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49ers mailbag: Will Nick Bosa play on Sunday? Expectations for Brock Purdy? Where will the pass rush come from?

Marc Adams
Sep 6, 2023 at 9:01 AM--

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We're only a matter of days away from the season opener in Pittsburgh, where the 49ers will battle the Steelers. You undoubtedly have plenty of questions, and by the looks of it, many of them center around a certain defensive player who still has not arrived in Santa Clara. So let's open the 49ers Webzone mailbag and see what's on your mind.

What are the QB coaches doing to reduce the number of picks and dropped picks Brock threw last season and in this pre-season? - Mataio V.

I would imagine just a lot of reps and film room. Yes, Brock Purdy threw some passes last year that should have been intercepted, but all young quarterbacks do this. As Purdy gets more experience, he'll make less of those mistakes. When he does throw a bad ball, or make a bad read, I'm sure the coaches use those as teachable moments to help him see what he did wrong. Purdy is a smart QB, especially for his age. He'll be fine.

What are your (realistic) expectations for Purdy this year? Should I feel confident buying a jersey yet? - Scott B

I think Purdy will keep improving. Sure, defenses will adjust to him and throw him some new looks. But Kyle Shanahan will adjust and Purdy will learn and adjust to the defenses' adjustments.

I'd say it's safe to go ahead and buy that Purdy jersey. But this Kirk Cousins thing just won't die. Proceed at your own risk.

What is gonna cost us more games this year: Wilks' sick love for calling too many blitzes with our suspect secondary or Kyle trusting Moody way too often in the red zone instead of being more aggressive in his calls to get more TDs? - Jose

I think Jake Moody, the rookie kicker, will cost the 49ers more games this year. It's just not easy for rookie kickers to go from college to the NFL, and make kicks with the same kind of consistency. The pressure is much greater.

As for Steve Wilks, I think he will blitz more often than his predecessors, but I don't think he's going to go crazy a la Buddy Ryan and start blitzing on almost every play. Wilks is an experienced defensive coach, so he knows what he's doing. But you're correct, when you blitz, there are risks.

Still, I'm not worried about the secondary when the starters are in. It's the backups and the thin depth at cornerback that make me nervous.

More likely scenario- Bosa signs, which leads to an Aiyuk trade in the off-season, or Bosa signs, and the Niners move on from a veteran with a big cap hit like Armstead or Deebo? - Nick E.

The 49ers will sign Nick Bosa...eventually. And when they do, it's going to have major implications on salary caps to come. It won't hurt the team this season, but within the next couple of years, it will begin rearing its ugly head. And the 49ers may have to let some players go, including some we don't want to see leave.

It could begin as soon as next offseason, but will likely be felt more the following offseason. I really think the 49ers will do their best to keep Brandon Aiyuk. Arik Armstead could end up being one of the players the 49ers move on from. What if it costs them George Kittle? Would the 49ers move on from Deebo Samuel? I think health, and how both perform this season, will have a lot to do with who they decide to keep.

The front office bungled the entire Lance situation. Why isn't there a deal in place with Bosa, with less than 1 week until the opener? - KCarps

That is the million-dollar question. Or in this case, the $150,000,000+ question. The 49ers made a mess of the Trey Lance situation. If they mess this up, and somehow don't get Bosa signed soon, and the 49ers lose games because of it, it will be an epic fail. There's no Super Bowl without Bosa. And in a season where the 49ers expect to be fighting for a chance to win number six, this isn't something they can screw up.

Could the 49ers entertain the thought of trading Bosa? The New York Jets have reportedly reached out to the 49ers to ask about the star edge rusher. But I still don't think they'll do it. Imagine if they traded Lance and Bosa within a few weeks of each other. That would be a huge blow to the front office—trading your best player, and the guy you thought would be your franchise QB.

It's insane to think that Shanahan and John Lynch could possibly screw this up. Or they could win the Super Bowl.

Will you have Nick Bosa signed before the game? - Geno F.

Geno, I am not the one who negotiates these deals, but if I were, then yes, Bosa would have been signed weeks ago and would be ready for week one. Maybe the 49ers should get rid of Paraag Marathe and hire me to do contracts. (On second thought, I'm terrible at Math. I should leave this to the experts. I might accidentally give Bosa's new money to a backup kicker or something.)

The fact that, as of Wednesday morning, as practice begins, Bosa is not at the facility, makes it seem unlikely he'll play on Sunday. But stranger things have happened.

Do we have a kicker? When's Bosa to sign? - Debb M.

Yes, Moody is still with the 49ers and could be ready for Sunday. Matt Maiocco was on KNBR on Tuesday and said it's looking like Moody will play. And just in case Moody isn't ready, the 49ers signed kicker Matthew Wright, who used to play for the Steelers.

As for the Bosa question—I have no idea. And apparently, neither does the 49ers.

Where does the pass rush come from with holdout Nick still not here? - Niner Jim

If the 49ers are going to win this game in Pittsburgh, they will need the pass rush to come from everywhere. Meaning, that everyone else will have to step up. Drake Jackson, Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell, Javon Hargrave, Arik Armstead, and whoever Wilks sends on a blitz.

Beating the Steelers in week one, in Pittsburgh, is going to be tough to pull off. Without Bosa, it will be much more difficult.

How far away is Kittle? - TheGreavance

It's possible Kittle could miss this game, which would make winning in Pittsburgh even harder. When the 49ers get back to practice on Wednesday, we should know more. Perhaps we'll know something by the time you read this. He's been out with an adductor strain and hasn't practiced in a while. But Maiocco seemed to think Kittle would play.

How is the defense looking under the new DC? - Miguel G.

It's hard to tell based on training camp and preseason. We'll learn a lot on Sunday. But the 49ers' defense has reportedly looked good so far. Of course, if they don't have their best player on Sunday, it may be hard to tell how good (or bad) they really are. The Steelers present a difficult challenge for the 49ers. They can run the ball and have a young QB that's played well. They also have a good trio of wide receivers, a solid tight end, and a running back who can hurt you out of the backfield.

This will be a good early test for Wilks and his defense.

Do the 49ers QB coaches actually coach the QBs? - Mataio V.

Of course, they do. Now if you're talking about coaching mechanics, then no, they probably do very little of that. The 49ers QB coaches, as is the case with all NFL QB coaches, mostly work on plays, reads, game plans, anything that gets the quarterback ready for actual games, etc. They simply don't have time to work on a quarterback's mechanics, footwork, or psyche, especially with the changes to the CBA that don't allow much work with players during the offseason. This is why so many QBs, even great ones like Tom Brady, go to quarterback gurus to work on issues with mechanics, mind, etc.

That's all for this mailbag. We'll be back next Monday, which will hopefully be a "win-Monday," to take more of your questions, as well as to respond to the game.
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