Jimmy Garoppolo is a little richer, the 49ers’ 2018 draft lineup is a little clearer and some of last year’s trades are bound to be scrutinized a little more. Though San Francisco long has been out of the playoff picture, there were plenty of implications and connections over the weekend. To wit:
The MVP of the Jacksonville Jaguars' divisional win over Pittsburgh Steelers was rookie running back Leonard Fournette, who at this time last year was being connected to the 49ers with the No. 2 pick in the draft.
Those rumors persisted until draft day. Were they a red herring meant to throw other teams off the scent? Or did San Francisco have legitimate interest in the LSU runner, whom they hosted on an official visit to Santa Clara a couple of weeks before the draft?
It's worth revisiting not only due to Fournette's successful rookie season, which included 109 rushing yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, but because the 49ers could be looking for running backs in the upcoming draft, especially if they don't re-sign free agent Carlos Hyde.
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The popular belief, bolstered when the 49ers bypassed Fournette, is that Kyle Shanahan likely would avoid a running back in the first round because the system he runs has a long history of turning less heralded tailbacks into quality runners.
On the other hand, the 49ers' running game needs a considerable tune-up this offseason. San Francisco finished 12th in total offense this year but only 21st in rushing offense. Shanahan will seek better balance in 2018 and there are plenty of quality runners in the upcoming draft beginning with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, whom most believe will be a Top 10 pick like Fournette was last year.
The Jaguars took him with the fourth overall pick, one spot after the 49ers took Solomon Thomas.
Fournette finished second in rookie rushing yards to Kansas City's Kareem Hunt. Third on that list was Alvin Kamara, whom the New Orleans Saints took early in the third round following a draft-day trade with the 49ers.
In return, the 49ers received a seventh-round pick, which they turned into safety Adrian Colbert, and New Orleans' 2018 second-round pick, which turns out to be the 59th pick in the draft.
Kamara had an excellent season, rushing for 728 yards and eight touchdowns while adding 826 receiving yards and five touchdown catches. He won seven rookie-of-the-week awards in 2017 and seemingly would have been an ideal fit in a 49ers offense in which its tailbacks sometimes had trouble in the passing game.
Were the 49ers fleeced in the deal? Colbert had a very good rookie season, too, and we'll have to see what San Francisco does with New Orleans' draft pick this year.
The leading receiver in the Jaguars-Steelers game was Pittsburgh wideout Antonio Brown, who had seven catches for 132 yards. Second in that category was former 49ers tight end Vance McDonald, who caught 10 passes for 112 yards for the Steelers.
It was the first time McDonald hit the 100-yard mark since … well, since ever. His highest total previously had been 84 yards in a 49ers' loss last year to New Orleans.
San Francisco traded the under-achieving McDonald, a second-round pick in 2013, to Pittsburgh for a fourth-round pick in the upcoming draft. It should be noted that McDonald caught 10 of 16 passes that went his way Sunday. He had two drops. A third pass that went his way was deflected in the air, intercepted and quickly converted into a Jaguars touchdown.
Three 49ers will have strong rooting interests during the conference championships. Per former agent Joel Corry, defensive tackle Sheldon Day, Garoppolo and defensive end Cassius Marsh all earned $51,000 over the weekend because their former teams, the Jaguars (Day) and New England Patriots, advanced to the conference championship and they spent at least eight games with those teams in 2017.
At least one current 49er will grow even richer on Sunday. A player whose team advances to the Super Bowl will earn at least $56,000. If his team wins the big game, that bonus grows to $112,000.
That means if the Patriots win the Super Bowl, Garoppolo would earn $163,000 total. Of course, that may turn out to be mere pocket change for the 49ers quarterback considering he could sign a contract this offseason worth around $25 million per year.
Garoppolo and Marsh are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents; Day is signed through 2019.
49ers’ 2018 draft picks
1st: Ninth or 10th; to be decided by a coin flip with Raiders.
2nd: 59th. (from New Orleans: 2016 draft-day trade).
3rd: 70th. (from Chicago; 2016 draft-day trade)
3rd: 73rd or 74th; own pick
4th: (from Pittsburgh; Vance McDonald trade)
5th: (from New York Jets; Rashard Robinson trade)
6th: own pick
7th: own pick
7th: (from Chiefs; Kenneth Acker trade)