49ers

49ers Mailbag: Should Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel contracts be concern?

49ers Mailbag: Should Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel contracts be concern?

Beginning on Monday, the 49ers can begin offense vs. defense drills in practices on their Santa Clara practice field as Phase III of their offseason program kicks off.

This portion of the offseason program is important because it gives the coaching staff and personnel department an opportunity to assess the talent on the team and evaluate whether there are available players who might be able to add upgrades.

We solicited questions from our followers on Facebook and, once again, we have a full 49ers Mailbag of solid topics:

What’s the status on Bosa’s and Samuel’s contracts? (Daniel Hernandez)
Neither player has signed his mandatory four-year contract. The dollar amounts are already set under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement.

Bosa’s four-year contract will be worth $33.55 million, while Deebo Samuel’s deal will be four years, $7.7 million. There is no issue with players who have yet to sign at this point. They can participate in all team-related activities before the opening of training camp in late-July.

Bosa and Samuel are both represented by CAA Football. That’s the same agency that represents Mike McGlinchey and Solomon Thomas, the 49ers’ past two first-round draft picks. McGlinchey was signed a week before camp, and Thomas joined his teammates in the middle of the first practice of training camp in 2017.

Because the money amounts are already set, the only true haggling points are the potential for offset language and how the signing bonus money will be paid (lump sum or over time).

Since the new CBA went into effect in 2011, I have generally granted myself the luxury of not spending much energy on the signings of draft picks. Again, I won’t spend a whole lot of time on it, until I return from vacation a day or two before training camp.

Do you think Bosa will have an immediate impact, or will it take him a year or two to get used to the speed of the NFL game? (Chris Munson)
My belief is that outside pass rusher is a position that allows for a rookie to come in and make an immediate impact. You either have it or you don’t. And I believe Bosa’s next-level technique and attention to detail give him an opportunity to excel from the first snap of his first game. (Great to see you this week, and tell everyone back in the land of jumbo shrimp, "Hi," for me.)

If Dee Ford or Bosa goes down, what’s the plan? (LoEs Carlos)
Ronald Blair, who was one of the team’s primary outside pass-rushers in nickel situations, is now a rotational player. So he would be the next in line. There will be a role for him, regardless. The team will be looking for a fourth outside pass rusher to emerge in competition.

Do you think, the 49ers should sign another safety like Tre Boston or Eric Berry? Is the position safe with Ward, Tartt, Harris and Colbert? (Frank Höhle)
Will we be making any more additions to the secondary? (Gil Hernandez)
Any veteran who signs at this point is likely to sign a one-year contract. If the 49ers saw any defensive back on the market that they considered a sure starter among the group they already have, they would have offered that player a multi-year contract some time ago.

I believe the 49ers viewed Jimmie Ward as their top target among the available safeties and they gave him a one-year, prove-it contract. They did the same with cornerback Jason Verrett. Ward will compete against Adrian Colbert at free safety, while Verrett will go against Ahkello Witherspoon and Tarvarius Moore.

Boston is interesting because he has played for three teams in the past three years. There are reasons why no team that’s had him has been willing to give him a multi-year contract. (But I do not know the reasons.) He is considered more of a hybrid nickel back and cover linebacker.

Berry is a nine-year veteran who has played in just three games total the past two seasons due to Achilles and heel injuries. The 49ers' actions would suggest they believe Jaquiski Tartt and Marcell Harris are better options because of health, age and ability to continue to develop.

Will the 49ers make any additions to the secondary? More than likely, anyone they add will be somebody who would come in and compete for a roster spot, not necessarily someone who is viewed as a legitimate contender for a starting job.

If Nick Mullens beats out C.J. Beathard for QB2, what happens to C.J.? (William Winter)
Are Nick Mullens and Beathard eligible for practice squad? (Fred Reimers)
As I understand it, any team can retain four exemptions from the 2017 and 2018 rookie classes regardless of how many games they have played.

What happens if Mullens beats out Beathard? What happens if Beathard beats out Mullens?

The 49ers must make a decision whether they want to keep two or three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. If they keep two, they would try to bring back the other for the practice squad. But it’s possible that the player who gets cut would get claimed by another team. That’s a situation that will play out over the course of training camp and the four exhibition games.

Is there any chance that 49ers pursue a trade with the Jets for Le’Veon Bell? (Rick Orozco)
What’s the probability we trade Matt Breida or Jerick McKinnon before the season? (Matthew J Azar)
Is there any chance? There’s always a chance.

