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49ers Twitter mailbag: The Justin Smith Effect

The San Francisco 49ers have concluded the first of three organized team activities sessions, with tempo being the main theme of Week 1. In Thursday's open-to-the-media practice, new coach Jim Tomsula made it a priority to get on the offense as it got in and out of huddle in team drills.

"No. 1, you are getting your conditioning part of it," Tomsula said. "No. 2, (we're) trying to add the pressure to it so you have to think in a fast paced, stressful environment offensively.

"And defensively, that helps you in these critical times in games, the two-minute stuff. So just everything having to operate at a fast pace."

How about a quick two-part Memorial Day weekend mailbag, then?

@shmaez: Well, as big a "fan" as I am of the pick -- need meeting best player available -- the Niners actually don't want Arik Armstead to contribute right away. Rather, they don't want him to have to make that big of a contribution next year. Otherwise, that would mean the roster is not as deep as general manager Trent Baalke and Tomsula thought. Sure, you want your top draft pick to be an impact player, and with Justin Smith retiring this week and Darnell Dockett likely to slide to into his spot at right defensive end in the Niners' 3-4 defense, perhaps Armstead makes a move for that open left end position.

@AFNinerFan: Thanks, I think. Just confused a bit. Because while I understand there is a lot to be excited about with the depth on the defensive line, check that, a healthy defensive line, do you really believe that any of those outside D-linemen -- Tank Carradine, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Dockett, Armstead -- are better than, i.e, an upgrade from, Smith, who just might be headed to Canton? True, Smith slowed down a lot in the second half of last season, but he was playing with an injured left shoulder that took a beating on every snap. I do like, however, how Tomsula, who will always be a D-lineman coach at heart, is "cross-training" the D-linemen so they can play anywhere along the line.

@SDotG_Man: My bad, I guess. But I'm picking up what you're putting down. Kinda. Because while it is true that the 49ers lost 11 players who started at least nine games last year, seven of them were on the defensive side of the ball -- D-linemen Smith and Ray McDonald, linebakcers Patrick Willis, Chris Borland and Dan Skuta and cornerbacks Perrish Cox, Chris Culliver. At least linebacker Ahmad Brooks looks safe ... for now, right?