NN Mailbag: Offseason blueprint, NFL Combine, draft risers, free agent targets and more

Addressing your 49ers comments, questions and concerns in our NFL Combine edition of the Niners Nation offseason mailbag.

The NFL Scouting Combine began on Tuesday, with players reporting from all over the country to showcase their ability in front of all 32 teams. It’s among the most critical points of the offseason for the San Francisco 49ers as general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan prepare for the 2019 NFL Draft beginning on April 25.

We’re back with your latest questions in this week’s NFL Combine mailbag. You’re welcome to drop questions in here for our next mailbag or tweet me @Rob_Lowder.

“If you were the GM, what would your ideal offseason look like?” Max

That’s a loaded question. One that I’ll be happy to summarize for you before unveiling the fully realized plan a little closer to the start of free agency. If I were the general manager of the 49ers, the overview of my ideal offseason would be along the lines of:
1) Clear out the bloated contracts given to players who are no longer essential
2) Make every possible effort to extend the contracts of both K Robbie Gould and DL DeForest Buckner
3) Sign former Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas
4) Make a serious run at the best pass rusher to hit free agency, along with an impact cornerback and receiver
5) Sign an interior offensive lineman and linebacker capable of competing for a starting role
6) Draft the top pass rusher available at pick No. 2 (unless an undeniable trade is offered)
7) If value permits, target a receiver, cornerback, safety or interior offensive lineman on Day 2

“Do you like Josh Allen? Or is there someone (not Bosa) that you think is a better edge rusher?” 49ersCamelot

I do like Josh Allen. He was my No. 2 pick for the 49ers in my most recent three-round mock NFL Draft using The Draft Network’s new simulator. You can check that out here. Allen has a rare skillset that would allow him to make an enormous impact in the 49ers’ defensive scheme, most notably as the pass rusher they desperately need. That isn’t to say I don’t covet other edge rushers in the draft, though.

Brian Burns out of Florida State and Florida’s Jachai Polite are both pure pass rushers capable of providing the 49ers the complement to their investments in first-round defensive lineman. Whether their stock climbs as high Allen may be determined this week at the combine.

“What wide receiver and safeties do you expect the 49ers to target either in the draft or free agency?” Buddy

The free agent class of receivers is lack-luster at best. Los Angeles ChargersTyrell Williams is likely to garner the biggest contract. Among the other names worth investigating are Detroit LionsGolden Tate, Philadephlia EaglesJordan Matthews and Kansas City Chiefs’ Chris Coneley. There’s an impressive array of wideouts available in the draft, especially those projected on Day 2: Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown, Georgia’s Riley Ridley and Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler are all big-bodied targets for the 49ers.

Thomas has to be at the top of the list in terms of free agent safeties. In the draft, Alabama’s Deionte Thompson and Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson are a pair of targets that may be available to the 49ers on Day 2.

“What do you think about Taylor Rapp in the second round?” Mike Morris

Washington’s Taylor Rapp is an intriguing safety with the draft stock to justify a second-round selection. The 49ers are in need of a free safety, and Rapp is far better suited for the role of strong safety near the line of scrimmage than he is a deep center field. However, with Jaquiski Tartt underperforming last season, there’s a chance the 49ers could target either safety position in this year’s draft if the value is right.

“Will Kyle Shanahan produce a 1000 yard rusher in year #3? His father did it with ease with any RB…just saying.” Danakin

Shanahan has produced several 1,000-yard rushers as an offensive coordinator in the NFL. In 2012, Washington’s Alfred Morris ran for 1,613 yards in Shanahan’s offense, and 1,275 yards in ‘13. Atlanta FalconsDevonta Freeman ran for 1,056 yards in ‘15 and 1,079 in ‘16. Former 49ers back Carlos Hyde was just 62 yards shy in ‘17. It’s only a matter of time before Shanahan produces another 1,000-yard rusher for the 49ers.

“Who do you think will be the biggest riser at Edge, WR and CB after the Combine?” Sean Patrick Scott

Edge: Florida State’s Brian Burns
Wide receiver: Ole Miss’ DK Metcalf
Cornerback: Washington’s Byron Murphy

I believe all three will begin to gain strong Top-10 consideration after the NFL Combine.

“Do you think it’s worthwhile adding a bunch of cheap and mid level veterans to compete at CB or just hope the young guys improve?” Jonathan Jones

Absolutely. The 49ers must insert competition at cornerback this offseason to push both Ahkello Witherspoon and Tarvarius Moore, who both project to be near the top of those vying for the role opposite Sherman. Houston TexansKareem Jackson would be a strong signing that would push for the starting spot. Other names to consider are Indianapolis ColtsPierre Desir and New England PatriotsJason McCourty.

“Can you please explain how the 49ers would be compensated two 1st round picks for Gould after the tag? Seems like click bait to me.” SFSportz

The San Francisco 49ers announced on Tuesday they are using the franchise tag on Gould to keep him in town through 2019, and The Athletic’s Matt Barrows reported the team is using the non-exclusive tag. This tag allows Gould to negotiate with other teams, but there’s a very significant catch: If Gould were to sign an offer sheet from another team, the 49ers would have the right to match that offer and retain Gould. If they didn’t? The 49ers would be entitled to two first-round picks from the new team in compensation. That means that Gould is playing for the 49ers in 2019, because no team would give up that amount of capital for a kicker, even if he has been the NFL’s best over the past two seasons.

PS: Per Google, “click bait” is described as “content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.” I wouldn’t quantify the details behind Gould’s non-exclusive franchise tag as any form of baiting, unless you’re really into kickers.

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