49ers Mailbag: Must-win game vs Cardinals?


49ers Mailbag: Must-win game vs Cardinals?

The 49ers are still looking for their first win of the Kyle Shanahan era as they head to Arizona to face the Cardinals on Sunday.

We solicited some questions via Facebook for this edition of the 49ers Mailbag. Here’s the result. . .

Is this a "must win" for purposes of morale, energy, confidence? (Max Ferrero)
The 49ers are not in a position to compete for the NFC West title, even though the division appears to be heading southward.

The nucleus of the 49ers’ roster is developing and not ready to do the heavy lifting required for the team reach the playoffs. And some of the veterans are not playing as well as expected.

Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are well aware they do not have the horses to produce a winning record this season. But the plans in place offensively and defensively should enable this team to improve throughout the season – unlike the past few seasons.

Therefore, I don’t see morale and energy being issues. Every player knows the coach and GM are going to be around for a while. The players who do not bring it on a weekly basis will not be back next season. So there is constant motivation for the players to produce and not give up on the season at any point.

There is no illusions about this team. The organization is building for the future, so each player must prove that he is part of the solution and not part of the problem.

If Hyde can't play, how do you anticipate the 49ers will split carries? Is Breida ready to be a featured back? (Josh Gale)
First off, I think Carlos Hyde will play on Sunday. He went through limited practice all week and is listed as questionable for the game. I’d be surprised if he does not play against the Cardinals.

But in the event that the 49ers do not have Hyde’s services – either for this game or down the road – I don’t believe the 49ers would rely on just one back. Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert would share the load. And if Hyde – for whatever reason – were unavailable for an extended period, the team would promote Jeremy McNichols from the practice squad or re-sign veteran Tim Hightower.

How big of a leash does Hoyer have before Beathard is given a chance? (Omar Rodriguez)
Brian Hoyer is the best quarterback on the team. This is no knock on C.J. Beathard, but I can’t think of anything he does better than Hoyer at this stage of their careers.

That stated, Hoyer appeared to be in danger of letting this thing get away from him last week when he threw a horrendous interception on his first attempt against the L.A. Rams after coming off the worst back-to-back starts of his NFL career.

Hoyer has been productive in this offense. He knows the system well. He gives the 49ers the best chance of winning.

Beathard might eventually get there, but it’s way too much – and too early -- to ask of him to come to the rescue of a struggling team.

Terrell Owens selects former 49ers coach as his Hall of Fame presenter


Terrell Owens selects former 49ers coach as his Hall of Fame presenter

Terrell Owens has selected former 49ers special teams and wide receivers coach George Stewart as his presenter into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“He knew what to get out of me,” Owens told the Hall of Fame.

“He knows who I am. To know who Terrell Owens is, you have to spend some time with him. . . George Stewart became a father figure to me.”

Owens was elected into the Hall of Fame in February. He will enter the Hall of Fame in a class that also includes wide receiver Randy Moss, linebackers Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Robert Brazile, safety Brian Dawkins, guard Jerry Kramer, and contributor Bobby Beathard.

Owens played special teams under Stewart’s direction as a rookie after coming to the 49ers in 1996.

From 2000 to ’02, Stewart worked as the 49ers’ wide receivers coach. Owens was selected to three consecutive All-Pro teams and Pro Bowls during that time. Owens ranks No. 2 all time behind Jerry Rice with 15,934 receiving yards. He is third all-time with 153 receiving touchdowns.

Stewart is set to enter his 30th NFL season as an assistant coach and his second as special-teams coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Class of 2018 will be enshrined inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday, Aug. 4.

Sherman makes his concern over Reid's free-agency status loud and clear


Sherman makes his concern over Reid's free-agency status loud and clear

Safety Eric Reid, who has 69 career starts and one Pro Bowl appearance in his five-year NFL career, remains available on the open market more than a week after the opening of free agency.

Reid has received no reported interest from NFL teams in what has been an unusually soft market for free-agent safeties. But, with Reid, there is another variable that could be playing a factor.

Reid was at the forefront of the social activism that has been a major storyline in the NFL since the beginning of the 2016 season. Reid and former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the national anthem in protest of racial inequality in America.

Reid has remained outspoken and has taken a knee as a way to “make people uncomfortable about the issues.” Reid has been clear his protest has nothing to do with the flag or the anthem.

“The anthem is just a vehicle to get us to have those conversations,” Reid told NBC Sports Bay Area last season. “It’s the platform we have. It’s the only time we have to get the eyeballs on us to do that. If we just did locker-room talks afterward, nobody would even know. Strategically, this is the only way we thought we could do it.”

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman, who signed a three-year contract with the 49ers on March 10, had been the Seattle Seahawks’ player representative. He is a vice president of the NFL Players Association. Reid was the 49ers’ union representative.

Sherman said he is keeping a close eye on Reid’s situation.

“We are concerned, because he played at a high level for just about every year that he’s played in this league,” Sherman said on Tuesday. “He’s made enough plays to be signed with a team and to make his money. He deserves his money. Safeties make a certain amount. I would think he’s top-five, top-10 safeties in this league, so he deserves to be paid accordingly.

“So there is concern there, because you would think a player of his caliber and his quality would be picked up by now. I think great teams are still looking and people are still looking for players. I’m praying that he gets picked up. But if he doesn’t, then I think there will be a conversation with the league office and the union on potential league action.”

Kaepernick never got so much as an opportunity to compete for an NFL roster spot during training camp last season. Could Reid, 26, be heading for the same fate?

Reid addressed the issue last week on social media:

“The notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap, not because of my skill set but because I’ve protested systemic oppression, is ludicrous. If you think is, then your mindset is part of the problem too.”

The 49ers have not placed a priority on re-signing Reid. The club already has potential starting safeties Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert under contract for the upcoming season.

Reid, whom the 49ers traded up to select with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, has 10 career interceptions. He appeared to thrive last season in run support as a safety who played closer to the line of scrimmage.