Baalke: Davis' delay influenced 49ers' draft


Baalke: Davis' delay influenced 49ers' draft

ENGLEWOOD, Col. – The 49ers proceeded during the offseason without any guarantees that right tackle Anthony Davis would come back after a one-year hiatus.

General manager Trent Baalke on Wednesday said the uncertainty was taken into account with some of the decisions the team made in the draft.

“We went into it thinking, ‘You know what, if he does choose to come back it’s a bonus, but we can’t count on that,’ ” Baalke said. “It did influence some of our decisions.”

Baalke did not specify how Davis’ delayed commitment impacted the 49ers’ personnel moves. The 49ers traded up into the first round to select guard Joshua Garnett. Then, the 49ers used picks in the fifth round to add tackles John Theus and Fahn Cooper.

But that strategy is nothing new to the 49ers, who have routinely attempted to bolster their offensive line through the draft. In 2015, the 49ers drafted Ian Silberman and Trent Brown. A year earlier, Baalke took Marcus Martin and Brandon Thomas.

“Each year we try to draft two or three guys, if not four,” Baalke said. “I think that’s a position that you have to be strong at. In order to be strong, you have to draft them.”

Davis waited until the week training camp opened to submit his paperwork for reinstatement off the NFL’s reserve/retirement list. He reported to camp on time and has not missed a practice. Davis is currently competing against Brown to regain his old starting job.

“Some times you have to get away from something to figure out how much you love it, how much you missed it,” Baalke said. “I think AD is one of those guys. He stepped away, collected his thoughts, looked at his options, looked at what he wanted to do moving forward and was brought back to the game.

“(I’m) very happy with him. Very happy with the way he’s engaged amongst his teammates. Not only in the offensive line room but the team itself, the locker room.”

49ers' backup QB competition likely won't be decided until final cut

49ers' backup QB competition likely won't be decided until final cut

The 49ers have not kept three quarterbacks on their initial 53-man roster since coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch arrived in 2017.

And Shanahan seemed to imply the club will keep two at the beginning of this season, too. C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens are competing for the backup role behind starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

“I know we have two backup quarterbacks who are both capable of starting and I would be happy with either one as our backup,” Shanahan said after the team returned to the Bay Area from its 24-15 preseason victory over the Denver Broncos on Monday night.

“One of those guys is going to win the job, and we will make that decision. I do not see myself making that decision until I absolutely have to, and that probably won’t be until the final 53.”

If the 49ers were to keep three quarterbacks on their roster, a decision on the backup would not have to be made until 90 minutes before the regular-season opener on Sunday, Sept. 8, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when seven inactive players must be announced.

Shanahan said he is in “a pretty good spot,” as far as determining the backup. But he said he has yet to determine who will follow Garoppolo in the preseason game Saturday night at Kansas City. Then, he said, the other quarterback likely will see the bulk of the playing time in the final exhibition game, Thursday, Aug. 24, against the Los Angeles Chargers.

“I feel very good with both the guys,” Shanahan said. “We’ve had both of the guys here in a lot of game situations. But it’s been a fun battle to watch. I think both of them are playing better than they have the last two years.”

Based on how both quarterbacks have performed in regular-season games, Mullens is the favorite. Last season, he averaged 284.6 yards passing – fourth-most in NFL history through eight games – with 13 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 90.0 passer rating.

Beathard averaged 250.4 yards passing with eight touchdowns, seven interceptions and a passer rating of 81.8. Beathard also was sacked with more frequency than Mullens.

[RELATED: Why it's obvious Jimmy G has significant hurdles to clear]

But Shanahan designs his offense around the big play, and that is where Beathard could have the advantage because of his willingness to sit in the pocket and let downfield routes develop.

“Every time C.J.’s in there you’ve got a chance for a big play,” Shanahan said. “He loves the big play.”

