SANTA CLARA – Now that the NFL trade deadline is passed, we’re better equipped to answer your weekly 49ers mailbag questions via the social-media sweepstakes:
Big move by the Rams acquiring (Von) Miller. If the Niners can make a run, can they get past the Rams to the playoffs? (@gucci_spartan)
We’ll find out fast as the 49ers host the Rams on Monday night, Nov. 15, but after first facing the NFC West’s co-leading Arizona Cardinals this Sunday. It’s a critical stretch and the 49ers gained vital momentum/confidence/life with Sunday’s win in Chicago. As for Miller, can his body can hold up, or will it fail him like that of fellow 32-year-old J.J. Watt on the Arizona Cardinals. (PS: the 49ers swept the Rams in 2019 and ’20.)
After seeing how the 49ers performed Sunday, do we have a better chance against Arizona? (@ninerforlife96)?
Absolutely. The 49ers did a lot of soul searching this time last week, and they sprung to life with explosive plays, clutch execution and an overall vibe last seen in 2019. They fell 17-10 at Arizona last month to extend a losing streak to three (of four), and the 49ers should be in much better shape offensively to outduel a Cardinals team that missed Kyler Murray (ankle) at Wednesday’s practice. Ten weeks remain in the season, enough time for NFC contenders to rise or get derailed by COVID outbreaks (see: Packers’ Aaron Rodgers) and injuries (see: Saints’ Jameis Winston and now Michael Thomas).
It seems like the Wide 9 scheme leaves the defensive ends exposed on bootlegs and other designed QB runs/run options like zone-read. Who has contain responsibility in this scheme? (@joedtoc)
Great question, especially if Murray is able to play, and he hasn’t missed a start in his 2 1/2 -year career. The defensive end typically must have outside containment, but even on pass plays, mobile quarterbacks sucker pass rushers into the pocket before escaping around the edge, where a linebacker or safety must help. I’ll follow up with DeMeco Ryans on this Thursday.
Are Norman’s numerous PIs & missed coverages worth the upside in experience and forced fumbles (and now an interception)? Can we really trust him for the rest of the year? (@Sporty_Miner)
There really isn’t a comforting alternative than Josh Norman, especially if coaches think so little of rookies Deommodore Lenoir and Ambry Thomas to not dress them when healthy. Norman is a savvy veteran whose confidence isn’t shaken by the penalties, which is good and bad, no?
Whatever happened to those end-around quick toss plays for Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk that were so effective the last couple of years? (@jeffdomingues)
Great question and one I’ve pondered weekly … until I see Samuel catching the ball more often downfield and doing historic damage (819 yards, most by as 49er ever through seven games). That jet sweep toss is still in the playbook, and it’s been best utilized against the Rams, who are on the horizon.
RB quagmire: Is Mitchell the next Mostert or the next Breida? Why is Hasty taking 3rd down snaps? Why isn’t Sermon playing? How does Wilson fit in when he returns? Where is Mostert playing next year? (@Sporty_Miner)
Excellent summary. Mitchell’s extra burst Sunday was his best as a rookie and indeed resembled the Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida. Too early to say whose path he follows but Mitchell must avoid monthly injuries (adductor in camp; shoulder in Week 2; ribs in Week 7). Hasty is not an ideal third-down back, and Wilson could fit that role as he returns to practice this week, albeit for a more likely season debut in Week 10. Mostert’s future is a great unknown, other than he’ll be running on a finally repaired knee (with the Jets?).
What’s the over/under on PI calls this coming week? (@MrJakeSale)
That could depend on who quarterbacks the Cardinals. If Murray (ankle) is out, it will be Colt McCoy, Colin Kaepernick’s backup on the 2013 49ers. At least the 49ers defense, despite last Sunday’s first-half carnage, did not add to its NFL-high total of 14 pass-interference calls.
Who’s the backup safety now? (MullettRider55)
Talanoa Hufanga’s starting debut Sunday in Chicago went well enough for him to stay in the lineup for Jaquiski Tartt, and it won’t be as easy for the 49ers to replace an injured Jimmie Ward this game. Tavon Wilson is the leading candidate, but Tony Jefferson joined the 49ers last week on the practice squad, and veteran Will Parks announced Tuesday he’s incoming. Outgoing: Kai Nacua (injured reserve).
Any word on when Jalen Hurd’s practice window is opening? (@joepal1002)
No word from Kyle Shanahan when I asked a week ago.
When the heck is Kittle coming back??? (@troyccnv)
His practice window is supposed to open today, and, if his calf cooperates, look for him Sunday vs. Budda Baker in the best one-on-one matchup going in the NFC West.
When is Jeff Wilson coming back? (@da2p)
He, also, is expected to resume practicing today. But the 49ers likely will ease him into action before having his season debut, likely against the Rams.
Is Jimmy G back? (@dci24sc)
It’s like he never left, at least not for another team at the trade deadline. Heck of a game and then a fun family reunion afterward in Chicago.
What’s going on with Jimmie Ward? (@nando_916)
Pulled a quadriceps Sunday and left with six snaps to go. Likely will miss this week’s game, maybe next week’s.
Who is your favorite player for the 49ers? (@acem.r6)
I don’t play favorites, just like the 49ers don’t play rookies. (Just kidding, kidding.)