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Niners Nation #Channel49 Twitter Q&A Mailbag, VOL 21: Injuries, Nnamdi Asomugha, Wide Receivers & More

This week much of the focus was on injuries and the position groups they affected. That's understandable. It seems as though our biggest question marks going into the year are wide receiver and secondary. Just like in 2012!

What we expect to see come regular season
What we expect to see come regular season
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

We had a very active #Channel49 on Twitter Friday at 2:00 p.m. PT. Be sure to join Trevor Woods (@Woods49ers) and I (@GafflezMalone) every week at that time for a chance to be featured in the mailbag. We will have some special guests answering questions throughout the season during our twitter sessions.


No chance you see Randy Moss back. The 49ers could have re-signed him if they wanted to but didn't, and apparently no other team is interested in his services either. Mike Florio reported that Moss wants the right combination of quarterback, role, compensation, and prospects for contending. In other words, Moss is delusional. The future Hall of Famer wants to get paid, get the ball from an elite quarterback, and be on an elite team. Good luck Randy, at this point in your career you are not in a position to make a list of demands.

I like that the 49ers signed Collie. Right now, far too may receivers are dinged up going into the first preseason game and more bodies are needed in camp. The obvious concern is the checkered past Collie has had with concussions, but the signing (at little cost, so little risk involved) could reap rewards. The 49ers medical staff gave the green light to sign him and that's good enough for me. Collie has shown that he is a crisp route runner with good hands, something the 49ers could use. I know it is just a preseason game, but it would be cool to see Collie contribute and show his former quarterback, Peyton Manning, that he can still play.

As I sit here today, I would totally agree with that. The 49ers could potentially be without Rogers, Brown, and Asomugha next year, which will leave plenty of holes at cornerback on the depth chart. Regardless of how Cox, Brock, and Cooper perform, I still expect the 49ers to draft a cornerback early on in the 2014 drat (rounds 1-3).

At receiver, it's a whole 'nother bag. The 49ers have a lot of receivers that could step up and become fixtures at the position for years to come, or falter. It's August 4th and a lot of football is still to be played before Trent Baalke's draft strategy for this position is in place. If we see Lockette, Hall, Collie, Jenkins, Williams, or Moore perform well (even two of them), it will make the need to draft a receiver early less important. I still think the 49ers draft a receiver early too, but many things could change from now to then, a whole season and free agency.

The 49ers already traded for Wright, so they aren't overly worried about his character issues. It's hard to tell if they will sign Wright, they could be waiting one preseason game to see how the current group perform. If you see some head scratching play from Cox, Brock, Asomugha, or Cooper, Wright's phone could be ringing. I say why not bring him in and see what he's got left. He's a year removed from a big pay day at Tampa and big expectations to go along with it, so I wouldn't call him washed up or done just yet.


Nnamdi Asumougha has been getting fairly strong reviews from all the beat writers in attendance at training camp. Why would Vic Fangio then come out and say that he's still got work to do? The team tends to pull the rope-a-dope whenever possible. Coach Harbuagh does it as a matter of practice, but Fangio is usually a straight shooter. So there are a couple of lines of reasoning here.

Fangio could be trying to motivate people, not just Nnamdi, but the guys behind him. Tramaine Brock, Perrish Cox and Marcus Cooper have all moved one rung up the depth chart following Chris Culliver's season-ending injury. But knowing that the 3rd and 4th CB spots are up for grabs should be motivation enough. What I think is more likely is that Nnamdi does have some more work to do to impress the staff and the fact that he's been going up against the teams 7th and 8th string receivers for much of camp is not lost on them. In the reports, he seems to be doing fine against Anquan Boldin, but much of the judgement on Nnamdi, and the secondary as a unit, will be reserved until they're playing against the first units of our preseason opponents. Basically, I think Fangio is saying that Nnamdi defending well against Chuck Jacobs alone is not going to win him a starting job.

I am concerned about the depth at wide receiver. But I also agree with the second half of Tre's statement that Colin Kaepernick and the offense will find guys to throw to. Contradiction? Only slightly. All signs out of camp have shown that Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin are lighting it up and playing well with Kaepernick. If those two guys have the kind of year that we know they can, once you add in our running game and offensive line, Vance McDonald, LaMichael James out of the backfield and whatever else Greg Roman can throw at them, the offense will be a top-10 unit. If one or more of the younger wide receivers or camp bodies is able to have a breakout year then the offense may be unstoppable.

What does worry me about the wide receiver position right now is the nagging injuries. These young guys, most fighting to make the roster, are missing out on valuable time with their young quarterback. If you're playing for the Indianapolis Colts in Peyton Manning's heyday, you just get open and Peyton finds you. As we saw last year, Kaepernick needs to trust his guys to throw them the ball. Sure, he'll hit a wide open guy, but Michael Crabtree got more 'benefit of the doubt' throws, made the plays and, thus, received more throws. As Kaepernick matures and gains total command of the offense, we should be able to see a more plug-and-play scenario at wide receiver. That could happen this year or it make take more time. Until it eventuates, these youngsters are missing out on bonding time which may have some carryover to the regular season.

This is the perfect follow up to the above question. Marlon Moore, given all the injuries at his position group, is having quite a training camp. I read the beat writers' recaps every day while doing the Nuggets and his name keeps popping up. He's standing out, making highlight reel catches and excelling in one form or another on a regular basis. That's great for him. But every year there are training camp superstars. Eric Bakhtiari led the team in tackles in the preseason in 2012 only to be cut right before the season began so we could get Clark Haggans on the roster. Haggans made two tackles last year and barely sniffed the field. They must have valued Haggans' experience and history of production over Bakhtiati's upside. If other teams haven't gambled on Moore's upside yet, the 49ers may also 'surprisingly' pass on this camp superstar as well, for reasons you and I may never know. Chad Hall is another player in the same boat as Moore, frequently showing up in camp recaps.

That said, I'd like to reiterate what I said in response to the question above. Kaepernick has shown the propensity to throw the ball to who has performed and caught the ball for him previously. Getting Kaep's faith and trust early and keeping it could go a long way to making oneself look good. I think we're going to see Kaep make his pass catchers look good this year. Who that will be is a massive mystery at this point.

Mr Plus, who wins the 3rd cornerback spot is not nearly as difficult as trying to determine who wins the No. 2 wide receiver spot. For the cornerbacks, once Chris Culliver went down, I think it became fairly certain that Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Nnamdi Asomugha will be the top 3 at the position group. Brown and Nnamdi have both played RCB almost exclusively, but I think the 49ers will work that one out. I'm not saying Cox or some free agent (Eric Wright?) can't sneak in there, but those 3 are our strongest. I had been on record saying I wasn't certain on Nnamdi, reasoning that if he finished camp as the No. 4 CB he could get cut in favor of a player who plays special teams and makes less money. That's clearly changed.

As for wide receiver. I have no idea. I thought A.J. Jenkins would be the guy to seize the job at the start of camp. But he's been unimpressive when healthy and mostly unhealthy. Kyle Williams was another favorite for the job, but he's hardly practiced after tweaking his hamstring early on. Quinton Patton was also a possibility but has yet to catch a pass due to a wounded finger. He's visualizing pass catching at the momen, whatever that meanst. Ricardo Lockette, many people's sleeper pick, has hurt his hip, played sparingly and hasn't shown much when on the field. Then you have Moore, Hall, recently-signed Austin Collie and a whole bunch of other camp players vying for attention. The answer is...I have no idea. We've got a long way to go before they make that decision. This will go down as one of the wildest, unpredictable camp battles in recent memory.

Being a Sheep

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