It's been far too long since we've done a mailbag. Now that we're a few weeks into free agency and about a month away from the 2018 NFL Draft, it's time to bring it back. No need to waste time on pleasantries, let's get right to your questions.
For the second year in a row, the San Francisco 49ers made strategic signings in free agency to shore up a few deficiencies on the roster. The additions of Richard Sherman, Jerick McKinnon, Weston Richburg and Jonathan Cooper have made it so that the 49ers aren't desperate at any position. You could argue that edge rusher is still a void, but Jeremiah Attaochu is an intriguing piece. More on that position in a second…
Desperation leads to reaching in the draft. I think John Lynch feels like his roster is in a place that allows his team to select the best player available on draft day. Who is that player? It's impossible to say without seeing San Francisco's draft board that is only viewed by a select few.
I'd agree with you that edge rusher is still the biggest roster need, and I say that because the 49ers don't have anyone who is proven in that department. Attaochu's 10 career sacks lead the team.
As for the draft, Bradley Chubb will already be off the board when the 49ers go on the clock. UTSA's Marcus Davenport, Boston College's Harold Landry and Ohio State's Sam Hubbard are the next three names in the conversation. Most analysts I've talked to would argue that all three aren't worthy of the ninth-overall pick. Could San Francisco fall in love with one of them and pull the trigger anyways? Sure. But I'd be surprised if that happened.
Only three quarterbacks tossed 30 touchdowns in 2017, so I'll take the under. Although he might not be too far off.
I'm fascinated by Tremaine Edmunds out of Virginia Tech. He's 6-foot-5, 253 pounds and ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash. Oh, and he's just 19-years old. The draft experts I've spoken with all have a hard time finding a good NFL comparison because he's just such a unique athlete. Teams will be able to get creative with how they use Edmunds. It may take a few years to add some polish to his raw athleticism, but his ceiling is hard to ignore.
My philosophy is that when you're drafting in the top five, you need to get a player you feel sure about. Outside of that, I'm fine with a little risk as long as your scouting department believes a player's ceiling is attainable with the right coaching.
I think Denzel Ward is still absolutely in play at pick No. 9. If anything, the addition of Sherman only makes it more appealing to add another young cornerback to the roster. I'd want a player of Ward's potential working with a veteran of Sherman's caliber.
You saw how valuable Marshon Lattimore was for the New Orleans Saints last season. Ward, a fellow Ohio State alum, has been graded comparably to his former teammate. If he's San Francisco's top player on the board when the team goes on the clock, then there's no doubt that Ward is the pick.
I don't think you're overconfident. Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert have all shown you things to feel good about. But the NFL is increasingly becoming a matchup-based league, and you need to have players who create mismatches.
The goal of all offensive coaches, Kyle Shanahan included, is to put defenses in a bind by way of placing specific players in advantageous positions. That train of thought goes the other way around as well.
Are Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick safeties or corners? It doesn't matter. They're players who have a versatile skill set and can cover unique offensive pieces such as McKinnon-types. The goal is to have the best chess pieces at your disposal. That's why analysts are so high on James and Fitzpatrick.
Based on the handful of trades Lynch pulled off during the 2017 NFL Draft, I'd be shocked if the 49ers didn't maneuver themselves around the draft at least once in 2018.
Joshua Garnett will be given every opportunity to compete for a starting spot. He'll be going against Laken Tomlinson, Erik Magnuson and Cooper as the other guards on the roster. San Francisco might also add a player or two into the mix during the draft. If Quenton Nelson somehow falls to the 49ers at No. 9, they could very well scoop him up.
Nothing better than a good pump-up song. "300 Violin Orchestra" by Jorge Quintero and "Till I Collapse" by Eminem are the top two that come to mind first.