San Francisco 49ers

49ers mailbag: Is Quenton Nelson a fit if he slips to No. 9?

Quenton Nelson is not the ideal guard for the San Francisco 49ers, writes columnist Matt Barrows.
Quenton Nelson is not the ideal guard for the San Francisco 49ers, writes columnist Matt Barrows. AP

Robert Knight‏ @Vermonator Is Quenton Nelson a fit for the 49ers should he fall?

ANSW: I've wrestled with this one. The answer is, yes, he'd fit. Everyone I've spoken to has said he's the top offensive lineman in the draft and warrants a Top-10 pick, which is rare for a guard. But he's not the ideal guard for San Francisco. The 49ers want a guard who can move and who is great at protecting Jimmy Garoppolo. Nelson's strength is as a power blocker. He was mostly dominant last season but, along with every other Notre Dame offensive lineman, struggled against Miami's speed in a late-season loss. As I wrote earlier Tuesday, I suspect the Chicago Bears, who are picking one spot ahead of the 49ers, will make this question moot. If Nelson did happen to slip to the 49ers, my guess is that they grab him. But I'm not confident about that.

Kevin‏ @shortywest87 I’m sure you’re getting Jimmie Ward fatigue in the mailbags, but the CB decision seemed to come out of nowhere. Reflection of him, Adrian Colbert, or a safety in the draft they like?

ANSW: Jimmie Ward fatigue occurred years ago. We're in advanced Jimmie Ward atrophy stages now. …. Ah, but your question is a good one. All last year, the party line was: 'Jimmie Ward is not well-served by switching positions every year; he's a free safety.' Now it's, 'We're going to switch Jimmie around a bit.' What gives? I wouldn't think the 49ers would tip their hand regarding the draft, but if they were eyeing a free safety with their top pick -- say, Minkah Fitzpatrick -- then moving Ward to cornerback would make sense. Otherwise, it's a bit hazy. Ward's not the ideal size for the spot. Yes, Richard Sherman won't be back until training camp. But wouldn't it be advantageous to give young guys like Greg Mabin those valuable first-team reps? It may be as simple as the 49ers see Colbert -- not Ward, who is in the final year of his contract -- as the future at free safety and want him to get all the reps he can handle.

Sean Morgan‏ @gamerollerb Hey Matt, who do you think would be the best fits at guard in the draft? (Sorry, had to). I know Kyle said he doesn’t care too much about the size and shape of RB’s, but is it safe to assume they’re looking to add a big back?

ANSW: Yes, their top two runners at the moment are roughly the same smallish size -- a bit over 200 pounds. But I don't think size is the overarching criterion for whom they'll take. It does so happen that there are some good, bigger-bodied runners -- Rashaad Penny, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson and Royce Freeman, to name a few -- who should be available in the early/middle rounds when the 49ers have a lot of picks.

mark‏ @mlnga Could you possibly explain the responsibilities of the SAM linebacker and who is currently projected to play there?

ANSW: No. But only because I'm planning an item on that very topic later in the week.

Eric‏ @ericsd82 What position do you think the #49ers could use a veteran presence? Maybe Antonio Gates at TE for a year as end zone specialist?

ANSW: Gates has been a fantasy mainstay on Team Barrows for more than a decade, and as such I would love to see him on the 49ers. However, San Francisco's philosophy seems to be, 'youth now equals playoff wins later' and I think they'd rather have young guys like George Kittle and Cole Hikutini getting the snaps in 2018.

Ryan Church‏ @RyanChurch2 My nonmeta submission: Why do people get their yawns out when it comes to offensive line analysis??

ANSW: Dunno. Have hogs, will travel.

sal6‏ @salmaravilla06 What do you think of a trade where mack would go to the niners for Armstead a 2nd round and next year's 3rd? Since mack hasn't shown up to practice and niners need pass rush help.

ANSW: I'm having dinner with John Lynch and Reggie McKenzie tonight. I will run this by them during hors d'oeuvres.

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