Welcome back to the #Channel49 Q&A Mailbag. We run the #Channel49 chat on Twitter every Friday at 2 p.m. PT. Feel free to join in the discussion.
This will be as lopsided a game on paper as we will play all year. But there are some extenuating circumstances here. The team is playing in London with an early start time and could be jet lagged, exhausted or who knows. If we were playing the Jags at home, I might think otherwise, but in this game, I'd like to see them use their top-flight running attack against the Jaguars last-ranked run defense early and often. Get the game out of reach as early as you can and get some guys like Frank Gore and Patrick Willis (with his gimpy groin) as much rest as possible. Any kinks we have can be worked out during the upcoming bye week.
The Jaguars are bad. They're bad at all aspects of the game and nearly every position group. There are a few things to worry about, one of which is Justin Blackmon. He's been on fire since returning from his four-game suspension to start the year. But even if he has an 8-reception, 130-yard game, that shouldn't be enough to trouble the 49ers in this one. With Chad Henne at quarterback for his second go-round this season, there's not much threat that the Jags put up many points. I say you roll some safety coverage his way, load up against the run and defy Henne to beat you with an injury-listed Cecil Shorts. It should be noted the Jags have three touchdowns passing to 15 interceptions.
Nnamdi Asomugha hasn't been horrible. He just hasn't really impressed, and with no upside and no special teams value, its hard to envision him sticking around much longer. He's been a healthy inactive the past few games, never a good sign for a 32-year old cornerback on a team with a younger, quicker player coming back. Is Eric Wright the answer? What he might contribute? We won't know until he hits the field. But, the fact that the team activated Wright, as opposed to sitting on him in case of an injury and waiting it out until next year, indicates to me that they have plans for him. Asomugha seems like the most likely victim of those plans.
If MM & Crabs both look fairly decent when they return, what are the chances Patton gets put on IR? #Channel49— Alan Chee (@agchee) October 25, 2013
At this point, there has been no update as to when Quinton Patton will return from his broken foot. Marlon Moore would appear to be the first one cut. He's added nothing in the passing game and I can't remember him making a play on special teams. Until we hear more about Patton's return to health, it is hard to predict when he'll be ready. If he's slow to recover we may see him sent to the IR. Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree will be taking roster spots, and the sooner the better. Another name that is being thrown around as a possible cut is Kyle Williams. He is our punt returner and No. 2 receiver. While I've been unimpressed with his play this year, I don't see how adding two players pushes him from No. 2 to cut. I don't think we'll see him back next year, but I he's likely with us for the duration of 2013.
Josh Gordon Rumors
#Channel49 I can't believe not going after Gordon has to do with Mario coming back. What's the real reason? A pick in the 1st instead?— Cory Fretland (@CoryFretland) October 25, 2013
There are still a number of Josh Gordon rumors and subsequent questions floating around, and with good cause. Yes, our wide receivers leave much to be desired and, yes, we have two of our top three from last season returning from injury. Whether or not the 49ers go after Gordon should have nothing to do with Manningham's return. If Gordon had zero off-field issues, it would be a no-brainer. He's got a team-friendly contract and a big play ability that the 49ers would love to couple with Kap's cannon arm and play-action run game. I also doubt the Browns would be looking to move him were he a solid citizen. He's one failed drug test away from a year-long suspension and has not shown an ability to not screw up. That, along with the Brown's asking price, would make any team hesitant.
There's also a good reason to make a deal. The 49ers have a ton of picks, and as evidenced by last year's draft crop, we can't keep them all. Marcus Cooper and B.J. Daniels are two guys we wanted to keep but didn't have roster spots for, now playing for other teams. Next year will only see more of the same. Packaging some of those picks for a proven commodity may be a more advisable strategy than to, say, swing and miss big time on the 2012 1st-round pick. But those damn character concerns.....
I'm still very conflicted.
#channel49 Are Baalke & Lombardi playing the "Not Interested in Trading" game to raise/lower asking price on Josh Gordon before deadline?— Elvin Pritchard (@ElvinPritchard) October 25, 2013
Elvin, one of our longest-standing #Channel49 supporters, has a new profile pic and a good question. I don't think Browns GM Michael Lombardi is necessarily playing chicken with other teams, he simply doesn't need to make the trade. The reasons we're all salivating over the idea of adding Gordon are the same reasons why the Browns would want to keep him. He's got a manageable salary and having him as a weapon to pair with an incoming rookie quarterback is a tantalizing idea. His off the field issues apply wherever he goes. I think Lombardi is waiting for a team to blow his socks off with a deal, otherwise they're fine with holding on to him. It's not as though he's a malcontent who's bad for the team, like Josh Freeman was perceived to be in Tampa. The Bucs had zero leverage in that situation. The Browns have the leverage here in that keeping him is also a win for them.
#Channel49 who do you think will be in the starting lineup for cornerbacks next year 2014?— Elvis Dumervil (@Frenchyy6) October 25, 2013
The secondary has played above and beyond what we've expected and our cornerbacks have played well. Half, at most, are expected back next season. Carlos Rogers' contract makes him difficult to justify keeping around for another season. Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock will be free agents. Perrish Cox is a restricted free agent but has been average. Chris Culliver is under contract, but will be returning from an ACL injury. Nnamdi and Wright are on one-year deals, but as mentioned, we don't even know if Nnamdi will survive the season. And rookie Darryl Morris has been a great special teams contributor, but we don't know what else he offers. Cornerback is probably the hardest position to speculate on moving forward...but here goes.
