49ers Mailbag: Issues surrounding 'final cuts'


49ers Mailbag: Issues surrounding 'final cuts'

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
"Final cuts" are a bit of a misnomer. Yes, every NFL team must trim its roster to 53 players by 3 p.m. Saturday.But the bottom players on rosters throughout the NFL will continue to be juggled in the early portion of the season.For instance, the 49ers signed quarterback Troy Smith and waived Nate Davis three days after "final cuts" were made last year.
The first veteran player to receive news Saturday morning of his release was safety Curtis Taylor, a third-year player whom the 49ers drafted in the seventh round of 2009. Taylor remains eligible for the practice squad.Also, the 49ers are reportedly one of the teams is interested in inside linebacker Tavares Gooden, a three-year veteran who backed up Ray Lewis with the Baltimore Ravens. Gooden, who has struggled with injuries and is not a top special-teams player, was among the Saturday cuts on John Harbaugh's team.PFT: Tavares Gooden cut as Ravens get to 53
The 49ers currently have Larry Grant and Keaton Kristick as the backups to starters Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.Kristick sustained a left ankle injury Thursday night in the exhibition finale at San Diego. Kristick's injury is not serious, a source said. He is expected to be out of action for about a week. Kristick is on the 49ers' initial 53-man roster, a source said. Let's open the 49ers Mailbag to answer some questions posted on Facebook:Q: Do you see the 49ers picking up another O-lineman and cornerback off waivers? (Aaron Sturdivant)
My response: The 49ers really like the individual parts of their offensive line, which consists of seven players the club believes provides them with "starter material."Those seven players are left tackle Joe Staley, left guard Mike Iupati, center Jonathan Goodwin, right guard Chilo Rachal and right tackle Anthony Davis, along with interior backup Adam Snyder and swing tackle Alex Boone.So, I do not envision the 49ers adding anyone to the offensive line who might actually suit up and get into a game this season. The 49ers will likely retain rookies Daniel Kilgore and Mike Person as projects on the active roster.I would not be surprised if the 49ers look to add a cornerback. The 49ers could use some help there, as veteran Shawntae Spencer remains limited with a hamstring strain.Yes, I wrote this week that I did not think Spencer was a "slam dunk" to win a roster spot. But I now believe he is safe. The 49ers need the kind of experience that Spencer provides, and they have to wait for him to get healthy.Q: Will we be seeing a lot of Kendall Hunter this year? (Tyler Mize)
My response: The problem is that the 49ers are not as good with anyone not named Frank Gore in the backfield. So the 49ers might want to keep Gore fresh and work the backup into the action, but it's not that easy.The 49ers lose a lot in blitz pickup when Gore is not on the field. Kendall Hunter will have a key role, as he's expected to be the primary backup. But Hunter will probably get two or three attempts to every 10 times Gore touches the ball.Q: What are the chances the 49ers keep two fullbacks? (Ricky Medina)
My response: Bruce Miller definitely makes the team. He's a promising player who can be a big-time contributor on special teams as he continues to learn the fullback position.Veteran Moran Norris is on shaky ground, as the 49ers might also want to see who will become available before making a decision.I think the 49ers will make a decision whether to keep a third tight end or a second fullback. In a lot of ways, those are competing positions. After all, the 49ers' base offense will be two tight ends this season and not to backs.
Q: Do you see Dobbs and Smith as our sack tag team of the future? (Joshua Ochoa)
My response: Undrafted rookie Demarcus Dobbs is going to make the team. Outside linebacker Aldon Smith is going to make the team.Aldon Smith will definitely be counted upon to bring some juice to the 49ers' pass rush this season and into the future. Dobbs is likely to be inactive most -- if not all -- of his rookie season.But even when Dobbs develops to the point where he can have a steady role as a contributor, he's not going to be a sack artist. His job will be to play right defensive end in a 3-4. The pass rush must come from the outside linebackers.Watching him this summer, though, I often wondered why he wasn't drafted. The answer is because he was more of a dirty-work player during his career at Georgia. He's a hard-worker and very bright, but in his four-year career, he managed 7.5 sacks.

