49ers

49ers Mailbag: Is Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams pick at No. 2?

49ers Mailbag: Is Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams pick at No. 2?

Most of the questions have been answered through the first couple weeks of the new league year.

What are the 49ers going to do about a stack linebacker? Kwon Alexander.

What are they going to do about the defensive backfield? Jimmie Ward and Jason Verrett.

What are the 49ers going to do about an edge rusher? Dee Ford + draft.

What are they going to do at wide receiver? Jordan Matthews + draft.

And that’s a good jumping-off point for this edition of 49ers Mailbag with questions that were submitted via Facebook.

So far there is no No.1 WR on our team. Do you see a signing? (Manoj Chopra)
How likely are the 49ers to go after the top WR in the draft? (Brian Lampson)
Free agency is probably the least-effective route to get route-runners. Coach Kyle Shanahan seems to like Matthews, whom the 49ers signed to a one-year contract.

One thing that's been proven is that teams do not need a No. 1 wide receiver to win championships. The 49ers have a darn-good tight end. George Kittle is the 49ers' No. 1 receiver. They just need a good balance on the outside to enable Shanahan to run his offense.

The 49ers had no interest in Antonio Brown. They wanted Odell Beckham. If they can get a receiver, such as A.J. Green, they would certainly pursue that option. A "No. 1 receiver" is not necessary for success, but an upgrade is an offseason goal for the 49ers.

Matthews joins a receiving corps that includes Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne and Richie James.

The 49ers traded the Nos. 59 and 74 picks last year to move up 15 slots to select Pettis. He should be a starter. All the other spots are wide open. The 49ers could use the No. 36 pick on a wideout.

Some team will over-draft D.K. Metcalf. That’s probably just fine with the 49ers. There should be plenty of options available when the 49ers pick in the second round. A.J. Brown and Deebo Samuel are legitimate options.

Do you think the Niners will keep both CJ and Mullens? If not what are realistic trade value and landing spots for them? (Jason Massey)
Although the 49ers have reason to like both Beathard and Mullens, it is difficult to believe that either has significant trade value around the NFL.

The 49ers’ roster is better. The depth is better. So, although it makes sense to keep both quarterbacks on the 53-man roster behind Jimmy Garoppolo, it becomes more difficult to retain a third QB at the expense of a player at another position.

That said, I think the 49ers will find a way to keep those three QBs in the building this season. Of course, they hope that Garoppolo remains healthy and they never again need to see Beathard or Mullens on the field.

What record would the Niners need to have to consider Lynch and Shanahan safe? (John Sheffer)
There is no answer to that question. Coaches and GMs are rarely fired only because of their records. There are many other factors.

Coaches are fired when people lose faith in them. They are fired when things get bad in the locker room and throughout the organization. That's when ownership determines a change is needed to get the organization rolling in the right direction.

It’s not the record. It’s how the team got to the record. Did the team underachieve? Were there coaching reasons why the team did not win an extra couple of games? For instance, the 49ers won four games last season. If I had told you before the season that the 49ers would win only four games, you would have thought one thing about the coaching staff. But if you then learned about the injuries, then you would realize that the record was, by and large, unavoidable.

Does Joe Staley retire after this season? Are the 49ers actively looking for a replacement? (Eduardo Sanhueza)
My guess is Staley plays two or three more seasons. The replacement at left tackle might already be on the roster. His name is Mike McGlinchey. As far as the next in line to then take over at right tackle, that would be Shon Coleman. The 49ers could add help for the offensive line, but that would likely be a Day 3 pick in the draft.

What is Kyle thinking about carrying 4 RBs into the season? (Leighton Pahukula)
It’s all about depth.

Running backs take a pounding, so a team can never have too much depth – as the 49ers found out last season.

If Jerick McKinnon, Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert remain healthy, then Breida would likely be the odd-man out. Despite how well he played last season, Breida will have a difficult time breaking into that top three during the regular season. Of course, there is no guarantee that McKinnon will be the same player Shanahan envisioned in his offense before his ACL injury a year ago.

[RELATED: John Lynch reveals details of Odell Beckham Jr. trade talks]

Mostert will suit up for every game because he is one of the best special-teams players in the league. The No. 3 running back must contribute on special teams, and that’s Mostert’s forte.

Breida is a great insurance policy.

If they keep the pick is it Bosa or Williams? (Christian DeMeglio)
Nick Bosa.

There.

That was easy.

NFL free agency: A.J. Green would fit 49ers, but health risks are real

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NFL free agency: A.J. Green would fit 49ers, but health risks are real

A.J. Green last played in an NFL game on Dec. 2, 2018. He injured his toe in that game, and underwent season-ending surgery shortly after.

Green then missed all of last season, as the Cincinnati Bengals' star receiver dealt with an ankle injury. And yet, he's one of the biggest names set to hit free agency next month.

So, should the 49ers take a run at signing the seven-time Pro Bowl pick? Talent-wise, yes. But it's not that simple.

Green, who turns 32 years old on July 31, has played in just nine games in the last two seasons. He has missed 29 games since 2016 and isn't getting any younger. But he's also one of the most talented receivers in the league when healthy.

The former No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft started his career with five straight seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards. He was well on pace to extending that streak in 2016 when he had 964 receiving yards in 10 games and then had 1,078 in 2017.

