Monday Morning Mailbag: 49ers loss raises questions

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Monday Morning Mailbag: 49ers loss raises questions

The 49ers' discouraging overtime loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday certainly opened the door for a lot of questions.So let's open the 49ers Mailbag to address some of the issues that most concerned followers on Twitter:We saw Kaep still has some growing pains to do. What areas do you see need the most work? (@MattReustle)
The Rams did a good job of putting pressure on him by sending extra pass rushers. The Rams got pressure on Kaepernick and did not give him time to throw. Thus, they took away the deep throws that Kaepernick does so well.Kaepernick needs to improve with his touch on his underneath throws. Also, there was the issue of decision-making. The game-changing turnover was a bad play call, no doubt. But Kaepernick admittedly should not have attempted the pitch to Ted Ginn. But even then, that pitch is something he has executed hundreds of times as a quarterback running the pistol offense at Nevada.He also has to learn the game management portion of the job. His decision to run out of bounds before David Akers' go-ahead field goal with 1:34 remaining was a costly mistake. It stopped the clock. The Rams did not have to use a timeout, and they ended up getting the necessary yardage for the tying field goal at the end of regulation.MAIOCCO: 49ers miscues lead to overtime loss to Rams
At this point why not give James and Jenkins a shot? (@DTNCA)
It is perplexing.I completely understand that first-round draft pick A.J. Jenkins is not better than Michael Crabtree. I completely understand how he might not be better than Mario Manningham or Randy Moss.What I do not understand is how Jenkins can't get on the field ahead of Ted Ginn when the 49ers go with three wideouts. Obviously, the 49ers believe Ginn is a better receiver than Jenkins. And that's a problem.
Jenkins worked in the offseason to increase his strength. Apparently, he is still not ready. It's inexcusable that they have a first-round draft pick who is healthy but he is not even a factor. Even when Manningham went down in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury, Jenkins did not play.As for James, the 49ers believe he is not ready, either. He does not have the full knowledge of the system, especially in blitz pickup. Nor is he strong enough to make a living running between the tackles.But James comes from the Oregon spread, and he's very familiar with those zone-read plays. It seems he could get on the field for five snaps a game as the zone-read running back. He and Kaepernick showed in the exhibition season that they can work well together. Yes, it would be predictable, but the combination of Kaepernick and James would put a great deal of pressure on the defense. And it could pick up the slack for an element that the 49ers are missing now that Kendall Hunter is out for the season.
Is Frank Gore hurt? Did Gore get tired without Hunter there? (@neekoh)
Gore is not injured, but he does take a pounding because he runs so hard. There is no doubt the 49ers lost a great deal with Hunter's absence. Brandon Jacobs takes over as Gore's backup.Three weeks ago in the overtime game against the Rams, Hunter played 11 of the 49ers' 66 snaps (17 percent). On Sunday, Jacobs played eight of 76 snaps (11 percent).Jacobs had just 6 yards rushing on four carries. Gore had 58 yards on 23 attempts. The Rams made it extremely difficult on the 49ers' run game. They stacked the box, and the Rams completely out-schemed the 49ers by outnumbering them at the line of scrimmage.The Rams had a very good game plan against Kaepernick and the 49ers. Expect the upcoming teams on the 49ers' schedule to follow the same blueprint.Is Akers' job safe? (@AlskidJudy)
No.The 49ers have asked the question internally, "Are better options available?" And that's where it gets a little tricky.Last week, the 49ers brought in veterans Nate Kaeding and Billy Cundiff for tryouts. Kaeding is the most accurate kicker in league history. But the 49ers are hesitant to make any move with Kaeding and Cundiff because both kickers have backgrounds that include poor playoff performances. QB uncertainty, loss of Hunter & Williams limiting "O" play-calling and lack of clutch kicker. Do you foresee missing playoffs? (@MonteleoneJohn)
No.At 8-3-1, the 49ers are an overwhelming favorite to win a spot in the NFC playoffs. And with a 1 12-game lead over the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers are still the team most likely to win the West.But there are two very difficult road games remaining in the regular season. The 49ers travel to New England and Seattle, and those are games the 49ers can easily lose. The other two games -- at Candlestick against Miami and Arizona -- should be victories.If you're a 49ers fan, there's no need to panic. But you'd be well within your rights to be a little concerned at this point.

