49ers Mailbag: Brooks' replacement already on team


49ers Mailbag: Brooks' replacement already on team

Programming note: 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco is headed to Indianapolis for this week's NFL scouting combine -- stay logged on all week log as Matt files his reports from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy!

EN ROUTE TO INDIANAPOLISOn Thursday, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh are scheduled to speak to the assembled media in Indianapolis at the NFL scouting combine.Baalke and Harbaugh, each of whom takes a lot of pride in being forthright with the media, will undoubtedly lay out the organization's offseason plan.Will they make a spirited run to sign Pittsburgh receiver Mike Wallace to an offer sheet if the Steelers, as expected, place a first-round tender on the restricted free agent?Baalke will definitely answer that question -- though he might have to be careful to avoid any potential tampering charges. So he'll probably speak in code, perhaps referring to Wallace as "Ecallaw" or something clever like that.Until Baalke and Harbaugh give us a peek behind the curtain, we'll go to the 49ers Mailbag to answer some of the more burning questions. . . Do you think the Niners will draft an outside linebacker with their first pick this year and waive goodbye to Ahmad Brooks? (John Drummond)
The 49ers have the No. 30 overall pick in the draft. At this point they might be able to narrow their first pick to any position other than a kicker, punter or long-snapper.RELATED: Ahmad Brooks 2011 game logs
The 49ers are not going to pay Brooks big money. The reason is because they already have his replacement at every-down outside linebacker on the roster.Perhaps you've heard of him. He's a guy who goes by the name Aldon Smith.In Smith's second NFL season, the 49ers plan for him to be an every-down player. Smith will work this offseason to get ready to play outside linebacker on base downs. Then, he'll move to defensive end to rush the passer in nickel situations.The 49ers believe Parys Haralson can continue in the same role that he filled last season as an outside linebacker on first and second downs to set the edge in the run game.Haralson, who has been an every-down player in the past, could be an every-down player again in 2012. But he'll have to win that job. The 49ers will sign a pass-rush specialist in free agency and draft someone who would fill a role similar to what Aldon Smith played last season as a rookie.What's the situation with Anthony Dixon? Will they bring him back or add another back? (John E. Commons)
Both.Dixon will be back for training camp to compete for a roster spot, but the competition will be much more stiff this season. The 49ers can be expected to draft a running back who is capable of being more of an every-down presence. Look for the team to focus on a player in the 220-pound range who is a one-cut, north-south runner.RELATED: Anthony Dixon 2011 game logs
The 49ers tried to light a fire under Dixon early last season when the team brought in three veteran running backs for a workout in October. Jim Harbaugh loves to create competition, and Dixon will have to bring his "A" game to remain on the roster next season.Are the Niners more apt to fill their need at wideout through the draft or free agency? Is there talent in the draft they deem worthy of a 1st round pick? (Axel Selapen)
The 49ers will draft a wide receiver. It won't necessarily be in the first round, but they will draft a wide receiver.But, first, the 49ers will sign a couple wide receivers after free agency begins on March 13. The 49ers need to add a wide receiver (or two) who can take some of the heat off Michael Crabtree, who led the team in receptions and receiving yards last season.RELATED: Michael Crabtree 2011 game logs
The market will dictate what the 49ers are able to do in free agency. Last year, they signed Braylon Edwards to a low-risk deal. Edwards got injured early in the season and never produced. He became disengaged and he was released.Remember what the 49ers did last season at cornerback? That could be the template the 49ers use to find a receiver, too.The 49ers drafted a cornerback (Chris Culliver), and they also kicked the tires on some of the top free agents, such as Nnamdi Asomugha and Johnathan Joseph.Once the prices for those players exceeded what they had budgeted for the position, the 49ers moved on. Veteran Carlos Rogers fell through the cracks, and the 49ers landed him on a one-year contract.The 49ers will undoubtedly be interested in receivers Vincent Jackson and the aforementioned Mike Wallace. Chief negotiator Paraag Marathe and Baalke have determined the price at which the 49ers can pay those players while not throwing the salary structure of the entire team out of whack.RELATED: Maiocco -- 49ers' free-agent options at wide receiver
If the prices get too high, the 49ers will move on to the next player on their list.And who might be a second-tier receiver on their list? One player to keep an eye on his Pierre Garcon.Garcon isn't particularly big (6-foot, 210 pounds), but he's relatively young (turns 26 in August), and he somehow had his best season in 2011 in spite of the Indianapolis Colts' mess at quarterback. Garcon caught 70 passes for 947 yards, averaging 13.5 yards a catch, while grabbing six touchdowns.RELATED: Pierre Garcon 2011 game logs
And, remember, Joshua Morgan remains very much in the 49ers' plans as he returns from a season-ending broken leg -- just above the ankle. He has been working out regularly at the 49ers' practice facility.

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals


Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?


49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.