49ers Mailbag: Questions about QB, WRs


49ers Mailbag: Questions about QB, WRs

It's the morning after one of the most painful losses in 49ers history.Let's go to the 49ers Mailbag to see what folks are wondering after the 49ers' season-ending 20-17 overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game.Q: I like Alex but still don't have complete faith in him . . . Will Kaepernick have a chance to compete for the starting QB position next year? (Jack O'Ryan)
Not only did the 49ers draft Colin Kaepernick in the second round of the draft, but they traded up to get him. Kaepernick, officially, was the first quarterback that was added to the 49ers' roster under coach Jim Harbaugh.
Fully expect Alex Smith to return. But also expect the team to give Kaepernick a shot. It's doubtful Harbaugh will have an open quarterback competition, but the best player will play. That's something Harbaugh has said all along -- about every position on the team.
If, at some point, Harbaugh believes Kaepernick gives the 49ers their best chance to be successful, then Kaepernick will take over as the quarterback. Kaepernick will get a full offseason and training camp to convince Harbaugh.
Q: What was up with our complete inability to convert 3rd downs? (Josh Geller)
It's been an epidemic all season. While the 49ers had an efficient passing attack, it was not always effective. Part of the problem was that the 49ers weren't able to do well on first and second downs, either. It's easier to convert on third downs when the yardage is manageable. That wasn't always the case with the 49ers.Q: Any chances on releasing Kyle Williams? (Jason Mitchell)
Well, let's face it, Williams broke camp as the 49ers' No. 5 wide receiver. He was behind Michael Crabtree, Joshua Morgan, Braylon Edwards and Ted Ginn when the season began. Without question, the 49ers need to do something to address the wideout position. Williams' spot certainly is not guaranteed for next season, so he'd have to earn his way on the team. But it would be surprising if they completely gave up on him before the start of camp.The 49ers believe Williams can be an effective slot receiver. But Williams looked way too shaky in the return game in the limited time he was back there. His confidence took a huge hit, obviously. How he bounces back from this, from a mental standpoint, will determine his future with the club.Q: Do you think the 49ers will draft a wide receiver? (Samuel Garcia)
Yes. They'll look toward free agency and they'll look for a young player, too. The 49ers have the No. 30 overall pick, and there will be the opportunity throughout this draft to add some talent at the position.Q: What do you think the 49ers need to add to their roster to get to the Super Bowl? WR? CB? QB or ??? (Rick Dalderis)
Well, they nearly got to the Super Bowl with the roster they have right now. Receiver is a spot that must be addressed. Morgan and Ginn are free agents, but the 49ers need to improve this area. They also need more help at cornerback with Carlos Rogers slated for free agency, and no guarantee he'll return. Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks is slated for free agency, so the 49ers will look to re-sign him while also getting another player at that spot. The 49ers feel pretty good about their offensive line, but they'll always look to get stronger there -- especially at guard.

Mark Helfrich provides insight into Chip Kelly's line of thinking

Mark Helfrich provides insight into Chip Kelly's line of thinking

Mark Helfrich had a strong indication he would be fired as Oregon’s head coach. And he said he told Chip Kelly recently he would have no hard feelings if Kelly left the 49ers to return to coach the Ducks.

Kelly this week said he is not interested in abandoning his job with the 49ers to coach in the college ranks. Helfrich suggested during a radio interview on Friday that Kelly told him the same thing privately.

When it was suggested that Kelly hated to recruit, Helfrich did not disagree.

"That's a fact," Helfrich said in an interview on ESPN Radio's Russillo and Kanell. "I don't know hated recruiting. . . a dislike. A strong dislike. But I think Chip has that challenge in his mind right now to make it right in the NFL.

"I had some of those conversations with him a couple weeks ago when it looked like this was going south. That was a very awkward converation, but (I) just wanted to let him know that to take our personal relationship out of it in every way, shape or form if he wanted to consider this.

"But, me, reading between the lines, I think he wants to make it right in the NFL. I think he wants to win at that level. He's had a rough go of it this year, but he'll get it right."

Kelly compiled a 46-7 record in four seasons in Eugene, Ore. He left after the 2012 season to accept the head-coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly was fired late last season and took the 49ers job two weeks later.

In Kelly’s first season with the 49ers, the club is 1-10. The 49ers are on a franchise-long 10-game losing streak entering Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

Helfrich was 37-16 in his four seasons at Oregon after his promotion from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Kelly said he spoke with Helfrich the morning after he was fired.

“I just felt bad for Mark. I love him like a brother,” Kelly said. “He’s a tremendous person. He’s a hell of a football coach, but he’s an even better person. Just felt for him and the rest of the guys on that staff. It’s an unfortunate thing that goes on in this profession. We all know about it when we sign up, but when it happens you’re still taken aback by it.”

Kelly said he hoped his denial of any interest in the Oregon job would end all speculation about his future. When asked if intends to remain with the 49ers, Kelly said on Wednesday, “Yep. So we're all done with that, I hope."

Injury report: Dial set to return for 49ers; Patton, Lynch questionable

Injury report: Dial set to return for 49ers; Patton, Lynch questionable

Defensive lineman Quinton Dial, who sat out last week’s game with knee and neck issues, will return to action Sunday for the 49ers at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears.

Dial was not listed on the team’s injury report after going through two limited practices this week. The 49ers had only a walk-through Friday in Orlando, Fla., but Dial was cleared to return to full activity, the team announced.

Wide receiver Quinton Patton (concussion) and outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (ankle) were both listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

Patton appears to be on pace to be cleared in the NFL’s return-to-play concussion protocol. He has returned to non-contact football activity after sustaining a head injury last week against the Miami Dolphins.

Lynch has already missed four consecutive games with a high-ankle sprain. Lynch has appeared in only three games this season. He sat out the first four games of the year while serving a four-game suspension for violating the leageu’s policy of substances of abuse.

The Bears listed six players as questionable for the game, including outside linebackers Willie Young and rookie Leonard Floyd. Young leads Chicago with 6.5 sacks, while Floyd is second with five sacks.

Quarterback Jay Cutler has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury. Matt Barkley will make his second career start.

LB Aaron Lynch (ankle)
WR Quinton Patton (concussion)

QB Jay Cutler (right shoulder)
LB Willie Young (knee)
S Adrian Amos (foot)
WR Eddie Royal (toe)
LB Leonard Floyd (concussion)
CB Deiondre' Hall (ankle)
G Josh Sitton (ankle)