This week's bonus round of "Niner Talk" looks at Vernon Davis' role in 2015, what we can expect from the San Francisco 49ers defensive line and several other topics posed by questions from the Faithful.
Who's ready for some football?
The 49ers will begin the 2015 season at home against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 14. The "Monday Night Football" matchup means it's time to open up the "Niner Talk" mailbag and answer more questions that didn't quite make this week's show.
Let us begin.
Viable candidates include Pierre Garçon, Colin Kaepernick, Reggie Bush, Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and Davis. And why not throw in a tackle's eligbile pass to Joe Staley or a pick-six by Mike Purcell. I'm only kidding on the last two.
I'll go out on a limb and predict that Smith will score the first touchdown of the year for the 49ers. His career average of 16.9 yards per reception derives from big plays in the passing game. If the 49ers connect on a deep ball, Smith could be the beneficiary and the one who has to decide on whether or not he leaps into the crowd a la Quinton Patton in the preseason.
Oh, and as for the number of plays the scoring drive will last? Does that really matter? A touchdown is a touchdown whether it took two or 10 snaps from scrimmage.
I would say variety.
This comes in the form of new-look formations and personnel rotations. Players have said Eric Mangini's defense has allowed them to learn more about each other's responsibilities on any given play. They've talked about the flexibility within the scheme. So perhaps that's something that continues in the regular season, but then again, anything can happen when the games really count. The chess match between opposing coaching staffs never stops.
I would also consider that the defense could utilize depth at multiple positions throughout the season. The right cornerback competition remains alive with Kenneth Acker and Keith Reaser vying for the spot opposite of Tramaine Brock. Slot defensive back duties remain open as well. Elsewhere, rookie safety Jaquiski Tartt was heavily involved in the preseason in defensive sub packages. The 49ers have added depth at defensive line, a position at which several players could see game action.
So to recap, expect to see Mangini put his imprint on this defense and change things up.
For this game, definitely make sure you break out your black attire. You can stop by a team store if you want the latest and greatest gear out there. The 49ers will wear alternate uniforms for the first of two games in 2015, so make sure you're matching the squad. In addition, make sure to get into the stadium early and take a stroll through the super wide concourses and get yourselves something good to eat. Be in your seat early to watch the players warm up and enjoy the pregame entertainment. Oh, and if you're too tired to order food, use your Levi's® Stadium app to get your grub delivered.
Tweet at me (@TaylorPrice) and use #NinerTalk with your question.
San Francisco has built depth on the defensive line in recent years. Tomsula's pupils have developed into quality starters. Nose tackle Ian Williams is surrounded by two other Tomsula protégées in Quinton Dial and Glenn Dorsey at right and left defensive tackle, respectively. All three have grown tremendously with Tomsula as their position coach. The trio looks to take the next step in their respective careers.
The 49ers can also create other mismatches in nickel situations with pass-rushers like Garrett Celek and Arik Armstead as interior linemen. But then again, being an active member of the defensive line won't be a given with this group. The team will have tough choices to make when announcing inactives 90 minutes before kickoff. The defensive line group is certainly a strength of the defense based on what we've seen in the preseason.
A bounce-back year.
We saw a lot of this in training camp:
And some more of this:
Davis had a great training camp. He's healthy, and he's motivated to lead his teammates to success as one of nine team captains. Now it's time to show it to the world.