49ers

49ers Mailbag: Who joins QBs Hoyer and Barkley, and when?

49ers Mailbag: Who joins QBs Hoyer and Barkley, and when?

On the first two days of the new league year, the 49ers last week went from experiencing the “liberating” feeling of no quarterbacks on the roster to signing Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

With all due respect to Hoyer, whom the 49ers had targeted as their top quarterback on the free-agent market, he is not expected to be the long-term answer.

“I’m sitting here going into my ninth year with a great chance to be the quarterback for this team and that’s all I’m looking for,” said Hoyer, who signed a two-year, $12 million contract. “I think you go out and prove it every day. And that’s not just on Sundays. It’s coming in here and being a leader in the locker room.”

So as we kick off this edition of 49ers Mailbag, we look at the two-most likely options for the organization to add a potential franchise quarterback to eventually usurp Hoyer.

Who do you think we draft at #2 right now?‬ (Tiny Martinez)

What are the chances Cousins plays for the Niners next year?‬ (Jon Sekulic)

These questions are related, but not necessarily mutually exclusive.

There is nothing preventing the 49ers from, say, drafting Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick and, then, acquiring Kirk Cousins for the 2018 season.

But that’s a large investment of a top draft pick for a player whose ceiling is being a backup (unless forced into action due to injury).

Ultimately, it comes down to what Kyle Shanahan thinks of Trubisky or any of the other quarterbacks available in this draft. Trubisky appears to be the quarterback whose skills and ability to stand in the pocket mesh best with Shanahan’s vision for the position.

Do not dismiss Trubisky as a legitimate option at No. 2. Heck, do not dismiss Trubisky as a legitimate option at No. 1 for the Cleveland Browns, either.

If the Browns make the surprising play to go with Trubisky at No. 1, the 49ers’ move is easy. They need a pass-rusher, and Myles Garrett would be the clear choice.

But if the Browns go with Garrett, as expected, at No. 1, then the 49ers have no clear route to follow. If Shanahan falls in love with Trubisky, Deshaun Watson or DeShone Kizer, then it’s easy. If he does not see the value, the 49ers’ next-best option would be to find a partner with which to trade.

But in order to make a trade, there has to be a team that identifies a player they need and are willing to pay the price to move up to No. 2. ‬

Could we see Brock get released, and do you think Brooks has another season of decent productivity in him? (Emerson Senden)

I think there’s a better chance of the 49ers trying to sign Tramaine Brock to a multi-year extension than the possibility of them releasing him. Right now, I’d envision Brock and Rashard Robinson as the 49ers’ starting cornerbacks.

Of course, this is before the draft. It remains a possibility the 49ers select a cornerback with one of their top two picks, which would create more depth and competition for roster spots and playing time.

The cornerback group of Brock, Robinson, Keith Reaser, Will Redmond, Dontae Johnson, K’Waun Williams and others gives new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh some options. The cupboard is not bare.

Meanwhile, if the 49ers had no plans for Ahmad Brooks, he would already be gone – like Torrey Smith, Antoine Bethea and Marcus Martin. The problem is the 49ers do not have many better options.

The 49ers must improve their pass rush. Brooks and Aaron Lynch remain as their two-best options. There should be some opportunities in the draft to add some talent who can help out the aforementioned cornerbacks.

What are we going to do about the O-line?‬ (Theodore Tee Jay Carter)

Not a whole lot, it seems.

Why?

“I think one of the encouraging things, I think offensive lines are tough to build in this league, and you turn on the film and there’s a lot of exciting things to see with an offensive line,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said.

Shanahan might not have shared the same opinion about the 49ers’ offensive line at the beginning of his film study of the team he inherited. But there are indications the more Shanahan watched that unit from last season, the more he liked what he saw.

Carlos Hyde averaged 4.6 yards per rushing attempt. There probably was not another NFL-caliber running back on the roster. And Colin Kaepernick was sacked 36 times (with 331 pass attempts). The 49ers’ decision-makers pinned at least in part of the high sack total on Kaepernick's reluctance to get rid of the ball quick enough -- whether through indecisiveness or the receivers' inability to get open in a timely fashion.

Right now, the 49ers feel good about an offensive line that features tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown, guards Zane Beadles and Joshua Garnett, and center Daniel Kilgore.

While the organization would seem to remain interested in adding at this position, it did not appear Lynch felt a sense of urgency to go strong after any free agents who might break into the starting lineup.

Report: Former No. 3 overall pick works out for 49ers

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Report: Former No. 3 overall pick works out for 49ers

The 49ers appear to have plenty of depth along their front seven, but the team brought in three defensive linemen for workouts on Tuesday, according to a source.