But the 49ers have to feel pretty good about their running back situation after signing Tevin Coleman to a two-year, $8.5 million deal. The Jets have already paid Bell a signing bonus of $10 million, so any team that wants to trade for Bell would pick up the entire Jets contract, minus that $10 million.

Still, Bell’s contract is a steep price to pay. Bell is not taking part in the Jets’ offseason program, so I’m sure the 49ers would not be in a hurry to add a player they know they would not see until training camp.

We saw last season how depth at running back is important. A) I do not see why the 49ers would be so eager to trade any of their running backs at this stage. B) I don’t see why any team would give up a good draft pick for any of the 49ers’ running backs when every team just had an opportunity to add RBs in the draft.

[RELATED: Buckner sees 'bright future' for Bosa]

What's going on with Robbie Gould? (Kasie Miller)
This:

The 49ers tagged kicker Robbie Gould as their franchise player. He wanted to be free to negotiate with any and all teams and make his own decision. He has requested a trade. The 49ers have said they are not going to trade him. Gould has not signed the one-year deal. He continues to work out on his own in the Chicago area, where he lives with his family.

The 49ers are hopeful that Gould will be there when the team opens the season on Sunday, Sept. 8, at Tampa Bay.

Examining 49ers' backup QB competition of C.J. Beathard, Nick Mullens

Examining 49ers' backup QB competition of C.J. Beathard, Nick Mullens

The most talked-about competition on the 49ers is also for a job coach Kyle Shanahan hopes is the most superfluous position on the team during the 2019 regular season.

Reserve quarterbacks C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens are competing for the job to suit up on game days and serve as Jimmy Garoppolo’s insurance policy.

“You really hope Jimmy stays healthy so it’s irrelevant who’s the No. 2 guy,” Shanahan said before the 49ers broke off last week at the conclusion of the offseason program.

“These guys have both proven that they can play in this league and we’re going to have to make a tough decision at the end of preseason to which one we want to give that No. 2 job to.”

At the beginning of the past two seasons, there was never a question that Beathard would serve as the team’s backup quarterback -- behind Brian Hoyer in 2017, then Garoppolo last season.

But things are different this summer after Mullens became one of the bright spots of a thoroughly disappointing 49ers season. He played well during his eight-start stint to close out the season.

Mullens compiled a respectable 90.9 passer rating while putting up big numbers after taking over for Beathard for the 49ers’ Week 9 game against the Raiders. Mullens averaged 285 yards passing per game, ranking him fourth all-time through eight games behind Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton.

Yet, Mullens earned nothing other than the right to compete with Beathard for the backup job. And Shanahan seems to be pleased with both players, based on what he witnessed during the nine-week offseason program.

“C.J.’s had a real good camp,” Shanahan said. “He’s been playing real well. So has Nick. So I’ve been excited about both of them.”

Beathard was a third-round draft pick in 2017. The 49ers signed Mullens immediately following that same draft as an undrafted rookie. Mullens was among the final cuts before the starts of the ’17 and ’18 seasons. After he cleared waivers, Mullens immediately signed back to the 49ers’ practice squad.

Mullens was promoted to the 49ers’ 53-man roster last season after Garoppolo sustained a season-ending knee injury in Week 3.

First-year quarterbacks coach Shane Day has outlined some areas of improvement for both players. Shanahan said the true competition for the backup job will begin in training camp, but there’s little he does not already know about both men.

“I know both of them so well, because we’ve been here two years with them and we’ve gotten a chance now to see both of them in practice and both of them in games,” Shanahan said.

“They’ve both been doing a real good job, both playing at a high level, so that’s been exciting. But to sit there and really stress over, from a coaching standpoint, trying to make the decision, we’re not there yet because a lot could change.”

Here is a closer look at the decision that Shanahan could face – assuming one of the players is not dealt in a trade -- when the final cuts must be made by Aug. 31 at 1 p.m.

C.J. Beathard

PROS: The 49ers selected Beathard in the third round, which provides a strong indication that he had the physical tools necessary to make all the throws in Shanahan’s offense. But that investment was also two years ago. So, now, the decision is less on potential and more on what the player has done.

Still, Shanahan’s offense is predicated on taking advantage of the weaknesses in the defense. If the play call and defense sets up a deep shot, Shanahan wants to see it thrown deep. Beathard can make the deep throws and has the arm strength to carry the ball outside the numbers.

