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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Mailbag: Is the secondary the team’s biggest weakness? Will DeMeco Ryans interviews be a distraction? What’s the compensation for losing Ran Carthon?

Marc Adams
Jan 18, 2023 at 8:27 AM

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Give yourself a hand. A standing ovation even. You've survived Wild Card weekend with great poise and determination, and you're now focused and ready for the Divisional Round of the NFL Postseason. Give yourself a high-five. Better yet, give someone else a high-five. Even if you don't know them, walk over and give someone a high-five. Don't tell them why you're doing it. Just do it.

As the San Francisco 49ers prepare to host the Dallas Cowboys (Boooooo!), we have answered many of your 49ers' questions for our latest mailbag. Every time you hear or read the words "Dallas" or "Cowboys" this week, let out a loud, "Boooooo!" Not the weak pumping-in-crowd noise like the Rams do, but one that shows you mean business and is anchored in your hatred for the Cowboys (Boooooo!). See? Like that.

Ok, enough of trying to get you to do strange things in public. Let's get to the mailbag:

Do the Niners get draft compensation for Ryans taking a HC job? - Jorge C.

Yes, the 49ers would receive two compensatory picks. Per, "Teams that lose a minority coach or executive to a head coach or general manager job with another team will receive a third-round compensatory pick for two consecutive years."

Those picks will come at the end of the third round, after the compensatory picks teams receive for losing free agents.

You have probably heard that Ran Carthon, the 49ers' Director of Player Personnel, was just hired as GM of the Titans. So the 49ers will receive two compensatory picks for losing Carthon.

As Matt Barrows explains, if DeMeco Ryans gets a head coach job this year, the 49ers will get one more pick. If Ryans gets a head coach position after next season, the team would get two picks. I know, it's a little confusing.

How much of a distraction will it be for DeMeco with what sounds like four interviews this week starting on Thursday? - Niner Jim

DeMeco Ryans has four interviews coming up, but only two of them are this week. I believe the other two are next week.

Ryans has actually received five requests. Houston, Denver, Indianapolis, Arizona, and Carolina. But the Panthers interview is currently on hold.

I'm sure he's planned this out and won't let it be a distraction. And I'm sure Kyle Shanahan has given him plenty of advice. That said, I still worry about it. But I worry about everything.

Do Brock and Trey compete for QB1 during training camp next season or will Brock be QB1 going forward? - Don L.

I think that still remains to be seen. Many are saying it's over, and that Brock Purdy has already won the job.

I will agree that he's been great. But I'm still not ready to crown him QB1. History is filled with guys who looked like the second coming of Joe Montana for a handful of games, but turned out to be just an average Joe.

I want to see how Purdy handles the Divisional Round playoff game against Dallas. That will be his biggest test so far.

It may be that Shanahan has seen enough to know. But Trey Lance has a lot of talent. So I think the coach would have to be completely convinced that Purdy is the guy to not (at least) give Lance another shot at competing.

What position are we going to draft with the first-round pick that we get for Trey Bust this off-season? - Socrates

The 49ers are not trading Lance.

And can you really call him a bust after watching him play less than 15 quarters in the NFL? Especially when he had a thumb injury during six of those quarters, and played in a rainy Chicago for another four?

Plus, there's this little nugget from Matt Maiocco:

Is Shanahan/Lynch too stubborn to move on from Lance, or do they realize the player they have in Brock and commit to him moving forward? - Scott B.

They will start whichever QB they believe gives the team a better chance to win. For now, that appears to be Purdy, but things can change quickly in the NFL.

Three questions the 49ers must ask regarding the QB position:

  1. Will Purdy still be the best option a couple of years down the road, or might Lance be the guy by then?
  2. What if Purdy gets injured, or starts looking like a 7th-rounder?
  3. Wouldn't it be smart to have a young, talented guy still on the roster just in case Purdy isn't the guy?

Which free agents do you think are keepers and which ones should walk? - Zach M.

The 49ers have 24 players that will be free agents come March. Three are restricted (Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Kevin Givens, and Colton McKivitz), and should be back in 2023.

Of the unrestricted free agents, here are the ones I'd love to see brought back:

  • Jimmie Ward
  • Emmanuel Moseley
  • Robbie Gould (especially after watching the Dallas kicker on Monday night)
  • Jake Brendel
  • Charles Omenihu
  • Jordan Willis
  • Taybor Pepper

Here are the ones I am ok to see return, as long as it's for the right price:

  • Azeez Al-Shaair
  • Daniel Brunskill
  • Mike McGlinchey (I never thought I'd write that)
  • Tashaun Gipson
  • Kerry Hyder, Jr.
  • Hassan Ridgeway
  • Tyler Kroft
  • Maurice Hurst

Those they should let walk:

  • Samson Ebukam
  • Jimmy Garoppolo
  • Ross Dwelley
  • Jason Verrett
  • Tarvarius Moore
  • Josh Johnson

That's a lot of pending free agents!

