The 2019 NFL Draft has come and gone. The San Francisco 49ers are now in the midst of the second-phase of the offseason program. Coaches are on the field with players, conducting walk-throughs and beginning to prepare for organized team activities, or OTAs. For now, the draft left us with plenty to talk about. Regime drama, expectations and roster battles are the word.
We’re back in this week’s post-NFL Draft mailbag. As always, you’re welcome to drop questions in here for our next mailbag or tweet me @Rob_Lowder.
Is there any truth to the recent article that suggests Lynch and Shanahan are no longer in the honeymoon stage?
Eddie’s asking the question that’s on everybody’s mind after Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller reported there was friction between Shanahan and Lynch on Tuesday. By all accounts, the relationship between the 49ers’ head coach and general manager remains strong. “Complete bullsh--,” said Kyle Shanahan on the report to NBC Sports Bay Area. My guess: Lynch and Shanahan likely disagreed on a player or pick, which is entirely healthy, and Miller’s source took it and ran with it. I don’t think it’s time to worry just yet, but this will undoubtedly be revisited if the 49ers’ 2019 season disappoints.
What are realistic expectations for Bosa in his first year?
Expectations should be high, Zman. Bosa’s biggest draw is a refined technique and skillset that should immediately translate to the pros. His hand usage was second-to-none in this year’s stacked draft class of pass rushers, and the 49ers should expect productivity out of the gate. Bosa will also receive the benefit of playing alongside four other first-round picks in Dee Ford, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas. 10 sacks, plus or minus one or two, is a realistic expectation for Bosa in his rookie campaign.
How good are Nick Bosa’s chances at Defensive Rookie of the Year?
Ryan need look no further than Nick Bosa’s brother, Joey. In 2016, Joey won DROY for the Los Angeles Chargers. In 12 games, he accounted for 41 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 21 quarterback hits and 10.5 sacks. Despite the layup, Nick’s closest comparison and projection is his brother. If the 49ers’ rookie can put together a similar season, he stands a good chance of winning the coveted honor.
“Were you surprised by the lack of attention the 49ers put on improving their secondary in the early rounds of the draft?”
I wasn’t surprised, 49ers Mode, considering the laundry list of roster needs the 49ers are still attempting to address. The first two picks of pass rusher and receiver were understandable, if not predictable. The defense awaits the offseason competition between cornerbacks Ahkello Witherspoon, Tarvarius Moore and Jascon Verrett for the spot opposite Richard Sherman. Adrian Colbert and Jimmie Ward will be vying for the starting role at free safety. The 49ers likely prefer to allow these roster battles to play out for another season before there’s another significant investment into the secondary.
Is it safe to say that the 49ers believed they could fix their secondary issues by beefing up the pass rush?
David brings up another good point. The 49ers’ defensive front will be stacked from end to end in 2019. Bosa and Ford will be the team’s primary pass rushers, complementing Buckner, Armstead and Thomas on the interior. All five are first round picks. The coverage will benefit from the 49ers’ new-found ability to rush the passer, and it could shape how the team addresses the secondary in the future.
Who do you think will be Week 1 starting receivers?
X: Marquise Goodwin
Z: Deebo Samuel
Slot: Dante Pettis
Note: This is, in no way, solidified, Kyle Shanahan loves to move his receivers around to take advantage of formations and matchups. I’d also expect Hurd to be in the mix, as well, but his involvement will depend on his showing and development throughout training camp. Your thoughts, Post Route?
Who’s least likely to make the roster between Trent Taylor, Richie James, Kendrick Bourne and Jordan Matthews?
Good question, Rod. The 49ers’ lineup at receivers went from depleted to crowded in a matter of one draft. Lynch added Deebo Samuel in the second round and Jalen Hurd in the third, both guaranteed a roster spot in 2019 and likely to have significant roles in the 49ers’ offense. Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne and Jordan Matthews will all be competing for what’s likely to be five or six spots on the 53-man roster - three of which are reserved for Samuel, Hurd and second-year wideout Dante Pettis. If I had to pick one to be on the outside looking in, it’d have to be Matthews, who was signed to a one-year deal this offseason.
How many defensive lineman do you think the 49ers carry on the roster?
The 49ers kept nine defensive lineman in 2018. That may change in 2019 given the roster battles taking place at other positions, but if I had to predict the lineup for Shiga: Buckner, Armstead, Thomas, Ford, Bosa, D.J. Jones, Kentavius Street and either Sheldon Day or Ronald Blair.
Can Kentavius Street be a key contributing player in 2019 given the number of 1st rounders on our line?
Street was a fourth-round pick in 2018 that red-shirted last season as he recovered from a torn ACL suffered during a pre-draft workout. Hammtweezy’s question highlights a tough road ahead for Street among a crowded defensive front. The N.C. State product isn’t guaranteed a roster spot, let alone an impact role in 2019. He’ll be competing with Blair and Day as a backup to the bevy of entrenched starters.
Do you think the 49ers will pursue any of the remaining free agents?
The 49ers have reached the 90-player limit after the addition of their 2019 draft class and the undrafted free agents. I don’t expect the 49ers to heavily pursue any additional free agents, Don, unless an injury or a clear need emerges during the offseason programs. There may be the added name or two for depth, but I wouldn’t expect bigger names like Ndamukong Suh or Ezekiel Ansah. Perhaps a name to watch is former Arizona Cardinals safety Tre Boston, who played well last season at the free safety spot. If Ward or Colbert struggle, the 49ers may look elsewhere.