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Does Jed York want to keep Garoppolo? Will Jordan Mason make the team? And more 49ers mailbag questions answered

Marc Adams
Aug 24, 2022 at 7:51 AM--

We're only one day away from preseason game number three for the San Francisco 49ers. On Tuesday, Kyle Shanahan said he plans to play the starters for the first half. I doubt that will include all the starters, but it's possible that Trey Lance plays that entire half.

I'm torn on this. On one hand, I want the players to get reps so they are ready to roll in week one. But I'll be holding my breath the whole half, out of fear that someone may get hurt. But we'll worry about that on Thursday.

For now, a handful of 49ers fans submitted mailbag questions, and I am happy to answer them. So here we go.

I'm wondering why they cut Nkemdiche and Denard earlier (rather) than waiting until after the 2nd preseason game is over. What was the rational thinking about this? - Kwame Pogas

Both players, Robert Nkemdiche and Darqueze Dennard, are veterans. Sometimes NFL teams will release a veteran player early, once they determine that the player is not likely to make the team. They do this for a couple of reasons:

First, it is a courtesy to the player. Releasing a player early gives the player a jump start on finding a new team. Second, it prevents an older player, who won't make the team, from taking reps away from a younger player who probably needs those reps.

I think the bigger reason is the courtesy to the veteran player, though. It might seem unfair to release a player before cuts need to be made, but it's best for the player and the team in the long run, especially once the team decides that player is one who won't make the final cut.

How many players at RB and WR will the 49ers like to keep on the active roster? 12 seems like a big number for the offensive side of the ball, so if it's 11 or less, how will those positions get split with what looks like some great depth at both spots? - Niner Jim

My best guess, based on what the 49ers traditionally do, is that they will keep six wide receivers and four running backs (five if you count fullback Kyle Juszczyk).

Here are my wide receiver predictions: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, Danny Gray and Malik Turner.

At running back, I expect it will be: Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson, Jr., Ty Davis-Price and JaMycal Hasty. I predict Trey Sermon will be released or traded. I would love to see the team keep five running backs, so they can find a way to keep Jordan Mason.

If however, the 49ers cut Mason, it's very possible he will be picked up by another team. But he went undrafted, so maybe he won't be. He's looked really good in two preseason games, and I'm not sure I'd take a chance on losing him. San Francisco has to find a way to keep Mason. I hope it will happen. I'm just not sure how they will do so, considering they will probably only carry four halfbacks. Maybe they let will Hasty go, too, but I don't think so.

Of course, the 49ers will keep Juszczyk, the best fullback in the league.

Your take on where the 49ers have ranked in the top 100 so far on NFL Network? - ShoqMax

I love that Juszczyk and Jimmie Ward are in the Top 100. They both deserve it. This was Ward's first time on the list, so it's nice to see him get some recognition.

I thought Nick Bosa was too low (number 25). Last year, he was not even on the list, due to his injury-shortened 2020. Hopefully, Bosa will have the type of season that will move him higher on the list next year. Following his rookie season (2019), Bosa was number 17 on the list. I still think 25 is too low for one of the best edge rushers in the league, though.

Fred Warner, strangely, fell several spots to number 47. Last season, he came in at number 21. Warner was named an All-Pro in 2020, but not in 2021, so that is probably part of the reason why he dropped.

George Kittle came in at number 22, which is much better than last year when he dropped to 50, after peaking at number 7 the year before. Kittle's health is the key. When he's healthy, he's an elite tight end. But he does miss some games each season.

What do you make of Jed York's recent comments about possibly keeping Jimmy Garoppolo around this season? Thank you. - Daniel Kelly

I think it's likely just Jed York's way of saying he trusts Shanahan and John Lynch to make those decisions. He's sending a message that, should they choose to keep Jimmy Garoppolo, York is ok with that because he trusts who he has put in place.

I don't believe he's pressuring Lynch and Shanahan to keep Garoppolo, or that he's hinting that he wants that to happen. I think he's just throwing his support their way because it would seem crazy to keep a backup quarterback with a salary well over $20 million for the 2022 season. And there is probably some gamesmanship in there, as they still want to trade Garoppolo. So they need to at least try to convince other teams that they may keep him.

I believe York said something similar during the offseason. Just as he gave his support for the 49ers to draft a quarterback third overall in 2021, he has shown his support for however the roster needs to be set. And he's been very willing to pay his players. I truly believe York wants to win—badly.

Who is going to be the #2 running back when week 1 rolls around? - Cody Cross

For many weeks, I have believed it would be Davis-Price. But I'm starting to think it will be Wilson, Jr. Davis-Price has looked good in the preseason games, but I think it may take him some time to be number two.

Wilson, Jr. has been really solid for the 49ers when he's been healthy. Shanahan also likes using him as a receiver out of the backfield. Last season, he wasn't healthy, so that is why he wasn't the player we expected him to be. This year, he's looked great, by all accounts.

Of course, we are assuming Mitchell is the starter. That is the plan, but right now, he's still injured. And he was injured a lot last season. Can Mitchell be the lead back all season? Is Shanahan even going to use him that way, or could we see more of a committee approach?

Mitchell is on pace to be ready for week one. He won't play Thursday night, so I would expect Wilson, Jr. to be the starting running back in the final preseason game.

If the Niners cut Jimmy, saving his 23 million salary, how does that affect next year's salary cap? Is it all rolled forwards? - Martin Vicca

Unused salary cap space is rolled over into the next season. So if the 49ers indeed cut Garoppolo, his roughly $25 million salary would be off the books for 2022. If the team chooses to make some roster moves this season, they would have room to do so. Any of the 2022 salary cap that is unused, rolls over to 2023.

So yes, if the team releases Garoppolo (as opposed to keeping him on the roster), his cap hit rolls over to 2023. How much of it is rolled over is determined after the playoffs, by bonuses and such. But I would think most of it would be available in 2023.

After the Jimmy G cut/trade, do you think the Niners will look for veteran O-line help? - Gen X Goofball

Right now, I would say the 49ers are set with who will be playing along the offensive line. That said, an injury, or really poor play, could influence Shanahan and Lynch to make another move.

But I think the hope right now is that the current group is the one they'll ride with. However, once Garoppolo is off the roster, the 49ers will have room to add someone—if they want to. The problem at this point is that the players currently available may not be much better than who they already have.

Thanks for all your mailbag questions. We'll be back at it next week to answer more of them
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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