How will the team address the secondary this offseason? Mooney Ward was a great addition, but the secondary is the biggest weakness for this D. Jimmie Ward is a FA. Moseley coming off ACL. KC shredded this secondary, and the biggest fear going fwd in this postseason. - KCarps

To be fair, Kansas City shreds every secondary. But I do agree. The secondary is the weak link of the defense, and probably the team, as a whole.

We started the season excited that the team had upgraded the secondary, and that unit quickly showed that they had become a team strength. But after season-ending injuries to Moseley and Verrett, and some questionable decisions by Talanoa Hufanga, the secondary is, once again, the part of the team about which I am most concerned (with the offensive line and quarterback right behind).

Moseley's injury could make it hard for him to land a big payday in free agency. That's unfortunate for him. But it could end up benefitting the 49ers. Before his injury, he may have been playing better than anyone in the secondary.

Is Ambry Thomas, Deommodore Lenoir, or Samuel Womack, III the answer opposite Charvarius Ward?

Thomas played well down the stretch in 2021, but has been injured for much of this season. I'm just not sure he's the answer, and I wouldn't be very confident going into next season with him as CB2.

Lenoir was drafted to be a nickel corner, but he's played pretty well on the outside. He's had some rough patches, but when he has been beaten, he's at least been in position. He's just failed to make a play on the ball. He should improve on that as he gains experience.

I'm not sure what to think about Womack. He was more highly regarded than Thomas or Lenoir, and started out as a starter at nickel. But he has either fallen out of favor with the coaching staff, or it's just as simple as the fact that he's not as good as Jimmie Ward.

If Moseley doesn't return, I'd love to see the 49ers go get another really good corner in free agency. I'm just not sure they will do that two offseasons in a row.

Is Jonathan Abrams the player of the game for the Niners? - Covlol

He certainly helped awaken the giant. Thanks, Johnathan.

Can everyone finally admit Jimmy G was not only holding the team back, but also the creativity of Kyle? After a few early shaky throws by Brock, Kyle stuck with him and kept the ball in his hand. We've seen him do the opposite with Jimmy. - 2times

Clearly, Shanahan doesn't trust Garoppolo as much as he trusts Purdy. But I'm not going to question Shanahan's creativity. It's likely that he's just more cautious with Garoppolo. And that says a lot for Purdy, that he's been able to earn his coach's trust so quickly.

What's your take on Kinlaw since he came back? His PFF grades have been terrible. Is the team happy with his production? Will they pick up his 5th year? - DownbyLaw

Javon Kinlaw has not been impressive since he returned from his knee injury. He's had a few flashes, but he's also disappeared in games. It may be that they're easing him back in. But he hasn't been great so far.

I really don't know how the team feels about him. Will the 49ers pick up Kinlaw's fifth-year option? Normally I would think so, especially since he's been injured so much. I would think they would like to get a longer look at him. I just don't know if he'll ever be healthy.

And because of that, I don't know that he will ever be what he was drafted to be. So, I think there's a really good chance they don't pick up his fifth-year option, which would make the DeForrest Buckner trade even more frustrating. Kinlaw has only played in 25 total games in his three NFL seasons. His team has played 54 games in that time.

Hello, from France, Marc! Brock is absolutely incredible, totally unbelievable. But do you think he gives us the best chance to win the NFC Championship over Jimmy? Ok, ok... let's first beat the 'Boys or the Bucs! - Nicolas J.

Yes, Purdy gives the 49ers the best chance to win each game this postseason. Even if Garoppolo returns for the NFC Championship Game, he may be rusty. I like Garoppolo's experience over Purdy's lack of experience, but even then, Purdy has shown himself to be calmer and more steady than Garoppolo.

Also, Purdy has not made the back-breaking mistakes (turnovers) that Garoppolo tends to make. How many interceptions did we watch him throw in big moments? And who could forget the running out of the back of the end zone moment? That was something a rookie would do.

That's not to bash Garoppolo. I'm a huge fan of his, and I believe in him. But Purdy has shown more poise, so far, than I remember seeing from Garoppolo.

And I haven't even mentioned Purdy's advantage over Garoppolo in escaping pressure, buying time, and creating something out of nothing. Garoppolo rarely does those things.

With Bosa's extension being priority #1 this offseason, do you think this is the end of Jimmie Ward's run with the Niners? - Jorge C.

I hope not. I'd like to see Ward return for another season. Outside of his horrible personal foul penalty against the Seahawks, Ward is so valuable to the 49ers.

Will he continue his reign as the longest-tenured player on the team? Ward is only one season away from making it onto the 49ers' coveted 10-year wall.

How much draft capital could we realistically get for Lance this off-season? - Scott B.

As I wrote earlier, I don't expect the 49ers to trade Lance. If they did, I'm not certain they could even get a first-round pick. Lance is injured, and he's still very raw.

I think still think Lance is more valuable to the team as a member of the team, not as a trade piece.

Thanks so much for your questions. We'll be back Monday, hopefully celebrating a big 49ers win.
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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