I think Nnamdi is cut before the end of the year. Rogers' contract makes him a cap casualty in the offseason. Brown will want more money than the 49ers will give him and is allowed to walk. Culliver will be back full strength and will be expected to be the number one. I'm expecting Eric Wright to do well enough under secondary coach Ed Donatell to earn the No. 2 spot, but with mixed results. He's exactly the kind of low-cost, physically-gifted player they like to integrate into their system. Tramaine Brock gets extended and will compete for the No. 3 & 4 spots with a value free agent and an early-round rookie. That leaves Morris and Cox (if he's kept around, which I think they do because the price is right) to fight it out for the last spot, possibly with a late-round pick and some UDFAs for the last spot.
I'm as uncertain as can be on all of that. What do you think?
Donte Whitner, er Hitner, is playing very well this year. He may be playing himself out of town. If he keeps this level of play up, I'd love to keep him, but find it unlikely. He won't get the type of contract that Dashon Goldson did, though. Whitner was deemed a failure at his first stop in Buffalo, so some may see the system as the reason for his success. Also, Whitner had an off year in coverage last year. Goldson grew into the player he became after getting better each year. If Whitner will play for what we value him at, great. I think it would be tough to score another hit in the rookie starting safety gamble two years in a row. If we don't keep him, I can see them bringing in another low-cost, high-reward free agent as a stopgap while possibly drafting a mid to late-rounder.
Those QBs you speak of are Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Peyton Manning has always had great receivers. Colin Kaepernick is nowhere near their level at this point. And those quarterbacks weren't making the guys around them better until much further along in their career than their 16th start. I do expect Kaepernick, under Harbaugh's tutelage, to get there one day, but that time is not now.
Second part of that question...Yes the 49ers WRs are pretty bad, Anquan Boldin being the one exception. There are the odd plays here and there where one gets a bit of separation and Kap fails to pull the trigger for one reason or another. I was listening to Turron Davenport and Dylan DeSimone's podcast a few weeks ago and ex-NFLer and Super Bowl Champ Qadry Ismail was on. He discussed reasons why receivers might not get the ball thrown their way. Kaepernick clearly lacks confidence in targets not named Davis or Boldin. There are many factors that could play into it, some being on Kap and others being behind-the-scenes, practice stuff we'll never know about. Whatever the reason, we're not upgrading Kap. We need to upgrade the WR play. The return of Manningham and Crabtree should help. Kyle Williams and Jon Baldwin will look much better going against dime corners than they do against No. 2's. If and when a third, and even fourth, viable target emerges, we'll see the offense get that much better. Exponentially better is an exaggeration, but you get the idea.
Kaepernick did seem to have a bit more of an air about him against the Titans. Kap being a threat in the run game makes passing that much easier. I think we'll see more runs out of him as the games get more meaningful. When we're winning the games without risking our quarterback's health, I'm happy. There is some justified concern about confidence going into a playoff push, but I think the return of trusted targets will have just as much of an impact on him being relaxed and confident as allowing him to be unrestrained in his play. Regardless, it was nice to see him sprinting untouched with his giraffe-legged strides through the Titans defense into the end zone. A game in which both Kap and Gore get to Kaepernick is a game we're likely going to be very happy with.
#channel49 lemonier been solid along w skuta, thought crab was odd man out on extn, now i am thinking aldon is, who do u extend or neither?— Kaleo Hocson Jr (@LeftCoastLivin) October 25, 2013
I still think Michael Crabtree will be the odd man out. Assuming that he returns to form in 2014, he'll be in line for a hefty contract. If he asks for the kind of money that Mike Wallace got from Miami, which I'm pretty sure someone will pay him, then I doubt the 49ers will pony up. With the state of our wide receiver corps and our only solid contributor, Anquan Boldin, not under contract past '13, it's a difficult idea to stomach. Unfortunately, that's how I see things playing out.
As far as an Aldon Smith extension...The three most sought after players are a franchise quarterback, elite left tackle and elite pass rusher. Joe Staley is under contract for a while and Colin Kaepernick will join him soon enough. I think the team would be crazy to let Aldon Smith walk (assuming his personal life is sorted out). What his shenanigans may mean is that a potential extension may be more incentive-laden with less guaranteed money. He should still expect to see a top-tier contract and if he stays sane, he'll see the incentivized dollars turn into real ones.
Do you think we see Lattimore on the practice field at all this year or will they just put him on IR? #Channel49— Sean Silveira (@seancca) October 25, 2013
I think we don't see anything from Lattimore this year. Frank Gore is still Frank Gore. Kendall Hunter is as capable a backup as you'll find. Anthony Dixon is a special teams stud and he's running better than he has. LaMichael James has been a healthy inactive, for goodness sake. There's no place for him on the roster right now, even if Lattimore is healthy and we suffer an injury. I think we let him get back to 100%, soak up the playbook and give him every opportunity to show what he has for 2014 during the offseason. As I understand it, we could activate him from the NFI and would have three weeks in which he could practice before we have to cut him, place him on the 53-man roster or place him on IR. If he were at full health in Week 15, there is the possibility they do that, just to get him some practice action...but I'd hold off.
Would like your thoughts on the LMJ situation/drama. #channel49— Jason (@BayAreaFan2) October 25, 2013
I don't think there's too much to read into the situation. LaMichael James is a young player who wants to play. He hasn't said anything ridiculously bad, though he seems to be toeing the line a bit. You can't blame him for being frustrated but he's generally said the right things about "waiting his turn" and "it's a team game". As the younger generation of players, the one's who've grown up with social media and don't have the filter that the older players have, replace the Justin Smith's of the world, we'll see more and more of this, much like Kap's Cap-Gate. You'd think, however, that LMJ would have learned from the Brandon Jacobs situation last year that Tweets can can run yourself out of town.
Prediction: 49ers 30, Jaguars 10
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Until next time...