San Francisco 49ers

49ers Q&A: What are the chances Vic Fangio returns?

Andy‏ @abruzzoooo Whats chance the 49ers get Fangio?

ANSW: The answer is: I don’t know. I do think the chances are very good that Vic Fangio will be available and that he would be receptive to working opposite Kyle Shanahan for whom he has a lot of respect. (Fangio was upset about being passed over for Jim Tomsula, and rightly so. But the guy who was mainly responsible for that move (rhymes with Baalke) is no longer in town. I wrote last week that the defense under Robert Saleh has made considerable progress and continued to improve Sunday in Houston. The question is whether Shanahan and the 49ers would feel it’s wiser to bring back Lord Fangio – he ran a top-five defense in each of the four seasons he was in San Francisco – or continue on the path they are on. On one hand, a young, savvy guy like Saleh is a good fit for a young team like the 49ers. On the other, a veteran sage like Fangio would be a nice balance for Shanahan the way Wade Phillips is for Sean McVay in Los Angeles. I do not believe there is anything afoot at the moment to bring Fangio back if that is any indication.

Sean Morgan‏ @gamerollerb If it was between a T like Connor Williams and a G like Quenton Nelson in the draft, would they address the immediate need in the interior since Staley is still good or go with the T and move on?

ANSW: Great question. Obviously it would depend on the evaluation they give both players. If they thought Nelson was considerably better than Williams, they would go with Nelson. But if it’s close, I think they’d go with the offensive tackle because the position is so hard to fill in the modern NFL. The best scenario is that they draft someone like Williams and play him at guard until they have a need at tackle. Williams is a very strong – and nasty – run blocker, which suggests he might be able to play guard.

Jerrod Robinson‏ @bathebay Even with the wins are you a little surprised how fast the locker room caught Jimmy fever? I figured it’d be a problem for a golden boy qb to come in near the end and get all attention. They seem to love him though.

ANSW: Here’s my analogy. The 49ers were a VW van stuck in the mud. The young team had it rocking and nearly had it out of its rut. Jimmy G arrived and gave it the final nudge it needed to head on down the road (Janis Joplin song plays in background). Which is to say, it’s a good match and the planets seem to be aligning.

rkg115‏ @rkg115 maiocco alluded to the 9ers being unhappy that trent brown didn’t sack up and play sunday...does this put him on rocky roads w/ the team going fwd?

ANSW: I’d go a step further and say the 49ers were disappointed he didn’t play against the Seahawks, too. … I don’t know how much this affects negotiations. It’s safe to say they are to some degree less gung-ho about inking him to a new deal than they were pre-injury.

Kevin‏ @shortywest87 Has Celek taken over as the primary target TE from Kittle?

ANSW: Yes. Celek has out-played, out-snapped and started ahead of Kittle in recent weeks. Kittle had been dealing with an array of injuries, though he wasn’t on the injury report last week. Celek is a great story. Everyone wrote him off this season, figuring the 49ers tight ends would be Kittle, Logan Paulsen and Cole Hikutini/Vance McDonald. Celek’s a tough guy, plays through injuries and is a very good blocker and sneaky receiver. He’s not a No. 1 tight end, but rather someone who nicely fits what the 49ers want to do on offense.

Amin‏ @K49G Do you expect 49ers to withdraw Ward’s 5th year option? Chances they reach a contract vs a release? Would a move back to CB be considered?

ANSW: Can you withdraw a fifth-year option? Is that a thing? I think everyone forgets that he was playing well at free safety and making plays at the position before he got hurt. Has Ward been injury prone? Yes. But the two players who replaced him, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert, suffered very similar injuries. The guy everyone wanted the 49ers to take in the draft, Malik Hooker, suffered an ACL tear for the Colts. Which says two things: 1. Anyone can get hurt playing the position. And 2. The 49ers would be wise to have an abundance of quality safeties on the roster. Finally, the team uses three safeties quite a bit. Ward, Tartt and Colbert would make a strong trio.

Sean McVeigh‏ @MisterMcPet The interior OL has been an obvious concern all year but I always liked Kilgore for whatever reason. How has he graded as a C this year, and would a potential answer be moving him to RG and landing a top notch C thru FA or the draft?

ANSW: Daniel Kilgore has had some of his best games late in the season, which is what you’d expect from everyone as they adjust to the respective systems. I think that if he sticks around (he’s scheduled for free agency in March) it will be as a center not guard. He has the size (not huge) and smarts (pretty huge) of a center.

Eugene Boxley‏ @g_notes69 Since it’s pretty obvious that Hyde is on the way out... How do you see someone like San Diego State’s Penny, fitting into Kyle’s offense?

ANSW: Running back may be the strongest position in the draft. There are several who seem to be strong fits for the Shanahan offense. That makes it a double-edged sword for Hyde and the 49ers. The draft talent at running back would seem to tamp down the price tag for running backs on the open market. Which, in turn, would increase the chances San Francisco can re-sign Hyde.

Perry (49’ers 3-10 )‏ @ItsAnthony_Breh Jimmy G time huh?! Haha, alright seriously, does Jimmy G make the 49’ers a more attractive landing spot when free agency comes up? Seems like he’s got the team in his hands.

ANSW: Yes, though money always talks loudest in free agency, not surrounding talent. … I agree with your closing statement. Jimmy G is holding all the cards.

Steve Grossenbacher‏ @Grossenbacher_1 Where would we be right now playoff hunt wise if we won those 5 games we lost by 3 or less? Too lazy to do the math .

ANSW: Let’s see: Three wins plus another five wins equals … wait, don’t tell me … carry the two, cross-multiply by co-sine of pi … move a couple of beads on the abacus left, move three to the right …

David PM‏ @davidtmd How weird this offseason will be without the «thrill» of finding out who the new HC of the 49ers will be?

ANSW: I plan on taking up needlepoint to pass the time.

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

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