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When will Garoppolo be the starter again? Will Verrett be ready by Week 1? Who is the No. 2 RB? And more 49ers mailbag questions answered

Marc Adams
Aug 17, 2022 at 11:09 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers are in Eagan, Minnesota for a couple of joint practices with the Vikings, before the preseason game on Saturday. The starters will likely not play in the Saturday game, which makes the two practices all the more valuable.

Let's open up the 49ers Webzone mailbag and see if we can answer some of your questions.

Do you think Jason Verrett will make it back for Week 1? What kind of impact could he make this upcoming season? - Matt Hutson

I don't think Jason Verrett will make it back for week one. Verrett, of course, is recovering from an ACL tear in his right knee that he suffered in week one of last season. He missed the entire 2021 campaign, but he re-signed with the 49ers in the offseason and has been working hard to get back into form.

My guess is that the 49ers take it slow with him. Maybe they leave him on the PUP (physically-unable-to-perform) list or place him on IR (Injured Reserve) with a designation to return. Or maybe they have him on the roster, but keep him on the inactive list on gameday until he's ready.

Of course, Verrett wants to be in uniform in week one, when the 49ers play the Chicago Bears. But Kyle Shanahan doesn't seem as optimistic that he can be ready by September 11. "We're going to be real smart with that," Shanahan said. "We're not going to let him go until he is more than ready to go.

"We wouldn't want to throw him out there to see," Shanahan added. "We'd have to know before we threw him out there. We'll see how these next two weeks go. But it probably would surprise me for Week 1."

Shanahan also mentioned that if the 49ers activate Verrett from the PUP list to allow him to start practicing, and he's not ready physically, they can't put him back on the list. If a player remains on the PUP list to begin the regular season they are ineligible to practice or play in games for at least the first four weeks. A player on the PUP list does not count against the 53-man roster during the regular season. So if Verrett remains on PUP into the regular season, he would automatically miss the first four games.

Once Verrett is healthy, I think he could potentially make a big impact. When healthy, Verrett is one of the league's top corners. But he's not healthy often. The hope is that he can be ready soon, so that if there is an injury, he can jump in and give the team the kind of boost needed so that there isn't much of a letdown should Emmanuel Moseley or Charvarius Ward miss some time. Keep in mind, that although Verrett is working hard to return, he's yet to practice.

When will Jimmy Garoppolo become the starter again? - Nick Vanderpyl

2023 at the latest. Once Jimmy Garoppolo is traded or released, he can begin competing for the starting position on his new team. That could be as early as September. Maybe he wins the job this season, or maybe he has to wait until 2023 to start.

Now, I answered that question as though Nick was asking when Garoppolo would be a starter again. But he actually asked when Garoppolo will be the starter again. So I'm going to assume Nick is asking when Garoppolo will be the 49ers starter again. So let's work through this...

Nick, are you sitting down? Take a few deep breaths. You're among friends.

Jimmy Garoppolo will not be the starter in San Francisco again. The sun has set on his day as the 49ers' huddle-leader. His candle burned out long before, but his legend...crap, where did that come from?

Is this the best WR room we've had in the Shanahan era and who doesn't make the cut? - Arnulfo Romero

Yes, it is definitely the best wide receiver group the 49ers have had in many years. We know the top five who will make the team for sure: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, and Danny Gray.

Who makes the team after that? My guess is that it is Malik Turner. He is a veteran, has some talent, and he has made a handful of plays in training camp and in regular season games in the past. Tay Martin would be the one I would prefer to see, but I think he'll end up on the practice squad. And don't sleep on Austin Mack.

I might have picked KeeSean Johnson, but he was cut this week. So I'm sticking with Turner as my prediction for the sixth wide receiver spot.

Why is nobody talking about if the offensive line will give a (pretty much) first-year quarterback enough time to go through his progressions? A major issue for us in the playoffs with a better offensive line. - David Silva

The 49ers' offensive line has actually been quite a big topic. Of course, it hasn't been talked about as much as Trey Lance, Garoppolo, Samuel, etc., but I've seen plenty of discussions about it. Additionally, I've been a guest on several podcasts and a few radio shows this offseason, and I think I've been asked about the offensive line almost every time.

We know left tackle Trent Williams will be great. Can he stay healthy? That's an important question to be answered. If Mike McGlinchey can come back strong and be healthy, then right tackle should be fine. Hopefully, Colton McKivitz and Justin Skule can handle backup duties. The best case scenario is that they are not needed, but injuries happen. It sounds like Jordan Mills has looked decent, so maybe he would be an option.

As for the interior, Jake Bredel (center), Aaron Banks (left guard), and Spencer Burford (right guard) played pretty well Friday night. But the real test will be the practices this week against the Vikings. Against the Packers, the 49ers' interior wasn't playing against Green Bay's best. They'll likely face Minnesota's best in the joint practices. The 49ers' first joint practice with the Vikings just concluded, and from what I've heard, the 49ers offensive line didn't do so well. So they need to figure out how to protect Lance.

David is right, the 49ers' season will only be as good as the offensive line.

Who will lead the Niners in carries AFTER Mitchell? - Ryan Stein

I'm sticking with my initial prediction that Ty Davis-Price will be the number two running back. But I think early on it will be Jeff Wilson, Jr. Wilson has the experience, he can catch the ball (which Davis-Price cannot do), and he's been effective when he's been used in the past. Last year, he was never healthy.

I'm not sure Elijah Mitchell, who we all assume will be the number one back, is healthy yet. He currently is dealing with a hamstring injury that may cost him the entire preseason. And don't forget, Mitchell missed six games last season. He also had a procedure on his knee in the offseason, after a season in which he missed time due to shoulder, ribs, finger, and head injuries.

