49ers

Why Justin Skule is thankful for 49ers O-line before first NFL start

Why Justin Skule is thankful for 49ers O-line before first NFL start

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers left tackle Justin Skule, who will take over for injured six-time Pro Bowler Joe Staley at the position in Sunday’s home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, is just a rookie. But Skule already has a huge supporting cast to help him prepare. 

The 22-year-old is an unknown to most in the Niners fanbase. The rookie has quietly kept his head down since he was selected in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the 49ers in April. Staley, who has vowed to help Skule adjust to his new responsibilities, has already made an impact on his replacement. 

“He’s been awesome since I’ve been here just taking me under his wing and giving me little tricks of the trade,” Skule said Wednesday of the veteran left tackle, who is out six to eight weeks after breaking his fibula in Week 2. “He’s done a phenomenal job just these past couple days giving me pointers just showing me how he goes through his process and everything like that. I couldn’t ask for a better mentor.” 

Staley isn’t the only offensive lineman to offer Skule helpful advice. The rookie had to fill in for Staley in the 49ers' 41-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and Skule said Mike Person imparted some wisdom when the two shared the field at Paul Brown Stadium. 

“He’s like, ‘Take a deep breath it’s still just football,'" Skule recalled. "So, I think that’s something that I’m really going to focus on this week. It’s still the game of football. Just take a deep breath, and don’t let anything get too big for myself.” 

Skule apparently has taken that advice to heart during his first week of practice as the team's starter.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t notice the nerves that were brewing in his newly appointed left tackle. Garoppolo that Skule appeared unfazed when he first filled in for Staley and has been the same ever since. 

“He’s been very consistent,” Garoppolo said. “Smart guy, came into the huddle during the game, didn’t blink or anything. Just one of those guys, he does the right thing and he’s in the right spot. He’s been the same guy every day, and you’ve got to appreciate that.”

[RELATED: Chris Simms explains why unbeaten 49ers might be for real]

Thus far, Skule has taken it all in stride. Even with more than 20 media members surrounding him in front of his locker for the first time in his pro career, Skule seemed calm and deliberate. The rookie didn’t hesitate when answering any questions, and his replies seemed genuine. 

Still, Skule knows that even though he feels calm now, the nerves undoubtedly will come before his first start Sunday at Levi's Stadium. 

“No matter who you are replacing, you’re going to go in with some nerves,” Skule said. “Everyone has that competitive edge where you’re going to be nervous when you’re going in. The older guys and everyone in the huddle have just done a great job taking me under their wing and just making sure I’m good and relaxed and ready to go.” 

49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin announces birth of his daughter Marae

49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin announces birth of his daughter Marae

February 19 was a day Marquise Goodwin and his wife, Morgan, never will forget.

After suffering two miscarriages since November 2017, the Goodwins welcomed their daughter, Marae, to the world. Marquise announced the birth via his social media channels Sunday.

The Goodwins first revealed their pregnancy struggles to the world on Nov. 13, 2017, when the 49ers wide receiver caught an 83-yard touchdown pass shortly after Morgan delivered their stillborn son.

Goodwin blew a kiss to the sky and dropped to his knees after the score. After the game, he posted to Instagram explaining the tragedy that had befallen his family hours before the game.

In 2018, Goodwin had to fly home the day before the 49ers played in Tampa Bay against the Buccaneers after Morgan had a miscarriage while carrying their twin boys. 

[RELATED: Mock draft: Updated 49ers first-round pick]

Goodwin's future with the 49ers is uncertain, but for now, all that matters is he's a #GirlDad.

49ers roster analysis: Future secondary needs warrant action now

49ers roster analysis: Future secondary needs warrant action now

This is the eighth installment of a nine-part series that examines the 49ers’ roster coming out of the 2019 season, looks ahead to 2020, and outlines the offseason challenges facing general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan on a position-by-position basis.

Today, a look at the 49ers’ defensive backs.

Under contract (signed through)

-CB Richard Sherman (2020)
-S Jaquiski Tartt (2020)
-CB K’Waun Williams (2020)
-CB Ahkello Witherspoon (2020)
-S Tarvarius Moore (2021)
-CB/S D.J. Reed (2021)
-S Marcell Harris (2020)
-CB Tim Harris (2022)
-CB Teez Tabor (2020)
-S Jacob Thieneman (2021)
-CB Jermaine Kelly (2021)
-S Chris Edwards (2021)
-S Derrick Kindred (2020)

Sherman enters the third year of the three-year, $27.15 million contract he negotiated with the 49ers after the Seattle Seahawks released him in March of 2018. Tartt and Williams also are on the final years of their contracts, so the 49ers could look to extend any of them during the offseason.

Expiring contracts

-S Jimmie Ward (UFA)
-CB Jason Verrett (UFA)
-CB Dontae Johnson (UFA)
-CB Emmanuel Moseley (EFA)

Ward is a priority to re-sign. It’s just a matter of how much attention he receives on the open market (if he gets that far) and how far the 49ers will go to re-sign him.

A year ago, Verrett signed a one-year, prove-it contract. He went on injured reserve early in the season.

Moseley will be back on the team. He has no outside negotiating power because of his status as an exclusive-rights free agent.

What needs to happen

The defensive backfield situation might be the most complex to figure out for the 49ers this offseason. Ward is scheduled to be a free agent, but the 49ers also have three of their other top-five defensive backs entering the final years of their contracts.

First things first, they have to figure out how to approach Ward. They would like to retain him, but there might also be some hesitancy because of his injury history. Ward finally played a 16-game season, but that was only after missing the first three games, then picking up three games in the postseason.

Sherman, who turns 32 next month, had an outstanding regular season. Do the 49ers open talks with him about extending his contract?

On the other side, Moseley ended up as the starter over Witherspoon, who enters the final year of his deal. After the demotion, Witherspoon asked to play more special teams. Moseley generally played well, but he was in the middle of the biggest play of Super Bowl LIV.

Tartt, the starting strong safety, also enters the final year of his contract. He and Ward were high-school teammates and work well together.

Williams, one of the top nickel backs in the league, also is entering the final year of his deal.

The 49ers have just one pick in the first four rounds of the draft. This is why it makes a lot of sense to trade back (and trade back and trade back) to acquire selections in the second, third and fourth rounds.

This is a good draft for defensive backs. And while drafting for need is not often advisable, it becomes a lot better of a plan when it is a need that is projected a year down the road.

[RELATED: Ascending linebackers should make group better in 2020]

Expectations

The 49ers had the best pass defense in the league last season. Despite playing with a lead for most games, the 49ers allowed just 169.2 yards passing per game. That was the lowest average passing yards allowed in the NFL in more than a decade.

It will be nearly impossible to match that level of pass defense of a year ago. So much of the success the 49ers experienced against the pass was a product of the team’s pass rush. That will likely have to be the case again next season.

Teams generally shied away from Sherman’s side. But Sherman gave up a couple of big plays in the postseason, including one late in the Super Bowl. He likely will be challenged more in 2020, which will give him more opportunities to add to his career total of 39 interceptions (including postseason).

The 49ers must find more consistency on the other side. Moseley enters the offseason as the starter. Witherspoon is competing for a role. Tartt appears locked in as one starting safety, but the other spot is wide open at this point.

If Ward does not return to the team, Moore could be next in line to step in as a starter.

If the 49ers use an early draft pick on a safety or cornerback (or both), then competition could potentially lead to a rookie or two in the team’s starting defensive backfield.