San Francisco 49ers

49ers mailbag: How did free agency affect draft plans?

San Francisco 49ers running back Joe Williams (32) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, August 11, 2017. Williams probably has the best chance for the No. 3 spot in Kyle Shanahan's RBBC system.
San Francisco 49ers running back Joe Williams (32) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, August 11, 2017. Williams probably has the best chance for the No. 3 spot in Kyle Shanahan's RBBC system. AP file

Jason McCord‏ @jasondmccord How do the recent free agent signings impact who the 49ers draft? Are RB and LEO now less a priority, for example?

ANSW: It means the 49ers aren't compelled to take a specific position with their first pick. If the team hadn't signed a cornerback, for example, they would have had to use a top pick on the position. Now they can go with a best-player-available approach to the first round (as long as the BPA isn't a quarterback, fullback, punter, kicker or interior defensive lineman).

Harry Berezin‏ @HarryBerezin How big of a priority is it to upgrade WR or is the team comfortable with Garçon, Goodwin, Taylor and Bourne as the top four guys?

ANSW: The passing game was strong at season's end even without Pierre Garcon and with Kendrick Bourne in only a minimal role. The 49ers barely kicked tires on the position in free agency. Are they planning a surprise – like Calvin Ridley from Alabama – in the first round of the draft? Some observers think that makes sense. My intuition, however, is that if they do take a receiver it will be a bigger-bodied guy in the middle rounds.

Rob Carter‏ @roberob916 Was the team disappointed in Joe Williams and what type of training camp or preseason does he need to have to make the team?

ANSW: The 49ers certainly haven't turned the page on Williams, but, yes, it's clear they were expecting more out of their fourth-round pick last season. Last year, the 49ers kept three running backs and one fullback on the 53-man roster. Two of the running backs – Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida – handled the carries while the third, Raheem Mostert, was perhaps the team's top coverage player on special teams. The 49ers clearly think Jerick McKinnon will replace Hyde as their top back in 2018. So it stands to reason that Williams would have to beat out Breida or be better on special teams than Mostert to be active on game days.

SpikerIsAwesome‏ @SpikerIsAwesome Let's talk TEs. Is the view that Kittle-Celek can be the 1-2 combo, or is this an (eventual) upgrade candidate?

Steve DiMora@Buddy_Boy_88 Do the Niners look for a big time receiving threat in draft, that’s not a WR? Gesicki or Hurst?

ANSW: Aside from quarterback and fullback, the 49ers feel they can upgrade any position. That said, they're eager to see what Kittle – who had nagging injuries almost continuously from August onward – can do if totally healthy. Celek isn't spectacular but does everything well and is well-liked in the locker room. The wild card is Cole Hikutini, who has the movement skills to excel in Shanahan's offense. ... The problem with the top tight ends like Gesicki and Hurt is that they are late-first, early-second type guys and the 49ers don't have a late first- or early second-round draft pick.

Gera Martz‏ @Gera_Martz Hola señor. Do you think it's possible, Lord Lynch buying 1st or 4th round pick from Cleveland? How aggressive he should be now that FA seems to be over for SF?

Donny‏ @GIANT49RWARRIOR Any shot we trade up for Barkley if he falls to the 5-7 range ?

ANSW: I think it's far more likely the 49ers travel down, not up, in the draft. But, gee, if Bradley Chubb got close to No. 9, he sure would be tempting. … Given the Shanahan track record on running backs and the fact that the 49ers just paid top dollar to land one, it's hard to see them jumping ahead to get Barkley.

Errebo-Hansen‏ @ErreboHansen Being a Dane I don't know exactly how the American legal system works, but is there a date line for when the DA has to decide whether to charge Reuben Foster or not? Or can this drag on for many month still?

ANSW: In this country a citizen has a right to a speedy trial. But that still can take months or even years, depending on the charges. eb. 11 arrestr and, if so, what those charges will be. As an example, Tramaine Brock was arrested on April 6 last year and formal charges came two months later on June 6. (They were later dropped). We're probably looking at a similar timeline with Foster, and indeed he has a court appearance scheduled for April 12. With felonies, the state of California can take up to three years to be filed. With midsemeanor, they have a year to be filed.

Os Cruz‏ @ThatOsCruz Hey Matt, I believe Lynch said that they would be doing more tape study and less traveling to pro days etc. This makes sense to me, but is it common or something new this regime is doing?

ANSW: Shanahan appears to be setting the tone on this. He likes to get immersed in the tape and finds it more valuable than watching an orchestrated workout. Even last year when the 49ers were supposedly in the market for a quarterback in the draft, Shanahan – the guy choosing the quarterbacks – mostly stayed home and allowed Lynch, Adam Peters and Martin Mayhew to handle the pro-day visits. I think the 49ers have decided that their best plan of attack is to allow their position coaches and Peters to do the hands-on stuff – workouts, pro days, etc. – and for Shanahan and Lynch to mostly stay home.

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