Why 49ers' defense vs. mobile quarterbacks doesn't worry Donte Whitner

Why 49ers' defense vs. mobile quarterbacks doesn't worry Donte Whitner

While the 49ers possess one of the best defenses in the NFL, one thing gives their fans pause.

The mobile quarterback.

Kyler Murray. Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson have given the 49ers (10-2) fits this season, and two of them have handed San Francisco its only losses of the season.

So, should there be any reason to worry for the 49ers as they finish the regular season and move into the playoffs?

"I don't have any concerns," analyst Donte Whitner told NBC Sports Bay Area on Sunday night. "If you watch how these guys perform against other football teams, they are doing a lot more damage than what they've done against the 49ers. The 49ers have done a decent job against mobile quarterbacks.

"You ask a lot of defenses in the National Football League, these mobile quarterbacks give them hell. So I think the 49ers are slowly adapting to the way they should rush these guys. You watched them today, they didn't go rogue or go renegade. These guys rushed as a unit to try to keep him in the pocket on throwing downs and for the most part, they did a really good job."

While the 49ers held Jackson to 105 passing yards, the former Heisman Trophy winner ran for 101 yards and a touchdown in the Ravens' 20-17 win.

But considering how Jackson had been tormenting other defenses, Whitner believes the 49ers did an excellent job against the Ravens quarterback.

"I think they did a great job on him," Whitner said. "I think they got a forced fumble off of him. They should have had an interception off of him with the play that Jimmie Ward made. I think they did a great job. He's been running through the league, so whatever they did, they held him below his averages."

The 49ers will see Wilson at least one more time this year, and they might have to get through the Seahawks quarterback again in the playoffs to get to Super Bowl LIV.

[RELATED: How Jackson used the play-action successfully]

And guess who could be waiting for them in Miami? Yep. Jackson.

So, the 49ers could have up to three more chances this season to prove Whitner right.

2020 NFL Draft: Why 49ers are well-equipped to trade first-round pick


2020 NFL Draft: Why 49ers are well-equipped to trade first-round pick

The 49ers are set to pick twice in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft on April 23, but that doesn’t mean they will.

San Francisco has seven picks in this year’s draft: Two in the first, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh. The 49ers wouldn’t pick anywhere between the No. 31 and No. 156 overall picks.

NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah thinks the 49ers’ second first-round pick is a trade possibility, given San Francisco’s mid-round picks and the potential for a team to trade into the first round and draft quarterback.

“[It’s] not gonna be the 49ers making that pick,” Jeremiah said Tuesday on NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access” (H/T 49ers Web Zone), “but the 49ers trying to collect some picks they don't have in those middle rounds. I could definitely see that being a trade-up spot for some of those teams in Round 2 who want to get that extra year on the contract, come up to 31 and get your quarterback there."

Jeremiah said four QB prospects are surefire first-rounders: LSU’s Joe Burrow, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Utah State’s Bryce Love. All it would take for the 49ers to trade the No. 31 overall selection, then, is one team interested enough in a quarterback such as Washington’s Jacob Eason or Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts to make a deal.

The 2018 draft offers some precedent for the package the 49ers could receive. The Baltimore Ravens traded a second-round pick (No. 52 overall), a fourth (No. 125) and a 2019 second-round pick (No. 53) to select future NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.

[RELATED: 49ers favored to repeat as NFC, division champions in 2020]

That’s not to say Eason, Hurts or any other QB in the draft will reach Jackson's level, who fell to the end of the first round despite winning the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore in his decorated college career. The 49ers, however, likely would be able to recoup multiple picks if they traded out of the first round.

Coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch wouldn’t have the flexibility to do so had they not traded dominant defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts earlier this month. They acquired the No. 13 overall pick in exchange, setting them up to accumulate more draft picks if Jeremiah’s prediction holds true.

NFL odds: 49ers favorites to repeat as NFC West, conference champions

NFL odds: 49ers favorites to repeat as NFC West, conference champions

If you're expecting the 49ers to be a one-year wonder, you're in the minority.

San Francisco arguably was the NFL's biggest surprise last season, as the Niners improved by nine wins and were one fourth-quarter collapse shy of defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. The team's offseason priority has been to retain as much of its core as possible, and while there have been a few notable departures -- none larger than DeForest Buckner being traded to the Indianapolis Colts -- the 49ers have been mostly successful in that endeavor.

And, consequently, the betting public hasn't lowered its expectations for San Francisco in 2020.

Within the NFC West, the 49ers (6/5) currently are significant favorites to repeat as division champions, according to FoxBet. San Francisco is followed, in order, by the Seattle Seahawks (11/5), Los Angeles Rams (16/5) and Arizona Cardinals (10/1).

Should the 49ers win the NFC West in 2020, it would mark the first time they've won the division in consecutive seasons since 2013, the last of San Francisco's three straight trips to the NFC Championship Game.

While it's a narrower margin, the 49ers are favorites to get back there, too.

FoxBet currently lists the 49ers as 24/5 favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LV, closely followed by the New Orleans Saints (11/2). The Dallas Cowboys (15/2) and Philadelphia Eagles (8/1) fall next in line, while Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9/1) have the fifth-best odds in the conference.

[RELATED: Sanders picked Saints over 49ers, Packers in free agency]

It makes plenty of sense why so much is expected of both San Francisco and New Orleans, given how strong both teams were last season and their respective developments since. The 49ers might have snuck up on some opponents last year, but you can be sure that won't be happening this time around.