49ers Mailbag: Some free agency needs filled, others remain untouched

49ers Mailbag: Some free agency needs filled, others remain untouched

The 49ers have filled two of their biggest needs with the acquisitions of inside linebacker Kwon Alexander and edge rusher Dee Ford.

The 49ers have not acquired a wide receiver. The pass-catcher they wanted, Odell Beckham Jr., was dealt from the New York Giants to the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday.

As the official NFL free-agent signing period begins Wednesday afternoon, there are several 49ers offseason issues that remain unresolved:

Why no AB? Why no OBJ? Why no Earl Thomas? (@changokid)
There is no question the 49ers would have wanted Beckham and Thomas, but they are not in a position where they are just one piece away from a championship and would go all-in to acquire either player.

In the case of Beckham, the 49ers did not want to give up the No. 2 overall pick. That is understandable. The Giants are in a similar spot as the 49ers. They need draft picks, so it helped them to be able to acquire a second first-round draft pick from Cleveland, in addition to a third-round selection and safety Jabrill Peppers. I don’t believe the 49ers had a player at a position of need for the Giants to throw into the mix to sweeten their offer.

With Thomas, the cost of the contract was the turn-off. The 49ers probably were not willing to go beyond the $9 million average they gave Richard Sherman last year. They deemed the dollar amount required to sign Thomas as too much for the salary structure of the team.

And with Antonio Brown, the 49ers had no interest in bringing him into their locker room. He’s a great player, but they did not see him as a fit with what they are trying to build with their culture. Add to the equation his age, guaranteed salary demands and the cost of trade compensation to Pittsburgh, and the 49ers took a hard pass on Brown.

How is the team going to address the WR position? (@GoldMine49)
They might add a veteran wide receiver. But I doubt that person would come in as an immediate starter. Anybody who is out there does not bring production that would be a significant upgrade over Kendrick Bourne and Marquise Goodwin. Bourne had a 42-catch, 487-yard season as a second-year pro. Goodwin has averaged more than 17 yards per catch in his two seasons with the 49ers.

The No. 36 overall pick would appear to be the sweet spot to add a wide receiver in the draft. Obviously, who the 49ers are able to select would depend on how many receivers fly off the board with the first 35 draft picks.

What do you make of the Niners and Bell links that came out. Should we be worried about Jerick? (@josh_49spurs)
The 49ers were in contact with Dee Ford’s agent to work out the details on his five-year contract. It just so happens that Ford’s agent is also Le’Veon Bell’s agent. What a coincidence, huh?

It certainly did not hurt Bell’s cause for the 49ers to have reported interest in him. After all, the Jets competed for Jerick McKinnon and Kyle Juszczyk the past two years in free agency, and both ended up signing with the 49ers. Do I believe the 49ers were really serious contenders on this one? No.

That said, there has to be some concern about McKinnon’s ability to come back from the torn ACL. He’s a running back whose strength is his quickness, speed and agility. How quickly he is able to get close to his old form remains to be seen.

Hey Matt, with Dee Ford on the team, how do you see him being used in combination with Bosa? How about with Allen? Burns? Sweat? (@ThatOsCruz)
Ford will line up at one end, and the No. 2 overall pick will line up on the other side in passing situations and they’ll try to meet at the quarterback as often as possible. The 49ers did not just need one upgrade at edge rusher, they need two upgrades.

[RELATED: Why Ford 'needed this' trade to 49ers from Chiefs]

Hey thanks Matt, if St. Mary's could do it, why not us? But also: Assuming we draft Bosa or Allen, would we still definitely stick with the 4-3 on D? (@qnjastros)
The only thing that will change up front is that the 49ers will have their defensive ends line up outside the offensive tackles and get up the field with new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek. Upwards of two-thirds of defensive snaps are played with a four-man line, two linebackers and five defensive backs. The 49ers’ run defense is fine. Where this team struggled was putting pressure on the quarterback and forcing poor decisions and bad throws.

(And how 'bout those Gaels? That was a truly incredible showing Tuesday night against the top-ranked Zags. Saint Mary's lost by 48 points just a few weeks ago in Spokane, but they never stopped believing in themselves. Yes, I'm a happy man.)

How do they address the secondary now that most top corners and safeties are off the market? (@jaxsontoschi)
Like the wide receiver position, I doubt the 49ers can bring in a veteran who would immediately be seen as a starter. And the same goes for the draft. There would have to be competition.

Right now, the 49ers have Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon and Tarvarius Moore at cornerback. They have Jaquiski Tartt, Adrian Colbert and Marcell Harris at safety. The club believes Jimmie Ward as their best defensive back at the time he got injured. They would like to bring him back, and they've offered him a one-year deal, according to a source.

