Eric Reid

49ers Mailbag: Next targets for contract extensions

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49ers Mailbag: Next targets for contract extensions

In the past two weeks, the 49ers have signed Cassius Marsh, Jimmy Garoppolo and Daniel Kilgore to multi-year contract extensions.

We open this edition of 49ers Mailbag with a question about where the 49ers will go from here. The 49ers own sole negotiating rights with their own free agents until March 12, when the early negotiating period begins.

The list of 49ers scheduled for unrestricted free agents includes:
S Eric Reid
RB Carlos Hyde
DL Tank Carradine
DL Aaron Lynch
CB Dontae Johnson
LB Brock Coyle
OG Brandon Fusco
TE Logan Paulsen
DL Leger Douzable
OL Garry Gilliam

Here are some of the questions from readers on Facebook:

Who is the next FA to get re-signed? (Max Moorman)
The most-likely candidates for new contracts before the start of free agency could be inside linebacker Brock Coyle and defensive lineman Tank Carradine.

Coyle underwent shoulder surgery right after the season and faced a five-to-six month rehabilitation. In light of the uncertainty surrounding Reuben Foster, the only thing that would likely prevent the 49ers from pursuing a new contract with Coyle is if their medical staff is not optimistic about a full recovery.

Carradine proved to be a good fit for the 49ers’ 4-3 scheme on run downs. He believes he has more to offer as an inside pass rusher, but the 49ers did not have him on the field for any third-down play all season.

Other notable pending free agents, such as running back Carlos Hyde and safety Eric Reid, are expected to be available to other teams for the early negotiating period from March 12-14.

Under the right circumstances, the 49ers would like to bring back Hyde and Reid. But it seems unlikely the 49ers will blow them away with contract offers to prevent them from hitting the open market. The chances of them returning to the 49ers appears to be in direct correlation to how other teams value them as free agents.

There are a lot of fans so excited that they are talking about the Super Bowl next year. What are the expectations internally for next year? (Philip Malan)
The expectations internally are for the 49ers to continue to build their roster, strengthening positions of need, and put themselves in a position to compete for a spot in the playoffs.

But there are so many variables – namely, injuries – that it’s difficult to have a black-and-white goal and at the end of the season declare a season a success or a failure.

Coach Kyle Shanahan did his best last week to tamp down any expectations for the 2018 season.

“Obviously, we're more excited going into this year because we know our team and we've added guys and we've kind of built this the way that we've wanted to,” Shanahan said. “But by no means are we done or even close to done. We have to continue to get better every single day, and it'll start with free agency. That comes first, and then it'll be the draft and then it'll be working in phase one, two and three, all the way into OTAs, and then it'll start with training camp. There is no quick answer to anybody.

“This league is so balanced, so competitive, it is so hard to win in this league that you never go into a year saying, ‘All right, we're good, we're (going to be in the) playoffs.’ You have to earn everything you get, and if you think anything differently, you will be humbled and embarrassed very quickly in this league. That's why I'm ready to go to work.”

Is there is some sort of timeline for the Niners to decide on what to do with Reuben Foster? (Jeremy Denton)
In the past, when the 49ers have released a player due to off-field issues, they have done it immediately. The optics are that the 49ers did not find enough to convince them to immediately cut ties with Reuben Foster. He was arrested Sunday in Los Gatos on charges of domestic violence, threats and possession of an assault weapon.

The 49ers have only two decisions: Release Foster or keep him.

The collective bargaining agreement prevents the 49ers – or any other team – from doling out any punishment for actions that fall under the NFL’s policies on personal conduct or substances of abuse.

The normal course of events will have Fosber back in court for an arraignment on April 12, if the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office decides there is enough evidence to pursue charges. The 49ers’ offseason program is set to begin April 16.

In all likelihood, everyone should know a lot more about Foster's situation -- and his status with the 49ers -- at that time.

How 49ers' four safeties fit into future plans

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How 49ers' four safeties fit into future plans

The 49ers are now starting players who began the season as backups at nearly half of the positions on both sides of the ball.

The team’s reliance on depth, in some cases, has highlighted which positions need to be strengthened in the offseason. But at the two safety spots, it has reinforced to the 49ers how much they like the four players who have seen significant action in those roles.

