Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports



Fans of the San Francisco 49ers have a lot on their minds these days, as excitement about the new regime is reaching a fever pitch. With that in mind, we opened the first of many mailbags to the fans, and got some great questions about the quarterback situation (specifically Kirk Cousins), free agency, and the upcoming draft. Enjoy.

Q: Do we wait for Cousins next year if we don't get him (this offseason) and use a stopgap for this year? (Zay Ward)

A: I firmly believe the 49ers are going to do everything in their power to pry Cousins away from Washington this offseason, but the question is: How much are they willing to pay? If/when Cousins is tagged, he would cost any team that wants to sign him two first-round picks. The way I see it, the Niners could take two different approaches here. The first is to wait until after the draft to make Cousins an offer, which would mean they would lose their 2018 and 2019 first-round selections, but still keep the second overall this year. The other option is trying to figure out alternate compensation with the Redskins (say, a couple of second-rounders) and hope Washington is willing to bite knowing they may eventually lose Cousins for nothing down the road.

If neither of these situations come to fruition, or San Francisco just thinks the price tag is too high, then I expect a stopgap at quarterback for this upcoming season would be in play: think someone like Brian Hoyer or Matt Schaub for the time being, and then revisit taking a run at Cousins in 2018 should he become a free agent. To be honest, it probably makes more sense to build the team that would eventually be around Cousins this year, and then put the full court press on him should he hit the open market next offseason.

Q: Do you think free agents will want to come to San Francisco now? I believe the front office dysfunction played a part in San Francisco not landing free agents the past two years. (Kyle LaBouve)

A: I think the presence of John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, and the fact that each of them has a six-year deal, will be very enticing to free agents. The new power combo has brought a lot of excitement back to the 49ers, and the fact that they're under contract for the foreseeable future shows that there will (hopefully) be stability within the franchise. Also, I think it's very telling that a number of Shanahan's former players who are about to become available are being tied to the Niners in one way or another. Cousins, Hoyer, Schaub, Patrick DiMarco, and Jacob Tamme (to name a few) have all been linked to their old coach, which to me shows that Shanahan made a significant impression on them. In my opinion, the fact that they appear to want to play for him again is a great sign.

Q: Are we making a splash in free agency this year? If so, who's on the list of targets? (Grant Rasmussen)

A: This was such an interesting question to me because inquiring minds want to know exactly how Lynch and Shanahan are going to approach rebuilding this depleted roster. Depending on what happens with the franchise tag, there are going to be some high-impact defensive players who could be available when free agency kicks off, and adding one or two of them would change the fortunes rather quickly on that side of the ball. Names like Melvin Ingram, Eric Berry, Dontari Poe, Brandon Williams, Stephon Gilmore, Jason Pierre-Paul, Kawaan Short, and Chandler Jones would all be big time (and big money) additions, and the Niners could probably afford two of them. Offensively, the list isn't as deep, but a receiver like Alshon Jeffrey or Terrelle Pryor could really help that particular position group and give Shanahan a reliable target in the passing game. Remember though, sometimes it's the role players you add in free agency (someone like DiMarco or Schaub as a veteran mentor) who can make all the difference.

Q: Any chance of (Tony) Romo? (James Leedy)

A: Given his age and where he is at this point in his career, I just don't see Romo being interested in San Francisco. He's 37, injury prone, and probably only has another year or two left in the tank, which means he'll want to go to a team that's ready to win now (unfortunately, that's not the 49ers). A good fit for Romo would be a franchise that's close. Good situations for him would be with teams like the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs or Denver Broncos.

Q: Put your general manager hat on. Do you stay at two and draft Jonathan Allen, or trade down, get another second-round pick, and take Corey Davis late in the first? (Jiggety Jeff)

A: I would love for the 49ers to trade down seeing as this draft is so deep and they have so many needs. What remains to be seen though, is if any team values a player enough at number two overall to want to move up and get him. In an ideal world (for fans of the 49ers anyway), San Francisco could make a trade with the Titans who own the fifth and eighteenth overall picks. That would put the 49ers in a position to land some like inside linebacker Rueben Foster at five, and then take a receiver like Davis at eighteen. It's a dream scenario, but I doubt Tennessee would have any interest in it. Ultimately, I think the Niners stay at two, and draft the top player on their board (whoever that may be).