There are not many spots on the 49ers' 90-man roster being held for veteran additions before the NFL draft.
The 49ers have signed offensive lineman Tom Compton, slot receiver Travis Benjamin, defensive end Kerry Hyder and linebacker Joe Walker. If the 49ers add another player or two from outside the organization, think along the lines of the players they’ve already brought in. Do not expect any big names to sign with the club.
But what about the possibility of a couple of former 49ers coming back to the squad?
That’s how we open this edition of 49ers Mailbag:
Mark it down. Chisel it in granite. Frank Gore will sign his final NFL contract with the 49ers.
However, that does not mean Gore will ever again play for the 49ers. His NFL career remains in limbo, as he remains a free agent during this very uncertain offseason. There simply is not room for him on the 49ers’ depth chart.
Gore’s final contract will be a ceremonial deal that enables him to retire as a member of the 49ers. He remains close to the organization and CEO Jed York. There is no question Gore thinks of himself as a member of the 49ers. And the organization thinks of Gore as a forever member of the 49ers.
Tight end Delanie Walker is also a free agent after the Tennessee Titans released him with a failed physical due to a bothersome ankle. The 49ers will try to add a tight end, for sure. But at this stage they will probably address that position on Day 3 of the draft.
Then, if the 49ers do that, is there any need for Walker? My guess is that no team would want to sign Walker until they are able to get their own team doctors to check him out. And that could take a long time before that is allowed to happen.
I don’t see any issue with George Kittle’s contract right now. The first deadline is when COVID-19 restrictions loosen and teams are allowed to get together on the field. That is going to signal a major event, as it relates to Kittle and his contract.
Would Kittle – with advisement from his representation -- take the risk of getting on the field without a new contract?
The issue with any contract is money. What is fair compensation?
Kittle will become the highest-paid tight end in the NFL with his next contract. But by how much? How close does he get to the deals of some of the top wide receivers? After all, there are 10 wide receivers who average from $16.2 million to $22 million on their current contracts. Kittle provides the 49ers with a 1,000-yard receiver as well as a dominant in-line blocker.
How much is that worth? That’s not necessarily an easy negotiation for an agent and the team to resolve.
I’ll take the over.
Obviously, they have to find the right teams with which to deal, but I think the 49ers will use a combination of trading back and trading up.
In my opinion, the best scenarios for them would involve trading back on Day 1 (first round), then maybe a combination of trading back on Day 2 (second round), then trading up, say, in the third round by using some of their picks from Day 3, using some of their picks in the fifth, sixth and seven rounds.
The 30 visits has always been used to regulate out-of-the-area prospects visiting team facilities and undergoing medical evaluations and meeting with coaches to talk scheme and football knowledge.
There is no limit to the number of prospects with whom teams can communicate over the phone or video conference. But this year there are some restrictions:
--Teams are not allowed to conduct more than three phone or video conferences with the same player over a one-week period.
--The conversations are not allowed to last for longer than one hour.
The most realistic projection for the starting lineup at wide receiver for Week 1: Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne.
That might even be the most realistic projection even if the 49ers select a wide receiver at No. 13 overall. After all, it seems unlikely that the rookies will have the benefit of an offseason program to begin the process of getting acclimated to the NFL game.
The Cleveland Browns announced the hiring of Joe Woods as defensive coordinator. The 49ers hired Tony Oden to take over as defensive backs coach a while back. That has been confirmed, but it has not been announced.
The same goes with the hiring of defensive line assistant Aaron Whitecotton after Chris Kiffin went to the Browns, too.
As I understand it, the 49ers are waiting on the competition of some entry-level positions and, perhaps, some adjustments at other positions. Then, they’ll make all the announcements at once.
For instance, Taylor Embree was a 49ers quality control coach whom new Colorado coach Karl Dorrell recently hired to become tight ends coach. So the 49ers have to fill that position. And when all the additions are signed and official, that's when the 49ers will make the announcements.
My guess is that wide receiver is the most likely position the 49ers will address at No. 13. But I would not be floored to see the 49ers select an offensive tackle, cornerback or defensive lineman, either.
Unless the 49ers have a clump of receivers all evaluated with equal grades, it’s too simplistic to say that they will take a wide receiver with their first pick.
For instance – and I’m just making this up – but let’s say the 49ers have Jerry Jeudy as their top receiver with CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs with lower grades. But they could have tackle Mekhi Becton and cornerback C.J. Henderson rated ahead of Lamb. Then, they could have Javon Kinlaw and Jedrick Willis ahead of Ruggs.
That’s how teams put together their draft boards. They rarely lock themselves into taking the top-rated player at one position without considering players at other positions that might be better.
It does not seem to realistic that a team will trade for Marquise Goodwin and pick up his $4.5 million scheduled pay when there are so many options available in the draft this year.
The most likely scenario is that the 49ers release Goodwin before the club rejoins for on-field work.
[RELATED: George Kittle's 49ers rise didn't shock fellow Iowa star Merton Hanks]
Jerick McKinnon gives the 49ers something they previously lacked: A legitimate route-runner and third-down option out of the backfield. If he’s healthy, McKinnon will have a spot on the team.
Tevin Coleman is a player whom Kyle Shanahan trusts. There have been no rumblings about his spot being tenuous due to a contract that is set to pay him $4.9 million for this season. But if the 49ers are in a salary-cap bind, that's a spot they could look.
Matt Breida did not have a role on offense to end the season. The club placed a second-round tender on him as a restricted free agent, but I’m sure the 49ers would be willing to trade his rights for lower-round draft pick. Right now, Breida is most-likely to find himself on another team to open the season.
The 49ers are willing to trade Nick Mullens. They’re willing to trade C.J. Beathard.
But the 49ers would want what they consider to be a fair price to part ways with either of those players behind Jimmy Garoppolo. (I assume you meant “highly unlikely” he’ll start over Jimmy.)
Last year, 49ers general manager John Lynch said there was a certain price that interested teams had to meet to obtain one of their reserve quarterbacks.
"We believe that's a great position to be in a position of strength, and we feel from our starter from Jimmy on down to the other two that it is a great position of strength,” Lynch said after the cuts to 53 players in September of 2019. “Not that we weren't open to it, but a certain price had to be met, and it wasn't. So we go in happily with these three."