Editor's note: The 49ers are 2-2 after the first quarter of the season. And there are plenty of questions on both sides of the ball. First, we tackle the offense with this edition of 49ers Mailbag.
Niners going to make any roster moves at receiver despite Patton remaining on 53? (@Tre9er)
It seems difficult to imagine the 49ers could add a wide receiver who could get up to speed after a few practices and get on the field when the 49ers return to action Oct. 6 against the Houston Texans. Of course, they can decide to add a wide receiver, but it's not a necessity.
If anybody missed it, rookie wide receiver Quinton Patton is going to miss a good chunk of the season with a broken foot, which he sustained on his one catch Thursday night against the St. Louis Rams. Patton is not going on season-ending injured reserve. The 49ers will keep him alive on the 53-man roster.
[NEWS: Patton out with foot fracture]
You might be wondering: What about Austin Collie or Lavelle Hawkins? Of course, they still remain out there as free agents.
But the 49ers decided to go with Marlon Moore over Collie and Hawkins because of his speed, physical toughness, knowledge of the system, consistency throughout the offseason program and training camp, and his ability to help out on special teams. Moore was active for the first three games, but he was deactivated in place of Jon Baldwin on Thursday in the 35-11 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
[RECAP: 49ers 35, Rams 11]
When the 49ers added a wide receiver after Week 1, they went with Kassim Osgood -- because of his special teams contributions. And, sure enough, Osgood has played very well on the cover units.
Currently, the 49ers have Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams, Baldwin, Moore and Osgood. Those are the top five wide receivers. Then, Chris Harper and practice-squader Chuck Jacobs are available, along with Moore and Osgood, for help on the scout team.
From a numbers standpoint, the 49ers are fine. It’s not imperative that they add another wide receiver.
And, also consider, Mario Manningham will have a chance to be available after a required two more games of ineligibility after starting the season on reserve/physically unable to perform.
There’s a chance Manningham will be ready to return to practice on Oct. 15. From the time the 49ers decide to have him resume practice, there will be a three-week period during which the 49ers can activate him to the 53-man roster at any time.
Then, perhaps in early December, the 49ers could regain the services of Michael Crabtree. He has been working out daily under the direction of Mark Uyeyama, the 49ers’ strength and conditioning coach. Crabtree looks good, and the 49ers are more confident than ever that he’ll be able to return on an approximate six-month timetable. He underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon on May 22.
Aside from defenses studying it more, what has prevented the success of the read option so far this year? (@brianjtarte)
Well, you stole my thunder because you mentioned the major reason in your question.
Last season when the 49ers began using the read option in training camp, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio took his unit to another field. Why? Nobody else was using the read option, so Fangio didn't want to waste time working against an offense the 49ers would not see during the regular season.
But after last season, every defensive coordinator in the NFL began studying the read option. Every team put in place defenses and enacted principles within those defenses to better handle it.
And, also, remember how coach Jim Harbaugh spoke out about what he thought was an unfair rule about how officials would not protect quarterbacks in the run game?
The 49ers do not want Colin Kaepernick to take unnecessary hits in the run game, so they’d prefer that he does not keep the ball on run plays.
Then, there’s Frank Gore. He is a power running back. He’s a one-cut-and-get-up-the-field running back. He does not thrive in the read option. He is a no-frills kind of runner. He wants to line up in the I-formation and pound the ball between the tackles.
(One more thing: I'm adding this after I initially posted the 49ers Mailbag. The loss of the ultra-versatile Delanie Walker also has impacted the 49ers' read-option game. Walker developed into an outstanding blocker during his last two seasons with the 49ers, and it really showed up when the 49ers went with the pistol.)
Kap struggling/Smith's problems, will the 49ers take longer to decide to extend them to big $ contracts? Crabtree a priority now? (@TeddyVerdun)
Are the 49ers going to extend Kaepernick a contract worth $20 million a season? Are the 49ers going to throw big money at Aldon Smith?
The 49ers, per the collective bargaining agreement, are not allowed to begin negotiating new contracts with those players until after the completion of their third seasons.
There is little doubt that Kaepernick is the 49ers’ franchise quarterback. Then, the questions become: How much are the 49ers willing to pay him and how much will Kaepernick and his representation seek from the 49ers?
Obviously, there are no answers to those questions with 12 regular season games (and, potentially, the playoffs) before the sides can even sit down at the negotiating table.
As for Aldon Smith, the 49ers want to see significant progress after he returns from in-patient treatment for substance abuse. He is a tremendous talent, to be sure. The 49ers would love for him to get his life together and be harassing quarterbacks as a member of the 49ers for a long time.
And as we first reported here on Wednesday, the 49ers decided to pay Smith his full salary while he is in rehab. The 49ers want to support Smith. They want him to feel comfortable. They want him to feel good about the organization. They want him to want to remain with the 49ers beyond his first contract.
As for Crabtree, I don’t believe he becomes any more of a priority. After all, he is still rehabbing a surgically repaired Achilles. If Crabtree is seeking $11 million to $12 million in annual salary with his next contract, he’s going to have to get it from another team.
How much rest is the team getting this week? (@SpeeForThree)
The 49ers are getting the weekend off, which amounts to three days off before returning to work on Monday. There are those who believe Harbaugh overworked the 49ers in training camp and during the first couple weeks of the regular season. After all, how do veteran players such as Vernon Davis and Patrick Willis sustain muscle tears?
The 49ers are now benefiting after the short week leading up to the game against the Rams. Although the players are getting some time off from practices, they are still putting in their work, Harbaugh said.
“Regroup, retool, making the bodies feel better, that’s what our players are doing,” Harbaugh answered Friday when I asked him about his plan. “Many of them have been in, just making their bodies feel better. Workouts, coaches, strength staff, trainers, doctors will be here all weekend basically at the availability of the players. And then we’ll come back on Monday. But our guys, they’ve got the day off and then they all show up. That’s just who they are.”