49ers Mailbag: Is Tarvarius Moore a starter? Is Dante Pettis a No. 1 WR?


49ers Mailbag: Is Tarvarius Moore a starter? Is Dante Pettis a No. 1 WR?

While organizing my notes from 49ers practice on Thursday, I narrowed down the defensive play of the day to two possibilities.

One was a Tarvarius Moore interception of a Jimmy Garoppolo pass in the end zone. The other was a play that Moore ranged from the middle of the field to the left sideline to break up a deep Garoppolo throw intended for tight end George Kittle.

Moore has arrived as a free safety, and he was the subject of several questions for this edition of 49ers Mailbag, as the team opened the exhibition season on Saturday at 6 p.m. against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium:

-I predict that Tarvarius Moore will be named a starting safety by the end of training camp. What are your thoughts? (Patrick Tulini)
-Why is there any question that Tarvarius Moore is the starter? (Joseph B Ryder)
-I asked earlier in the year is it possible for Tarvarius Moore to start at safety you had previously told me you didn’t think so. What do you think now between him and Adrian Colbert? (Joseph Foster)

Moore has passed Colbert on the depth chart. That is not a surprise. After all, we all knew Moore was a talented athlete and the 49ers thought highly enough of him to invest a third-round pick in him in the 2018 draft. He is back at his natural position after spending his entire rookie season at cornerback.

When 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said early in camp that Moore was a long way from being an NFL starter, he was not talking about his physical skills. Moore still has a lot to learn about the position and NFL offenses. The free safety – the eraser – has to be on-point with his assignments. If he blows an assignment, it's six points.

That is why I continue to believe Jimmie Ward will be the 49ers’ starter when the regular season opens. But I also believe Moore is just one play away from stepping onto the field with the first-team defense.

-What’s the deal with Dante Pettis? Is he a true number 1? (Daniel Flores)
-Is Deebo beating out Pettis? (Thomas Alvarez)
-What are your thoughts on Jalen Hurd and how do you feel he could fit into the O? Slot? Outside the numbers? (Philip Withers)
The 49ers do not have a No. 1 receiver. Let’s clear that up right now.

Could Pettis or Deebo Samuel eventually become a No. 1? Perhaps. But, right now, I’m not sure the 49ers have a classic No. 2, either. They might have a bunch of 2.5s and 3s. That’s OK. Coach Kyle Shanahan should be able to work with that.

Pettis has been solid in training camp. I would not classify him as a disappointment. But he should be stepping up and making more plays. That was clearly the expectation for him after last season. Pettis needs to play with more urgency and aggression. That is why rookies Samuel and Jalen Hurd have stood out on the practice field. Both play the game hard.

Samuel plays the X, and Pettis plays the Z. So those two are not necessarily in competition, other than competing for the attention of the quarterback on every play. Samuel has put together a very promising camp.

[RELATED: Jalen Hurd showing aggression as a pass-catcher]

Hurd is really coming on strong. When camp began, I thought Hurd would make the team but he might be inactive for the entire season as he learns how to become an NFL wide receiver. But the guy has a certain nastiness (in a good way) and determination to him that could enable him to become a significant player from Week 1. Hurd can be used in a variety of ways, both outside and in the slot, which gives Shanahan more flexibility to exploit matchups.

As camp opened, I expressed the opinion that slot man Trent Taylor would be the team’s leading wide receiver – at least when it comes to the number of receptions. I stand firm in that belief.

-Who is going to get the most time at RB? (Khalil Cox)
If you’re talking about the regular season, Tevin Coleman.

If you’re talking about tonight and the entire exhibition season, no question that person is undrafted rookie Austin Walter of Rice.

There’s no reason for the 49ers to subject Coleman, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert to unnecessary risks. And Jerick McKinnon certainly will not see any action in the exhibition season.

-How is Kentavius Street looking and might he have a role this year? (Jeff Bratton)
Street looks pretty good, but so does just about every defensive lineman on the team. Street will be on the 53-man roster, but it is going to be difficult for him to earn a spot in the rotation during the regular season.

-How are the book sales doing for LETTERS TO 87? (Evan Holm)
Things are looking great, and thank you for asking. The early numbers are so promising that there is already going to be a second printing.

For more information about the book – such as how to buy it and upcoming book events – check out LettersTo87.com. I appreciate all your support. And, remember, 100 percent of all royalties from the book go to the Golden Heart Fund.

Jimmy Garoppolo takes 'good step' in 49ers' preseason win over Chiefs


Jimmy Garoppolo takes 'good step' in 49ers' preseason win over Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan vowed to keep Jimmy Garoppolo in Saturday night’s preseason game long enough for the quarterback to show he could get the offense into a rhythm.

That’s exactly what happened. 

