49ers

Will 49ers look for safety help after Jimmie Ward broke his collarbone?

Will 49ers look for safety help after Jimmie Ward broke his collarbone?

One week of 49ers organized team activities is in the books.

Nearly a quarter of the 49ers’ 90-man roster is sidelined by injuries. The good news is that none of the unexpected ailments is expected to keep anyone out of action into the start of the regular season.

Let’s open the 49ers Mailbag to see what’s on the minds of those chiming in on Twitter (click here to follow @MaioccoNBCS):

Will SF be looking to sign another safety (Tre Boston, Eric Berry, etc) since Jimmie Ward got injured? (@Irfannzo)

I do not get that sense.

Here’s something I feel confident about stating: If you believe the 49ers have major weaknesses at the safety positions, the organization disagrees with you.

Jimmie Ward is expected to be out eight to 12 weeks (I’m hearing the 12-week estimate is being ultra-cautious). The 49ers believe, if healthy, Ward is their best defensive back. Period. So if they believe he is going to be ready from this injury in plenty of time for the regular season, then they also believe there is no reason to react.

Of course, this latest injury only adds to the long list of broken bones Ward has experienced since becoming an NFL player. So the 49ers must also be comfortable with the backup.

The backup free safety, Adrian Colbert, was the no-questions-asked starter at that position last year at this time. He did not build on the promising end to his rookie season, and now he figures to be No. 2 on the depth chart.

There is a segment of 49ers fans who are asking about Eric Berry and Earl Thomas. But applying the same reasoning as the drawback to Ward, those players do not make much sense, either. Berry, 30, has missed 29 games the past two seasons due to injuries. Thomas, 30, has missed 19 games the past three years with injuries. Ward, 27, has missed 21 games the past three years.

As for Boston, he is seen as more of a hybrid safety, and not necessarily the kind of player who is a fit for the 49ers’ need. Boston, 26, remains unsigned, and could be heading for his fourth team in four years.

Plus, if the 49ers believe a healthy Ward is better than all the available options – and, yes, that’s what I believe the 49ers believe – then, why would one of those veteran players come to the Bay Area on a one-year contract to be an insurance policy?

Are the 49ers wrong in their assessment of the safety positions? We’ll find out. But I do not believe they feel an urgent need to bring in a veteran – at this time.

Which RB will get the most touches in the regular season? (@EliasMata)

The big question with Jerick McKinnon is whether he will be the same player in his first season back from ACL surgery. It might take him a while. Therefore, Tevin Coleman is most likely to be the back who gets the most touches – both as a runner and a receiver.

Coleman is the clear favorite with the next three players in line, McKinnon, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert, unable to participate in OTAs.

What do the 49ers have for a succession plan for McGlinchey when he replaces Staley? Will we see that in the draft next year? (@TnNinerfan)

Joe Staley enters the final year of his contract. He will be at left tackle for as long as he wants to play – and as long as he continues to play at a high level. Mike McGlinchey moves four spots to this left when Staley steps aside.

By the end of this season, the 49ers should have a good idea whether Shon Coleman or Justin Skule -- or someone else on the team -- can start at right tackle for the future. If the long-term answer is not on the team, they will look toward the 2020 draft.

How worried should we be about Bosa’s injury situation (@ssschreffler)

Nick Bosa sustained a grade-1 right hamstring strain during OTAs on Tuesday. That’s not a big deal at all. Other top defensive rookies, Quinnen Williams (calf) and Josh Allen (knee bruise), are also missing time with their respective teams.

If the 49ers want to get Bosa back on the field for the end of OTAs or the mandatory minicamp, they can do that. My guess is they’ll shut him down, as a precaution, to get him ready for the opening of training camp in late-July.

But when you take into account his history, then I can completely understand the concern. It was Bosa's only real drawback as a draft prospect.

Who do you predict will play more snaps on the defensive line in 2019 between Armstead and Thomas? (@Citizen510)

Arik Armstead is a very good run defender. That’s his forte. Solomon Thomas is still trying to find his niche. I think they will both get a lot of playing time, but my guess is Armtead sees more playing time.

The 49ers’ adjustments on the defensive line should benefit both players. So, ultimately, the 49ers will ride the player who gets hotter as an inside pass rusher in nickel situations.

Matt, who do you think the favorite is to start at SAM now that the 49ers are moving to a more traditional 4-3 front in their 9-wide scheme? (@Chazcast)

Mark Nzeocha lined up at the strong side position with the first team last week during OTAs. But I’ll go with Malcolm Smith as the starter, as long as he’s healthy. The 49ers would not have restructured Smith's contract and brought him back if they viewed him as a backup and special-teams player.