Beathard had two opportunities for big plays Monday night. He overthrew Richie James on a deep corner route to the right side, then Kendrick Bourne failed to hold onto a deep ball down the left side.

“I thought C.J. missed a couple plays early, but nothing too bad,” Shanahan said. “Then Nick came in and didn’t have many opportunities, but made the best (of them).”

Mullens and Bourne teamed up for a well-timed and delivered 1-yard touchdown on a fade route against tight coverage.

49ers' new unofficial depth chart provides update on position battles

49ers' new unofficial depth chart provides update on position battles

Unofficial depth charts are exactly that. Unofficial.

There's usually very little truth you can glean from an unofficial preseason depth chart, but the one the 49ers released Tuesday offers an updated glimpse at some of the key position battles throughout the roster.

Backup Quarterback

The new unofficial depth chart lists an 'or' between C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens, meaning it's a dead heat for the backup QB job, or at least that's what they'd have you believe.

Beathard came on in relief of Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco's 24-15 win over the Broncos on Monday night, completing five of 11 passes for 81 yards. It's worth noting, however, that he likely would have had a long touchdown pass if not for a bad drop by Kendrick Bourne.

Still, while Mullens came on after Beathard, he didn't waste his opportunity. Mullens completed two of three passes for 27 yards and the 49ers' lone passing touchdown on the evening, an absolutely perfectly thrown fade to Bourne in the back right corner of the end zone. It's also worth noting Mullens started San Francisco's first preseason game.

Expect Garoppolo to play the majority of the first half of the 49ers' third preseason game against the Chiefs on Saturday, if not all of it. Keep an eye on who takes over for Jimmy G, as it may give the best clue yet as to which direction Kyle Shanahan is leaning.

Wide Receiver

Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis are still listed as the starters. No surprise there. They, along with Trent Taylor and rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, are absolute locks to make the roster. That leaves Bourne, Richie James Jr., Jordan Matthews and others battling it out for what will be two spots at most, but more likely just one.

Based on the new unofficial depth chart, it would seem like Bourne and James have the inside track to make the roster, as they're listed behind the starters, respectively. Hurd is listed behind James Jr., while Matthews and Samuel are listed behind Bourne.

James would seem to be too duplicative of Taylor, but given that Taylor will miss the start of the season after breaking a bone in his foot, that could open up room for James, particularly given his punt return ability.

Bourne's promise was on display on his receiving touchdown against the Broncos. But as nice as that catch was, his egregious drop of Beathard's deep ball was equally bad. San Francisco could use more size as the receiver position, which the 6-foot-1 Bourne offers. However, so does the 6-foot-3 Matthews.

Matthews was only targeted once against the Broncos and had zero receptions, but he did play 14 snaps on special teams, including one in which he took down the punt returner for a two-yard loss. Whoever makes the team as the last receiver is going to have to play special teams. Matthews definitely didn't hurt his case in that area, and the veteran stability he offers will most certainly be contrasted against Bourne's inconsistency.

[RELATED: Watching Jimmy G shows obvious hurdles he needs to clear]

Free Safety

The updated unofficial depth chart lists Adrian Colbert as the starter, albeit with the injured Jimmie Ward understood to be the starter upon his return. Behind Colbert, in order, are Tarvarius Moore and Antone Exum Jr.

In two professional seasons, Colbert has missed a total of 11 games due to injury. He suffered a hamstring injury against the Broncos, and has generally underwhelmed throughout training camp.

With Ward sidelined and Colbert not claiming the job in his absence, it's opened the door for Moore, who the 49ers -- in desperation -- were forced to switch to safety after being a cornerback his rookie season. Moore played safety in college and has shown some promise there recently, but it's not a good sign when arguably your best free safety option spent the entire previous year learning a different position.

Moore is obviously a lock to remain on the roster. Given Ward's lengthy injury history and the way the depth chart currently looks, one continues to wonder if San Francisco will come to regret not acquiring a single safety in what were loaded free-agent and draft classes at that position.