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

PHOENIX – Coach Kyle Shanahan walked into a position with the 49ers in which he had no quarterbacks on the roster.

On the first two days of free agency, the 49ers added Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. He determined they were better fits for the offense he would be installing over Colin Kaepernick, who started 64 regular-season and postseason games for the 49ers over the past 4 ½ seasons.

Shanahan appeared to be looking for quarterbacks who are more proficient at going through progressions and making plays from the pocket. Kaepernick was not deemed as a good fit for Shanahan's offense.

“Colin’s had a great career, and he’s done some really good things,” Shanahan said on Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. “I think Colin has a certain skillset that you can put a specific offense to it that he can be very successful in.

“When we first looked at it, you got to look at each quarterback and what type of offense you want to put in. That wasn’t necessarily the direction I wanted to go. I wanted to put in a different type of offense.”

Kaepernick opted out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. General manager John Lynch has confirmed the 49ers would have released Kaepernick if he had not opted out of his deal.

“The type of offense I wanted to run was somewhat different and that’s why we went that type of direction,” Shanahan said.

The 49ers’ top target in free agency was Hoyer, who enters his ninth NFL season with his sixth different team. Shanahan was offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns in 2014 in Hoyer’s second and final season with the club.

Hoyer started five games with Chicago in 2016 before getting sidelined with broken left arm. Hoyer completed 67 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions in 200 attempts.

“All these questions about what I like in a quarterback, Brian is like that,” Shanahan said. “He’s obsessed with the game. He will learn your offense. He’ll be able to execute and run it. That gives other guys a chance to perform in your offense. If your quarterback can’t execute it and go through it, it doesn’t always matter what the O-line or the receivers are doing.

“With Brian, you have a very smart guy who works at it, will hang in the pocket and is fearless, will keep his eyes down the field and deliver the ball to the right spots. It gives people a chance to be successful.”

The 49ers also reached a contract agreement with Barkley, who started six games with the Bears due to injuries to Jay Cutler and Hoyer. Barkley saw the most extensive playing time of his career. He completed 59.7 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

“Just watching Matt since college, Matt’s always been a solid player, even coming out and playing at an early age at (USC),” Shanahan said. “He’s battle-tested in that way. He’s gone through the pressure of college, the pressure of the draft, being in the NFL, being with some different teams. Even watching Matt in Chicago this year, I think he played better this year than he has throughout his career. That means the guy is continuing to work at it.”

The 49ers figure to go to training camp with four quarterbacks, so the team is not finished at the quarterback position.

“We’ll look to add anyone who can really help us,” Shanahan said. “I’m very happy with the two we got. You know we’re not only going to take two to camp. So we got to see how the draft works out and then you see what else is out there.”

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

PHOENIX – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday he does not believe quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being “blackballed” in his attempt to continue his career.

“I haven’t heard that from our clubs in any way that that’s an issue,” Goodell said during his press conference to conclude the NFL owners meetings.

“My experience in 35 years is that our clubs make independent evaluations of players. They work hard to try to improve their teams. But if they think a player can help improve their team, they’re going to do that.”

Kaepernick remains unsigned as an unrestricted free agent after opting out of his 49ers contract earlier this month. Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman this week was asked on ESPN’s "First Take" whether he felt Kaepernick was being blackballed.

"I'm sure he is," Sherman answered. "It's difficult to see because he's played at such a high level, and you see guys, quarterbacks, who have never played at a high level being signed by teams. So it's difficult to understand."

General manager John Lynch on Tuesday said the 49ers have not had any contact with Kaepernick since he and coach Kyle Shanahan met with Kaepernick on Feb. 22 in Santa Clara. The 49ers signed free-agent quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley have shown no interest in re-signing Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, 29, created a controversy last season when he opted to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial inequality in the United States. Kaepernick has decided to stand for the national anthem this season.

Earlier in the day, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said it was “stupid” and “intellectually lazy” to think teams have colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the league. Last week, former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, John’s brother, said Kaepernick is still an outstanding player and can win championships.

“I absolutely think he’s going to get signed,” John Harbaugh said. “I agree with Jim. He can win games for people.”