It’s one thing for a team to appreciate a top running-back prospect’s talent. It’s quite another to pull the trigger at No. 2 overall when there are equally impressive options at positions of greater need. As with most April reports, it’s worth noting that this is posturing and smokescreen season in the NFL.
Hyde has missed 12 of 32 games over the past two years. Along with the durability concerns, the new regime might have reservations about the fourth-year back’s fit in coach Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme.
Shanahan will get the most out of whoever is under center. The problem is, there’s uncertainty as to who that will be, given that, as Ian Rapoport reported in December, Colin Kaepernick is expected to opt out of his contract. The best option would be to acquire Kirk Cousins, who’s got the kind of competitiveness I love and who has worked with Shanahan in Washington. But I think there’s one half of 1 percent of a chance of that happening.
The next best option, believe it or not, is signing Jay Cutler, presuming he’s eventually released by Chicago. Cutler’s apparent inability to put it all together is as well-documented as it is befuddling. But he probably still has some life in him as an NFL starter. He should be familiar with Shanahan’s system, given that he started 37 games in Denver for Kyle’s father, Mike, who thought highly of Cutler. Cutler looks like the ideal quarterback in terms of traits and characteristics, at least in non-game situations. Maybe at 33, he’ll change. The success he had with Adam Gase as his offensive coordinator in Chicago in 2015 (posting a career-best 92.3 passer rating) suggests it’s possible to maximize his talents with the right coach. I wouldn’t trade for him, but if the Niners could sign him, he’d be an ideal stopgap.
The 32-year-old Hall logged 12 regular-season appearances for the Giants last season and held his own in the slot before seeing plenty of action in New York’s wild-card loss to Green Bay. He’s better known for the nine years of effective action he produced with the Bengals.
Byrd was a high-priced free-agent addition by New Orleans in 2014, but wound up an injury-plagued disappointment who finished last season as the league’s 47th-ranked safety, per Pro Football Focus. The 30-year-old backstop was cut by the Saints in February.
Lynch’s deal with the 49ers will be for six years — the same contract length the 49ers are planning to give Kyle Shanahan when they officially make him their head coach, sources informed of the situation told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
“Having already helped lead a team to a Super Bowl title as a player, John is equipped with tremendous insight into what it takes to create a culture that breeds sustained success,” 49ers CEO Jed York said in a statement Monday. “Having spent the last eight seasons as an analyst with FOX, he has honed his skills as a talented communicator while also developing valuable relationships around the league and a vast knowledge of the NFL that will be beneficial to our team. As we learned more and more about John, it became apparent that he was not only one of the best to ever play this game but also a Hall of Fame caliber man, one who people are compelled to follow.”
While San Francisco might not be the most appetizing destination at the moment, neither will Washington in a few weeks. Aside from the growing uncertainty within their organization, the Redskins are primed to lose some of their most important role players from 2016, including DeSean Jackson, Garcon and, potentially, Cousins. It would be enough of a struggle for the team with Cousins rebuilding the offense alongside Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and cheap jerseys and Jordan Reed, nevermind an offense without Cousins as well.
Washington is doing what it can at the moment. Signing Jay Gruden to a two-year extension at the scouting combine was an effort to calm the waters, but as of right now, it looks like the start of the free agent period will bring more hard times for Washington.
Smith struggled in two seasons in San Francisco, compiling 930 yards and seven touchdowns on 53 receptions in 28 games. In 2016, the 28-year-old missed four games and ended the season on injured reserve with a concussion. He caught just 20 passes for 267 yards and three scores.
“The 49ers would like to thank Torrey for representing this organization with tremendous class over the last two years,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement. “I have always had great respect for his skill as a player and as a wonderful example of how professional athletes can use their platform to make a difference in our community. We wish Torrey, and his family, all the best.”