49ers notes: Secondary spots unsettled for opener

490327.jpg

49ers notes: Secondary spots unsettled for opener

Sept. 6, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEO
Follow @MaioccoCSN
Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
Safety Dashon Goldson said he is battling a sore knee that makes his availability for the 49ers' season opener against the Seattle Seahawks in question.Goldson said he sustained the injury last week in practice. He is not wearing a brace on his knee, but he said he could not have played in the exhibition finale Thursday night in San Diego even if it were a regular-season game.Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he is not sure who will start Sunday in the 49ers' defensive backfield alongside strong safety Donte Whitner .Veteran Madieu Williams is listed as the 49ers' second free safety behind Goldson. Reggie Smith was atop the depth chart before undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Aug. 8 -- the same day the 49ers re-signed Goldson to a one-year contract. Smith is expected to return to practice this week.
Cornerback Shawntae Spencer is also expected to return to practice and could be available for some play time Sunday against the Seahawks. However, Tarell Brown
and Carlos Rogers are expected to start at the cornerback spots."We'll see how he feels and how he reacts to getting back out there," Fangio said of Spencer. "He hasn't done anything football-wise in over four weeks."That would be a tall task for him to come back this soon and play a full game. Maybe he can come back and play parts of it. That remains to be seen or to be determined day to day."Spencer sustained a left hamstring strain in practice July 31. He tried to return to the practice field on Aug. 14, but aggravated the injury.Wideout watch: Receiver Michael Crabtree is expected to return to practice this week, but his availability for Sunday's game remains in question. Crabtree sustained a fractured left foot and underwent surgery prior to training camp.Crabtree was removed from the physically-unable-to-perform list and caught passes in warmups last week. Currently, the 49ers have three receivers listed as starters on the depth chart: Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn Jr. and Braylon Edwards .The league has yet to announce whether Edwards will be suspended at the start of the season, stemming from his guilty plea of a DWI charge. A league spokesman told CSNBayArea.com that the matter is still "under review."
Crabtree has started 26 of the 27 games in which he has appeared in his two-year career. His only non-start was last year against Denver when the 49ers opened with a two-tight end formation. Crabtree entered for the second play of the game.Outside linebacker rotation: Rookie outside linebacker Aldon Smith, the No. 7 overall pick in the draft, is expected to be used as a pass-rush specialist. Ahmad Brooks and Parys Haralson will be the starters, Fangio confirmed."He'll be a part of our rotation outside," Fangio said of Smith. "Putting a number on that will be hard. But he'll definitely be a part of the rotation."New numbers: After the final cuts, several 49ers players ended up with new uniform numbers. Receiver Braylon Edwards claimed No. 17, the number he wore each for his first six NFL seasons with Cleveland and the New York Jets
The others to change numbers: center Jonathan Goodwin is No. 59, defensive lineman Will Tukuafu is No. 92 and defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs is No. 96.Quarterback Scott Tolzien is No. 3, and inside linebacker Tavares Gooden was issued No. 56.Tolzien wore No. 16 during his career at Wisconsin and during his five weeks with the San Diego Chargers. Of course, the 49ers have retired No. 16 in honor of Joe Montana."I said, 'I want No. 16,'" Tolzien said. "And they said, 'No you can't.' And I said, 'No, I want No. 16!"
Of course, Tolzien was merely joking with 49ers equipment manager Steve Urbaniak.

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

The 49ers on Monday extended one-year qualifying offers to nose tackle Mike Purcell and linebacker Carl Bradford as exclusive-rights free agents.

Purcell appeared in 15 games last season. He started the first five games of the season at nose tackle and was a reserve for the remainder of the season. Originally signed in 2013 as an undrafted rookie from Wyoming, Purcell has appeared in 25 games over the past three seasons.

The 49ers claimed Bradford off waivers in December from the Green Bay Packers. He appeared in the final two games of the season with the 49ers and was credited with two tackles.

Bradford entered the NFL out of Arizona State as a fourth-round pick of the Packers in 2014. After being inactive for every game as a rookie, Bradford was among Green Bay’s final cuts in 2015. He spent the season on the practice squad.

