Ahead of the San Francisco 49ers third preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, general manager John Lynch joined KNBR to talk about Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance, whether Nick Bosa and Jason Verrett will play Week 1, the offensive line depth, and more.
Lynch started about by addressing how Garoppolo looked coming back from an injury and equated it back to his playing days when Lynch had neck surgery. Lynch said he was a little gun-shy at first until his coach, Mike Shanahan, told him to “just go hit somebody.” It sounded like Lynch, like the rest of us, was over talking about it. He is expecting Garoppolo to bounce back on Saturday. When asked if the Niners would consider playing Garoppolo in the fourth preseason game, Lynch laughed and said: “That’s off the table. We’ve got a plan for the reps. I guess you never say never, but I can’t see that happening.”
When I left Verrett off the 53-man roster, I wasn’t sure if his injury was more severe than the team was leading on, and if he was a possible IR candidate. It turns out that wasn’t the case. Both he and Bosa suffered severely sprained ankles on August 7. Lynch said the decision could come down to the last minute:
“Nick Bosa, he’s coming along really well. I think, truly, Week 1, that’s, I don’t know, 50-50 as to whether he makes it. It’s going to be touch-and-go, and Verrett the same way. We’ll learn a lot more. Everyone’s doing really good in their rehab, it’s just a lot of those we knew would be close, so we’ll see as things get a lot closer.”
On Dee Ford, Lynch said, “he’s doing really well, but we likely won’t see him during the preseason.” Ford is expected to return to practice next week. Ford has been limited due to chronic knee tendonitis that has been bothering him.
Lynch wasn’t as confident in regards to when Jerick McKinnon would return, who could be a candidate for the IR reserve-return designation:
“McKinnon, that’s something that’s been a very fluid situation. We’re just trying to be judicious. Last time, I don’t think we rushed him when he had his flare up, but it didn’t work. So you go back and you say, ‘What can we do better this time to give him the best possible chance?’ We’re trying to do that, but I think that should be soon.”
If McKinnon is unable to go Week 1, but the team feels he’ll be ready in a couple of weeks, they may have to sacrifice a roster spot.
Trading a defensive lineman?
One of those roster spots could be one of the young and talented defensive linemen on the roster. Last year, the 49ers carried nine defensive linemen on their 53-man roster. With the depth and skill this year, I’d be surprised if they didn’t carry ten. Again, when I’m making projections, it is what I think the 49ers would do, not what I would do. In my opinion, Damontre Moore has been one of the best defenders on the team in the preseason. Unless he puts up two stinkers, he would be on the roster. In a league that revolves around quick, interior linemen that can get after the passer, I don’t know how you can convince yourself that Kevin Givens isn’t going to bring more to the table than one of the 1-techs on the roster. It’s not even upside. Givens has proven that he can win and win often inside. That is a player that you want to develop on your roster, not watch him turn into a promising player somewhere else.
Here’s Lynch on the defensive line:
“That’s one of the things that we’re happy about, but it’s also going to make for some tougher decisions,” Lynch said. “The back end of our roster, there’s some real strong players, more than we can keep. That’s what you want. It will make for some tough decisions. I’d be lying if I told you people hadn’t been calling, but we’re still trying to figure it out ourselves and what the right mix is. Sometimes, that doesn’t always mean the 53 most talented guys… Those are good problems to have, but there are a ton of discussions that are really tough ones because we have a lot of guys that are capable of making this roster.”
You have to entertain any trade offers for players that are on the roster bubble. Is the offer you are receiving higher than the upside of the player? The front office will have to make some difficult decisions over the next week.
Depth questions on the offensive line
You could hear in Lynch’s voice that the team was bummed about losing Shon Coleman. The difference between Coleman and Justin Skule is tremendous. The 49ers brought in Sam Young, and by Lynch’s comments, he hasn’t done enough to cement his spot on the roster. Here is what he said:
“O-Line depth, when you have it, it’s rare,” Lynch said. “We felt like we bolstered it a little bit. Shon Coleman, he’s a guy we traded for going into last year, and he really developed, I think was probably as improved as any player on our roster through this offseason. That really hurt to see him go down because we really felt like we had another starting tackle as our swing guy, so now the pressure goes on a guy like Justin Skule from Vanderbilt, a rookie. But he’s got to step up his game. Sam Young, we went out and got.”
On Josh Garnett, Lynch wants to see more: “Josh is going to have to come show us that he’s ready to compete.” That doesn’t sound like good news for the former first-rounder. The Niners have Mike Person back, and Lynch said Weston Richburg’s rehab is going “extremely well.” Lynch mentioned how the team invested a lot in him and is looking forward to seeing him this year.
Here’s the interview: