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.

Inactives: 49ers LB Lynch to miss fifth straight game

Inactives: 49ers LB Lynch to miss fifth straight game

CHICAGO – Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch will miss his fifth consecutive game with a high-ankle sprain when the 49ers face the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Lynch has appeared in just three games this season. He served a four-game suspension to begin the season for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse. He was injured late in the 49ers’ Oct. 23 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The next week was the 49ers’ bye week.

Eli Harold will start in place of Lynch for the ninth time this season.

Wide receiver Quinton Patton was cleared to return to action after sustaining a concussion last week. The 49ers will have six wide receivers active for the game: Patton, Torrey Smith, Jeremy Kerley, Rod Streater, Aaron Burbridge, and Chris Harper.

Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler, who is out for the season with a right shoulder injury, has not been placed on injured reserve, therefore he was amonng the team's inactive players. Matt Barkley will make his second NFL start.

The 49ers and Bears announced their inactive players for Sunday’s game:

QB Christian Ponder
RB Mike Davis
CB Marcus Cromartie
LB Aaron Lynch
T John Theus
TE Je’Ron Hamm
DL Tony Jerod-Eddie

QB Jay Cutler
WR Eddie Royal
DB Adrian Amos
DB De'Vante Bausby
DL Jonathan Bullard
OL Cornelius Edison
DB Delondre Hall

Key factors that will determine where Kaepernick plays in 2017

Key factors that will determine where Kaepernick plays in 2017

CHICAGO – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers got what they wanted from a restructured contract the sides negotiated in October.

Kaepernick is allowed to opt out of his contract after this season. And the 49ers are not financially obligated to pay his 2017 salary if he sustains an injury that lingers past April 1.

Kaepernick, who requested permission to seek a trade, was always expected to opt out and become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Even if he did not opt out, the 49ers would be expected to release him, anyway.

“Organizations at the end of the season go through and evaluate personnel and opportunities,” Kaepernick explained in June why he asked for permission to seek a trade. “That was something, I sat down with my team and did the same thing. That’s how we handled the business.”

The NFL Network on Sunday reported what had been known all along: Kaepernick plans to opt out the contract at the end of the season.

But this move – or if the 49ers release Kaepernick – does not rule out his return to the 49ers in 2017.

There are several unknown factors that will determine where Kaepernick plays next season:

--What will the market be for Kaepernick?

The 49ers and Denver Broncos had a deal worked out for Kaepernick last offseason. But the Broncos would only follow-through if Kaepernick agreed to take his guaranteed salary of $11.9 million down to $7 million annually over the next two years.

It’s likely the Broncos will no longer be interested. If they go after a veteran quarterback, Tony Romo would be expected to top the list. There are teams that likely will need a quarterback, such as Cleveland, Chicago and the New York Jets.

But it’s not known if ownership in those cities will step in over concerns about upsetting the team’s fan base with the acquisition of Kaepernick, who has been the NFL's most-polarizing figure this season due to his decision to protest racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem.

--Over the past four games, Kaepernick is playing at a level that would suggests he should be a starter in the NFL next season. If it’s just a football decision, he would either be competing for a starting job or – at the very least – be a top backup.

There is a lot of instability with the 49ers. If general manager Trent Baalke is back with the 49ers, it seems unlikely Kaepernick would want to come back.

Kaepernick's dissatisfaction with the 49ers last year led to him seeking a way out. He thought his team-friendly contract, which was low on guaranteed money, would allow the 49ers to keep the nucleus on their roster intact. Instead, the roster was overhauled.

Also, there were reports last year, which Kaepernick’s camp believe the 49ers leaked, that he wore his headphones around the team facility and closed himself off to teammates and did not spend as much time watching film as Blaine Gabbert.

--But if Baalke is fired at the end of the season and coach Chip Kelly is retained, it very well could be that the best place for Kaepernick will be back with the 49ers to establish some continuity.

Kelly said this week that he has not gotten involved in any of the contract discussions with Kaepernick, who recently placed his San Jose house on the market.

“I don’t deal with contracts,” Kelly said. “So, that wasn’t an issue. As I’ve said with everything, even the stuff when we first got there is when he’s with us it’s all football. If there’s a business thing. That’s between him and his agent and the front office. But that’s not something that we’ve ever had a discussion about.”

It appears Kelly and Kaepernick have a solid relationship. Kaepernick appears more comfortable running a system that accentuates his skillset.

“The relationship we have is great,” Kelly said. “We talk football and I really enjoy coaching him. He works extremely hard. He really wants to be great and works at it from that standpoint. So all that other stuff, I think he does a really good job of leaving that outside the door and we never really discuss it because that’s really not what our relationship is about.”