Bee staff writer Matthew Barrows hosted an online chat Tuesday about the 49ers and the upcoming offseason. Here are some highlights:
BRYANY: As good as their defense was this season, they still seemed to struggle with the pass. Do you think they need to alter the scheme, personnel or maybe both?
BARROWS: The 49ers gave up a lot of yards but not a lot of points. Late in the game, that unit was sensational, continually giving the offense chances to win the game. I don't think this loss can be pinned on the defense.
(But) the team is light on outside linebackers and could stand to add another one in the offseason. Cornerback and safety also could be needs depending on what happens in free agency.
LEVELNEAT: In terms of adding wide receiver skill and depth for next season, are we forgetting about Josh Morgan and what he can provide?
BARROWS: No one's forgetting Morgan. But there's no guarantee that he'll be back, and even if he is, that gives the 49ers three wide receivers under contract. The magic number is five.
JAMES: Which free-agent wide receiver do you think the 49ers will target and eventually sign?
BARROWS: The 49ers showed that they are close to the Super Bowl and that a good wide receiver option would have been enough to put them over the top. But signing big-name free agents is not the 49ers' MO, especially when they have so many of their own free agents to sign.
D: Is quarterback Alex Smith too inconsistent to win a Super Bowl?
BARROWS: No, I think he can do it. But I agree with the notion that he needed to pull the trigger at some point late in that game. One big play would have won it for the 49ers. The difference between Smith when the 49ers are trailing and when they are tied or ahead is vast.
ROBIN: Do you see a trade to move up in the first round?
BARROWS: Trent Baalke has not been shy about moving up to get the guy he wants (Anthony Davis in 2010, Colin Kaepernick in 2011). However, he also likes his draft picks. So I'd expect only a slight jump, not one into the first half of the round.
JEFF: Besides wide receiver, what is the 49ers' biggest need in free agency and the draft?
BARROWS: It all depends on what happens with their own free agents, and 15 of them are unrestricted. If Ahmad Brooks goes, for instance, outside linebacker becomes paramount. So does cornerback if Carlos Rogers departs or safety if Dashon Goldson and Reggie Smith leave. By the way, remember how antsy you guys became at the start of the 2011 free-agency season? Expect the 49ers to take the same cautious approach this year.
RONALDNINERFORLIFE: Where do the 49ers go with their running back situation?
BARROWS: I wouldn't put it past the 49ers to draft a running back high in the April draft.
GUEST: How would you classify Michael Crabtree's performance over the last two games. What should the 49ers do about it?
BARROWS: They should pair him with a dangerous second receiver. Problem solved.
Check out a replay of Tuesday's entire chat.