49ers Mailbag: What's Crabtree's future?


49ers Mailbag: What's Crabtree's future?

If the 49ers had not gone to the playoffs, a lot of 49ers fans would be excited about the Alex Smith-Michael Crabtree connection for 2012.Now? Not so much.And that leads off the first of two 49ers Mailbags for the day . . .

Any chance of Crabtree getting traded for a pick or player? Seems to be only player who doesn't fit Harbaugh's team 1st mentality. (@Mike Spediacci)
The 49ers ended the season so short on wide receivers that on third downs in the NFC Championship Game they went with tight end Delanie Walker, playing for the first time after missing a month with a fractured jaw, instead of their No. 3 wide receiver, Brett Swain.The 49ers need a wide receiver or two. So there is no reason for them to get rid of their best receiver -- the player who led the league's No. 29-rated passing game with 72 catches for 874 yards. (Vernon Davis had 67 receptions for 792 yards.)
Coach Jim Harbaugh would definitely challenge you on your statement that Crabtree does not fit into his team-first mentality. Crabtree turned a lot of heads this season with his willingness and effectiveness as a blocker.Crabtree, on more than one occasion last season, said he was willing to do whatever it took to win. He said he doesn't look at his stats because he only cares about winning.When he failed to catch three passes that hit his hands in the playoff game against the Saints, he said "it haunted me."And after the NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants, in which he caught just one pass for 3 yards, Crabtree showed his frustration more than anybody on the team. He said he saw other teams throwing passes to receivers who weren't wide open, allowing them to make plays. He said he wanted some of those chances, too.
Crabtree is signed through 2014, and he figures to be an important piece of this offense at least through then.Do the Niners sign a game changing wide receiver in free agency or draft one early? (@Mike Swafford)
The free-agent signing period begins March 13 at 1 p.m. The draft is the last weekend in April.Because free agency comes first, the 49ers will look at that market first.The 49ers will sign at least a couple free-agent receivers. (Joshua Morgan, who's rehab is coming along nicely, and Ted Ginn are scheduled to be free agents.) First, they must wait to see which receivers are on the market after the period for franchise tags ends on March 5.
There are not a whole lot of examples of big-money wide receivers going to other teams and pushing them over the top, so you can figure that the 49ers will be fiscally wise in determining how to address the position.After all, with more than 30 million in cap room available for 2012, the 49ers still must deal with some of their own key free agents -- such as Alex Smith, Dashon Goldson, Carlos Rogers, Ahmad Brooks and Adam Snyder -- while also planning for the future.

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.