Arik Armstead and Jimmie Ward are staying with the 49ers. DeForest Buckner and Emmanuel Sanders are leaving.
The first wave of NFL free agency has come and gone. The 49ers’ next significant additions likely will be coming in the draft.
As a result of the trade that sent Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts, the 49ers now own the Nos. 13 and 31 picks in the first round.
What happens next? Thanks to those on Twitter who submitted questions for this edition of 49ers Mailbag:
Hey Matt, thanks for keeping us distracted during these stressful times. Do you think a rotation of current and past (Day?) players could suffice as a replacement for Buckner? Or do you think an early draft pick is necessary?— Os Cruz (@ThatOsCruz) March 21, 2020
Yes, I do.
I think the 49ers will ask all the players in their rotation to take on a little more playing time to compensate for the loss of their most-used defensive lineman last season.
The 49ers have to force themselves to not overwork Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. That certainly would be the temptation with Buckner gone. What it means is the 49ers need more from the following players: Solomon Thomas, D.J. Jones, Ronald Blair, Jullian Taylor and Kentavius Street.
The 49erscertainly will not pick up the fifth-year option for Thomas, but they still are counting on him this season to take a step forward. He is best-suited as a defensive end in base situations and an inside pass-rusher.
It was interesting at the end of the season to hear his teammates talk about him. Other than Ford, Thomas might be the 49ers defensive lineman who is quickest off the snap of the ball. This season, the 49ers need him to make a great contribution.
Who is a player that can take a next step for the 49ers?— Andrew Dignum (@AndrewWD17) March 21, 2020
I just mentioned Solomon Thomas. But I think D.J. Jones can also be a three-down player. He did not get many opportunities to rush the passer last season. This year, the door is open for him to use his strength and quickness to be a factor in nickel pass-rush situations, too.
Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley and offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill certainly are on the right trajectory. And the return of players who spent last season on injured reserve – Jerick McKinnon, Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd – could make huge differences on offense.
Why is Shanahan obsessed with Jerick McKinnon ?— Sreekanth (@sreekanthreddyn) March 21, 2020
Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida gave the 49ers three very good runners. But they lack the ability to do something that coach Kyle Shanahan values from backs. None is an above-average route-runner.
The 49ers' best receiver out of the backfield was Jeff Wilson. That is why Shanahan put him on the field for that game-winning play against the Arizona Cardinals. And that is why he had him on the field for the play right before the first half in Super Bowl LIV.
On third downs, Shanahan likes to scheme matchup dilemmas for defenses. McKinnon can run “choice routes” better than anyone. He is able to break down a defender, then cut inside or outside to create separation -- like a point guard’s crossover move.
Shanahan envisions McKinnon providing the 49ers with a dramatic improvement due to what he can bring the team on third downs.
How realistic is an OBJ trade?— Dana Kitchen (@DanaKitchen4) March 21, 2020
Odell Beckham has a scheduled base salary of $14 million for this season. The 49ers declined to get involved with unrestricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders, who ended up receiving a reported $8 million a year for two seasons with the New Orleans Saints.
With so many options available in the draft, including at No. 13 overall, it does not make a lot of sense to give up the pick and pay that kind of money for a player who has been in the league for six seasons.
The 49ers’ top priority at this point has to be locking up tight end George Kittle to a long-term contract. Bringing on another big salary makes it more difficult to lock up Kittle.
Could you break down the roadblocks to getting Kittle signed? Also, thoughts on Randy Moss’ kid at pick 31 in case it’s to hard to sign Kittle?— JB in. (@JasonBien) March 21, 2020
Tight end Austin Hooper signed a deal with the Cleveland Browns that pays him more than $10 million a season. Hooper is a nice player and all, but . . . really?
Kittle is on a different level. One way to look at his value is to consider the top wide receivers in the NFL. Allen Robinson, Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams make $14 million or more per season. Is that reasonable for Kittle?
Kittle's representation probably believes so, but the 49ers will push back at that suggestion.
Levine Toilolo just signed a deal with the New York Giants that pays him $3.1 million a season. Kittle is scheduled to make $2.133 million in salary this season. It seems unlikely he can take the risk of reporting to the club without a new contract.
As for the possibility of selecting a tight end in the draft, it could happen if the 49ers do not make progress toward a new contract for Kittle.
What do you think would be a reasonable return for the 31st pick?— Angelo Regalia (@angeloregalia) March 21, 2020
It all depends on how far the 49ers move back. The further they move back, the more they get in return.
For instance, moving back one spot to No. 32 would get the 49ers another seventh-round pick. Moving back 10 spots would allow them to pick up another fourth-round selection. A trade back of 20 spots should get them a third-rounder.
Do you think the 49ers have a shot at a top WR like Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb? And will they target WR in the first round?— Adam Eriksson (@AdamEriksson1) March 21, 2020
At No. 13 overall, it is wide open. Do they have a shot at Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb or Henry Ruggs? Yes, yes and yes.
And, yes, I do believe the 49ers will come out of the draft with a starting-caliber wide receiver.
QBs: Do you think we will keep 3 QBs this year? If so, will it be the same 3 as last year?— Andy V (@rv22_20) March 21, 2020
I do not anticipate much of a trade market for backup quarterbacks, so I believe the 49ers will keep all three quarterbacks again this season. The NFL’s roster restrictions are loosened a little with the new collective bargaining agreement, so it actually becomes easier to keep a third quarterback.
Are you surprised we kept Goodwin? Doubt we can trade him considering how deep the WR draft is this year.— Ezra (@Ez1889) March 21, 2020
Ask me again at the beginning of training camp. If Goodwin is still on the roster then, yes, I will be surprised. There is no risk in not making a roster move at this point. They would like to trade him, but with his salary and the deep-and-talented draft class, I doubt it will be possible to deal him.
Deebo Samuel is the 49ers’ No. 1 receiver until further notice. Even if the 49ers select a receiver at No. 13, that probably does not change – especially if there is a reduced offseason program.
The 49ers gave running back Matt Breida a second-round tender as a restricted free agent. They are open to discussing trades with other teams for less compensation than it would take to sign him to an offer sheet.
Does any of this matter? Sports serve a valuable role in our society, so yes. Some people take it too seriously. Others don’t pay any attention at all. Most of us fall somewhere in between.
Personally, I think the NFL made the correct decision to go on with free agency this week. It provided sports fans with their only sense of normalcy in more than a week. It might not have been easy for teams, agents and players, but nothing changed from past years for the fans. I consider that a good thing.
I am not going to make any wild predictions. Right now, I have no expectations while, obviously, hoping for the best for everyone across the globe. Be smart. Be safe. And thank you.