It’s been forever since we’ve had a chance to talk about football. Now that we do, I felt like it was a good time to bring back the mailbag.
Updated feeling: are we actually having a full season? - Diego
It’s hard not to be optimistic that we’ll have a full season, though we’ll see once there’s contact between teams. From August 12-August 20, over 23,200 tests were administered to players. There were zero positive tests among players. Could that change once the season starts? Of course. There’s bound to be one knucklehead out there that won’t do his part, but early returns are positive, and I’m a lot more confident that there will be a season.
My question is whether we’ll see fans in stadiums towards the end of the season.
I think Dee Ford is key to 49ers having an elite pass rush. My question is: what is Ford’s knee status, and will he play a full-time role during the season? - Sean
The players and coaches would agree that Ford is the key, but he seems to get nicked up too often to rely on. Just last week, Ford hurt either his foot or calf during a 1-on-1 drill against Mike McGlinchey. Nobody else on either side of the ball was banged up during the entire week. Will Ford play a full-time role? I don’t think the 49ers are expecting that. The best-case scenario would be a season where Ford plays 60% of the snaps.
How is Tavon Austin looking? -Fred
Tavon is fine. Cornerbacks certainly respect his speed, and it shows as Austin gets open on comebacks and a couple of other routes where other receivers struggle. He hasn’t been involved much with the 1’s, and I’d be surprised if Austin were on the roster come Week 1. Then, Tuesday happened, and Austin saw more work with the starters thanks to injuries at receiver and looked like a player San Francisco could use. Austin has been the third-string kick returner in practice.
Is Dion Jordan making eyes turn?! - Chris
In a word: Hardly. Jordan’s most notable play was to pick a fight with Jaryd Jones-Smith after Jordan lost a 1-on-1 battle. He’s been invisible during team drills. Jordan had a perfect opportunity to make an impression, but he’s just not as good as the other defensive lineman on the team.
Will the Niners make a late trade to shore up the interior offensive line or WR due to injuries? - Uncle Salty
Terrific question, Uncle salty. I wouldn’t rule any trades out, as the 49ers acquired Laken Tomlinson during August’s final week in 2017. Teams around the league are keeping everything close to the vest, so it’ll be difficult for the Niners to know who they could potentially pluck off the waiver-wire or trade for since most teams don’t share the rotation of the players at practice.
If I were to guess, “what you see is what you get” at both wide receiver and offensive line. The hope is that Deebo Samuel will be back sooner than later. The same could be said for Ben Garland.
Is Richard Sherman to safety a very likely thing? Sub-question, if so - do you see him getting used like Tarvarious Moore was in the Super Bowl on a more consistent basis? - Justin
I have a hard time seeing this happen. Think about what the 49ers ask of their safeties. Now think about where Sherman excels. The two don’t align. Moore was used in “Dime” packages as a blitzer and to cover running backs and tight ends. You’re in the middle of the field, and those players have a two-way go. You have to be more of a reactive athlete to play in the middle. Tarvarius is a tremendous athlete, and that’s why he excels in the middle. I can’t see Sherman in that same role.
How big of an issue will the OL injuries & depth become Week 1? - Jacob
If Trent Williams is healthy, I wouldn’t say there’s much of an issue for the 49ers. The Cardinals rely on Chandler Jones to get pressure. The Cardinals don’t pose many threats on the interior defensive line to the 49ers. Now if the team is still banged up come Week 4 against Fletcher Cox...
Who is having a better camp, Pettis, or Bourne? - Chad
This one isn’t particularly close; it’s Bourne. KB hasn’t come off the field with the starters. He’s working more down the field than last season, which is a nice change that defenses will have to respect. I’d give Pettis the advantage on routes down the field, but anything under ten yards as far as creating separation, or knowing how to sit down in zones, it’s Bourne. He’s such a smart player.
Who do you think will lead in receiving yards and rushing yards this season? - Gurjit
I don’t think there’s any question that Raheem Mostert will lead the team in rushing yards if he stays healthy. I’d say there’s a better chance of Mostert having double the yards as the next rusher than another back having more yards than Raheem, save an injury.
As for receiving yards, that’s a tough one. I’d guess that Trent Taylor would have the most receptions. If Deebo Samuel plays during September, and I think he does, he’s your answer. Brandon Aiyuk has a hamstring strain and is considered week-to-week. You’re not a darkhorse to lead anything if you’re a first-round pick, but I’d give him the next best odds.