Bee staff writer and 49ers authority Matt Barrows dives into his mailbag from readers to answer questions about the 49ers as training camp gets into full swing.
Q: It’s hard to believe everything is forgiven with Anthony Davis. Any chance the 49ers end up trading him? (I hope not.)
A: All offseason, the 49ers’ right tackle position was precarious. On Tuesday, however, it looked like a position of strength. Trent Brown and Davis were strong on the right side during pass-rush and pass-blocking drills, while the team also has Erik Pears, Colin Kelly and draft picks John Theus and Fahn Cooper in reserve. Could the 49ers be waiting to rebuild Davis’ stock before trading him? That’s certainly a possibility. The recent all-is-forgiven message the 49ers sent upon Davis’ return would fit that scenario as well.
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The fact of that matter, however, is the 49ers’ offensive-line woes haven’t been cured in one offseason and they can’t afford to let a young, talented – albeit impudent – tackle walk away. Davis only is 26, is signed through 2020 and appears eager to show he is still one of the top right tackles in the league. It seems the wisest choice for the 49ers is to sit back and let him prove just that.
Q: I have heard very little about Kenneth Acker lately. Does he not fit this coaching staff’s D as well?
A: Cornerback Kenneth Acker started 13 games last season, including a game against the Baltimore Ravens in which he intercepted one pass and knocked down two others. By the end of the season, however, the coaching staff began wondering if other players – Dontae Johnson or Marcus Cromartie – were better fits. The new staff also appears to be looking beyond Acker, who has been getting repetitions with the second- and third-team defenses at cornerback and even has lined up at safety. (Injuries to safeties L.J. McCray and Jaquiski Tartt, as well as Jimmie Ward’s conversion to cornerback, have forced some cornerbacks to rotate in at safety with the third-team defense.)
As it stands now, the top cornerbacks are Ward and Brock. Keith Reaser, Johnson and rookie Will Redmond are getting repetitions at the nickel spot. And fourth-round pick Rashard Robinson seems like an intriguing young prospect. Which is to say, the odds seem stacked against Acker at this moment.
Q: So who’s surprised at camp so far, both upside and downside?
A: I’ll start with the downside. It’s probably not much of a surprise given the overall youth and the sparse résumés of the wide receiving corps, but none of the young players has stood out. At this point last year, DeAndrew White had begun to make a move that would eventually land him on the 53-man roster. White and his mates have shown flashes here and there, but no young receiver has had a string of practices in which he’s separated himself from the pack.
On the plus side, the defensive line is as strong as advertised. The young group definitely could use a veteran to anchor it. Glenn Dorsey is just the right fit. The only question is how quickly he’ll be back on the field following his November ACL tear. He seems eager to rejoin the group.
Q: Who’d be your pick for best special teamer this year?
A: I’d like to see Bruce Miller in that role. Miller is slimmer – and faster – than he was in previous seasons. He also has the type of personality to be a special-teams maniac and, more important, to galvanize what typically is a young and constantly changing group of teammates on coverage units.