Behind the 49ers' strategy to stock up on defensive backs


On this post-draft/pre-rookie camp edition of the 49ers Mailbag, we answer questions submitted via Facebook . . .

Why do you think the 49ers added so many defensive backs? Is it a philosophy thing or is it the players they really like just happened to be DBs? (Fred Reimers)
There is more attrition at defensive back than any other position. Therefore, it’s imperative that a team has depth in the defensive backfield. The 49ers know all-too well about that from last year.

In 2017, both starting safeties, Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt, missed the second half of the season due to fractured forearms.

Cornerback was a weakness for the 49ers last season. Rashard Robinson was benched, then traded. Dontae Johnson struggled. And the 49ers had little depth behind them.

The 49ers added Richard Sherman as a free agent this offseason. Ward and rookie Tarvarius Moore, who played safety in college, will be given chances at cornerback because it is such a premium position. The 49ers drafted cornerback D.J. Reed. The 49ers also added strong safety Marcell Harris in the sixth round.

The 49ers were not finished, as they added more defensive backs as undrafted free agents, including cornerbacks Tarvarus McFadden (Florida State) and Emmanuel Moseley (Tennessee), and safeties Terrell Williams (Houston) and Corey Griffin (Georgia Tech).

So the 49ers want to create as much competition in the secondary to account for that time -- at some point this season -- when some of those reserves will be forced into action.

After drafting multiple DBs, any chance Eric Reid returns? (Don Hogue)
The odds are slim. The 49ers have kept the door open for bringing back Reid on a one-year, prove-it contract. But with Tartt signing a contract extension – a clear signal he is the starter -- and the 49ers drafting Harris, the 49ers have their bases covered at the position Reid plays.

Do any of the UDFAs have a chance to make this team? Who are the ones to watch? (Rick Chlopicki)
It will be difficult for some of the draft picks to make the team. Injuries in training camp will play a part in determining some of those spots on the 49ers’ initial 53-man roster. Two players to watch: McFadden and running back Jeff Wilson (North Texas).

I was surprised that they didn't draft a single G. Is it that Shanahan really doesn't value that position or do they have that much confidence that Garnett, Tomlinson, Cooper, etc. can hold it down? (Faisal Refai)
Shanahan values guards because his system puts more on their plate than most other offenses.

But it is safe to assume that any guards available in the draft at the spot where the 49ers were picking did not fit the specifications Shanahan wants from players at those positions. Therefore, they went with highest-rated players at other positions.

There is a belief that the 49ers are in a much better spot than they were a year ago at the guard positions. Among Laken Tomlinson, Jonathan Cooper, Joshua Garnett, Zane Beadles and Erik Magnuson, the 49ers believe they can put two capable guards on the field on either side of center Weston Richburg.

With the recanting of the statement of Reuben Foster’s girlfriend against him and the emergence of the VTR showing she sustained the injuries in a fight with another woman, there is big chance charges being dropped, will the NFL still take actions against Reuben Foster? (Ding Irabagon)
We might have an answer for you on Monday, when Foster is scheduled for his next court appearance. At this point, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office has stated it plans to press forward.

But if the DA’s office determines the existence of this video will make prosecution unlikely, they will drop the case. If that occurs, and the NFL believes that Foster’s ex-girlfriend lied in her initial statement to investigators, then he would not face any discipline as it relates to the alleged domestic violence incident under the league’s policy on personal conduct.

Clearly (Kyle Shanahan) likes speed. But everyone seems to think that we need to get Dez. Is he even a real option for the 49ers to sign? Or are they trying to go faster on offense rather than bigger? (David Hartless)
The 49ers liked their wide receivers before the draft. They added Dante Pettis and Richie James to a group that already included Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne and Aldrick Robinson.

Dez Bryant is apparently looking for a big-money deal. I doubt the 49ers have much interest in him at any price. And I know they would not even come close to the money he is seeking.

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