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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Mailbag: Lance, Garoppolo, Verrett, the defense and the preseason MVP prediction

Marc Adams
Jul 27, 2022 at 8:11 AM--

San Francisco 49ers Training Camp has begun, and there is a lot of excitement and expectation from the media, fanbase, and team itself. So we opened up the 49ers Webzone Mailbag to give fans the opportunity to ask questions about their favorite team. I know you're excited because I can tell by the look in your eyes.

So let's get to it.

Matt Hutson: What's the likelihood of Garoppolo being traded/released+signed to Miami to compete with Tua for the starting job? Is Jimmy better than Tua?

There were rumors that the Miami Dolphins and new head coach Mike McDaniel might be interested in trading for Jimmy Garoppolo. But there hasn't been any confirmed interest from the Dolphins. Is it possible? Sure? But it's not likely.

At this point, a trade is going to require an injury to a starting quarterback (on a team that believes it's contending), or a young, unproven quarterback showing he's simply not ready or isn't the long-term solution. It is a possibility that Tua Tagovailoa isn't ready, or that McDaniels determines he never will be ready. So far, the Dolphins seem high on Tagovailoa, but this is a new coaching staff, so how they really feel remains to be seen.

Kyle Shanahan went on the TK Show and said, "We had an awesome run with Jimmy. It was great. But when you have a salary cap…This is a decision we made last year. And Jimmy gave Trey [Lance] the year we thought he needed." This sounds like confirmation of the end of the Garoppolo era to me.

And Shanahan also sounded like he believes Garoppolo will be gone by week one of the regular season. "Jimmy understands what happened here over the last couple of years," Shanahan said, "This is the business part of the league. Whether it's tomorrow, whether it's a couple of weeks from now, whether it's right before Week 1, I think our team will be in a good spot and I think Jimmy will be in a good spot, most likely somewhere else."

I expect Garoppolo to be on another roster before the season begins. Will it be in Miami? That's up to the Dolphins' young QB.

Niner Jim: Have the changes made on the defensive side of the ball been enough to offset the changes to the offensive line to carry the team until the offensive line can solidify?

Time will tell, but I do believe the 49ers' defense will be better this season than they were last season. I'm not sure they'll be as good as the 2019 squad, but they'll be close.

The secondary should be better. With the addition of Charvarius Ward, a more experienced Ambry Thomas and Emmanuel Moseley, and a possible return of Jason Verrett, this secondary should be the best of the Shanahan and John Lynch era. Talonoa Hufanga is less experienced than Jaquiski Tartt, but he's likely going to make more big plays. And Jimmie Ward is as good as he's ever been. Plus, the team drafted a couple of intriguing rookies in Samuel Womack and Tariq Castro-Fields. They also added undrafted free agent Qwantrezz Knight, who many are high on.

The linebackers should be as solid as they have been. And the defensive line could be deeper than it was last season. The team lost D.J. Jones in free agency, but the hope is that former first-rounder Javon Kinlaw can provide the kind of run support that Jones did. I actually think this front seven will get after the quarterback more than the last couple of seasons. Rookie Drake Jackson, along with veterans like Samson Ebukam, Kerry Hyder, Jr., Charles Omenihu, and Kemoko Turay should give the team more pressure than they had in 2020 and 2021.

More outside pressure should create more opportunities for Arik Armstead to wreak havoc inside. And who could forget about that Nick Bosa guy? He could end up being even better this season, as he is one more year removed from his knee injury in 2020.

We don't know what the offense will look like, with a new quarterback and offensive line, but the defense should be even better, and carry the 49ers once again.

Phani Tumu, M.D.: If Verrett can play well after his injury is he an option for the slot corner?

I didn't mention slot corner above, mainly because I'm not entirely sure what the 49ers will do there. My bet is that Darqueze Dennard starts there early on, but someone else will take that spot from him later in the season. Could it be one of the young corners? Or might it be Verrett?

Verrett has the talent to do it. If he was fully healthy, he might be the team's best corner. That said, I think they might try one of the younger corners first, or move Moseley inside. But we will soon find out.

Rishawn Walker: Marc, I wanna ask you this- what does Trey Lance need to work on before the 49ers arrive at training camp?

Trey Lance indeed has things he needs to work on. The accuracy of his throws is the main thing. That's really my only concern regarding Lance. I think he's very smart, very athletic, and has the drive to study and work at his craft until he's great.

