The 49ers answered many questions during the NFL draft last week. But as general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan provided answers with their selections, there are still plenty of issues left unresolved.
So let’s go to our 49ers Mailbag to answer some questions that were deposited on our Facebook page:
Are you concerned about our depth at cornerback and how many we passed on including Greedy Williams? (Jeff Higbee)
If your question is whether 49ers fans should be concerned with the depth, the answer is “Yes!” That’s because most fans spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about issues that are out of their control. That’s what makes you a fan, and I love that.
But . . . Greedy Williams is a cornerback who was selected in the second round at No. 46. The 49ers took wide receiver Deebo Samuel at No. 36. That should not have been a surprise. The 49ers clearly like Samuel more than Williams. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess the only receiver they liked on the same level of Samuel was N’Keal Harry, whom New England picked at No. 32.
Williams is talented, for sure. But he is not a real physical corner. The knocks on him are similar to what Ahkello Witherspoon heard when he was coming out in the draft. The 49ers chose Witherspoon in the third round two years ago. Witherspoon and Tarvarius Moore – third-round picks in back-to-back years – and Jason Verrett will compete for the starting job opposite of Richard Sherman. I don't believe Williams was viewed as a player who would immediately step in as the clear starter ahead of those three other players.
Samuel, however, is a player the 49ers considered as an upgrade over anyone on their roster at their biggest need. It seems the 49ers believe they have four players at cornerback capable of being starters, now they need to find which ones can stay healthy and play at a consistent level.
Do Shanahan and Lynch believe that addressing the pass rusher can fix the secondary problems? (David Hartless)
That seems to be the case. Other than DeForest Buckner, the 49ers’ pass rush was not good last season. The 49ers had an NFL single-season-record worst of just two interceptions last season. The team is expecting Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, along with the inside guys, to put quarterbacks under a lot more duress this season. The secondary should have improved production because the guys up front should be better.
Do you think Lynch over-estimated their current roster? Considering luxury picks of 3rd and 4th round? (Andrew Spencer)
The 49ers’ third-round pick was wide receiver Jalen Hurd at No. 67.
The next offensive lineman selected was Wisconsin guard Michael Deiter, the pick of Miami at No. 78. The 49ers seem very content with their starting offensive line after re-signing Mike Person to a three-year deal in the offseason.
The next cornerback chosen was Michigan’s David Long by the Rams at No 79. The next safety off the board was Boston College safety Will Harris, Detroit’s pick at No. 81.
Shanahan has a vision for Hurd. Would a third-round pick at cornerback immediately be better than Verrett, Witherspoon or Moore? Would a third-round pick at safety be better than Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Adrian Colbert and Marcell Harris?
The fourth-round pick certainly was not a luxury pick. The selection of punter Mitch Wishnowsky was a necessity. They had to replace Bradley Pinion, whom the 49ers thought all along they would be re-signing. (Until, of course, he signed with Tampa Bay.)
I don’t know if you can say the 49ers over-estimated their roster. But what I think they’re saying is that they did not envision any players they passed over coming in and making as much of a difference over the long haul as the players they selected.
Could we see Hurd as the short-yardage back? (Bubba Lynch)
Do you see Hurd as a WR or TE? (Ryan Ireland)
Hurd will not be a short-yardage back. His height and high center of gravity do not appear conducive to being able to get those tough inside yards at this level after dropping more than 20 pounds to be a wide receiver.
And, yes, that’s what he will play. Hurd is a wide receiver. However, his role could evolve over time to the point that Shanahan can line him up in a lot of different spots. But I'm not sure how much of that you will see in 2019. More than likely, it will take some time for all of that to play out.
Where do they plan on playing Samuel? Do they see him as a slot or a little of all 3 positions (Benjamin Duane)
Wide receiver Deebo Samuel will play the flanker position, while Dante Pettis will play split end. Shanahan believes Samuel has the speed to play on the outside. He can run past cornerbacks, so Shanahan said that will force cornerbacks to play off him so he can run all the routes. Both Samuel and Pettis also have the versatility to line up at all the spots in the formation, enabling Shanahan to take advantage of what he considers favorable matchups.
What is Marquise Goodwin’s future with the team? (Anthony Hernandez)
The 49ers want to use Goodwin like the Atlanta Falcons used Taylor Gabriel during Shanahan’s time there as offensive coordinator. Gabriel averaged 16.5 yards per reception that season. The 49ers believe there is an element of diminishing returns with Goodwin’s speed if he is on the field for most of the snaps in a game. Also, it means less wear and tear, and a greater likelihood that he can remain healthy during the course of the season.
Do you think Dre Greenlaw has a chance to start? (Ronald Whitton)
Greenlaw gonna be switched to safety? (Thomas Mooney)
No, Greenlaw will not be switched to safety. Greenlaw is widely considered a stack linebacker, and the 49ers appear set there with Kwon Alexander and Fred Warner as the starters. But GM John Lynch also mentioned Greenlaw can play the strongside position, where there is no clear-cut starter. If Greenlaw shows the 49ers he can step in and be better than Malcolm Smith or Mark Nzeocha, yes, he has a chance to start at the Sam linebacker.
Why would they refuse to trade Gould when we could've gotten an extra pick this year? (Brane Ramos)
The 49ers believe Robbie Gould is the best kicker they can possibly have on their team. Therefore, they are committed to paying him nearly $5 million to kick for them this season. And if people were questioning the decision to draft a punter, could you imagine the outcry if they would have chosen a kicker, too? Levi’s Stadium is a difficult place to kick, and the 49ers like the idea of having a veteran in that role. That’s why they made an attempt to sign Stephen Gostkowski, before New England caught wind of it and quickly locked him up.
Will there be any interest in giving Anthony Davis a shot to make the team? (Travis Danner)
That would surprise me.