Those players, along with anyone else brought in via free agency or the draft, would compete for the four starting jobs. The biggest help for the defensive backfield will likely end up coming from Ford and the other edge rusher who is coming on draft day.

Joe Staley vows to help rookie Justin Skule while he's out 6 to 8 weeks


Joe Staley vows to help rookie Justin Skule while he's out 6 to 8 weeks

CINCINNATI – San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley tried to remain as positive as possible Sunday afternoon as he stood near his locker on crutches and with his left leg in an orthopedic boot.

Staley sustained a fractured left fibula – the non-weight-bearing bone in his lower left leg – in the third quarter of the 49ers’ 41-17 victory Sunday over the Cincinnati Bengals. Staley said he is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

“I’m really happy we got the win,” Staley said. “Obviously, it’s a great ‘W’ today, on the road. I’m just bumming personally because this team is really special and I’m really happy and I want to be a part of it. And I’ll do whatever I can to be a part of it for, hopefully, the next six weeks and come back and be ready to go for the end-of-the-season run.”

The 49ers improved to 2-0 with the victory, and the offense had its best day in years against the overmatched Bengals. The 49ers rolled up 572 yards of total offense – 313 yards passing and 259 on the ground. Staley, a six-time Pro Bowl performer, is one of the most-valued members of the team.

Staley will not go on injured reserve, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. A player who goes on IR must remain ineligible for at least eight weeks. The 49ers hope to get Staley back closer to the six-week time frame.

In the meantime, Staley said he will remain active and help rookie Justin Skule as much as possible. Skule became the 49ers’ swing tackle after Shon Campbell sustained a season-ending dislocated ankle in the first preseason game. Skule, a sixth-round draft pick from Vanderbilt, stepped onto the field at left tackle after Staley’s injury.

“I’m going to do everything I can,” Staley said. “One of the things I have here, I definitely have years. I have a lot of knowledge. I always thought of my post-career, when I’m done playing football, it would be good to be a coach. So here’s a time to get a little taste of that.”

The injury Staley sustained is almost identical, he said, to the fractured fibula he sustained in 2010 that limited him to nine games.

“You can’t play through it,” Staley said. “You can play through knee injuries, ankle injuries. Those are dealing with pain. This is different.”

Staley’s injury appeared to occur when running back Raheem Mostert’s legs got tangled with Staley’s on a third-quarter running play. Staley went down. He hobbled to the Bengals sideline, where a cart took him under the stadium for X-rays that revealed the fractured bone in his lower leg.

“I’m pumped for the win,” Staley said, “but I’m bummed. I’m trying to stay positive. This sucks. It really sucks.”

Jeff Garcia, like Joe Staley, broke fibula, explains recovery timeline


Jeff Garcia, like Joe Staley, broke fibula, explains recovery timeline

The 49ers won the battle. It remains to be seen if they lost the war.

San Francisco earned its second consecutive road win with a dominant 41-17 decision Sunday in Cincinnati. The 49ers are 2-0 for the first time since 2012, and yet, the postgame locker room wasn't as joyous as one naturally would expect.

That's because stalwart left tackle Joe Staley suffered a broken left fibula, which he says will keep him out the next six to eight weeks.

NBC Sports Bay Area's Jeff Garcia knows a thing or two about a broken fibula, having suffered the same injury in a 2005 preseason game with the Detroit Lions, and he revealed on 49ers Postgame Live following the victory that Staley's true recovery time might, in fact, be considerably longer.

"It took me a good eight weeks of just recovering, healing, when I thought I could step back out on the field, and I rushed it." Garcia recalled. "I was in a hurry to get back on the field, be the quarterback for the team, be a leader on the field and do what I'm supposed to be doing. But that being said, when I got out there, I was not nearly 100-percent. I ended up hurting it again and forced myself off the field once again."

A broken fibula is tough enough for any football player to recover from, but Garcia argues it's an even taller task for someone at Staley's position.

"Granted, we all have to play through injury," Garcia continued. "We all have to play through pain. But when your legs are your survival, especially at the left tackle position -- being able to plant and being able to utilize that leg to stop the rush, to adjust to the rush, the speed coming off the edge -- that's a major thing. And you're talking about a 300-pound man, now, on a broken fibula. So, we're hoping that it can heal within that eight-week period time, but that's really just getting back to, 'OK, I can jog now. I can do some things that are more physically active.' That doesn't mean you can step on the field and play against some All-Pros coming off the edge."

[RELATED: What we learned about 49ers in Week 2 road win over Bengals]

Eight weeks from Sunday would be the day before the 49ers' Week 11 home game against the Seattle Seahawks and newly acquired edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney. Even if Staley indeed returns at or before that date, it seems unlikely he'll be in top shape for what looks increasingly like a crucial NFC West rivalry game.