“It was definitely better than the week before, and that would have been hard not to do,” Shanahan said. “It was cool that they got to stay out there longer, get into a little bit of a rhythm.”

Garoppolo did his best to not pay attention to negative publicity after his unproductive 11 snaps Monday night in Denver, and he ended up playing 37 snaps with the first-team offense in Saturday’s 27-17 win over the Chiefs. 

“You have to ignore it and just go play football,” Garoppolo said. “I thought it was a good step coming back here to K.C., the place where it all started. Just to get that out of the way, it’s another step in the right direction.” 

During pregame, Garoppolo even went to the exact spot at Arrowhead Stadium where he tore his ACL last season to reflect on what he’s gone through since the injury happened. 

“Pregame, I wanted to check on the spot,” Garoppolo said. “Once I did that, it was over with, time to move on.

“A lot has happened in the year since then. I don’t know, I just thought it’d be good to go back there and remember everything I’ve gone through.” 

That moment might have been just what the quarterback needed. Over five separate drives, Garoppolo threw to 10 different receivers, and completed 14 of his 20 passes for 188 yards and one touchdown, giving him a 116.2 rating. Garoppolo’s longest throw was a 33-yarder to Richie James in the first quarter.

“It was good,” Garoppolo said. “It was a lot different than last week. Like I said, once you get the first first down, then you start to get into a rhythm. The run game was looking real good. I barely got touched except for the one sack, but the line blocked tremendously upfront. So, that makes everything a lot easier.” 

Shanahan explained that the progress from Garoppolo’s first game back to his second is natural. 

“It’s not a big surprise when a guy is out for a long time, especially coming off an ACL,” Shanahan said. “That’s just how football goes sometimes, especially in the preseason.

”Last week wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked. But it definitely did look that bad live. Today, everyone was on the page a little bit better.”

Shanahan reported that Garoppolo was relatively even-keeled throughout the week, but the coach did see a little emotion out of his signal-caller. 

“A little bit,” Shanahan said. “Jimmy does get amped up sometimes, which I think can be a quality. It’s definitely a quality at times. Sometimes when it’s hard to focus, you have to bring them down a little bit, so you deal with that ebb and flow in games and throughout the week, throughout the season.” 

[RELATED: What we learned about 49ers in preseason win vs. Chiefs]

Garoppolo’s productivity set the pace for the rest of the 49ers’ offense, which managed 23 first downs and 381 total yards over 68 total plays.

The next time Garoppolo will see live game action is Week 1 at Tampa Bay, as he’s expected to sit out next week’s preseason finale against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Kyle Shanahan plans to keep three QBs, but 49ers always will listen on trades


Kyle Shanahan plans to keep three QBs, but 49ers always will listen on trades

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kyle Shanahan said he believes the 49ers have three NFL quarterbacks, and they aren’t just going to let some team have one of them for nothing.

Following the 49ers’ 27-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the third preseason game for both teams, the coach said Saturday night that he plans for starter Jimmy Garoppolo and reserves Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard to be on San Francisco’s 53-man roster when the regular season begins in two weeks.

The message was sent that if another team — like the suddenly Andrew Luck-less Indianapolis Colts — wants Mullens or Beathard, it will have to pay something in return.

Mullens completed 8 of 11 passes for 84 yards Saturday. Beathard did not play, but he figures to see a lot of action in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Los Angeles Chargers.

“We have three very good quarterbacks,” Shanahan said. “We plan on having three this year. But just like every other person on our roster, if someone thinks there’s a way to upgrade our team, we’ll always listen.

“We’re not ever going to just get rid of NFL players. And I know we have three NFL quarterbacks who can help us.”

The 49ers haven't kept three quarterbacks at the start of the regular season in Shanahan’s two previous years as coach. Garoppolo, Mullens and Beathard all have NFL starting experience.

On the surface, it would appear the 49ers will have a difficult time keeping three quarterbacks to open the season because of injuries to such players as running back Jerick McKinnon, wide receiver Trent Taylor, center Weston Richburg, defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, and cornerback Jason Verrett.

The 49ers might have to carry an extra player at other positions to compensate for the injuries during the early part of the season.

“It’s very rough," Shanahan said. "That’s why it’s tough decisions. But that’s something when you have three NFL quarterbacks, they’re not easy to come by, regardless of where you draft them or anything.

“When you have that, you don’t just give that away. That’s something that takes years to find.”

[RELATED: How Garoppolo looked on five drives vs. Chiefs]

The Colts could be in the quarterback market because of Luck’s surprise retirement announcement Saturday night.

“I was just told about Luck before I came in here, and it probably shocked me as much as everyone,” Shanahan said. “He’s one of the best guys in our league and one of the most impressive people I’ve been around, just going through the interview process and stuff. I’m sure he has a very good reason and everything, but, yeah, that was crazy to just hear that.”