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.

NFL mock draft 2019: Pundits agree on who 49ers should pick at No. 2

NFL mock draft 2019: Pundits agree on who 49ers should pick at No. 2

The 2019 NFL Draft is less than a week away. Hard to believe, right?

After adding some quality players in free agency, the 49ers will continue bolstering their roster with Thursday's draft. No one knows for sure what direction San Francisco will choose to go with its first selection, but based on the most recent mock drafts, most expect the 49ers to add a premium defensive player with the No. 2 overall pick.

[RELATED: 49ers can find starters at edge rusher, receiver in draft]

That makes plenty of sense, considering San Francisco ranked dead last in takeaways (seven) and seventh-worst in points allowed per game (26.6) last season.

Here’s a selection from various NFL mock drafts highlighting the players being associated with the 49ers and the No. 2 pick:

SI.com: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
What they said: "Even with Dee Ford in the fold, the 49ers are desperate for disruptive edge rushers after forcing a record-low seven takeaways last year. Bosa is the best in this draft, which outweighs all those complimentary things he said about Spiro Agnew on his Geocities website."

ESPN.com: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
What they said: "Best. Player. Available. Bosa is the No. 1 prospect in this class, and he'll help off the edge in any defense."

CBS Sports: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
What they said: "Knowing full well they can get out of Dee Ford's mega deal sooner rather than later, the Niners get a new face for their defense, not to mention the most promising of any of their many first-round D-linemen."

SB Nation: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
What they said: "Although the 49ers traded for Dee Ford, that doesn’t totally solve the team’s issue with rushing the passer. Ford is a good, if inconsistent, player. Adding Bosa will take some of the attention off of him. If San Francisco wants to do as much four-man rushing as possible, having two edge rushers is vital."

WalterFootball.com: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
What they said: "Bosa has a tremendous skill set, and he was off to a great start in 2018 before injuring his knee. He's a top-three lock unless some Laremy Tunsil-esque news breaks about him"

NFL.com: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
What they said: "PROJECTED TRADE WITH RAIDERS. Williams adds yet another elite talent to the 49ers' defensive front. The Niners get the Raiders' second-round pick this year and one of their first-round picks next year (they have an extra one from the Khalil Mack trade) in the move. As for that compensation, remember, the Colts did receive three second-round picks so the Jets could move up three spots in the top 10 last year. Anything can happen!"

49ers could land two first-round NFL draft picks in trade back from No. 2

49ers could land two first-round NFL draft picks in trade back from No. 2

When the 49ers made the trade with the Chicago Bears two years ago to move back one spot in the NFL draft, there was some sense of mystery in their draft room. The 49ers were not sure if the Bears were going to select the player San Francisco would have taken in that spot.

Team executive Paraag Marathe figured the Bears were targeting Mitchell Trubisky because he felt it was unlikely a team would pay the price to move up that high in the draft to select a player at a position other than quarterback.

The 49ers had Solomon Thomas rated as the draft's No. 2 prospect behind Myles Garrett. Thomas still was available when the 49ers went back on the clock.

Again, the 49ers have the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft. And, it seems logical, that if they have the opportunity to trade back, it would be with a team that has its eyes on a quarterback.

Another question is whether there is a team selecting in some proximity to the 49ers that would be determined to add a quarterback -- most likely, Kyler Murray. That would mean the Cardinals ultimately decide to go with a defensive player -- Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams -- with the No. 1 overall selection.

If another team has interest in moving up to No. 2, the 49ers would be able to pick up at least a second first-round draft pick, giving them three selections within the first 36 slots in the draft.

If Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock want Murray fully assimilated for the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas in 2020, they certainly have the draft capital to make a deal with the 49ers.

In such a scenario, the Raiders could send the 49ers their picks at Nos. 4 and 24 overall. The 49ers, most likely, also would acquire the Raiders’ fourth-round pick (No. 106) while shipping back a sixth-round selection (No. 176).

Then the 49ers could end up with Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen at No. 4, and perhaps pick up a top cornerback, such as Rock Ya-Sin of Temple or Washington’s Byron Murphy, at No. 24 overall.

The New York Giants are expected to select a quarterback who would be viewed as Eli Manning’s heir apparent at some point in this week's draft. The Giants wanted the 49ers’ pick at No. 2 in a proposed trade for Odell Beckham, but they were not willing to give up the No. 6 overall spot.

In order for the Giants to make a deal for the 49ers’ first-round selection, they would have to hand over their first-round picks at Nos. 6 and 17, along with a likely fifth-round pick at No. 132 overall.

[RELATED: 49ers should find starters at edge rusher, wide receiver]

Perhaps the 49ers still could select Allen at No. 6. And at No. 17, the 49ers could think outside the box and pair tight end George Kittle with his former Iowa teammate, Noah Fant. The 49ers need another threat or two in the passing game, and No. 17 is likely too high for any of the wide receivers.

Here is a look at the 49ers' current list of picks for the NFL draft:

1. First round: No. 2 overall
2. Second round: No. 36 overall
3. Third round: No. 67 overall
4. Fourth round: No. 104 overall
5. Sixth round: No. 176 overall
6. Sixth round: No. 212 overall (compensatory)