The San Francisco 49ers started free agency Wednesday by getting some needed help for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo [url=http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/mike-white-jersey]Mike White Jersey[/url] , agreeing to a four-year contract with versatile running back Jerick McKinnon and a five-year deal with interior offensive lineman Weston Richburg just after the start of the new league year.
The two deals fill holes on the roster with McKinnon expected to replace departing starter Carlos Hyde and Richburg able to step in immediately as the starter either at center or guard.
The team also agreed to a three-year deal to keep linebacker Brock Coyle, who started 10 games last season before undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.
General manager John Lynch said McKinnon and Richburg were both high on the team's priority list in free agency and he was glad to be able to lock both of them up as soon as the new league year started.
"We see Weston as one of the top young interior offensive linemen in the NFL," Lynch said. "His athleticism, intelligence and attitude are a perfect fit for our scheme. Jerick has proven to be an extremely versatile football player whose speed, elusiveness and tackle-breaking ability make him a very difficult matchup for defenses. We can't wait to get them on the field with their teammates and coaches later this spring."
McKinnon spent four years in Minnesota, mostly as a backup, after being drafted in the third round in 2014 out of Georgia Southern. He has rushed for 1,918 yards with an average of 4.0 yards per carry, has 142 catches for 984 yards, and has scored 12 touchdowns.
McKinnon had his most productive season last year, when he ran for a career-high 570 yards while setting personal bests with 51 catches for 421 yards.
McKinnon replaces Carlos Hyde [url=http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/paul-richardson-jersey]http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/paul-richardson-jersey[/url] , who is leaving as a free agent for Cleveland. McKinnon has more speed and is a better receiving threat than Hyde and should fit well into coach Kyle Shanahan's offense.
Richburg spent the past four seasons with the New York Giants but played only four games last year because of a concussion. He began his career as a left guard before moving to center in 2015. He played there the past three seasons and is considered one of the top pass-blocking players at the position and has the athleticism to thrive in Shanahan's zone-running scheme.
Coyle had 62 tackles last season in his first year with the 49ers.
"He's a selfless guy that does everything the right way," Shanahan said. "We've always known Brock to be a guy we can count on and it was great to see him play the way he did when given the opportunity."
The 49ers had previously re-signed starting center Daniel Kilgore to a three-year contract last month but Kilgore also has experience at guard and could be asked to move.
It's been a busy offseason already for San Francisco. The Niners signed Garoppolo to a five-year deal last month before he even hit free agency, signed cornerback Richard Sherman after he was cut by Seattle, re-signed defensive lineman Cassius Marsh and offensive lineman Garry Gilliam and gave an extension to receiver Marquise Goodwin.
These moves have addressed many of the team's most glaring needs although San Francisco still could be in the market for another cornerback, a pass rusher, help at linebacker and a big receiving target.
After losing their first nine games last year, the 49ers underwent a remarkable turnaround. They went 5-0 after Garoppolo took over as starting quarterback and finished the year with a 6-10 mark and plenty of optimism they hope to carry over into 2018.
— Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay took his team across the country in an effort to escape the typically mundane NFL training camp practice that’s all too commonplace in August.
He got exactly what he wanted Monday during a two-hour joint session with the Baltimore Ravens.
“It was a good first day,” McVay said. “Guys practiced smart, we were able to get a lot out of it.”
It was hot. It was humid. There was hard hitting.
And not a single scuffle.
“That was definitely the message,” McVay said. “We don’t need any of that, especially because some of the things that can happen injury-wise. We always talk about what the intent of practice is out here [url=http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/matthias-farley-jersey]Matthias Farley Jersey[/url] , and it’s to get better and go against another really good football team.”
The Rams and Ravens got all the benefits of competition, with less risk of injury because tackling was not allowed.
“I felt like the two teams cooperated very well,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Quite a bit of physicality and just a good, strong football practice.”
The teams will do it again Tuesday, then take a break on Wednesday before getting together for a preseason game on Thursday night.
A joint practice provides a welcome relief for players who are tired of banging helmets or throwing passes against their teammates during the dog days of summer.
“It’s tough really, what to make of it, but I think it is a good test,” Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. “You get used to going up against your defense, seeing what they do every day, so it’s good to see something else.”
McVay knew he was in for something different when he got his first glimpse of the Ravens recently expanded training facility.
“I love it. It’s really impressive,” he said. “You feel like you’re pulling up to a country club.”
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti poured plenty of money into the complex [url=http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/xavier-woods-jersey]Xavier Woods Jersey[/url] , and he was on hand Monday to watch the practice. So was Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who wore shorts but made the mistake of pairing that with a black shirt under a sizzling sun in 90 degree temperatures.
“It’s definitely sticky,” McVay said. “You feel the difference coming out here. We get spoiled in that California weather where there’s no humidity, but I think it’s great work for us. The fields are in great condition; today was a good day for us all.”
After both teams dressed, the Rams and Ravens warmed up on adjacent fields before pairing off — Rams offense vs. Ravens defense, Baltimore offense vs. Los Angeles defense.
Special teams got some work, too.
It was so comprehensive, that McVay may change the way he uses his personnel on Thursday night.
Asked if quarterback Jared Goff would see action, the coach replied, “There’s a good chance a handful of guys, if we feel like we get the work that we want [url=http://www.buffalobillsteamonline.com/jerry-hughes-jersey]Jerry Hughes Jersey[/url] , will sit out on Thursday. That’s a big part of being able to get good work in here and kind of limit the risk of injuries.”
Defensive end Aaron Donald remained a no-show at camp, and McVay said there was no progress on the holdout.
“I don’t think anything is going to change with that in the near future,” McVay said. “I’ve had a little bit of dialogue with Aaron, and we’re hopeful to get something done. But things remain the same.”
Ravens guard Marshal Yanda, however, practiced for the first time since last September, going through individual drills over the first section of practice. He missed the last 14 games of the 2017 season with a fractured ankle and sat out the early part of training camp following shoulder surgery.
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