49ers trade up, select QB C.J. Beathard in third round of 2017 NFL Draft

49ers trade up, select QB C.J. Beathard in third round of 2017 NFL Draft

C.J. BEATHARD
Position: Quarterback
College: Iowa
Height: 6-2
Weight: 219
Selection: Third round, No. 104 overall

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers traded back into the end of the third round to select a quarterback to join Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley on the 49ers' roster.

General manager John Lynch's fourth trade of the draft netted the team the grandson of legendary NFL personnel man Bobby Beathard. His grandson, C.J., joins the 49ers after a four-year career at Iowa. Beathard completed 58.6 percent of his passes last season with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Beathard was not generally expected to be chosen within the first two days of the draft. He was the sixth quarterback selected, falling behind Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Deshone Kizer and Davis Webb.

"They won't regret it," Beathard said on a conference call with the Bay Area media.

The 49ers traded up with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings had the No. 104 pick, and called the 49ers to see if they were interested in a trade. After some consideration, the 49ers decided to move up from No. 109 while also giving the Vikings a seventh-round pick at No. 219.

"Might he have been there at 109? That’s what we had to weigh," 49ers John Lynch said. "But at the end of the day, we felt like it was worth it to be able to go to bed knowing that we had a player that we liked and want the opportunity develop at the quarterback position."

And that's what coach Kyle Shanahan plans on doing. He said Beathard is not coming to the team this season to compete with Hoyer for the starting job.

"We’re bringing him in here to develop him and give him a chance, but just like any other position, everyone competes," Shanahan said. "Brian is our starting quarterback and, right now, Matt Barkley is our second. And I look at him to come in and be our third with us only having three on the roster.

"By no means did we come into this draft thinking we’re going to get a guy to compete with Brian."

Shanahan said Beathard and Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman were the two quarterbacks in the draft who ran offenses in college most similar to the offense he will install with the 49ers.

"One thing that helps is being able to see guys play the way you’re going to ask them to play," Shanahan said. "It helps being at Iowa and watching the system he’s in. It’s easier to see to watch him over the years. He’s a three-year starter. He’s led his team to a bunch of wins, especially in 2015 when they had a better team and he played unbelievable."

As a junior at Iowa, Beathard completed 61.6 percent of his pass attempts for 2,809 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. 

"He’s a leader. He’s tough. He processes very well," Shanahan said. "He's extremely accurate and he lives and dies football."

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

AHKELLO WITHERSPOON
Position: Cornerback
College: Colorado
Height: 6-2 3/4
Weight: 193
Selection: Third round, No. 66 overall

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, a Sacramento native, in the third round of the NFL draft with the No. 66 overall pick.

“Being close to home is an incredible opportunity, as well as the type of defense they play -- press man, up in your face,” Witherspoon said. “When I came in for a visit, they were asking me if I’ve adopted that role and if I’d be willing to continue that. And I said, ‘Absolutely.’

“It’s an opportunity to play for such a great organization, close to home, with such a savvy defensive mentality. I think it’s going to be a great place for me.”

The 49ers were also scheduled to have the next pick, but traded the selection at No. 67 for the New Orleans Saints’ second-round pick in next year’s draft, as well as a seventh-round selection (No. 229 overall) this year. The 49ers now have 10 picks in next year’s draft.

The Saints used that pick at No. 67 to select Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara.

Witherspoon began his college career at Sacramento City. He played his final three college seasons at Colorado. He started 12 games last season and earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors.

Witherspoon led the nation with 22 pass breakups. He recorded one interception -- a game-saving pick in the end zone to preserve a 41-38 victory over Oregon. A pre-med student majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, he said he aspires to be a doctor after his football career.

But Witherspoon said he is committed to football and promised the 49ers during his visit to Santa Clara that he will make huge strides over the next few years as he continues to develop as a player.