DENVER — Coach Kyle Shanahan is expected to play more of his regulars in Monday night’s preseason game against the Denver Broncos, as opposed to the exhibition opener in which nearly every 49ers starter sat it out.
Still, you’ll find more answers below than anything you see on the field in Denver. The following questions were submitted via Facebook:
How has Jimmy G looked in practice so far? (Chris Lynn Overstreet)
Everything has been mostly positive for Jimmy Garoppolo, as he returns from the knee injury that sidelined him for the final 13 games of last season.
He has not sat out any practices. And he has taken more than twice the number of snaps of any of the other 49ers quarterbacks. Before his memorable five-interception day in Santa Clara, Garoppolo had thrown fewer picks than any QB on the team during training camp.
He’s moving well, and appears to be gaining more and more confidence in his knee. Garoppolo threw the ball pretty well during the 49ers’ two practices against the Broncos. He is probably right where the 49ers expected/hoped he would be at this stage.
Which player, or players, are performing well below what you anticipated throughout camp? (Ryan William Walker)
There have been few surprises and few disappointments throughout camp. The 49ers have expected Solomon Thomas to take his game to another level, but I’m not sure that has occurred, yet. And wide receiver Dante Pettis was expected to be the No. 1 receiver, but he has not stood out on the practice field.
Who will get majority of the carries in the regular season? Coleman/Brieda and what happens when McKinnon comes back? (Zach Benjamin)
Tevin Coleman is pretty clearly the team’s No. 1 back. But the 49ers would like to deploy multiple backs to keep them all fresh, fast and healthy. Matt Breida has already shown that he is capable of being a big-play threat. Jerick McKinnon is still a ways from getting back on the field. Everything is up in the air, until the 49ers see how effective he can be upon returning from the knee injury that wiped out all of last season.
Do you honestly think CJ Beathard will be on the team? Or is it to early to say? (Jason Kaaha)
Yes, I do honestly believe he has a decent chance to be on the team. The 49ers could keep three quarterbacks. But, even then, I’m not completely convinced the 49ers have decided on Nick Mullens as the backup to Garoppolo. The race for the No. 2 job has been pretty even during camp. I’d put Mullens in the lead, but it’s closer than you might think.
Which TE is behind Kittle for the backup spot? (Tiny Martinez)
Ross Dwelley has been pretty clearly the No. 2 tight end ahead of draft pick Kaden Smith and veteran Levine Toilolo. I’m more curious about what they’re going to do about their No. 3 tight end. Dwelley has been very consistent in all phases in training camp. He has made large strides from his rookie season.
Are we going to address OL depth again before start of season? (G.A. Raz)
That’s doubtful, because offensive line play around the league is a concern. I’m not sure any team has a surplus of offensive linemen they can ship off to another team. The 49ers addressed their depth on the line last week with the signing of Sam Young to compete to be their swing tackle. The 49ers were hurt in their first preseason game when Shon Coleman sustained a season-ending leg and ankle injury.
What rookies on offense and defense do you see starting ? (Leo Castillo)
Wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd have put themselves in positions to play significant roles in the offense. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw is making a spirited run at a starting job at the Sam linebacker position.
What about Nick Bosa? Before his injury, he might have been the best player on the field. But, especially with him returning from an ankle injury, I envision the 49ers using him as a pass-rush specialist, and not necessarily a starter at defensive end on base downs.
Now that Kwon is practicing again, are the Niners expecting him to be the week 1 starter over Greenlaw, or might he start the season on the PUP list like McKinnon? (Max Moore)
Linebacker Kwon Alexander has been practicing all of training camp and is ready for the regular season. There have been no issues with his knee. (Plus, he’s not eligible for the PUP list because he has been practicing.) He is full-go right now.
Why are the 49ers even considering Jimmie Ward over Tarvarius Moore? (Joseph B Ryder)
Ward knows the defense. He’s smart and he plays hard. Free safety is one position, above many others, where the person in that position cannot make mistakes or it usually ends up in touchdowns. Moore has made tremendous strides in recent weeks, but my guess is the 49ers’ coaching staff still feels more comfortable with Ward back there. But Ward has yet to practice since coming back from a fractured collarbone. Since moving back to safety, Moore has put himself in position to be in the conversation in a short period of time. He is going to be the long-term starter, but I still don’t think it’s his time, quite yet.
Are there any visible changes to the training routine following the hiring of the new athletic staff? Injuries seem still to be an issue. (Martin Buelow)
The offensive and defensive linemen do one set of stretches and warmups while the smaller players do another set before practices. Another visible change has been the management of workloads. The 49ers will follow up a hard practice with a lighter practice the next day.
I don’t have numbers to back this up, but it seems like there have been fewer soft-tissue injuries than in the past. Coleman’s injury has been the most serious, but no level of conditioning can help a player avoid a fractured lower leg and dislocated ankle.
The 49ers are relatively confident that all of their other injured players will be available at, or near, the beginning of the regular season.