My wife and I take "gamecations" from Santa Fe, NM every year. Which away game do feel is best to go see this season? Unfortunately, we chose Seattle last season. (@ShanoPerez)

OK, now we’re talking. I love this stuff.

First, a word of advice: Make it about more than the game. If your enjoyment of a football trip is based solely on the outcome of a game, there’s a good chance you’re going to come away disappointed.

Seattle is absolutely one of my favorite road trips because the stadium is walking distance from any hotel downtown. Moreover, the restaurants, craft breweries and sites are as good as it gets.

New Orleans is unlike any NFL city in the country. Yes, Bourbon Street is dirty and stinks, but the food is so great. As I see it, New Orleans and Washington are the clear favorites for top 49ers road trips for 2019.

[RELATED: Jimmy G back on the field, expects to be ready for camp]

Ordinarily, Seattle easily ranks ahead of Los Angeles, but that game falls on Week 17 this year. That makes it a crap shoot of what you’ll be getting. Arizona is good, but I dropped it down to last place this year because not a lot of people can get away for a Thursday game.

I also believe the rest of the trip should build up to the game, not the other way around.

49ers' Richard Sherman responds to 'armchair coaches' who wanted tie

49ers' Richard Sherman responds to 'armchair coaches' who wanted tie

Over his nine-year NFL career, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman has played for two head coaches: Pete Carroll and Kyle Shanahan. He doesn't come from the school of Herm Edwards, but the two have one thing in common. 

They play to win the game. 

The 49ers had a chance to settle for a tie in overtime when they fell to the Seahawks, 27-24, on Monday. Sherman saw tweets questioning Shanahan's play-calling at the end of the game, and in a way only the three-time All-Pro know how to, he fired back on Thursday. 

"That's coming from people who don't know ball, if I'm being honest," Sherman said to reporters. "You get to the point where you've got armchair quarterbacks, armchair GMs, armchair coaches like, 'Oh man, I would have done this.' And that's why you're sitting on the couch and not in this sport as a professional.

"You've got people, who don't do this for a living, talking about what they would have done, and it's cool, I guess, for social media chatter. It's great for it there. But as people who play the game, and who put the sacrifice in, who go out there and lay their bodies out on the line, you don't play a tie."

The 49ers had the ball on their own 20-yard line with the score tied and only 1:50 remaining in OT. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw three straight incompletions, and after a Mitch Wishnowsky punt, only 25 seconds ran off the clock. 

Shanahan and his offense had an opportunity to move down the field and improve to 9-0 on the season. They failed, yet still have the best record in the NFC. 

[RELATED: Should 49ers have gone for tie late in overtime loss]

"If you have a chance to drive the ball down the field and try to win the game," Sherman continued, "then I would think everybody would want us to try to win the game. You don't want a tie."

Sherman's right, and the 49ers remain in the driver's seat with seven games to go. 

49ers' K'Waun Williams on Pro Bowl ballot after Richard Sherman's plea

49ers' K'Waun Williams on Pro Bowl ballot after Richard Sherman's plea

Ask and you shall receive. 

Richard Sherman wanted fellow 49ers defensive back K'Waun Williams added to the Pro Bowl ballot after San Francisco's nickel corner originally had been left off it.

On Thursday, the NFL obliged.

The 49ers currently have the league's best pass defense according to DVOA, and Williams has been a big reason why. While San Francisco has had to use multiple outside corners due to injury, Williams had provided a consistent, steadying force in the slot. He's totaled 22 tackles, three forced fumbles and two interceptions through 10 games, and opposing quarterbacks have been limited to a 67.6 passer rating when targeting him.

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was asked about Williams' addition to the ballot, and made it clear he thinks the recognition is deserved.

"He’s earned it," Saleh said, "he’s worked his tail off and he’s been healthy. I think people are starting to recognize how valuable he is in the slot."

Traditionally, nickelbacks have not been included on the Pro Bowl ballot, which partly explains why Williams was left off in the first place. But with the way the league is changing, Saleh thinks the NFL should reconsider how Pro Bowl rosters are constructed.

"You know, I don’t understand the whole system," Saleh added. "I think it’s archaic in terms of the nickel plays a majority of the snaps, but you still have a SAM backer and a fullback. I don’t know how the whole thing works, but I do think slot corner should get a little bit more recognition than they do. I’m pumped for him that he’s getting that."

[RELATED: 49ers' decisions on active players could be made for them]

While Williams' inclusion on the ballot is deserved, San Francisco certainly wouldn't mind if he wasn't able to participate in the actual Pro Bowl. That, of course, is because players participating in the Super Bowl are ineligible to play in the Pro Bowl, which occurs the week prior. If the 49ers reach the final game of the 2019 season, you can be sure Williams played a big role in helping them get there.