San Francisco 49ers

49ers mailbag: Who’s a realistic first-round target?

Texas lineman Connor Williams (55) looks to block Rice defender Derek Brown (8) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Austin, Texas.
Texas lineman Connor Williams (55) looks to block Rice defender Derek Brown (8) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Austin, Texas. AP

Ivanho Gares‏ @mazel7ov If no traded of draft order... What is a realistic possibility for us at 9/10?

ANSW: This is going to be a bit of a wishy-washy answer, but if the 49ers follow their 2017 pattern, they will target areas of need during free agency, which will give them more freedom to pick the best player available in the draft. My four-months-away guess is that they will go with whoever is the best offensive lineman available. So ... Connor Williams from Texas? (I’m obviously very confident).

Gurmukh‏ @GJohal96 If the niners were to spend heavily on one or two free agents, who could they be (outside of Jimmy G)?

ANSW: Per the previous question, they'll want to target areas where they are weak. So we're talking cornerback, pass rusher and interior line. I've cited Ezekiel Ansah and Trumaine Johnson for months now. Both make sense for a number of reasons. Every outside cornerback the 49ers brought in last year to the practice squad, etc. was over 6 feet tall. That's a good place to start when sifting through possibilities.

Moe Brown‏ @Portasar785 Will the Niners use the draft or FAs to shore up the OL?

ANSW: Both.

Greg Aussie Fury‏ @Ausman13 Do you see any chance that they bring Frank Gore back on a one year contract to help development of 49ers young running backs?

ANSW: I think the chance is low. Yes, Gore would set a great example for young runners, especially the way he pass blocks. But Kyle Shanahan and Bobby Turner are after zone-blocking runners, guys who can plant a foot in the ground and then rip off a 50-yard run. Gore is a quintessential power runner. His longest run of 2017 was 21 yards.

nicholas frazier‏ @Frazin26 When do you see a Jimmy G deal getting done? If he gets the franchise tag, do you see that hurting our chances of recruiting top free agents?

ANSW: I don't know when it gets done. Colin Kaepernick's deal is my only blueprint and that was signed in early June. But I don't think the franchise tag would dissuade other free agents from signing. The safe money is on Garoppolo being here for the long term one way or another. Joining a team in free agency always is a bit of a gamble. Gore, for example, signed with the Colts because he thought Andrew Luck gave them a good shot at a Super Bowl. Then Luck got hurt. The agents and players know that risk is inherent. That's why money is a more important factor. A fat guarantee tends to soften the risk.

SpikerIsAwesome‏ @SpikerIsAwesome Much has been made about taking a year to learn Shanahan's offense. What about Saleh's defense? How complex is it compared to other pro schemes?

ANSW: It's not complex at all -- that's the beauty of it. Its simplicity allows players to be aggressive. That said, players will get better in the scheme the more time they spend in it, which is the case with anything in life. Pete Carroll, for instance, arrived in Seattle in 2010, but the Seattle defense didn't become the Seattle defense until -- what? -- the end of the 2011 season?

DanSchiller‏ @danschiller What about going for Aqib Talib if Denver cuts him? Good veteran corner while they draft another in the third or fourth.

ANSW: Hmmm. Would be worth it merely for the 49ers-Raiders game this year. #Watchyourchain.

Steve DiMora‏ @Buddy_Boy_88 Some mocks have the Niners going with Edmunds out of VT. Do you see them giving up on Malcolm Smith without seeing him play a single down as starter?

ANSW: I think people like Edmunds because he can line up on the edge. He projects as the strong-side linebacker in the 49ers' scheme. If they drafted him in the first round, they'd likely expand that SAM role the way the Jaguars have for Myles Jack. (And Robert Saleh, who coached Jack, would be ideal for that). To answer your question, though, no, I don't see them taking a pure inside linebacker, like, say, Roquan Smith, early. Saleh really likes Malcolm Smith.

Eddie Villegas‏ @EVillegas1583 Is it possible the front office looks to Pat Willis to mentor Foster to help his game along with off the field?

ANSW: The 49ers already have an ex linebacker, DeMeco Ryans, helping out at the position. Besides, Willis has seemed to show very little interest in being part of the sport he once played.

Anthony Turner‏ @TheOneFuzz Which do you feel the 49ers will target more in Free agency a pass rusher or a Wideout like a Allen Robinson.

ANSW: Which is more realistic to land? Well, there will be more wideouts available and Robinson is coming off a major injury, which heightens the risk of signing him and lowers his price tag. Three of the hardest positions to find in free agency are quarterback, offensive tackle and pass rusher.

Coach DeSimone‏ @CoachJall Can @MattBreida be counted on as the #1 guy? Can @MattMaioccoCSN pull off the beard? Can you play safety?

ANSW: 1. I think that if Matt Breida were pressed into service as the No. 1 guy, he'd do a fine job but that the No. 2 guy would get a lot of snaps, too. Which is to say, the 49ers wouldn't dump 25 carries a game onto Breida.

2. Yes. I'm pro beard. Any attempt to cover up or otherwise obscure that face is a step in the right direction.

3. I'd be good for one snap. That snap being my right femur.

John O‏ @john_o22 Any updates on off season shade additions to the stadium?

ANSW: Hahaha. …. Oh, that's a serious question? Put it this way: I think you'd sooner see a Bee T-shirt arrive in the mail than see any major shade additions to a stadium in which most games are played in autumn.

Jerrod Robinson‏ @bathebay General question I’ve always wondered. For away games when gm’s are in the same box as press, I’d guess it leads to hearing some pretty crazy stuff. Is there just an agreement that it stays confidential, or does it not actually get that interesting?

ANSW: There's no agreement. The press box is supposed to be a cheering-free, discreet, work area. (Hilarious jokes/observational humor from bald, adorable reporters directed at the people immediately around them is permitted and, frankly, desired). If you slam the table or call out supposedly bogus penalties, those actions are fair game. All of the former general managers I covered -- Terry Donahue, Scot McCloughan and Trent Baalke -- have been in the press box for away games. Donahue once yelled, "Ok, guys, let's win a ball game!" or somesuch during a game against the Jets and was quoted in a newspaper. McCloughan once put his hand through glass partition (at a home game). Baalke's table-slamming antics are well documented. As for the current guy, I'm not sure where John Lynch sits. He seems to have found an away-game loophole. He's never been in the press box as far as I know. Since everybody loves John -- He's the Jimmy Garoppolo of NFL GMs -- I'm sure he gets invited into broadcast booths or cozy suites wherever he goes.

Mister2‏ @jcat2k Conspiracy Theory: Garoppolo & the Patriots are using SF49ers to gain experience and offload salary until Brady retires. So Jimmy is either going to sign a short term deal, a deal w/ early opt out clause or just take the franchise tag - depending TB12 exit strategy.

ANSW: Great. Now that his secret is out, Belichick is going to have you, me and everyone who read this eliminated.

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