Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports



After losing the last five games by a total of 13 points, the San Francisco 49ers are making a case to be the best 0-6 team in the history of the NFL. But even with all of the close calls and bad luck, a majority of the team's wounds have been self-inflicted. Dropped passes, missed tackles, and penalties have set them back, which make the losses all the more frustrating. With the 2017 season slowly slipping away, the team seems to be looking ahead to 2018, as recent decisions signify an emphasis on the future. The fans are right there with them, and are curious about what happens next, which is evident in our latest mailbag.

Q: Can we end the Arik Armstead charade? He is a bust. Won't play through the pain, IR 2 seasons in a row. And not productive when on field. (@DenverDrew44)

A: When it comes to Armstead, a number of fans have expressed their frustration to me, but he's probably played a little better than you think. Before breaking his hand in Week 6, Armstead was actually second on the team with 15 quarterback pressures, and had graded out as an above-average run defender, per Pro Football Focus. The hand injury is one he can't play through, but Drew's point is well taken in that now he'll end up missing 18 of the last 32 games due to injury. Also, while he's played pretty well at times, San Francisco didn't take him with the 17th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft to just be "okay." Ideally, he would have shown much more than he has thus far. Couple that with that fact that the Niners passed on All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters to select Armstead, and it's easy to see why some might be frustrated. Did you know that since he came into the league in 2015, Peters has intercepted more passes (16) than every San Francisco corner combined (11)? Not a good look for the 49ers. Anyway, as far as Armstead's future, 2018 is the final year of his contract at a reasonable $3.1 million. Unless the team is blown away by a trade, it would probably benefit the 49ers to keep him around, but an extension looks unlikely at this point.

Q: How do you feel about the release of Bowman? (@tcournoyer0627)

A: The whole thing really took me by surprise, especially with how quickly it all went down. I didn't expect Bowman to be with the team following this season, but with Reuben Foster battling injuries and not much depth behind Bowman, I thought for sure he'd stick around this season. That benching, or resting, or whatever you want to call it, in Indianapolis really sealed the deal, though. Bowman was a great player at one point, and guys like that have a lot of pride. He was upset, wanted out, and by the time cooler heads has prevailed, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan felt it was best to move on.

Now, as far as the actual release, that didn't sit well with me initially because I thought there would be more of a market for him. Even though Bowman has lost a step, he's still a starting two-down linebacker in the league. However, Bowman's salary and the timing of it all made compensation difficult. In the end, the 49ers did the classy thing by letting Bowman walk and choose his destination, rather than trading him away for a seventh-round draft choice.

Q: Regardless of how C.J. plays for the rest of the season do you think we will draft a QB in the early rounds of next years draft? (Oscar Harris)

A: I (more or less) asked Mike Silver this question on our latest podcast, and his answer was, "The short version for me is whatever Kyle wants." I thought that was about as accurate as you can get, because the decision is completely in the hands of Shanahan. Now, how C.J. Beathard plays over the remainder of the season will go a long way in deciding what happens, but I'm not sure even Shanahan himself knows which way he's going yet. Is there a particular signal caller he's in love with in the upcoming draft class? Does he have his sights set on Kirk Cousins? There are so many factors and so much still has to play out, an answer at this point is hard to give. Make no mistake though, this is the most important issue facing the franchise, because it's one the team hasn't been able to find a long-term solution to for 15-plus years.

You can listen to the podcast interview with Mike Silver below.



Q: We are close to the half way point of the season in a rebuilding year, what are your thoughts on our draft/FA needs next season. (Gabriel Salindong)

A: As competitive as the 49ers have been, they still have a lot of needs to address. I touched on the quarterback situation already, but the issues run deep at multiple positions. Wide receiver is one that immediately jumps out because it's mostly just placeholders. Pierre Garçon is effective but aging, and Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson are probably better suited as backups. The team needs a legitimate number one option in the passing game, as it's been a while since we've seen that. In fact, Michael Crabtree (2012) and Anquan Boldin (2013, 2014) have been the only San Francisco receivers to eclipse 1,000 yards since Terrell Owens in 2003. However, Garçon is on pace to join them this year.

The Niners also need a legitimate "LEO" passing rusher for Robert Saleh's defense. DeForest Buckner has developed into a dominate inside presence and Solomon Thomas has been stout against the run, but someone to come off the edge and get to the quarterback is a must. The defensive line would be one of the best in the league if the team can fill that void. Beyond that, the interior of the offensive line will be a priority, as will cornerback. The return of Malcolm Smith could ease the need at linebacker, but that position is thin. Keep an eye on running back as well if Carlos Hyde is allowed to walk. His departure would leave a gaping hole in the backfield.

Al Sacco is the Senior Writer for 49ers Webzone and has had his work used by national outlets such as ESPN and USA TODAY. In addition to his writing duties, Al is also the co-host of the No Huddle podcast. If you'd like to reach Al with a media request, please contact him via Twitter @AlSacco49