One of those players is reportedly Tyson Jackson, the No. 3 overall pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009. The identities of the other two players were not immediately known.

Jackson has been without a team since the Falcons released him in March with two years and $8.5 million remaining on his contract. His workout with the 49ers was reported by the NFL Network. He also worked out recently with the Los Angeles Rams.

Jackson, 31, spent his first five season in Kansas City before playing three years with the Falcons. He appeared in all 16 games last season, starting seven times, and recorded 13 tackles and no sacks.

The 49ers have an abundance of defensive linemen, or players capable of rushing the passer from a position along the defensive line, such as DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Earl Mitchell, Elvis Dumervil, Aaron Lynch, Chris Jones, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Ronald Blair and D.J. Jones.

Veterans most vulnerable to losing roster spots with 49ers

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Veterans most vulnerable to losing roster spots with 49ers

At the midway point of the 49ers’ exhibition season, there continues to be a lot of competition and more than a handful of veterans who have yet to lock down roster spots.

“I can tell you, it’s going to be real tough to cut it down to 53,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said last week. “We’re going to need all this game and practices to evaluate that.”

Here are the 49ers’ returning veteran players whose roster spots appear to be the most vulnerable with two weeks of practices and two exhibition games remaining to prove themselves:

OLB Ahmad Brooks
Brooks’ $4.45 million base salary is not much of a concern, considering the team is still $65.2 million under the salary cap. The number that factors into this decision the most is 33. That’s Brooks’ age.

If he is not clearly better than 23-year-old Eli Harold at the SAM linebacker position, the 49ers might want to keep the younger player to develop. Brooks is not talked about for his locker-room presence, so this decision will be made solely for what he does on the field and what he is expected to give the team in the future.

“You want to know who’s got the most upside and things like that,” Shanahan said. “Who’s going to be better throughout the year, if given the opportunity. But you also want to know who when it’s all said and done who’s going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things that I look at personally. You don’t always want to think who’s the best guy for Week 1. Who’s the best guy for the 2017 49ers?”

OG Zane Beadles
Beadles is currently working with the first-team offense, but his spot on the roster remains vulnerable. The 49ers’ decision-makers do not seem impressed with their offensive guards. The 49ers could look to pick up a guard from another team before the start of the season.

The jury is still out on Joshua Garnett, who had a good start to camp. But his play dropped off in Week 2 – perhaps because of the knee injury that required a procedure to clean up cartilage. Garnett may not be available for the start of the regular season.

Also, the 49ers may want to hold onto undrafted rookie lineman Erik Magnuson, who has a bigger upside than Beadles with youth, size and ability to play guard and center.

NT Quinton Dial
Earl Mitchell appears locked-in as the 49ers’ starting nose tackle. The 49ers also seem to have high hopes for rookie D.J. Jones. It’s unclear where that leaves Dial, who does not appear to be a great fit for the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme.

Dial should be a starter in the NFL. But he is better-suited to be positioned in a 3-4 scheme, using his strength and power as a two-gap player rather than adapt to a one-gap scheme in which quickness and agility are the main requirements.

DE Aaron Lynch
Before sustaining an ankle injury, Lynch had done everything the 49ers wanted of him – including reporting to camp at the weight that was ordered. Lynch also looked very good in the 49ers’ exhibition opener, recording two sacks against Kansas City.

But Lynch’s spot is not guaranteed, by any means. Arik Armstead, Elvis Dumervil, Ronald Blair and rookie Pita Taumoepenu all can play similar roles. If Lynch does not eat well or maintain his conditioning while rehabbing from his ankle injury, he could erase all of the positive steps he took at the beginning of camp.

TE Vance McDonald
The onus was on McDonald at the beginning of camp to win his way onto the team. His solid play has increased his odds of a roster spot, but it is not a sure thing. This is a position where all the incumbents – McDonald, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell -- face stiff challenges.

George Kittle will definitely be on the team. Blocking specialist Logan Paulsen and rookie Cole Hikutini are also in the mix. Hikutini does not appear ready to be a contributor this season. If they waive him with hopes of placing him on the practice squad, it seems unlikely another team would claim him for their 53-man roster. But is that a chance the 49ers are willing to take?

DE Tank Carradine
Carradine appears to be on solid footing at the 49ers’ big-end position, considering he remains on the first-team defense despite the addition of Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall selection. But it seems to be only a matter of time before Thomas takes on a greater role. Carradine could still be kept around as a backup.

Ronald Blair, a fifth-round draft pick in 2016, was buried on the depth chart at the beginning of camp. And a pulled groin muscle that has kept him out of action for more than a week does not help is cause, either.