Behind the 49ers' strategy to stock up on defensive backs

Behind the 49ers' strategy to stock up on defensive backs

On this post-draft/pre-rookie camp edition of the 49ers Mailbag, we answer questions submitted via Facebook . . .

Why do you think the 49ers added so many defensive backs? Is it a philosophy thing or is it the players they really like just happened to be DBs? (Fred Reimers)
There is more attrition at defensive back than any other position. Therefore, it’s imperative that a team has depth in the defensive backfield. The 49ers know all-too well about that from last year.

In 2017, both starting safeties, Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt, missed the second half of the season due to fractured forearms.

Cornerback was a weakness for the 49ers last season. Rashard Robinson was benched, then traded. Dontae Johnson struggled. And the 49ers had little depth behind them.

The 49ers added Richard Sherman as a free agent this offseason. Ward and rookie Tarvarius Moore, who played safety in college, will be given chances at cornerback because it is such a premium position. The 49ers drafted cornerback D.J. Reed. The 49ers also added strong safety Marcell Harris in the sixth round.

The 49ers were not finished, as they added more defensive backs as undrafted free agents, including cornerbacks Tarvarus McFadden (Florida State) and Emmanuel Moseley (Tennessee), and safeties Terrell Williams (Houston) and Corey Griffin (Georgia Tech).

So the 49ers want to create as much competition in the secondary to account for that time -- at some point this season -- when some of those reserves will be forced into action.

After drafting multiple DBs, any chance Eric Reid returns? (Don Hogue)
The odds are slim. The 49ers have kept the door open for bringing back Reid on a one-year, prove-it contract. But with Tartt signing a contract extension – a clear signal he is the starter -- and the 49ers drafting Harris, the 49ers have their bases covered at the position Reid plays.

Do any of the UDFAs have a chance to make this team? Who are the ones to watch? (Rick Chlopicki)
It will be difficult for some of the draft picks to make the team. Injuries in training camp will play a part in determining some of those spots on the 49ers’ initial 53-man roster. Two players to watch: McFadden and running back Jeff Wilson (North Texas).

I was surprised that they didn't draft a single G. Is it that Shanahan really doesn't value that position or do they have that much confidence that Garnett, Tomlinson, Cooper, etc. can hold it down? (Faisal Refai)
Shanahan values guards because his system puts more on their plate than most other offenses.

But it is safe to assume that any guards available in the draft at the spot where the 49ers were picking did not fit the specifications Shanahan wants from players at those positions. Therefore, they went with highest-rated players at other positions.

There is a belief that the 49ers are in a much better spot than they were a year ago at the guard positions. Among Laken Tomlinson, Jonathan Cooper, Joshua Garnett, Zane Beadles and Erik Magnuson, the 49ers believe they can put two capable guards on the field on either side of center Weston Richburg.

With the recanting of the statement of Reuben Foster’s girlfriend against him and the emergence of the VTR showing she sustained the injuries in a fight with another woman, there is big chance charges being dropped, will the NFL still take actions against Reuben Foster? (Ding Irabagon)
We might have an answer for you on Monday, when Foster is scheduled for his next court appearance. At this point, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office has stated it plans to press forward.

But if the DA’s office determines the existence of this video will make prosecution unlikely, they will drop the case. If that occurs, and the NFL believes that Foster’s ex-girlfriend lied in her initial statement to investigators, then he would not face any discipline as it relates to the alleged domestic violence incident under the league’s policy on personal conduct.

Clearly (Kyle Shanahan) likes speed. But everyone seems to think that we need to get Dez. Is he even a real option for the 49ers to sign? Or are they trying to go faster on offense rather than bigger? (David Hartless)
The 49ers liked their wide receivers before the draft. They added Dante Pettis and Richie James to a group that already included Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne and Aldrick Robinson.

Dez Bryant is apparently looking for a big-money deal. I doubt the 49ers have much interest in him at any price. And I know they would not even come close to the money he is seeking.

T.O. 'not actively seeking' NFL return, expounds on Hall of Fame decision


T.O. 'not actively seeking' NFL return, expounds on Hall of Fame decision

Terrell Owens still is showing off the kind of spectacular shape he is in, even at 44 years old. Just look at his social media pages, and you'll see T.O. working out with today's NFL stars and running a blazing 40-yard dash. 

Even though he's about to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is Owens looking to make a comeback? 

On Tuesday, Canada-based agent Jason Staroszik told TSN and ESPN that T.O. "100 percent" wants to play football again. On Wednesday at the ESPYS, the former 49ers wide receiver clarified his comments. 

Owens says he isn't "actively seeking to get into the NFL," but he did say he would entertain other opportunities with football, including the CFL. 

"I know that I do have the ability to play," Owens said, via ESPN.com. "I know everybody sees the shape that I'm in. There's a lot of athletes that play their prospective sports, but there are few guys that defy the odds. I think I'm one of those guys.

"It's unfortunate that I haven't been able to continue my career, but again, I'm not actively seeking to get into the NFL; but again, if there's an opportunity for me to play, then yeah, I will entertain that, as well as the CFL."

The hot topic with Owens lately has been his decision to not attend the Hall of Fame ceremony. Instead of being in Canton, Ohio next month, Owens will make his own speech at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

"It's always unfortunate, and people have a lot to say when someone does something different, but what I'm doing is not wrong," he said.

Owens said he has been working every day on his acceptance speech. As far as what went into his decision to not attend the ceremony, Owens looked to legendary basketball coach John Wooden. 

"For me, I think, overall, everybody's obviously wondering what went into my decision," Owens said. "I think John Wooden said it best: 'Be more concerned about your character than your reputation.' I think what the noise is right now is more about my reputation than my actual character.

"They're making the narrative more so about me offending the Hall of Famers, and that has nothing to do with it. I respect all of those Hall of Famers that have gone in before me and going in with me and after me. It has nothing to do with those Hall of Famers."

Greg Cosell believes this 49ers player is poised for a breakout season


Greg Cosell believes this 49ers player is poised for a breakout season

With the 146th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers selected ...

George Kittle.

The tight end from Iowa had a solid rookie season, racking up 43 catches for 515 yards and two touchdowns.

On the latest episode of the 49ers Insider Podcast with Matt Maiocco, NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell was talking about Kyle Shanahan and Rams head coach Sean McVay. And then, unsolicited, Cosell pivoted the conversation to Kittle.

"You know, I think one player we should mention who I really liked coming out of college -- and I know he fought some injuries last year, but I think that he has a chance to be a really meaningul part of this offense -- and that's George Kittle," Cosell said. "I think George Kittle is a really good tight end who can do a lot of things.

"He can line up and be a really good blocking tight end -- and obviously we know that Kyle's offense does start with the run game. I think he's more athletic than people probably give him credit for.

"I remember studying him coming out of Iowa and looking at some of his combine measureables -- some were superior to those of OJ Howard from Alabama, and I think people would be surprised by that.

"In this offense, he might not catch 80 balls, but he might average 14, 15 yards a catch, and for a tight end, that's pretty darn good."

Kittle had his best game in the season finale, making four catches for 100 yards at the Rams.