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.

Shanahan remains in contact with Reuben Foster, shares his state of mind

Shanahan remains in contact with Reuben Foster, shares his state of mind

SANTA CLARA – A judge will make a crucial ruling on Wednesday that is likely to determine the 49ers' next move with linebacker Reuben Foster, who faces two felony counts of domestic violence.

The decision will be announced at 3:30 p.m. at the Hall of Justice in San Jose whether probable cause was demonstrated last week during a preliminary hearing. Foster faces three felony charges of domestic violence, forcefully attempting a victim from reporting a crime, and possession of an assault weapon.

Foster has not taken part in any of the 5 ½ weeks of the team’s offseason program since the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office filed the formal charges in April. The 49ers opened organized team activities on Monday.

“It’s still ongoing,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said of Foster’s legal issues. “Hopefully, we’ll have some more answers by tomorrow. We’ve been patient this whole time. We’re going to continue to be patient until we get a few more answers. And, then, when the decision does come, I promise you guys, I’ll answer that for you right away.”

The DA's office last week attempted to present evidence in court to justify moving forward to the trial phase with Foster. However, the accuser, Foster’s former girlfriend, recanted her initial statements to policy and gave testimony that supported Foster's defense.

The woman, Elissa Ennis, said under oath last week that Foster did not harm her. She said her injuries were the result of a fight with one or two women following a road rage incident the night before the alleged incident with Foster. She said she was upset because Foster was threatening to break up with her and she wanted to ruin his career. She said she lied about her accusations of Foster's abuse.

The 49ers took no action after the initial reports of the alleged incident, choosing to let the legal process play out. Although Foster has not been showing up at team headquarters, members of the organization are remaining in contact with him.

“I reach out to him about once or twice a week to see how he’s doing,” Shanahan said.

How is Foster doing?

“He’s hanging in there,” Shanahan said. “Obviously, it’s a tough challenge. I think anyone would realize. It’s a very hard thing to go through. We’ll see how this ends up, but just always hope that every situation you’re in, in the long run, it can make you a better person and a better man. And I think Reuben is handling it right.”

Report: NFL teams viewed Kaepernick as a starting QB, collusion case reveals


Report: NFL teams viewed Kaepernick as a starting QB, collusion case reveals

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick opted out of his deal with the San Francisco 49ers last March, and went unsigned for the entirety of the 2017 season. That, reportedly, may not have been because of his playing ability. 

Testimony from witnesses under deposition in Kaepernick's collusion case against the NFL and "internal franchise documents generated as part of the free-agency evaluation process" indicated that multiple teams viewed Kaepernick as good enough to be a starting quarterback, Pro Football Talk reported Monday, citing a source with knowledge of the situation.

Kaepernick filed a grievance under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement in October, alleging that he was unsigned after first sitting, than kneeling, during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality throughout the 2016 season. He started 11 games in 2016, throwing for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns, and four interceptions. His interception percentage (1.2 percent) was sixth-lowest among starting quarterbacks (minimum 10 starts) that year, and he finished 17th in passer rating (90.7).