49ers Mailbag: Five key questions heading into 49ers-Rams matchup
Goff vs his childhood team
The 49ers travel to Los Angeles for the first time since 1994 to play a football game this weekend. The 49ers and Rams will meet at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the first time since 1979.
This matchup features two quarterbacks, Colin Kaepernick and Jared Goff, who have started a combined 14 games without a victory this season. The Rams have already gone through a coaching change, firing Jeff Fisher two weeks ago. With a 1-13 record, the 49ers are expected to make plenty of changes, too.
Instead of previewing the game in this space, we answer some questions that were posted on our Facebook page (@MaioccoCSN).
If Baalke is fired, who is out there that would even consider the 49ers rebuild? (Alex Tran)
Do not expect Mike Shanahan to be a factor. (I’m not sure why there’s such fascination about a coach, or general manager candidate, who has one playoff victory over the past 18 years.) Tom Gamble is someone who would certainly be considered.
Among the candidates from outside the organization who could be considered to replace Trent Baalke are Will McClay (Dallas), Eliot Wolf (Green Bay), Trent Kirchner (Seattle) and Chris Ballard (Kansas City). With the 49ers’ cap space and draft status, this job would not be viewed as unattractive to candidates looking to move up to general manager.
Why hasn't Christian Ponder played yet? (Willem Kranendonk)
Last week was the first game that Ponder suited up for a game. Ponder replaced Blaine Gabbert as the 49ers’ No. 2 quarterback. The reason is he has not played up to this point is Chip Kelly and the coaching staff believe Ponder does not give the the team the best chance to win.
Ponder is likely to remain as the No. 2 on Saturday against the Rams. If Colin Kaepernick struggles in the final two games of the season, Ponder could get his chance to attempt his first pass since the 2014 season.
Who's the worst team in the NFL in 2016? Us or the Browns? (Brian Anderson)
It’s close, but the Browns were the clear choice when I pieced together this week’s NFL power rankings.
After all, the Browns have yet to win a game this season. The 49ers won the season opener against the Rams before beginning their franchise-worst losing streak. Also, the Browns have been outscored by 188 points this season. The 49ers have been outscored by 170. So the 49ers have that going for them.
How directly involved is Jed in the football operations of the 49ers? (Keith Echols)
CEO Jed York meets every Tuesday with coach Chip Kelly to get updated on the state of the team. While York is kept abreast on all things surrounding the football side, he has not been known to make any football decisions.
York hires the general manager, then leaves the football decisions to that person. He made the decision to promote Trent Baalke to general manager in 2011. Then, it became Baalke’s job to put together the 90- and 53-man rosters. Baalke is also the person who hired Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly – with some input from York, most likely.
How high do you think head coach continuity is for importance on the 49ers? (Matt Purcell)
The last thing the Yorks want to do is fire Kelly, who is scheduled to earn $6 million annually for the next three years. Firing Kelly would also mean a fourth different head coach in four seasons. So, yes, it is important to maintain some continuity with the coaching staff.
But, more important, the 49ers need to decide whether Kelly is the right fit for the long term. Can his football philosophy enable an NFL team to sustain success? Does Kelly have the right answers to move the team forward? How can the offense complement the defense? What’s his plan at quarterback?
If the answers to those questions lack long-term logic, then getting the team on a different path should become the top priority.