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

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

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ next tour stop is Sunday at Los Angeles, where they’ve won their past four regular-season visits. Before fans converge on Levi’s South and unleash “Let’s Go Niners!” chants like they did during the Week 1 closeout in Pittsburgh, they submitted questions for our Week 2 mailbag:

Why were Christian McCaffrey and Nick Bosa still playing in garbage time? -@Giants_Niners

A 20-point lead in the fourth quarter sure seemed like enough of a cushion to sit your MVPs. But not all fourth-quarter leads are safe, and that isn’t a dig at Kyle Shanahan’s playoff history. He often refers to 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 heart-stopping 41-33 win.

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

Let’s answer that with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s response Tuesday about Brandon Aiyuk’s big game: “Some of his exploits had to do with our desire to minimize Kittle, Deebo and Christian. But that’s what makes awesome units challenging. They have a lot of capable people who are able to rise up and make plays when others garner attention.

“His evolution, particularly over the later half of last year, is reflective to that performance. We tip our cap to him. He made a combat 50-50 catch for a touchdown. And he made other significant plays. He played a really good football game.”

Will Bosa be in all the defensive snaps? -@llevoc

Shanahan expects Bosa to be sore from his 35-snap debut, which aligned with his prescribed amount. That was 56 percent of the defense’s action, and Bosa generally plays 75 percent, so look for business to pick up in Los Angeles. He went without a sack Sunday after none in January’s three playoff games. And, yes, he still deserves a $2 million-per-game paycheck.

Drake Jackson, fluke game or is he going to be the bookend across from Bosa? -@david581

Jackson’s three-sack outburst was more than a pleasant surprise. It’s validation of an offseason overhaul of his body and mindset. I’d expect him to still rotate half the snaps with Clelin Ferrell opposite Bosa.

Did Kinlaw even play? -@dgnrg22

Indeed he did. Shanahan specifically praised how Javon Kinlaw occupied two linemen to clear a lane for Fred Warner’s tackle for a 2-yard loss to emphatically open the defense’s second series. ProFootballFocus.com gave Kinlaw his best grade since his 2020 rookie season, and Shanahan confirmed it was better than any of Kinlaw’s six games from last season. He made just one tackle (on a 2-yard run) but this was his arrow-up game as a backup to Javon Hargrave and Arik Armstead.

Will Trent Williams be playing? It looked like he got hurt during the Steelers game. -@dominic_lxl

It appeared Williams’ ankle or leg got twisted before he hobbled off for one snap during a series. He played 64 of 68 snaps, but Williams was not mentioned on Shanahan’s injury list Sunday or Monday.

Any help for McKivtiz this week? -@golden_state_king

T.J. Watt’s three-sack outburst was not nearly as surprising as Jackson’s. Shanahan said Colton McKivitz could have used more help and may get some going forward, via scheme or double-team blocks. The 49ers can’t afford to expose Purdy to so many hits.

Any chance the Niners look to upgrade at right tackle or are they just hoping for the best? -@imthestandard

The 49ers have been resolute in their commitment to McKivitz (and his learning curve) after Mike McGlinchey’s exit in free agency. Part of their confidence stems from McKivitz’s emergency start in place of Williams at left tackle in a 2021 Week 18 win at the Rams. This week’s opponent? The Rams.

Ambry Thomas and Isaiah Oliver are both liabilities. Any chance they bring in outside help with some of that cap room? -@DK_England

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Too early for that. The 49ers will test their own depth first. But cornerback seems like a worthy position to target for their annual midseason trade (see: 2017 Garoppolo, 2019 Sanders, 2022 McCaffrey). I try to connect dots in such scenarios. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks came via the Panthers, but they’re already down a cornerback after Jaycee Horn’s hamstring injury, so they’ll turn to C.J. Henderson and possibly activate 49ers training camp stud D’Shawn Jamison.

Was it just one really bad game for Spencer Burford or might he be having a sophomore slump? -@hmongsider

What made Burford’s debut noticeably “bad” were three penalties: holding, false start, facemask. That’s not a sophomore slump. He has a chance to show if he’ll make a second-year leap by encountering Aaron Donald this coming week. Daniel Brunskill used to have Donald’s number. Will Burford?

Is Gould coming back to kick? -@_crrocs_159

Not for the 49ers, who were thrilled to see Jake Moody make all his kicks (three field goals, three point-after attempts) in his NFL debut. Look for Moody to take over kickoff duties now that his right quadriceps is regaining full strength after a preseason strain.

Niner takeover in LA again? -@lisaninerz

Does the dominance continue at SoFi? -@imos18

How much are we going to win by? -@big.slim49

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

Yes, yes, yes, and, yes. Time to cue up Randy Newman’s “I love L.A.” anthem on the 49ers practice field this week. Prediction: 49ers 33, Rams 16.