The 49ers began practice Tuesday after a four-day rest following their Thursday night beatdown of the Oakland Raiders. The talk of the town is backup-turned-starter Nick Mullens, who filled in for the injured C.J. Beathard on primetime and led the 49ers’ offense to 34 points. Coach Kyle Shanahan has already named Mullens the starter for the team’s second-consecutive primetime matchup against the New York Giants on Monday night.
With Mullens Magic in the air, I’m back with my weekly mailbag column. You’re welcome to drop questions in here for next week’s mailbag or tweet me @Rob_Lowder.
“Will C.J. Beathard be on the roster 2019?” Linus Jorgenson
A hand injury forced the issue, but C.J. Beathard’s return to backup duties seemed inevitable after losing five straight this season since Jimmy Garoppolo’s Week 3 ACL tear. He’s 1-9 in his 10 games as the 49ers’ starter. In 2018, Beathard completed 60% of his passes for eight touchdowns, seven interceptions and three fumbles.
Beathard’s standing on the roster moving into next season will depend largely on Mullens’ performance over the last seven games of the season. Beathard is a third-round pick in 2017 that Shanahan has shown a willingness to develop. It would take a strong showing from Mullens to force the 49ers to move on after two seasons.
“Do you feel we should be allowing Foster to recover fully from his shoulder injury for the next game and come back after the bye week?” Debbie Ryan
Linebacker Reuben Foster has been dealing with an obvious shoulder injury since the 49ers’ Week 5 loss to the Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium. It’s the same shoulder that many teams were concerned wouldn’t hold up prior to the 2017 NFL Draft. Following the team’s Week 8 loss to the Rams, Foster said he’d undergone an MRI and surgery wasn’t needed. It’s unclear if Foster’s shoulder would benefit from extended rest or if this is something he’ll continually endure throughout his career. Either way, the 49ers have to be concerned with how things have unfolded for Foster this season. I touched more on that here.
“What’s up with Trent Taylor?” Derek Carpenter
It’s a fair question. The arrow was pointing up for shifty slot receiver Trent Taylor after the 2017 season, reeling in 43 receptions for 430 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor’s been nearly a non-factor in 2018, catching only 18 passes for 138 yards and a score. It’s worth noting that the 49ers’ fifth-round pick in 2017 underwent back surgery during the offseason, which could play a role in his lack of success this season. Taylor was inactive Thursday against the Raiders but didn’t appear on the injury report during the week leading up to the game.
“Do you think Richie James Jr. is going to get more snaps? He had a big drop but I still really like his play. Would love to see him be more involved.” Kristi Cruz
James’ emergence on Thursday is directly related to Taylor’s absence. The 49ers’ seventh-round pick this year garnered a fair amount of hype after a solid showing during preseason. Up until Thursday, James’ lone reception came in Week 5 against the Cardinals. Against the Raiders, James earned three targets and two receptions for 60 yards, including an impressive catch and run on a quick slant. He dropped another slant on the same series that had a clear path to the end zone. He’s in competition for the slot receiver role along with Taylor, and if Thursday was any indication, James may be earning a more prominent role.
“Assuming we get the third pick in the draft behind the Giants and Raiders, who do you think we’ll be looking at in the draft?” NinerGuy77
The 49ers are currently projected the No. 3 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft behind the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders. At third-overall, the scouting department will be looking at every possible option, scenario and player. The team’s most pressing needs are on defense, with pass rusher, cornerback and safety standing out. The first three names that come to mind at each position are Ohio State’s
Joey Nick Bosa, LSU’s Greedy Williams and Alabama’s Deionte Thompson, respectively.
The 2019 draft is loaded with pass rushers. Keep a look out for Clemson’s Clellin Ferrell, Florida State’s Brian Burns and Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat.
“How do you think will the 49ers tackle the pass-rush situation?” Benjamin Pollman
Thursday’s win over the Raiders was the best the 49ers’ pass rush has looked all season. Coordinator Robert Saleh will be hoping that’s how the situation unfolds on a weekly basis for the rest of the season. Cassius Marsh, Dekoda Watson, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas all got to quarterback Derek Carr as the pass rush racked up eight total tackles, nine quarterback hits and seven tackles for loss. Watson was impressive off the edge in his return to action after spending the first eight games on injured reserve.
“Sign Bruce Irvin at a decent price tag?” James
The 49ers missed out on former Oakland Raiders pass rusher Bruce Irvin, who signed with the Atlanta Falcons early Wednesday, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Irvin was released by the Raiders on Monday after tallying six tackles, four quarterback hits, three tackles for loss and three sacks this season. The 49ers apparently made “a hard run” at Irvin before he signed with the Falcons, per NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco.
“Do you see Dante Pettis having his number called more on Monday Night?” Niners1
Dante Pettis is yet to have an impact on the 49ers’ passing game since his Week 8 return from knee injury. He’s only received one target since. Receivers Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, and Kendrick Bourne, and tight end George Kittle are dominating the target-share, with James, a seventh-round rookie, garnering more attention than Pettis. It goes without saying that the 49ers would like to see a more prominent role for their No. 44 pick. It’s unclear if that will happen Monday.
“After Mostert’s injury, and with only 1.5 healthy RBs remaining, what is the staff doing about some depth in case of another injury?” Tim Stringer
The 49ers have yet to make any personnel moves to address the running back position after Raheem Mostert’s season-ending broken forearm suffered against the Raiders on Thursday. The team has two backs on the practice squad in Jeff Wilson (6-0, 194) and Matt Dayes (5-9, 205.) It’s likely that one of those two is promoted to the active roster to join Matt Breida and Alfred Morris before Monday’s matchup against the Giants.
“Frank Gore returning for the Niners in 2019?” Yuri Silva
The next contract Frank Gore signs with the 49ers will be for the day he retires his jersey. Whether that’s in 2019 or 2025 remains to be seen. He just keeps playing football. Gore is currently the NFL’s No. 4 all-time rusher with 14,464 yards over his 14-year career. He’s already a legend.