The 49ers’ season took a serious downturn over the weekend when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending left knee injury. We’ll pick up the pieces with another edition of our Tuesday mailbag.
To your questions!
209erFaithful asks: Does Beathard have a chance to have a Foles like season, IF the defense makes tackles, Sack Qb’s & WR’s catch the Ball!?
Nick Foles helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl, and obviously that’s not in the cards for these 49ers. Philadelphia had arguably the best roster in the NFL last season, with depth along the offensive line and a loaded defense. The 49ers aren’t close to that talent and depth.
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But Beathard has a chance to be better than many anticipate. The offensive line looks improved from the group he played behind last year, and the rushing attack is currently second in the NFL, averaging 153 yards per game. The skill position players, with the exception of Dante Pettis, are in at least their second seasons in the system, and that should lead to far fewer mental lapses.
No, Beathard didn’t play particularly well in the preseason. But he was working with second stringers, played behind a backup offensive line and was running the vanilla version of Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Through the first few weeks, the 49ers generated significant yardage by having pass catchers run wide open downfield through scheming and play design. Beathard should be able to hit those throws, like the wide-open touchdowns to Marquise Goodwin and Kyle Juszczyk Sunday in Kansas City.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Shanahan is one of the league’s best coaches at developing quarterbacks, and Beathard was his pick of the litter in the 2017 draft.
Sean Patrick Scott asks: Besides Nick Bosa, is Clelin Ferrell the next best option for Edge in the 2019 draft?
To be honest, I haven’t watched much college football to start this season (my travel days are Saturdays). But perusing some work from people who have, Ferrell certainly looks like a name to keep an eye on with the 49ers likely to have a top-10 draft pick for the fourth consecutive season.
Other defensive ends to watch: Raekwon Davis (Alabama), Montez Sweat (Mississippi), Jalen Jelks (Oregon), Josh Allen (Kentucky) and Brian Burns (Florida State).
We’ll be taking longer looks at college prospects later on.
Brad Foster asks: Where can the 49ers improve their WR position this coming offseason? Shanny takes pride in a WR (able) to get open against man coverage, seems like only Kittle and Goodwin are doing this consistently.
This will be a key question during the coming offseason, mainly because Pierre Garçon’s future beyond this year is uncertain. He’ll be 33 in 2019 and comes with an $8.4 million cap hit. The 49ers could clear some $6 million in space by moving on from the veteran, who has just seven catches for 89 yards in three games.
San Francisco might be inclined to give bigger roles to Pettis, Kendrick Bourne and Richie James.
The free agent market appears to be thin at the position next spring, making the draft the far more likely avenue the team would use to acquire another wideout. I’d rank receiver just behind pass rusher in terms of need (along with help in the secondary).
Harry Berezin asks: What makes the 49ers worth watching for the remainder of the year? Did our rebuilding plan just get delayed a year?
Answering your second question first: No. I think the rebuilding plan remains on track. It was unrealistic to think the 49ers were a clear playoff team this season given their youth and inexperience. I thought they could max out at 10 wins, but that was before losing Jerick McKinnon and Garoppolo. It would have taken a top-five kind of season from Garoppolo.
Now it looks as if Richard Sherman is going to miss some time, and there are questions all over the defense. They’re still another draft and free agent class away from being closer to fully realizing Shanahan’s vision for the roster.
Answering your first question: Matt Breida still leads the NFL in rushing and has been a pleasant surprise in the early going. Mike McGlinchey looks strong at right tackle, save for a couple pass-protecting gaffes on the road against the Vikings and Chiefs. Pettis looks promising both as a receiver and punt returner.
Reuben Foster and Fred Warner could develop into one of the league’s better linebacker duos. DeForest Buckner is still really good. He first becomes eligible for a contract extension after the season.
The 49ers aren’t the most talented team, but they are close knit in the locker room. They fought hard to get back into the game against the Chiefs and might have completed the comeback if a few things went their way (namely, Garoppolo’s injury and the questionable offensive pass interference call that negated George Kittle’s touchdown).
I’m not expecting San Francisco fold because Garoppolo’s hurt. We’ll find out what type of character the team has.