49ers Mailbag: What happens to Jeff Wilson when Tevin Coleman returns


It’s the slowest weekend of the season for the 49ers, who will return to work Monday to begin preparations for their Week 5 game against the Cleveland Browns.

The 49ers entered their bye week with a 3-0 record for the first time since 1998, but there remain a lot of unanswered questions, such as these that were submitted via Facebook.

What’s Jeff Wilson’s future look like once Coleman comes back? 53-man roster? And, if so, does he still see action on game day? (Fabio Sanchez Jr.)

Jeff Wilson has proven to be an NFL running back. He has four rushing touchdowns in his two games. But when Tevin Coleman is healthy from his high-ankle sprain, Coleman will be back in the lineup.

My guess is the 49ers will keep the 53-man roster as it is, with Wilson retaining his spot. If the 49ers waive Wilson, I’d fully expect another team to claim him. But as long as Coleman, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert are healthy, there’s probably not a spot for Wilson among the team’s active 46 players on game days.Coleman likely would resume his role as the starter and short-yardage back.

This is what 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week when asked about Wilson:

“I think he’s been more of our down, north and south, downhill runner. I think Tevin’s very similar to that, also, and I think at times Raheem and Breida can do that. We’re willing to use all of them, but what we’ve asked Jeff to do in these two weeks he’s done very well.”

What is the likelihood the organization sticks with McKinnon after this season? Will releasing him clear up space to bring in new talent or extended other contacts? (Allen Nieves)

Jerick McKinnon will not play a down for the 49ers in his first two seasons with the club. He is scheduled to make $6.5 million in salary for next year. There is no way the 49ers can pay him that money.

The 49ers really like McKinnon as a player, teammate and person. My guess is they will try to work out a one-year deal in which he remains with the club at a greatly reduced price to minimize their financial risk. If he declines, he will not be back.

Do you see Moseley or Verrett starting opposite Sherman after the bye? (Matthew J Azar)

Second-year pro Emmanuel Moseley is the favorite to take over for Ahkello Witherspoon, who is expected miss a month with a foot sprain, as the starting cornerback. Shanahan said it himself.

“E-Man would be the lead guy right now with how he finished that game and came in and what he’s done for us this whole year,” Shanahan said. “But we’ll give all the other guys a chance too with these practices we’ll have before Cleveland.”

Jason Verrett is returning from a torn Achilles that wiped out his entire 2018 season. He played in just one game in 2017. When he got into the game Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he did not look ready.

Shanahan made it known that Moseley is in the lead because he wanted to send the message to Verrett that the onus is on him to outwork and outperform the youngster in practices in order to earn his way back onto the field.

Do you expect Jalen Hurd to see significant action upon his return after the bye week? (Andrew Jackson)

Rookie wide receiver Jalen Hurd had an impressive preseason debut against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 10. He has not been on the field since, as he has been out with a stress reaction in his back. I would expect the 49ers to ease Hurd back into the work flow.

When Hurd is ready to go, the 49ers must make a decision about what to do at the position. It is not a given the 49ers automatically would give Hurd a uniform on game days and sit Kendrick Bourne.

Obviously the defensive line is our deepest position with lots of solid players. Would the 49ers consider in trading any of them for picks next year? Or are the 49ers buyers this year? (Kaylum Rise)

They are not going to trade DeForest Buckner, Nick Bosa or Dee Ford. Arik Armstead, Ronald Blair and Sheldon Day are in the final years of their contracts, so they would not have much trade value. I don’t envision the 49ers getting much in return for Solomon Thomas or Jullian Taylor, either. D.J. Jones is a starter at a bargain rate, so there’s no reason to deal him.

Although I would never rule out the possibility of a trade, I don’t see where there are reasonable trade options to acquire 2020 draft picks.

With Staley taking up a roster spot while injured (now Spoon also) and all the need at QB around the league, could you see the team really pushing to move Beathard before week six, even if they don't get the max trade of what they want? (Jason Batch)

I think they’ve already pushed, and there is no interest around the NFL in acquiring C.J. Beathard for the price the 49ers want in return.

The bigger question becomes how far will the 49ers go to hold onto Beathard if there are more injuries, such as those to Joe Staley and Ahkello Witherspoon, where additional roster spots are needed? At what point would the 49ers release Beathard to add a player at a position of need?

Two years ago, we drafted the most prolific punt returner in college football history onto our team, yet he’s not returning punts for us. What’s up with that? (Mark Waite)

Nobody has returned more punts for touchdowns in major college football history than Dante Pettis. But in his 15-game NFL career, Pettis has returned just nine punts for 27 yards.

The 49ers wanted Pettis to concentrate on playing wide receiver. But in watching Pettis, I’m just not sure that his method for returning punts translates to the NFL.

Good college athletes can get away with dancing to slip away from defenders. In the NFL, the athletes are too good. You have to secure the catch and get up the field in a hurry. Richie James is doing a good job on punt returns, so the 49ers have not felt compelled to consider a switch.

How does this locker room feel to other winning locker rooms of the past? Do we have our swagger back? (Kyle Schram)

It’s a good locker room. The 49ers appear to be grounded while going 3-0. They are excited about the first three games of the season. The players say the vibe is completely different than the past two years.

But everyone knows they have a lot of room for improvement, and if the loss column will start filling up if they don't improve.

After 3 games, where have we improved the most and what area do we need to improve? (Kito Songvilay)

The biggest improvement with the team has been the pass rush and team speed on defense. The pass rush has benefitted every level of the defense, especially the pass coverage. Also, the addition of linebacker Kwon Alexander has been huge, and he has really helped Fred Warner.

The area where the 49ers must improve is cutting down on the correctable mistakes -- penalties and turnovers, specifically.

[RELATED: What 49ers' Bosa needs to work on despite impressive start]

What do you honestly think the 49ers record will be at end of year? (Ryan Cosgrove Sr.)

I predicted the 49ers would finish with a 9-7 record and fall just short of the NFC playoffs. Officially, I’ll stick with that prediction for a while, but let’s take a look at the remainder of the schedule and try to forecast how things look:

@ L.A. Rams
@ Washington
@ Arizona
Green Bay
@ Baltimore
@ New Orleans
L.A. Rams
@ Seattle

The 49ers have a chance to win three of their next four games. The Cardinals have given them fits in recent years, but they should sweep them. Seattle (twice), Green Bay, Baltimore, New Orleans, Atlanta and the rematch with the Rams are not easy.

Ten victories are very possible, if not expected, at this point. The 49ers definitely should enter December very much in the playoff hunt.

If they can win seven of their final 13 games, the 49ers should end their playoff drought.

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