San Francisco simply doesn't have any receivers with Green's kind of pedigree. Deebo Samuel opened eyes as a rookie, and he is dangerous with the ball in his hands. The 49ers have to add talent around the young South Carolina product, though.

Green also is the kind of large target that 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan hopes to give quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Samuel is listed at 5-foot-11 and 214 pounds. Green, however, is 6-4 and 210 pounds.

One NFL executive believes Green hopes to move on from the Bengals this offseason, too. 

"I think he wants out of Cincinnati," the exec told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. 

That, however, isn't in Bengals coach Zac Taylor's plans

"He's a guy that we're excited about to have part of this team, first and foremost. That’s what matters right now," Taylor said Thursday in his interview on the '"Bengals Beat Podcast." "As we go through the offseason, we'll figure out how it best fits. But right now, we expect him to be a part of the team. We want him to be a part of the team.

"He's certainly been a valuable member for the last couple years and done some great things. I'm excited to coach him, really for the first time this next season."

Green signed a four-year, $60 million contract with the Bengals in 2015. He will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time this offseason, and the veteran still could sign another hefty contract. The same executive told ESPN that "even 'B' receivers are getting $14 million to $15 million."

The 49ers currently have just under $17.9 million available in cap space this offseason, according to Spotrac. San Francisco also has its own contracts to take care of in free agent Arik Armstead, as well as extensions for George Kittle and DeForest Buckner. 

[RELATED: Why 49ers could add Gabriel to receiver mix this offseason]

One way or another, the 49ers should look to give Jimmy G more weapons this offseason. This year's NFL draft class is loaded with receivers, and the front office could make that their priority with their first pick. There's no doubt Green could be a great option in free agency, but it all comes down to health.

"As long as the foot checks out, he's still elite," an NFC personnel evaluator said to ESPN.

That's a big if, though. Green is one talented question mark.

49ers roster analysis: Work needed to keep up defensive line dominance

49ers roster analysis: Work needed to keep up defensive line dominance

This is the sixth installment of a nine-part series that examines the 49ers’ roster coming out of the 2019 season, looks ahead to 2020, and outlines the offseason challenges facing general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan on a position-by-position basis.

We continue with a look at the 49ers’ defensive line.

Under contract (signed through)

-Dee Ford (2023)
-DeForest Buckner (2020)
-Nick Bosa (2022)
-Solomon Thomas (2020)
-D.J. Jones (2020)
-Jullian Taylor (2021)
-Kentavius Street (2021)
-Kevin Givens (2021)
-Willie Henry (2020)
-Ray Smith (2021)
-Alex Barrett (2021)
-Jonathan Kongbo (2022)

Buckner is scheduled to play on the fifth-year option of $14.36 million, but the 49ers would like to work out a multi-year contract extension for him and likely see his cap number come down this year.

Ford’s $13.65 million salary for the 2020 season becomes fully guaranteed on April 1. Ford signed the lucrative deal a year ago after coming from the Kansas City Chiefs in a trade for a second-round draft pick.

Thomas is scheduled to enter the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. The 49ers will not pick up the fifth-year option for 2021, but it is not out of the question he could return beyond this season on a significantly reduced contract.

Expiring contracts

-Arik Armstead (UFA)
-Ronald Blair (UFA)
-Sheldon Day (UFA)
-Damontre Moore (UFA)
-Anthony Zettel (UFA)
-Earl Mitchell (UFA)

The 49ers could use the franchise tag on Armstead, but that would require the team committing more than $19 million to him for the 2020 season. The 49ers prefer to re-sign Armstead to a multi-year extension for a lower annual average.

What needs to happen

The 49ers had tremendous depth along the defensive line, but it never seems to be enough at this position. That is why the 49ers will always be looking for more players at this spot. The 49ers could use another outside pass rusher capable of six sacks on the season.

Armstead will cost the most to retain among all the 49ers’ free agents. How high are they willing to go? Lynch made it sound as if the team is focused on a long-term contract, rather than the fallback of merely placing the franchise tag on him.

It might be even a greater priority to work out a long-term extension with Buckner, who enters the final year of his contract. All you need to know about how Buckner is viewed inside the organization became evident when the coaching staff voted him as the winner of the Bill Walsh Award.

Blair and Day are scheduled for unrestricted free agency. Blair served an important role as a backup nickel pass-rusher. His absence after he sustained a torn ACL in the middle of the season was felt. Blair could have taken some of the pass-rush snaps to enable others on the defensive line to remain fresh.

Day could be a starter somewhere else. But when Jones slated to start again this season at nose tackle, the 49ers are not likely to pay much to retain him as a backup.

[RELATED: Why 49ers' O-Line is in good shape for immediate future]

Expectations

The 49ers defensive line was dominant last season. It was San Francisco's strength, and they need to be even more dominant this season.

Bosa quickly established himself as a star. Buckner is another star. Ford has to take the necessary steps in the offseason to make sure the 49ers do not lose him for long stretches of time next season.

Armstead gives the 49ers exactly what they need. He’s a base defensive end who moves inside to rush the passer in nickel situations. If he returns, the 49ers should have the best collection of defensive linemen in the league. If Armstead is not back, the 49ers must add a lower-cost option who fits the scheme and minimizes the drop-off.

Thomas will be back for his fourth season with the 49ers, and there is no reason why he can't produce significantly more in 2020 as a rotational player.