49ers

49ers Mailbag: Early morning edition

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49ers Mailbag: Early morning edition

Programming note: Log on today at 1 p.m. when we live stream today's 49ers press conference featuring head coach Jim Harbaugh, TE Delanie Walker and safety Dashon Goldson, live from Santa Clara.

I'm up for a couple hours early this morning to watch some live Olympics basketball action. So I figured it is a perfect opportunity to do a little multi-tasking.So every 30 minutes or so before I go back to bed, I'll answer a question from the 49ers Mailbag . . . Q: I personally think @pcox16 is better then @RealTB25, do u see Cox moving up to the number 2 spot eventually? (@thirddarchie)
The best cornerback in training camp through seven practices has been Tarell Brown. Veteran Carlos Rogers has also performed well. Those two are the starters. And Chris Culliver appears to be solid as the third cornerback.So, now, we're talking about the fourth cornerback. Although Tramaine Brock is ahead of Cox on the current depth chart at cornerback, Cox is ahead of Brock at the nickel back position.Cox's versatility is his strength. He can play outside, inside and he can also return punts. Brock began last season as the third corner and he intercepted passes in the 49ers' first two games. But when Brock missed several weeks after hand surgery, Culliver took advantage of the opening to take over for the rest of the season.Rogers still has several seasons ahead of him as the starter. Brown is a solid player whose best seasons are ahead of him. Culliver figures to be a starter at some point, too.So, unless there are injuries, it's difficult to see Cox becoming a starter any time in the near future with the 49ers. UPDATED: 1:40 a.m.
Q: In your opinion, whos pulling away with the second string QB position? (@mattyb0y)
That's easy: Nobody.Colin Kaepernick entered camp as the No. 2 quarterback, and I believe he'll replace Smith at some point early in Friday's exhibition opener against the Minnesota Vikings.Up to this point, though, he is certainly not pulling away from reserves Josh Johnson or Scott Tolzien.During practices, Kaepernick has seemingly been reluctant to throw the ball. His accuracy has been inconsistent. And he has seemed much more comfortable running with the football.My feeling is that Kaepernick is one of those players who will be a lot more effective in games when he'll be able to make some big plays with his legs. He is still in position to win the backup job because neither Johnson nor Tolzien has taken control, either. UPDATED: 2:05 a.m.Q: Is TO's try out with the seahawks a sign of desperation on their part at wide receiver (@ sbpatt)
Over the weekend, the Seahawks released former 49ers player Antonio Bryant. Last week, the club signed former 49ers receiver Braylon Edwards.Their other notable receivers in camp are:Doug Baldwin
Golden Tate
Sidney Rice
Deon Butler
Kris Durham
Ben ObomanuThings certainly got a lot more interesting when the Seahawks confirmed they will bring in former 49ers receiver Terrell Owens, 38, for a workout.Like Randy Moss, he did not play last season. But, unlike Moss, who retired for a year, Owens was unable to play last season after tearing his ACL. But, unlike Moss, the last time Owens played, he was productive. He caught 72 passes for 983 yards and nine TDs with the Cincinnati Bengals.Seeing Owens face the 49ers twice a year in the NFC West would be a great storyline. However, the bigger concern for the Seahawks is finding a quarterback to emerge from a three-way competition that involves Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson.
UPDATED: 2:40 a.m.Q: What position are you most interested in watching in preseason games? (@chilifritos)
This is a good question to end on because I can touch on a few hot topics.
The one player I'm most curious to watch is LaMichael James. I'm very interested to see how his style translates to the NFL. I don't expect the 49ers to disclose any specialty packages for James -- that'll have to wait until the regular season. But I want to see how his quickness looks at this level.
James will be fighting for a regular role, along with every running back behind Frank Gore. Kendall Hunter will be on the team? But will he lose all his playing time to James? I think the 49ers have to find a way to get the ball into James' hands at least a half-dozen times a game.
James has also been getting a lot of work to hone his skills catching punts. Ted Ginn still has to be the team's primary return man, but James will have a chance to show if he can be a reliable option, too.Running back as a whole has good competition. Through seven practices, Brandon Jacobs looks to be in good shape for, not only a roster spot, but a significant backup role. Anthony Dixon has not gotten much action at fullback, which is not a surprise. That's not his style. He has been keeping his pad level down when he's running, and that's a good sign. But it'll be difficult for him to make this team after being a seldom-used No. 3 back last season.
Wide receiver is another position of interest.I believe Michael Crabtree is still the team's best receiver. He has yet to practice since the opening day due to a right leg injury. It remains to be seen whether Crabtree will be on the field Friday for the first time with the 49ers in the exhibition season.Veteran Randy Moss does not figure to see much action in the exhibition season. But the rest of the receiving corps should provide some interesting viewing.I expect the 49ers to keep six receivers -- Crabtree, Moss, Mario Manningham, Ginn, Kyle Williams and A.J. Jenkins -- on the 53-man roster.Nathan Palmer has been the most impressive undrafted rookie in camp -- and one of the more impressive rookies, period. It would not surprise me if the 49ers try to hide him during the exhibition games so they can bring him back to the practice squad. Chris Owusu is in a similar position. At a crowded receiver position, the undrafted rookies appear to be battling for spots on the eight-player practice squad.
OK, former Saint Mary's basketball player Patty Mills just hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lead the Aussie Boomers to an 82-80 victory over previously unbeaten Russia. And I'm going back to bed.The 49ers return to the practice field from 10:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday.If you have more questions, I'll answer them in the comments section below a little later.

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

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AP

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?

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USATSI

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.