San Francisco 49ers

How soon will 49ers contend again? What’s draft plan now? Taking on Reddit’s questions

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on the sidelines during a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on the sidelines during a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday.

San Francisco 49ers beat writer Matt Barrows hosted an AMA, or Ask Me Anything, session on Reddit on Friday. Here are some highlights. Read the enter AMA here.

Q: You’ve been covering the Niners through some very dark times. Is this the worst Niners team you’ve seen?

– Total-Annihilation

A: No. The 2004 team was bad and had no good veterans (Aside from BY) and no good young players. And, remember, Alex Smith didn’t throw his first touchdown pass in 2005 until THE FINAL WEEK OF THE SEASON. Those were some bad teams.

Q: In your opinion, how different would things be if the Niners had won the Super Bowl back in 2013? Does having a Lombardi on their resume change the career trajectories of Kaepernick, Harbaugh, etc.?

– TheFrogTrain

A: Absolutely. If Harbaugh wins a SB, hard to see him not getting an extension. And if Harbaugh stays, CK stays. #dominoes.

Q: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen mid interview?

– WaswereV2

A: There’s always one player who thinks it’s hil-ar-ious to walk up behind the media scrum and make faces to try to throw his teammate off his game. This year, that guy was Rashard Robinson. He’s with the Jets now.

Q: When is the earliest you foresee the 49ers actually being contenders again?

– Paranatural

A: They have A.) a ton of salary-cap space and B.) nine draft picks and C.) a ton of injuries this year. If they address a couple of big-ticket items in the offseason, it’s not out of the realm that they’re competitive next year and playoff-ready the next.

Q: Matt, I’ve been following your work for many years. Thank you for all of your hard work. I have two questions.

1. How accountable does Jed actually hold himself for ruining this team?

2. What are the chances the team extends Jimmy G? And if he is extended, what position do you expect the team to draft with their first pick?

– burnsrado

A: The accountable question always amuses me because no owner is ever going to fire himself.

I think at the very least Jimmy G gets the franchise tag for 2018. I’d say that WR, CB, EDGE and Guard are the top needs. But it will come down to where they pick and who is available. Three guys to consider at this very moment: 1. RB Saquon Barkley 2. DE Bradley Chubb 3. G Quenton Nelson

Q: Were the players really sick of Jim Harbaugh, or was Jed putting that out there? Column A and B?

– PieBlaCon

A: There was definitely a team-wide, franchise-wide fatigue in 2014. Could the 49ers have gotten past that? Some of the Giants players were tired of Tom Coughlin, too, at various points in his NYG days. New York stuck with the old-school, hard-ass coach and he ended up winning Super Bowls.

Q: What do you think the future holds for Eric Reid? Do you think that Tartt has completely overtaken his role or do think Reid can make up for his absence these next couple weeks?

– jwick89

A: It’s not written in stone, but I’d say the loose plan now is to have Tartt at SS in 2018 and allow Reid to go off in free agency. Of course, it’s entirely possible Reid hits the open market, doesn’t see a lot of green and comes back. That’s what happened with Dashon Goldson in 2011. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the league perceives Reid, who has been the epicenter of the team’s anthem protests this year. Does that dim his market? It shouldn’t, but I think we all know that it might.

Q: What would you do to fix the current stadium situation and hopefully draw more fans?

– save_the_pigs

A: It’s too class-oriented -- rich guys here, regular guys there, etc. I grew up going to games at RFK Stadium. The place was the pits. The stands literally would shake. But there was a sense of community there that far, far, far outweighed the lack of amenities. My sense is that fans don’t give a crap about having 17 choices of beer. They’d rather have a tight-knit atmosphere.

Q: What’s our draft strategy now that we have Jimmy G? Trade down and take offensive linemen top 2 picks?

– Leathershoe4

A: Yes. If you’ve decided that Jimmy G is your QB of the future, it only makes sense to invest in that decision by surrounding him with talent. Look at what the 49ers did in 2005 after choosing Alex Smith first overall. Their next three picks were: G David Baas, RB Frank Gore, tackle Adam Snyder.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at