49ers mailbag: Nick Bosa’s ramp-up, offensive line concerns and looking ahead to L.A.

Fans are already asking about 49ers’ potential upgrades after a largely dominant win over Steelers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The 49ers’ next tour stop will be in Los Angeles on Sunday, where they have won their last four regular-season visits. Before swarming Levi’s South and yelling “Let’s Go Niners!” like they did during the Week 1 finale in Pittsburgh, fans submitted questions for our Week 2 mailbag:

Why were Christian McCaffrey and Nick Bosa on the field during garbage time? -@Giants_Niners

A 20-point lead in the fourth quarter seemed like plenty of room to sit your MVPs. However, not all fourth-quarter leads are safe, and this is not a dig at Kyle Shanahan’s playoff record. He frequently mentions the 2021 opener in Detroit, when a 24-point fourth-quarter lead was jeopardized by two Lions touchdowns in the final two minutes of a thrilling 41-33 victory.

Will Aiyuk and CMC once again carry my fantasy team? -@nickc_182

Let’s start with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s reaction to Brandon Aiyuk’s big game on Tuesday: “Some of his exploits had to do with our desire to minimize Kittle, Deebo, and Christian.” But that is what makes awesome units difficult. They have a lot of capable players who can step up and make plays when others are distracted.

“His development, particularly in the latter half of last year, reflects that performance.” We raise a glass to him. He scored after making a combat 50-50 catch. He also made other important plays. He had a fantastic football game.”

Will Bosa play every defensive snap? -@llevoc

Shanahan anticipates that Bosa will be sore from his 35-snap debut, which was in line with his predetermined amount. That was 56% of the defense’s action, and Bosa typically plays 75%, so expect business to pick up in Los Angeles. He had no sacks in the three playoff games he played in January. And, yes, he is still worth $2 million per game.

Is Drake Jackson a fluke, or will he be the bookend across from Bosa? -@david581

Jackson’s three-sack performance was a pleasant surprise. It validates his offseason body and mindset makeover. I believe he will continue to rotate half of the snaps with Clelin Ferrell opposite Bosa.

Kinlaw even played? -@dgnrg22

He did, indeed. Shanahan praised Javon Kinlaw for occupying two linemen to open a lane for Fred Warner’s tackle for a 2-yard loss to kick off the defense’s second series.Kinlaw received his highest grade since his rookie season in 2020, according to ProFootballFocus.com, and Shanahan confirmed it was better than any of Kinlaw’s six games last season. He only had one tackle (on a 2-yard run), but it was his first game as a backup to Javon Hargrave and Arik Armstead.

Will Trent Williams be there? He appeared to be injured during the Steelers game. -@dominic_lxl

(Updated) Williams’ wind was knocked out of him, resulting in his one-snap exit during a series. He was not on Shanahan’s injury list on Sunday or Monday, which should be a relief.

Is there anyone who can assist McKivtiz this week? -@golden_state_king

T.J. Watt’s three-sack performance was not as surprising as Jackson’s. Shanahan stated that Colton McKivitz could have used more assistance and that he may receive some in the future through a scheme or double-team blocks. Purdy cannot be subjected to so many hits by the 49ers.

Is it possible that the Niners will look to upgrade at right tackle, or are they simply hoping for the best? -@imthestandard

Following Mike McGlinchey’s departure in free agency, the 49ers have been steadfast in their commitment to McKivitz (and his learning curve). Part of their confidence stems from McKivitz’s emergency start at left tackle in a 2021 Week 18 victory over the Rams. Who is this week’s opponent? The Los Angeles Rams.

Both Ambry Thomas and Isaiah Oliver are a liability. Is it possible that they will seek outside assistance with some of the cap room? -@DK_England

It’s too early for that. The 49ers will first assess their own depth. However, cornerback appears to be a position worth targeting for their annual midseason trade (see: 2017 Garoppolo, 2019 Sanders, 2022 McCaffrey). In such cases, I try to connect the dots. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks came over from the Panthers, but they’re already down a cornerback following Jaycee Horn’s hamstring injury, so they’ll turn to C.J. Henderson and possibly activate 49ers training camp standout D’Shawn Jamison.

Was it just one bad game for Spencer Burford, or is he going through a sophomore slump? -@hmongsider

Burford’s debut was markedly “bad” due to three penalties: holding, false start, and facemask. That’s not your typical sophomore slump. He’ll get a chance to show if he’ll make a second-year jump this week when he faces Aaron Donald. Daniel Brunskill once had Donald’s phone number. Will it be Burford?

Is Gould making a comeback? -@_crrocs_159

Not for the 49ers, who were ecstatic to see Jake Moody hit all three field goals and three point-after attempts in his NFL debut. Moody is expected to take over kickoff duties now that his right quadriceps is fully recovered from a preseason strain.

Another Niner takeover in Los Angeles? -@lisaninerz

Does SoFi’s dominance continue? -@imos18

How much will we triumph by? -@big.slim49

Are you going to the Levi’s South game? -@the.real.aristotle

Yes, yes, yes, and yes again. On the 49ers practice field this week, it’s time to play Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” anthem. Prediction: Rams 16, 49ers 33.

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