On Friday I solicited questions for a 49ers mailbag on Twitter. The Faithful didn’t disappoint and deserve a big thank you for doing half the work with questions on a wide variety of topics. Let’s get to it.
@andrewh – The stable of running backs is deep this year. How do you see the carries being distributed amongst the backs and Deebo Samuel?
The pecking order will be Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, and Deebo Samuel. I expect to see Jordan Mason as the third running back due to his special teams ability. Wouldn’t expect to see Ty Davis-Price active on game days unless there is an injury.
The run distribution will look something like this: 15 for McCaffrey, 10 for Mitchell, with the other four or five split between Mason and Samuel.
@zachudamann – Who do you expect to be listed as a healthy scratch week one?
My projection would be Ty Davis-Price, Nick Zakelj, Brandon Allen, Brayden Willis, Ray-Ray McCloud, Jalen Graham, Kalia Davis.
@dancase83 – How many 49ers will be in the 1,000-yard club? Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle? Can we get all four?
It is not likely that all four of the names you mentioned will reach 1,000 yards. The last time the 49ers had two receivers go over that total in the same season was 1998 with Jerry Rice (1,157) and Terrell Owens (1.097).
McCaffrey will get there on the ground. I expect one of Aiyuk, Samuel or Kittle will hit that total in receiving yards.
@Shane Colamarino – It’s no secret the 49ers have gotten off to some slow starts. With Sam Darnold as the backup now, does that extend the leash for Brock Purdy if they start 3-3 to let them figure it out as before?
I don’t think Darnold’s presence has anything to do with Purdy’s leash. In fact, I think the only way Brock Purdy doesn’t start every game is through injury.
Kyle Shanahan’s belief in Purdy was evident in the way he called games last year. That has carried over to this offseason and training camp. Purdy has the potential to be the quarterback in San Francisco for a very long time.
My prediction is this will be the year a 49ers quarterback reaches the Pro Bowl for the first time since Jeff Garcia in 2002.
@sachabrady – My concern with the 49ers is that it feels like we’re built to be in the lead or in close games; we’re not built to chase games and score points quickly. The best teams can do both if they have to. Is my fear misplaced?
Yes, it is. When the 49ers need to push the ball down the field quickly, they are more than capable. San Francisco finished 2022 with 75 plays gaining 20 or more yards. Only Kansas City (83) and Philadelphia (80) had more.
@j_churn – First game in Pittsburgh feels like it could be a tough one. If the 49ers lose that game, what do you think are the main reasons why?
Week one in Pittsburgh will be very tough. If the 49ers lose, I think it will be due to their Inability to stop the run and the effect that has on the offense.
San Francisco has struggled when facing teams who stay committed to the run. By doing this, the opponent takes possessions away. When this happens, Kyle Shanahan tends to get impatient and try to speed things up for his offense.
@ActualDanLavoie – What about the 49ers season are people probably not expecting but feels likely?
Nobody will be talking about the play of Colton McKivitz.
The only time people talk about the offensive line is when they are playing poorly. McKivitz has looked solid throughout the offseason with his footwork and hand placement. He is going to have some bad moments, every offensive lineman does, but his overall performance will be better than most have predicted.
@Odogg_99 – Nick Bosa isn’t worth being paid the highest non-quarterback salary in the league. Change my mind.
Bosa is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Since 2019 he has the fifth most sacks despite missing nearly all of 2020. His presence on the defense helps everyone else due to the focus he demands.
Plus, the 49ers Super Bowl are not Super Bowl contenders without him.
@sinnetone – Do you believe Kris Kocurek will have a bigger role on the sidelines this year given defensive coordinator Steve Wilks will be up in the booth?
This is a great question. Robert Saleh and DeMeco Ryans brought fire and passion to the 49ers sidelines. Where will that come from now?
Anyone who has spent time down in the corner of the practice field where the 49ers defensive line works can attest to the passion Kocurek brings every day. It would seem he will need to be the one to take over that role on game day.
Beyond that, all the defensive coaches will need to effectively communicate with their units. This isn’t different from years past but could take on added importance with Wilks only being able to communicate through them until halftime.