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NN Mailbag: Will the 49ers’ defense get worse without Saleh?

A few things have changed since the last time we did a mailbag. The 49ers have retained several of their unrestricted free agents, plus they’re no longer selecting at No. 12 of the draft. It was impossible to avoid the quarterback position in today’s mailbag, but we’ll do our best.

Do you think the D will get worse without Saleh? – RF

Regression seems inevitable. San Francisco was lights out in 2019 and boasted one of the best pass defenses during the 2010s. The fact that the defense didn’t fall off a cliff last season was impressive.

Defensive coordinator Demeco Ryans will form his own identity. Based on Jaquiski Tartt saying, “I hope I get to blitz 20 times,” and a few other quotes from K’Waun Williams and Fred Warner, we can expect a more aggressive unit under Ryans.

I’d expect there to be more of a trade-off with Ryans as the play-caller. San Francisco has been fantastic at getting teams off the field, limiting the big play, and being sound. Under Ryans, we might see more big plays, but we could see more turnovers as a result.

What is the likelihood that the 49ers don’t take a Qb at 3? And if not, could they target a guy like Swell from Oregon and kick him inside? Or maybe a true #1 type WR like Ja’Marr chase? –JF

There has been a surprisingly high number of opinions saying the 49ers traded up for any position other than a QB during the past week. Some of it is likely trolling, but there has been enough talk to suggest that this train of thought is serious.

Let’s think about how much teams invest into QBs compared to any other position. Mike Dikta is no longer running an NFL organization; therefore, no team is trading multiple first-round picks for a prospect that isn’t a quarterback. Jalen Ramsey? He’s the best cornerback in the NFL that cost the Rams two first-rounders. Jamal Adams? A unique pass-rusher that has an impact on the game.

Since midseason from reporters and the fanbase, there has been resistance that the 49ers are moving on from their quarterback. This feels like the last coping mechanism. Actions speak louder than words, and the Niners brass traded two future first-round picks to invest in a quarterback. There’s a 99.9999% chance the team is taking a QB at No. 3.

Jimmy G gets traded during the draft? or does he start? – Jerry

Much like the question above, the resistance to a rookie starting has been peculiar. The writing has been on the wall, and the clues have been there for a long, long time. Whether that’s Kyle Shanahan’s shenanigans on the sideline or the games missed by Jimmy G.

ESPN’s Diana Russini reported on Tuesday that the Patriots are “consistent in their communications and efforts to pry Jimmy G away from San Francisco.” These messages have been daily, it seems.

Chris Simms said he expects Jimmy Garoppolo to be traded sometime during April. I expect Garoppolo to be moved on draft weekend. Let’s say a team like Chicago, Washington, or Carolina misses out on a QB. The last thing you want to do is roll into training camp with question marks at quarterback. One of those teams sends their second-rounder or a future first, even — assuming desperate times call for desperate measures — which would be enough for the Niners to unload Garoppolo.

If those deals fall through, Bill Belichick gets his guy back for a second or a third-rounder. Based on everything that’s transpired, it’d be an upset if Garoppolo was on the roster come training camp.

Why haven’t they brought back Jordan Reed? He balled out for us last yr. – Terrance

Balled is a bit of a stretch. Reed was good when he played but missed a chunk of the season due to injury yet again. At this point, Reed is more of an underneath receiver whose YAC skills have declined. At 30, the 49ers don’t have to rush to bring Reed back as he doesn’t have a big market.

I’d look to continue to get younger and more athletic at the position. Keep swinging on Day 3 tight ends.

Why can’t the fanbase let the Jimmy G love go? – Markus

Jimmy is polarizing in the sense that you’re either all in or think he should be released. There’s no in-between. Last month, I wrote about how trading for Garoppolo was the right move at the time. Any time you can get to a Super Bowl with a QB that you used a second-round pick on is a win.

Jimmy was the QB who took the team to the Super Bowl, is your answer. Garoppolo has consistently won, and we’ve been conditioned to think QBs get a bigger piece of the pie when they win. “What have you done for me lately” plays a part here as well when you look at the QBs under center after Colin Kaepernick.

Then, when Jimmy went down, the backups couldn’t pick up the slack, which only fueled the love for Garoppolo even more. Nostalgia. Winning. Hearing other players publicly back Jimmy times and time again while the media and 49ers brass continues to do the same is your answer.

What’s up with Fred Warner’s contract extension/talks – Willem

I wouldn’t worry about Warner. There’s no rush to get something done as it’s April. Once July comes around, that’s when the talks will heat up. Warner isn’t taking the field without a new contract.

Warner is in the final year of his deal and is making $3 million in 2021. That won’t be the case by the time the season starts. I’m sure there will be a #PayFredWarner hashtag trending from 49ers fans, but there’s zero doubt that a deal gets done for All-Pro Fred. It’s all about timing, and there’s no rush at the moment.

Do you believe the 49ers have learned their lesson from the almost universal failure in the players they’ve traded up for just to get “Kyle’s guy?” – Greebs

In any walk of life, you have to learn from your previous mistakes. In any walk of life, you can’t let a past result impact your future decision. We know why the 49ers didn’t select a QB in 2017, and his name rhymes with Dirk Dozens.

Kyle has never been in this position to select a player who will alter his franchise, so I’m not sure it’s fair to criticize him for a Joe Williams or C.J. Beathard type. The organization has been aggressive at every step of the way under the current regime, and that didn’t change by moving up to No. 3.

If anything, I’d say Kyle has learned that it takes more than him to win, which is why I believe that’ll be reflected by the quarterback chosen at No. 3.

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