49ers

49ers Mailbag: Is roster better than a year ago?

49ers Mailbag: Is roster better than a year ago?

It is 10 days before the NFL Draft, and 49ers general John Lynch remains “open for business” when it comes to discussions to trade the No. 2 overall pick.

A trade down appears to be the 49ers’ best move, especially in a draft with no obvious No. 2 overall choice. But in order for the 49ers to trade down, there must be another team that falls in love with a prospect and becomes eager to trade up.

Let’s go to the 49ers Mailbag to field some of the most-pressing questions as the 49ers open the second week of their offseason program:

Do you think the 49ers are already better overall than this time last year? (Taylor Savinon)
The 49ers’ roster is slightly improved in some areas, but weaker in other areas. Overall, the team is probably better, but not enough to catapult the 49ers into playoff contention.

The most-noticeable difference is Brian Hoyer takes over at quarterback for Colin Kaepernick. Hoyer is a better fit for Kyle Shanahan’s system, while Kaepernick would probably be more productive in Chip Kelly’s system.

The biggest improvement is likely going to Shanahan’s proven NFL scheme from Kelly’s offense, which is better suited for the college ranks.

Wide receivers Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin replace Torrey Smith and Quinton Patton. That’s an upgrade. The addition of fullback Kyle Juszczyk gives the 49ers a lot more flexibility in both the run game and passing attack.

The offensive line should benefit from the addition of Pro Bowl center Jeremy Zuttah, which allows that unit the flexibility to move some pieces around to get the best-possible starting five.

Defensively, the team’s front seven no longer includes Michael Wilhoite, Nick Bellore, Gerald Hodges and Glenn Dorsey. The team added Malcolm Smith, Dekoda Watson and Earl Mitchell. More help is needed there.

Projected starting cornerback Tramaine Brock was released after his arrest following an alleged domestic incident. Antoine Bethea was released, and the 49ers will give Jimmie Ward a look at free safety before deciding whether his best fit is there or cornerback.

Cornerback Will Redmond has a chance to win a job this season after missing his entire season with the ACL injury that lowered his draft stock to the third round, where then-GM Trent Baalke scooped him up.

What positions, in order of need/weak positions on the depth chart, do you think the 49ers should target in the 2017 NFL draft? (Zach Benjamin)
The 49ers will draft a quarterback at some point, but that’s not to say that they should select someone at that position with the No. 2 overall pick. (If the 49ers did take a quarterback at No. 2, Mitchell Trubisky would be the most-likely target.)

The team’s top need is a pass-rusher for new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s “Leo” position. Aaron Lynch is penciled in at that position. But the new 49ers regime is not relying on Lynch. There are enough questions about Lynch that the 49ers are looking to get somebody else into that spot. Then, if Lynch shows the commitment and focus that could turn him into a standout player, it would be “found money” for the 49ers.

Right now, the 49ers’ starting linebackers are NaVorro Bowman, Malcolm Smith and Ahmad Brooks. Depth is needed there. And three of the four starters in the secondary are Jimmie Ward, Rashard Robinson and Eric Reid, with corners Redmond, Dontae Johnson and safety Jaquiski Tartt among those who would compete for the other starting job.

The 49ers' corps of wide receivers remains a spot that could use a young, dynamic presence.

GM John Lynch made a comment about the traditional draft trade chart and how Paraag had made their own version of it. . . . I'm definitely interested to know more. (Greg Whitlow)
Paraag Marathe was working in management consulting at Bain and Co., when then-49ers executives Bill Walsh and Terry Donahue hired the firm to evaluate the widely used NFL draft-trade chart before the 2001 draft.

“It was a chart that everyone used and nobody knew where it came from, exactly, and nobody knew what it was based off,” Marathe said this offseason on "The 49ers Insider Podcast.”

“So Coach Walsh and Terry hired Bain to work on looking at that chart. It was a three-month project. I came here and did that.”

After the completion of that project, the 49ers hired Marathe to join the organization on a full-time basis.

Marathe is the 49ers’ chief strategy officer and executive vice president of football operations. It is safe to assume there have been adjustments made to the chart due to the slotting system under which draft picks have been paid since the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The old chart, which many teams are still believed to use, can be found here.

Eric Reid presents Colin Kaepernick Ambassador of Conscience Award

Eric Reid presents Colin Kaepernick Ambassador of Conscience Award

AMSTERDAM — Amnesty International gave former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick its Ambassador of Conscience Award on Saturday for his kneeling protest of racial injustice that launched a sports movement and might have cost him his job.