Lance also needs experience. He needs to show Shanahan that he has the playbook down so that the coach can call every play he's designed. And Lance needs to grow in his ability to read defenses. But that comes with experience. And experience comes from playing.

If Lance learns to read defenses and can improve upon his accuracy, the sky is the limit for him. And I am confident he will.

Lee Cotton: With Mitchell and a hungry ready-to-prove Sermon, plus the rookie in the draft I'm expecting a 1,2,3 punch and a rushing machine coming out of Santa you see shared plays or Mitchell to take the bulk?

I expect a running back by committee approach for sure. We've seen too many injuries at this position to know the 49ers can't rely on just Elijah Mitchell. I expect Ty-Davis Price to be the number two back, and to get the lion's share of short yardage and goal-line plays. I expect Jeff Wilson, Jr. to get plenty of playing time, as well. And I think the coaches will give Trey Sermon every chance to show he can be the guy they expected him to be when he was drafted.

If Mitchel is the number one of the 1, 2, 3 punch, and Davis-Price is the number two, who is the three? Is it Sermon or Wilson? These four will be the top four for sure. I'd put my money on Wilson to be the number three. He's been really good when he's been healthy. I could even talk myself into predicting that he's the number two running back.

That would leave JaMycal Hasty on the outside looking in. But that's if everyone stays healthy. And don't count out undrafted rookie Jordan Mason. I've heard really good things about him from people who watched him during OTAs and Minicamp. He's big, fast and has great hands out of the backfield.

Uncle_Salty: Who will be the next MVP of the preseason? Past winners like Marcus Rush, Kory Sheets, etc.

I love this question from Uncle Salty. Last year, I wrote an article on the day of the first preseason game reminding 49ers fans to not fall for the preseason mirage. Of course, fans didn't listen and Lance became an instant legend and upgrade at QB in the minds of many.

I mentioned names like Kory Sheets, Glen Coffee, Nate Davis, and Jarryd Hayne. These players, like Marcus Rush, who Uncle Salty mentioned, are forever part of the 49ers' Preseason Mount Rushmore. That is, they are players who made us think they were future Hall of Famers because of their preseason performance. The problem is, once the regular season began, these players either hadn't made the team, or made it and never did anything when the games counted.

Of course, I don't include Lance in that group. There was a reason to be excited about him. But the others fell along the wayside and are remembered only in folklore.

So who will be this year's preseason MVP? My prediction would be Mason. I think it will be hard for him to make the team with this crowded running back room. An injury could allow it, but it's going to be hard. Because of this, he may get a long look in some preseason games. If he wows fans like he has media so far, Mason could earn his spot on the 49ers' Preseason Mount Rushmore.

Another option is undrafted rookie wide receiver Tay Martin from Oklahoma State. Martin was a second-team All-Big 12 selection by the coaches and AP. He finished the season with 80 catches for 1,046 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. I've heard good things about Martin, as well. He has good speed, great hands, and excellent body control. And Larry Krueger likes him. That's good enough for me.

49ers Dude: What should the faithful expect for # of wins this year?

I think at least 10 wins can be expected. If the team stays relatively healthy, and the offensive line and Lance perform better than expected, they could get to 11 or 12 wins. If the offensive line and Lance play worse than expected, they potentially could miss the playoffs altogether. But I think they'll be fine. I think the defense will be very good and the team gets to 11 wins. 11-6 gets you in the playoffs and potentially wins the division.

Stefan Friedinger: Signing J.C.Tretter to improve the O-Line?

From what I've heard, J.C. Tretter has some injury issues that may be preventing teams from signing him. He would surely be an upgrade over whoever the 49ers plan to start at center. That is if he's healthy.

Right now it seems like the 49ers' plan is to see who steps up and takes the job. Jake Brendel appears to be the favorite to start at center. Daniel Brunskill has done it in the past, but he was mediocre as a starting center. I'd prefer he stay at right guard (unless someone can beat him out). I would say Brendel has the upper hand right now, especially considering the fact that offensive line coach Chris Foerster really pushed for the 49ers to bring Brendel to San Francisco.

That said, if Tretter remains unsigned by another team, and the current options don't make the coaching staff feel confident, Tretter could be a possibility.

Thanks so much for all your questions. We will pick the mailbag back up next week. Go Niners!
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

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