[RELATED: C.J. Beathard enjoys backup QB competition]

Beathard has shown his toughness through his 10 NFL starts. (That’s also not necessarily a positive, as we’ll explain later.) He has played well at times. He has also struggled. With a better supporting cast, Beathard’s production would also be expected to elevate. Beathard also says the competition has made both players better.

CONS: While Beathard’s toughness can be seen as one of his better qualities, you never want your quarterback taking hits that can be avoided. Beathard must make quicker decisions to get the ball out of his hands and not absorb nearly as many hits he has taken through the course of his first two seasons.

Beathard got pounded way too many times (one sack for every 10.4 dropbacks). Those hits started to have an obvious impact on him, too. He got banged up while making his five starts last season and he began to look shell-shocked.

Physically, he needed a break at the time Mullens took over. But he also appeared to need a mental break, too. In 10 starts over his first two seasons, Beathard threw 13 interceptions with 12 TD passes.

Beathard must improve his pocket awareness. It’s easy to stand in the pocket during offseason drills and training camp in order to make the throws. The big test for Beathard will be to process information and get rid of the ball when he’s going up against an enemy pass rush.

Nick Mullens

PROS: Mullens is a gamer. He has been underestimated his entire career, and he continues to prove himself at every level he’s played.

Mullens took his preparation to peculiar levels even when he was on the practice squad. He practiced called plays in the huddle while cranking up crowd noise in his headphones. Mullens knows the offense very well. He also never showed any signs of getting rattled – other than his annoyance with Shanahan, who continued to talk in his ear after delivering the play call.

Mullens’ arm strength (more on that later) is questionable, but he can make up for some of his limitations with his timing -- his knowledge of the offense, reading the defense and anticipating his throws.

CONS: Despite some very good statistics, including an 8.3-yard average per attempt, Mullens did not grade well with some Pro Football Focus metrics.

His 64.2 completion percentage topped Beathard (60.4) and Garoppolo (59.6), but Mullens ranked near the bottom of the league in completion percentage in small windows as well as passes of 20-or-more yards down the field. The takeaway from PFF is that Mullens thrived because Shanahan was able to scheme receivers to be open.

Where his arm tends to be a problem is that defenders tend to get their hands on Mullens’ passes. In college, he threw 46 interceptions in 44 games. Last season, he was intercepted 10 times in eight starts with 13 TD passes.

49ers' Fred Warner already forming bond with injured Kwon Alexander

49ers' Fred Warner already forming bond with injured Kwon Alexander

SANTA CLARA — Linebacker Fred Warner is looking forward to his second season with the 49ers, which includes partnering up with 49ers free-agent acquisition Kwon Alexander

Even though Alexander was held out of the offseason program rehabbing his ACL, Warner is not worried about building chemistry with him on the field. The two are already getting to know each other very well. 

“Yeah, just little things off the field, you know, hanging out with each other,” Warner said after the last practice of minicamp on June 13. “And I think we will have plenty of time during training camp leading up to the season to do that too.” 

Warner and Alexander are regularly seen standing together during practice, deep in conversation. The two were spotted in the back of the end zone last week, which Warner says is on purpose. 

“It’s good to stand back there because then we can see everything, from that point of view,” Warner said. “We go through close calls and seeing different adjustments that we’re making. Most of the time we’re just talking trash to the offense too.”  

Alexander, who is set to be ready to participate in team drills during training camp, appears to be itching to get on the field. He was regularly seen during OTAs and minicamp excitedly jumping around on the sidelines after a big defensive play. 

Linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans knows just what Alexander’s personality brings in practice and in meetings.

“He’s been great for us because he brings a different type of energy,” Ryans said during OTAs. “He brings swagger that I think we were kind of missing. He brings that edge that we needed. And he’s been great in our meeting rooms.” 

Warner co-signed Ryans’ description of Alexander. 

“He brings a lot of energy,” Warner said. “He’s brought a swag to the group for sure. I’m looking forward to seeing him out there running around. I see him during workouts and he looks great.”  

[RELATED: Breaking down backup QB competition between Beathard, Mullens]

Warner says you can even see that energy from Alexander on the sidelines while watching practice film. 

“Kwon hasn’t been out there on the field but he’s been out there and you see him jumping off the tape, from the sideline, it’s funny,” Warner said.  

Warner and Alexander likely will be paired up once the season begins, provided that the veteran is healthy. During the offseason, the defense’s new wide-nine alignment showed three linebackers on the field at once with Malcolm Smith, David Mayo, Elijah Lee and rookie Dre Greenlaw getting a good share of the snaps.