Here is a look at those four players and how they fit into the club’s plans for next season:

ADRIAN COLBERT
There might be no bigger surprise on the team than Colbert, whom the 49ers first tried out at cornerback and expected him to be little more than a contributor on special teams during the regular season.

A seventh-round draft pick, Colbert was overshadowed by undrafted rookie Lorenzo Jerome during training camp. Jerome became expendable early in the season due to his lack of size and speed, as well as his inability to carve out a niche on special teams.

Colbert, the team’s second-leading tackler on special teams, has started three recent games at free safety and has been exceptional with 18 tackles and four passes broken up. His big hit, causing a fourth-quarter fumble of DeAndre Hopkins, helped the 49ers clinch last week’s victory over the Houston Texans.

Colbert has size (6-foot-2, 205 pounds), range, aggression and toughness. After undergoing surgery to repair a broken thumb, Colbert insisted on returning to action a week earlier than the 49ers anticipated.

There is also a belief his game will go another level in his second season, as he plays faster with a greater knowledge and comfort level of his responsibilities in the deep middle of the 49ers’ standard cover-3 defense.

The 49ers have Colbert under contract at low levels through the 2020 season. They are allowed to negotiate a extension with him after the 2019 season.

JAQUISKI TARTT
Tartt started the first two games at free safety before moving to strong safety, where he started the next five games before he was forced back to free safety. The 49ers feel comfortable about Tartt’s ability to play either position. He has good coverage skills but his size and physicality probably make him a better fit closer to the line of scrimmage.

Tartt’s season ended in Week 9 with a broken forearm. He was the team’s leading tackler for most of the season with an interception and three passes defended.

The 49ers are allowed to negotiate a multi-year contract with Tartt after this season, and he would appear to be high on their list of priorities to lock up to a contract extension before entering the final year of his deal.

JIMMIE WARD
The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option on Jimmie Ward last offseason, which means he already has a deal in place for 2018. Because he played cornerback last season – and not safety – his one-year price tag for 2018 jumped nearly $3 million from $5.597 million to $8.526 million. Is Ward worth that much money? That's something the 49ers will have to determine. They could get out of the contract before the new league year begins on March 14.

First off, Ward has not proven he can remain healthy. He has been plagued by a variety of injuries. In his first four NFL seasons, he played all 16 games once. He missed a minimum of five games in every other season, including this year when appeared in just seven games before sustaining a fractured forearm.

His scheduled salary for next season is big. But the 49ers have plenty of cap space, and they are required to eventually spend that money. If the dollars allocated to Ward prevents them from acquiring a targeted offensive lineman, wide receiver or pass rusher, then it becomes a problem. But because the 49ers are currently $54.8 million under the cap, which rolls over to next season, that is probably not going to be an issue.

The 49ers could also try to sign Ward to a multiyear contract with an average dollar amount far south of $8.5 million. But the one-year deal for next season allows the 49ers some flexibility because it would be just a one-year commitment and would not have any financial implications beyond the 2018 season.

Another element Ward gives the 49ers is his versatility. He can play cornerback, too. But his best position is free safety. While the 49ers believe he can be a starter-caliber cornerback, they are confident his can be an All-Pro free safety.

With the three players who are under contract for next season – Colbert, Tartt and Ward – there is little doubt each would play and play a lot in 2018. Injuries seem inevitable. But if each remains healthy and available, the presence of three high-caliber safeties would give the defensive coaching staff flexibility to design game plans to best take advantage of matchups.

ERIC REID
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Reid because he is playing this season under the fifth-year option and is scheduled for unrestricted free agency in March. The 49ers like Reid a lot, but they also really like the three aforementioned guys who are already under contract.

When everyone was healthy near the middle of the season, the 49ers settled on Tartt and Ward as the starters and moved Reid to linebacker. Injuries necessitated the move of Reid back to strong safety, where he has found his niche playing close to the line of scrimmage.

The market could determine whether the 49ers bring back Reid. It is uncertain how much – if any – his role in the protest of racial inequality will impact in how other teams assess Reid's free-agent value.

In other words, it is difficult to imagine the 49ers will get into a bidding war for Reid because of the other players they already have at safety. But if the market is soft for Reid, the 49ers would likely welcome him back at the right price.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

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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.