter account not long before the start of the draft.

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Bengals announce 13 undrafted free agents

bengals-helmets_3hdlyco6gnpj1m9h8zp3ml1nk-1 Getty Images

As the Bengals gather for their annual rookie minicamp, they’ve announced the arrival of  13 undrafted free agents.

One of them is a member of the family (even though no NFL team is truly a family, from the perspective of the players); former Wisconsin receiver Darius Hillary is the son of former Bengals receiver Ira Hillary, who played for the Bengals from 1987 through 1989.

The other dozen new Bengals are Mississippi State defensive end Ryan Brown, Texas A&M running back Tra Carson, Houston guard/center Alex Cooper, Virginia defensive tackle David Dean, Wisconsin receiver Alex Ericsson, Western Kentucky receiver Antwane Grant, Michigan State linebacker Darien Harris, Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson, Eastern Kentucky running back Dy’Shawn Mobley, UCLA guard/center Alex Redmond, Toledo receiver Alonzo Russell, and Montana State tackle John Widenaar.

The rookie minicamp runs from Friday through Sunday.

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Danny Amendola reworks contract with Patriots

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 24: Danny Amendola #80 of the New England Patriots attempts to make a catch against  Kayvon Webster #36 of the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter in the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola has altered his contract with the Patriots for the second straight season.

Amendola was set to make $5 million this season and was on the books for a $6 million salary in 2017, numbers that led to some discussion that he could find himself a cap casualty. As he did last year,  Amendola has traded in some of that money.

Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports reports that Amendola signed a new deal that will pay him $7.35 million over the next two seasons with $750,000 more available through roster bonuses and catch incentives.

Making less money should help Amendola’s job security, but the Patriots have added several receivers in free agency and the draft that could change the makeup of the receiving corps by the time September rolls around. Chris Hogan, Nate Washington and fourth-round pick Malcolm Mitchell join holdovers Keshawn Martin and Aaron Dobson as other options to go with Julian Edelman in New England.

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Will Sam Bradford retire?


The Eagles and quarterback Sam Bradford remain at an impasse.

The team, which committed $22 million in fully-guaranteed money to Bradford under a two-year deal, envisions Bradford to be the Week One starter. Bradford, who accepted the two-year deal without a gun or other weapon pressed to his head but who now believes he’ll be getting the hook sooner than later, wants to be traded. The other 31 teams are bemused, at best, by his availability.

So what happens with Bradford? Via, Reuben Frank of CSN Philly thinks Bradford will retire.

It could end up being the only way out of the corner into which Bradford has painted himself. But it would be expensive; he’d immediately forfeit the $11 million signing bonus he received earlier this year from the Eagles if he retires.

Still, there’s a potential Carson-Palmer-in-2011 appeal to a retirement decision. Like the former Bengals quarterback did five years ago, Bradford could call it quits (losing the signing bonus but avoiding the fines and forfeitures that would arise from holding out while under contract) and wait for another quarterback to tear an ACL or pop an Achilles or (like former Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell did two days before the trade deadline in 2011) break a collarbone.

Bradford would simply sit and wait until a trade opportunity arises, whether it happens later this year or next year. If the opportunity never arises, he’d simply never play again.

With no one currently clamoring to make Bradford “the guy” and with Bradford unwilling to be “a guy” in Philadelphia, this is the only approach that makes sense — costly as it may be.

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49ers offensive players like “quicker,” “very detailed” Chip Kelly scheme

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 20:  Chip Kelly speaks to the media during a press conference where he announced as the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on January 20, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Chip Kelly’s three-year run as the head coach of the Eagles came crashing to an end late last season, it wasn’t easy to find players raving about playing for him.

Things are a bit different for his charges with the 49ers at this point in his tenure with the team, at least the ones on the offensive side of the ball. The 49ers have been learning Kelly’s up-tempo system and getting used to the hand signals that help keep the pace up, something wide receiver Torrey Smith calls “very organized and very detailed.” Tight end Garrett Celek likes the simplicity of the offense compared to what the 49ers were running in the past.

“In the past we had a lot of delay-of-games because either we’re not getting the play in time from upstairs or it’s just taking the quarterback too long to read the whole play out,” Celek said, via “Where now, it’s a lot quicker. We have hand signals, so you can’t have 15 words through hand signals, stuff like that. It’s got to be boom, boom, boom. So when you got less verbiage, it’s easier to remember. It’s kind of genius.”

There was plenty of positivity about Kelly’s system when he first got to Philadelphia as well, but the warm feelings wore off as time went on. Personnel issues had something to do with that, however, so we’ll see if moving back to just coaching makes for more sustained good feelings in Santa Clara.

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Eagles sign two more picks

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 16:  Center Isaac Seumalo #56 of the Oregon State Beavers smiles after lossing his helmet on a play against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the third quarter of their college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) Getty Images

Quarterback Carson Wentz is the only unsigned member of the Eagles’ 2016 draft class.

The Eagles announced Friday that third-round guard Isaac Seumalo and fifth-round tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai have signed their rookie deals. The team’s other five draft picks signed their four-year contracts with the team earlier this week.

While the Eagles list Seumalo as a guard, he got time all over the offensive line while making 37 starts at Oregon State over the course of his college career. If he’s going to see a lot of time as a rookie, he’ll probably have to beat out Allen Barbre and others at left guard as the rest of the starters on the line are more entrenched at this point. If not, his ability to play multiple positions should help him earn a reserve role.

Vaitai, who seems destined for a nickname, played both tackles during his time at TCU and will be vying for a job backing up Jason Peters and Lane Johnson as a rookie.

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