I don’t know about you, but this has been the longest month of my life. To help fill the void of no live sports, we reached out for your San Francisco 49ers related questions.
Why W.R. at No. 13? - Cam
Why W.R. at #13? Hurd and Taylor are coming back from injury; Samuel and Bourne both had the opportunity to carry the load and learn from Sanders. Plus Goodwin, James, and Benjamin. Why not bring in a top-rank O.L. or D.B. and let them learn from Staley or Sherman while they’re here?
If you look at the depth chart, it’s understandable why you think the 49ers don’t need a receiver early on. Once you dig deeper, you realize Trent Taylor has had five surgeries. Jalen Hurd hasn’t taken an NFL snap after missing his rookie season with an injury. Kendrick Bourne and Deebo Samuel will contribute, but nothing in 2019 told us, Goodwin, James, Pettis, or Benjamin can be relied on.
The future at receiver matters as well. Quite a few contracts will be up after these next two seasons. All but Deebo, I believe. The most critical point is talent, though. None of the receivers mentioned above should prevent the 49ers from selecting one of the top receivers in the draft. If the goal is to get better as a team, then a player like Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy—who is a significant upgrade over every receiver not named Samuel—shouldn’t be ignored because of the numbers at receiver on the 49ers roster.
Who will replace buck on third and long obvious pass rush plays? Ronald Blair or Solly? -Tony
There have been whispers from league spies that Thomas is transitioning inside full-time. If true, there is your answer. I’m curious if the 49ers have Solly bulk up a bit this offseason. Even if Thomas isn’t moving, he’d still be an option in sub-packages. Blair played one snap at defensive tackle so that it won’t be him. Robert Saleh was creative using Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, and Dee Ford inside on passing downs last season. It won’t be one player, because one person cannot replace DeFo.
When does a decision on Goodwin need to be made? Where do you believe the Niners are leaning? You think we keep him? -Lino
Kyle Shanahan said that Goodwin is too valuable to cut at the NFL Combine, but if the 49ers don’t have any takers, they won’t have a choice but to release Goodwin. The signing of Travis Benjamin was a good indicator that the Niners would not keep Goodwin. With the NFL Draft a little under a month away, there’s no rush to decide on Goodwin. If he’s still on the roster come draft weekend, the 49ers are likely confident that can get some compensation for Goodwin. If not, John Lynch didn’t like the offers he received.
How confident is the team in Moseley at cornerback? There have been rumors that they’re going to try to draft another one, do they not think that he’ll stay a solid option? - Frank
Whether the 49ers draft, sign, or trade for a cornerback, that’s not necessarily an indictment on how they feel about Moseley—who played as well as you can ask a cornerback in his situation last season. They were confident enough to start Moseley in the playoffs and the Super Bowl, which counts for something. Like wide receiver, the future at cornerback for San Francisco is questionable at best, with the majority of contracts set to expire. The 49ers adding a cornerback will have more to do with the future than Moseley’s ability. After 2020, Richard Sherman, K’Waun Williams, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Moseley are all free agents.
Do you think we finally see McKinnon in a regular-season game this year? -Frankie
I do! I’ll make a bold prediction and say Jerick Mckinnon will have more receiving yards next season than any 49ers running back had under Shanahan. A low bar, but Kyle has been ready to use Jet in the passing game since the day McKinnon signed. Lynch said during his presser at the NFL Combine that McKinnon was cleared to practice. That’s a great sign and will allow Jet to participate in all offseason activities—something that hasn’t happened in two years. McKinnon being able to run and allow his body to get used to the training without having to feel like he needs to make up for the lost time and “rush” to get back, will make a difference.
Who will be the breakout player next season? -Jairo
You can’t break out unless you play. Raheem Mostert got an opportunity, and he took advantage. As easy as it would be to pick a skill player, I’m going with D.J. Jones. I didn’t know much about Jones coming into the season, but if he’s anywhere as good as he was in 2019, Jones is the clear breakout candidate. The 49ers must continue to add bodies along the defensive line to keep Jones from wearing down as the season goes on.
Jones hasn’t played more than 304 snaps in three seasons. Ideally, we see that number double this upcoming season. When D.J. played, he was borderline dominant. Everyone remembers him mowing over the Seahawks and Packers center, but Jones was equally as good against the Cardinals, Saints, and the Panthers. For what the 49ers askt their interior defensive lineman to do, the only thing holding Jones back from making more plays is him being on the field. Jones needs to stay healthy, but he’s my pick for breakout player in 2020 on the 49ers.
I’m reading some reports that Dante Pettis is being shopped. Any validity to that? -Amar
The Athletic’s Matt Barrows said Pettis was the second-most likely player on the Niners to be traded this offseason. Pettis will be easier to move than Marquise Goodwin because of his age and contract. League spies confirmed that the 49ers have been in talks with teams about Pettis, but one team turned down the offer. The tricky part about trading Pettis is the 49ers know they are not going to get anything close to a second-rounder for him. Would you be willing to move Pettis for a fourth-round pick? I wouldn’t.
The writing seems to have been on the wall since late summer with Pettis, and Shanahan continues to throw subtle jabs at him. At the NFL Combine, Kyle was talking about Deebo Samuel and how he fell in love with his game at the Senior Bowl for “how much he loves football.” It seems like there is much more behind this story, but I don’t know if we’ll ever get the full details.
Yes, the rumors are reportedly valid about Pettis. Earlier this month, Matt Maiocco said the Buckner trade wouldn’t be the last deal the 49ers make before the draft. The question is, will it be Breida or Pettis?