Congrats to San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who was named a finalist for the 2020 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. Also, the 49ers waive S Johnathan Cyprien; release DL Willie Henry from the practice squad.
4. Center. This is an even bigger question now than when Kyle Shanahan arrived in 2017. At least he had Daniel Kilgore then. Weston Richburg’s future is fuzzy after a patellar tendon injury cost him all of the 2020 season. The 49ers likely will be able to re-sign Ben Garland, but he’ll be 33 by the start of OTAs and missed most of the season with his own injury. Is Daniel Brunskill the future center? Do the 49ers look to the draft? Do they sign 35-year-old Alex Mack in free agency?
5. Wide receiver. The 49ers have two excellent starters in Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. But — yeesh — they don’t have much behind that pair. Remember, Kendrick Bourne is poised to be a free agent in March. He might be back, but at some point, maybe in the middle rounds, the 49ers could stand to add a shifty slot receiver who also returns punts. Florida receiver Kadarius Toney, anyone?
What should the 49ers do?
The idea that Kittle is practicing and would like to play is a real testament to what a great guy he is and a great teammate and a great competitor. And even though he’s rich, he still wants to come back and play games that may not matter. Admirable.
Having written that, the 49ers should not let Kittle near the field again this season, because he’s an indispensable player. And funny things happen in football, even in preseason games. People get really hurt.
The 49ers should tell him, “No, you cannot play again this season.”
He’s honorable to want to come back. The 49ers need to take a long view right now. They’re not taking the view of three more games. That’s silly. This is a very big organization worth a lot of money. They need to take the long view. And in the long view, Kittle needs to be ready for next season. For now, Kittle can go around the locker room and cheer up the healthy players.
The first order of business for the organization is to determine what to do with Jimmy Garoppolo and his scheduled $25.5 million pay for next season. If Kyle Shanahan and Lynch decide to move in a different direction, it makes sense for the 49ers to bring back either Nick Mullens or C.J. Beathard — but not both.
In that case, the 49ers’ quarterback room would consist of a veteran quarterback, a rookie and Mullens or Beathard.
That is why it would seem to make sense for the 49ers to go with Beathard as the starter for the final three games to determine which one to retain for next season.
“Fast forward, when I got here to the Niners, Sherman dealt with the Achilles injury, and he stood in my corner with my ankle injury that I had in 2019, just kept having those positive thoughts,” Verrett shared on KNBR’s Much & Mac show. “He knows the type of grind that I have in me, and the words that he was giving me throughout that process helped me to get where I’m at now.”
“A true leader, pro, Hall of Famer, the whole nine yards,” Verrett said of Sherman. “A guy that you can lean on whenever you’re in a tough situation. A guy that knows the ins and outs on the football field, as well. I’m definitely happy that we’ve been able to share the field this year.”
Would the 49ers really risk taking Alabama’s Mac Jones or Florida’s Kyle Trask in the middle of the first round? Probably not. It feels smarter to address their bigger needs at cornerback and draft someone like South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn. Adding another offensive lineman wouldn’t be a bad idea, too. If Jones, Trask and others are viewed as second-round picks, the 49ers could take care of a pressing need in the first round and then grab their QB in the second. This could be a best-case scenario for San Francisco.
The 49ers at this point are in a tough spot balancing playoff hopes and their aspirations for next year’s draft. While there will be some hurdles, there is a road to either adding a top talent like Lance or checking multiple boxes in the draft next year.