And the running back position always seems to be one that deals with a lot of injuries. So it's possible that Davis-Price, Wilson, Trey Sermon, JaMycal Hasty and Jordan Mason could all get carries this season.

Did Poe get a bump this week? - Roderick Adams

Jason Poe has impressed throughout training camp, and he played well in the preseason game last Friday night. Poe was listed as the second-team left guard on the unofficial depth chart released last week. He did nothing to warrant being demoted. But I would imagine he's still on the second team. He should play a lot on Saturday, so we'll see what he shows.

So far, he's looked good and deserves some attention for how well he's played.

Can Brock Purdy play well enough this week against MIN to earn a roster spot, or is he destined for the practice squad (assuming he isn't otherwise claimed)? If the 49ers go with three QBs, what roster position gives up a spot? -Niner Jim

First, I doubt the 49ers go with three quarterbacks on the roster. They haven't done that previously, so I doubt they will now. If the 49ers really like Brock Purdy, and it seems they do, I wouldn't worry about him being picked up by another team. Not only did every team pass on him in the draft, but remember, teams are allowed to protect four practice squad players each week so that no other team can sign them. If the 49ers are worried that another team may grab Purdy, they will protect him.

Second, Purdy may eventually end up being better than Nate Sudfeld, but the 49ers paid Sudfeld backup money ($2 million) for 2022. Normally, we can follow the money for our clues on the depth chart. But there is still the possibility that Purdy could pass Sudfeld. It's not likely, but with two preseason games remaining, you never know.

Next season would be when I'd expect to see Purdy make the jump to number two.

Both Aaron Banks and Spencer Burford played well on Friday, have also heard both playing well during camp. Does this help alleviate some concern with the interior OL? Or should we still be worried about the C? - TrueSpeak

We should still be concerned about the interior of the offensive line until Banks, Brendel and Burford show us we can relax. Yes, they played well against Green Bay, but they weren't exactly playing against the league's top defensive linemen in that game. A bigger test is this week when they practice against a very good Minnesota front. As mentioned above, day one didn't go so well.

The largest test comes in week one when it's real, and you're playing against the other team's best players.

Until we see that there's no reason to worry, I'll continue to be concerned. I'm less worried about Burford than I am about the other two, though.

Good morning! Do you see anyone unseating Ekubam to be the edge opposite Bosa (ie, Jackson, Turay, etc.)? - Phani Tumu

I would expect Samson Ebukam to begin the season as the starter and play a lot. But I think the other edge rushers, including Drake Jackson, Charles Omenihu, Kerry Hyder, Jr., and Kemoko Turay will be rotated in. The same way the 49ers have created depth in the interior line, they are working to do that on the outside. So expect them to rotate players accordingly.

But yes, I think Ebukam will be the starter opposite Nick Bosa this season. Will the 49ers treat it like Jim Harbaugh's coaching staff did in 2011, when Parys Haralson would start, and Aldon Smith would come in on passing downs? Perhaps we'll see Ebukam and Jackson used that way.

Marc, What were your takeaways from the first preseason game, and how do see the season going based on what you saw? - Matt Hutson

Last weekend, I released my 21 quick observations from the 49ers' preseason win over the Packers. I'll give you the quick version:

  • Turay was everywhere and was disrupting things the entire time he was in the game.
  • Tarvarius Moore is so talented. But he makes too many mistakes.
  • Talanoa Hufanga will be the starting strong safety—he almost killed a Green Bay running back Friday night.
  • Justin Skule looked rusty.
  • Lance looked sharp.
  • Danny Gray is really fast.
  • Marcelino McCrary-Ball looks fast and can play. And he's an undrafted rookie. He's a keeper!
  • Ray-Ray McCloud was wide open on his touchdown catch. If Sudfeld had missed him, he'd be the QB we all want to be traded.
  • McCloud will be dangerous with the ball in his hands—for the 49ers, and against the 49ers. He'll make some big plays, but he'll also put the ball on the ground. He fumbled the ball away in his first half with his new team.
  • Rookie corner Samuel Womack III made me think Darqueze Dennard wouldn't be the starter at nickel corner very long. I was right. Dennard was released this week.
  • Ambry Thomas did not look good to me.
  • Drake Jackson made some plays before leaving with a shoulder stinger.
  • JaMycal Hasty looked good with the ball in his hands.
  • Ty Davis-Price ran the ball well, too. He had one run that gained 10 yards and, if he doesn't slip, could've gone for a lot more. Davis-Price runs with authority and carries piles.
  • Let's hope backup center Keaton Sutherland never has to play.
  • Spencer Burford was throwing people around. I like him.

Have we finally turned the corner on the CB being our weakest position or are we still just one injury away from that being a major weakness for us? - Arnulfo Romero

If everyone stays healthy, then yes. This cornerback room, on paper, is the best of the Shanahan era. With Moseley, Ward, and Womack set as the starters, and Verrett working to return, the top of this group is very strong.

I'm interested to see how second-year corners Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir, as well as rookie Tariq Castro-Fields, develop. A lot of fans were high on undrafted rookie Qwuantrezz Knight, but I haven't heard or seen much from him throughout training camp. And I don't remember that he was even listed on the depth chart. But again, that depth chart is unofficial because the coaches haven't signed off on it. So it will probably change some.

I like this cornerback room. It's stronger and deeper. I don't think one injury will make it a weakness like it did last season. That said, the first joint practice with the Vikings just concluded, and Minnesota's talented receivers gave the 49ers' backup corners trouble.

Thanks so much for all your questions. I apologize for not getting to them all. I'll do better next week. In the meantime, let's hope for no more injuries this week.
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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