He appeared in four games for the Packers last year. The 49ers claimed him after he was waived in December.

Exclusive rights free agents are player who have fewer than three years of NFL service who have no outside negotiating power if a team extends a qualifying offer.

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

The 49ers’ new regime heads to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week with the first major wave of offseason activity set to kick off.

Already, the 49ers have made roster improvements. And there figure to be plenty of activity ahead in the coming weeks.

Here are some questions submitted by readers on Facebook for this edition of 49ers Mailbag:

Do you see the 49ers cutting ties with larger contracts like Bethea, Torrey Smith and Ahmad Brooks?‬ (Blair Wilkins)
The 49ers have approximately $75 million in space under the salary cap – and that’s before any adjustment of Colin Kaepernick’s contract. So it’s not as if the organization needs to create cap room.

Any decision made to part ways with veteran players will be made solely on how that player fits into what the 49ers envision on the field.

And that’s what general manager John Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff are doing now. They are studying the video from last season to determine which players fit their ideals.

Safety Antoine Bethea is scheduled to earn $5.75 million. Bethea, 32, enters the final year of his contract. There is no question he is everything the 49ers want in a player off the field. If one of the younger guys is not better than Bethea, there is no reason to get rid of him.

Brooks is on the books to earn $5.3 million in 2017. That’s not a huge amount for a starting outside linebacker or defensive end – whichever spot he might fit best. The 49ers must look to upgrade their pass rush. Brooks turns 33 next month. He’s good for six sacks a season. Again, it’s not as if the 49ers can’t afford him. And, as of now, it’s not as if the 49ers have anyone better.

Smith is scheduled to earn $8 million. He has been vastly underutilized in his two seasons since signing with the 49ers. He’s the most interesting case of the high-priced veterans.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense is predicated on using the running game to set up the play-action shot down the field. Smith is limited. He’s not a possession receiver. He’s not going to make plays over the middle. He is an outside receiver whose contributions come in the vertical passing game. But that’s what Shanahan wants.

If Smith is paired with a strong tight end, a running back who catch the ball out of the backfield, a slot receiver with short-area quickness to get open underneath, a very good receiver on the other side and an accurate quarterback who can throw the deep ball, there should be a role for Smith in the 49ers’ offense.

Will the 49ers continue to be aggressive pursuing free agents this offseason? If so, what positions?‬ (Bradley Lodge)
The 49ers have zeroed in on two veteran free agents and they signed them both.

The organization has already spent more money than it did all of last offseason on veteran free agency with the four-year, $16 million deal to sign defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, whom the Miami Dolphins recently released.

Nickel back K’Waun Williams has a history with 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley. The 49ers did not have to make much of a financial investment to sign him.

The 49ers will definitely go after a veteran quarterback or two in free agency or via trade. Pass rusher, inside linebacker and wide receiver are other positions the 49ers can be expected to look during free agency.

The opening of the new league year – when free-agent signings and trades can occur – is March 9. The draft is seven weeks later.

The 49ers must fill as many of their needs with smart deals that fit into the long-term plan with veteran acquisitions. Then, the draft is about taking the best players on their board when it’s time to select. Teams that reach for need generally strike out.

What are the chances of drafting a QB with first pick and playing them behind a Kap / Cousins until they're ready to become starter?‬ (Hillory Broussard)
If Colin Kaepernick returns, it will not be as a no-questions-asked starter. Just read what Lynch said on KNBR this week about the team’s needs:

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely. And we’re committed to doing that.”

That statement can easily be interpreted that Lynch does not believe the 49ers had a starting-caliber quarterback on the roster last season.

But if the 49ers were to go out and swing a trade for Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s going to take a big commitment – in terms of draft picks and a suitable new contract. Then, the 49ers would have that player.

Cousins or Garoppolo would unquestionably fill the 49ers’ need at quarterback for 2017 and beyond -- at least in the minds of the 49ers' new decision-makers. There would be no reason for the 49ers to then draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick – if the 49ers even had the No. 2 overall pick at that point.