Bee staff writer Matthew Barrows hosted an online chat Wednesday about the 49ers' return to the playoffs. Here are highlights:
BRANDON, NJ: Do you foresee Dashon Goldson getting the franchise tag?
BARROWS: That's certainly an option. The franchise numbers are not out yet, but safety promises to be one of the more reasonable positions. For what it's worth, I think Goldson really has had an excellent season.
DAVID: Why wasn't Alex Smith named to the Pro Bowl? I think he should have been. I think he was the third-best quarterback in the NFC.
BARROWS: Jim Harbaugh agrees with you. However, when you're facing the 49ers, Alex Smith isn't the guy you're worried about. I doubt many of the players voted for him.
GUEST: If the Lions win, the 49ers get to face the Giants. That is best-case, correct?
BARROWS: I'd say the best-case scenario is the Lions beat the Saints and the Falcons beat the Giants. That means the Falcons would come to San Francisco on a short week.
LOUIS: Do you think Harbaugh will be looking for a new quarterback in the offseason, or is he comfortable with Smith and Colin Kaepernick?
BARROWS: I think the only thing the 49ers might do, quarterback-wise, is bring in a veteran or perhaps draft a quarterback in the latter rounds who can compete with Scott Tolzien. I don't really know Harbaugh's QB-draft philosophy, though. Some coaches like to draft a QB every year because it's such a crucial position and you can always win the lottery (see Brady, Thomas).
JAYMAN: Given that Carlos Rogers has expressed a desire to stay in San Francisco, why aren't the 49ers trying to lock him up to a contract extension before he hits the open market?
BARROWS: Because he wants to hit the open market to determine his worth. It could be that no 49ers free agents are locked up before free agency begins.
KRAZYLEGS: Do you honestly think the 49ers have a shot against the Saints? We are talking about limiting their potent offense to 17 or fewer points, when they routinely put up 35-plus.
BARROWS: Yes, I truly do. For one, the Saints aren't as good on the road. Two, the 49ers gave the Saints all they could handle last year. Three, I think the 49ers' coaches are very good, and giving them an extra week to prepare is a considerable advantage.
KYLE: It seems as if the 49ers have been throwing a lot recently. Do you think they will go back to run-heavy in the playoffs?
BARROWS: Yes, especially against the Saints and Packers, if those should be the opponents.
SLADER: Will the Saints blitz the 49ers to death like they did in the preseason, and do Harbaugh and Saints coach Sean Payton dislike each other after the non-phone call thing in the preseason?
BARROWS: The "Is there a feud?" question definitely will be a story line if the 49ers and Saints play. And, yes, I expect the Saints' defensive game plan to be to stop Frank Gore and then blitz the heck out of Alex Smith on third and long. You can believe that the preseason game will be shown quite a bit to fire up the troops.
Check out a replay of Wednesday's entire chat.