San Francisco 49ers

49ers mailbag: Why is John Lynch anti-Hard Knocks? Jimmie Ward’s future?

San Francisco 49ers strong safety Jimmie Ward (25) dives to the end zone for a touchdown after intercepting a pass as Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) watches during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in Chicago.
San Francisco 49ers strong safety Jimmie Ward (25) dives to the end zone for a touchdown after intercepting a pass as Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) watches during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in Chicago. AP

Kevin‏ @shortywest87 The annual Jimmie Ward question: where do you think he plays next year?

Jim Berry‏ @jhb875421 Do you really see Ward back here at that salary ($8 million or so)? He’s shown some playmaking ability when out there but needs to stay healthy.

ANSW: I think he will play free safety when practices resume. Ward’s been moved to different spots in his first four years here. The 49ers are wary of moving him again. Remember, he was playing very well at free safety when he got hurt. Yes, he has been injury prone. But Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert also broke bones playing the same position as Ward this year. As far as his contract (it’s $8.5 million), I suppose the team could restructure it in some form later in the year. But that doesn’t seem to be in the offing. The 49ers aren’t in any sort of salary-cap straits, so there is nothing forcing the issue. They seem to be willing to let things play out on their own.

Christopher Cain‏ @C_Allan_Cain Why is Lynch so against being on Hard Knocks? Surprising since he was TV guy.

ANSW: I don’t know exactly since I’ve never had that conversation with him. My guess is that, having been a player and now an executive, he feels that some things, such as the cutting of players, are sacrosanct. Hard Knocks can be extremely exploitative. It’s also – what? – five episodes? That’s not a lot of time for nuance. Everyone comes out looking like stock characters: The profane coach; the rube rookie; the high-end veteran, etc. The 49ers would prefer to give fans a behind-the scenes look with their version, which they call Brick by Brick. Is it air-brushed and rated G? Goodness, yes. But it saves the team and players from looking foolish and you can understand why it’s preferable to them.

Aaron‏ @Tnniner Do we really need a #1 wr? Jimmy was near the top in every passing category without Garçon or an oline. Maybe a red zone threat like Jimmy Graham? The Jimmy G to Jimmy G connection might be too good to pass up just for the name aspect

ANSW: I agree there could be some magic, especially red-zone magic, in that connection. I’ve mentioned it before in this space. And the fact that the tight end’s name ends in G seems too perfect not to at least consider. If you are going to make a huge investment in Garoppolo, it only makes sense to make that investment look smart by giving him a top target. The counter argument is that Graham is 31 and the 49ers have young players – George Kittle and Cole Hikutini – they’d like to develop at that position. There are a couple of good-looking tight ends in the draft, too, beginning with Dallas Goedert and Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews.

Diane Torrance‏ @cincygolfgrrl What do you think the odds are the 49ers extend Eric Reid? Carlos Hyde? #stupidqueston

ANSW: Diane, there are no stupid questions … except ones about moving Chris Culliver to safety. I think the free-agent market will dictate whether they return. I said on KNBR radio on Wednesday that I thought both could wind up in Seattle. Having spoken to some people around the league since, the Seahawks may go in-house to replace Kam Chancellor at strong safety. That makes Reid to Seattle a lot less likely. He *should* get attention on the free-agent market, but we all know why he may not. Hyde, meanwhile, plays a position that has been soft in free agency in recent years. With so many good running backs coming out in the draft, it’s hard to see the trend changing and guys like Hyde enjoying a robust market this year. That would make his return more likely.

clintmcgill2‏ @OldWrldTrdtions I’m not qualified to have an opinion on Solomon T but I want one. Am I excited about his outlook or not?

ANSW: I think Thomas suffered a bit from Smart Guy Syndrome, also known as Alex Smith’s Disorder. That is, there is some over-thinking going on. He will be far more comfortable next year and his work ethic is exactly what the 49ers expected when they drafted him. But the overarching question about Thomas – what’s his best position? – will persist. It may never go away.

Scott Sommerdorf‏ @Federalist_45 Do you take Shanahan’s statement about expecting his staff back as closing the door on Fangio’s return?

ANSW: Yes, the fact that the 49ers defense got progressively better as the season went on likely shut that door. The team was so hot at the end of the year that Shanahan wouldn’t want to do anything to upset that momentum. As has been noted here before, Robert Saleh is a nice fit on the Shanahan staff – young, smart, can speak Kyle’s language.

rkg115‏ @rkg115 Arden Key declared, lot of red flags but elite talent....9ers pass rusher ?

ANSW: It’s very hard to see N.C. State’s Bradley Chubb falling to pick Nos. 9 or 10. So the next-best pass rushers begin to move into focus. I like Boston College’s Harold Landry more than Key, but I’m eager to see how Landry measures at the Senior Bowl this month. B.C. lists him at 6-3, 250. That seems generous.

Sean McVeigh‏ @MisterMcPet Is there a Marshon Lattimore equivalent in the upcoming NFL draft?

ANSW: Yeah, but like Chubb, will Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick get to the 49ers? He’s tall, physical and plays multiple positions, which means he’s smart. The next guy might be Iowa’s Josh Jackson. Scouts will be interested to see how fast he is next month and the fear is that he won’t run well. But his ball skills are excellent.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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