Onetime San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid presented Kaepernick with the award during a ceremony in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

In his acceptance speech, the award-winner described police killings of African Americans and Latinos in the United States as lawful lynchings.

"Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation — the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex," Kaepernick said.

Kaepernick first took a knee during the pre-game playing of the American national anthem when he was with the 49ers in 2016 to protest police brutality.

"How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates, 'freedom and justice for all,' that is so unjust to so many of the people living there?" he said at Saturday's award ceremony.

Other players joined his protest in the 2016 season, drawing the ire of President Donald Trump, who called for team owners to fire such players.

In response to the player demonstrations, the NFL agreed to commit $90 million over the next seven years to social justice causes in a plan.

Kaepernick wasn't signed for the 2017 season following his release in San Francisco.

Reid, a safety who is now a free agent, continued Kaepernick's protests by kneeling during the anthem last season. Reid has said he will take a different approach in 2018.

Kaepernick paid tribute to his friend for his own role in the protest movement.

"Eric introducing me for this prestigious award brings me great joy," Kaepernick said. "But I am also pained by the fact that his taking a knee, and demonstrating courage to protect the rights of black and brown people in America, has also led to his ostracization from the NFL when he is widely recognized as one of the best competitors in the game and in the prime of his career."

Amnesty hands its award each year to a person or organization, "dedicated to fighting injustice and using their talents to inspire others."

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty called Kaepernick "an athlete who is now widely recognized for his activism because of his refusal to ignore or accept racial discrimination."

Previous recipients of the award include anti-Apartheid campaigner and South African President Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who campaigned for girls' right to education even after surviving being shot by Taliban militants.

"In truth, this is an award that I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force," Kaepernick said.

Five NFL Draft options if 49ers make first-round trade

Five NFL Draft options if 49ers make first-round trade

The 49ers have their starting and backup quarterbacks on the roster for at least the next three seasons. That luxury opens up their draft options to concentrate on other areas.

Quarterbacks Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen could be selected within the first eight picks of the draft. If those four quarterbacks are chosen, it means the 49ers will get – at worst – the fifth-ranked player on their draft board.

And if there is still one of those quarterbacks available when the 49ers go on the clock at No. 9 overall, it invites the possibility of a trade-back option.

The 49ers could trade back and still get one of the five players – Tremaine Edmunds, Roquan Smith, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport – highlighted as first-round draft options.

But if the 49ers move further back or acquire an additional pick in the first round, here are some of their options...

OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
The 49ers must start thinking about a time when two new offensive tackles are going to be required. McGlinchey (6-8, 312) began his career at right tackle before shifting to the left side. That versatility could come in handy for the 49ers, as right tackle Trent Brown enters the final year of his contract and might not be back in 2019. Moreover, six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley is 34 years old, and it is uncertain how much longer he can play at a high level. McGlinchey has the athleticism that Shanahan covets. He began high school as a tight end and also played on the basketball team.

OT Kolton Miller, UCLA
Miller is an exceptional athlete who should get better and better. He ran the third-fastest time among offensive linemen at the combine and placed near the top of all the other agility drills. Miller started off his college career on the right side before shifting over to protect the blind side of quarterback Josh Rosen. With any offensive lineman the 49ers select, the club could consider having him begin his career at guard before moving him to tackle whenever the need arises.

CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
Jackson was among the 49ers’ final pre-draft visits to Santa Clara. The team needs another cornerback to join presumptive starters Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. At 6-0 3/8, Jackson is not as tall as initially advertised, but his style of play and long arms would fit well within the 49ers’ scheme. He has great instincts, as shown by his nation-leading eight interceptions and 26 pass breakups.

WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
The consensus best wide receiver in the draft could provide Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan with another option in the passing game to join starters Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin. Garçon is the possession receiver and Goodwin is the deep threat. Ridley is versatile and polished, which makes him a nice chess piece to utilize early in his career for specific matchups.

WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
It should be noted that the 49ers like their receiver corps, a group that also includes Trent Taylor, Aldrick Robinson and Kendrick Bourne. But Sutton (6-3, 219) would give the 49ers more size to exploit matchups. He gets high marks off the field. There is no rush to get him out there before he is ready. The 49ers can take their time to develop him, as they would have him under their control contractually for five seasons. He has spent time learning from Anquan Boldin.