Bee staff writer Matthew Barrows hosted an online chat Wednesday about the 49ers. Here are some highlights:
RICHARD: How are the 49ers going to keep so many wide receivers and running backs on the roster?
BARROWS: The team was heavy on offensive and defensive linemen last year. They could go lighter in those areas to compensate. I see the team keeping six wide receivers and six running backs (including fullback and special teamer Rock Cartwright).
LME: Do you think Cam Johnson can realistically overcome his reported sickle cell anemia and contribute? Seems like a major hurdle.
BARROWS: I've talked to a few people, including University of Virginia coach Mike London, who initiated the concern over that sickle cell trait. My conclusion: It's overblown. I think the knee injury Johnson dealt with last year was far more of a factor in his dropoff from the year prior.
JOHN: Will Kyle Williams make the squad?
BARROWS: I don't know. It will be one of the more interesting storylines of the offseason. The guy's feisty. I certainly wouldn't count him out.
CHRIS W.: Randy Moss and Brandon Jacobs don't seem like team-player type of guys they break the mold of what the 49ers had last year. How will that affect the team?
BARROWS: The 49ers feel as if their overall attitude in the locker room is powerful enough to absorb, and perhaps to change, a few bad apples. Also, neither player's spot on the roster is guaranteed. Both are well into the twilight of their careers, and their contracts are structured in such a way that a quick exit would not hurt the team cap-wise.
JOHN: Is there any way the 49ers can develop an alternative to Ted Ginn's return productivity so they can keep a wide receiver with more upside than Ginn provides at that position?
BARROWS: I think the 49ers will keep Ginn solely for his return abilities. The task will be developing an alternative for next season when Ginn, who is on a one-year deal, likely is not around. The prime candidate for that is rookie LaMichael James.
GUEST: Does LaMichael James have any chance to be a featured back in a year or two, when Frank Gore is done?
BARROWS: Yes, although the definition of featured back might be altered. The day when a back is on the field for downs 1-3 throughout the game may be over. James could end up being the starter with heavy involvement by Kendall Hunter and others.
MARC: Who's the fastest guy on the team now?
BARROWS: I'd like to see a race among Vernon Davis, A.J. Jenkins, LaMichael James, Ted Ginn and Tarell Brown. My guess is Ginn wins it.
JOE: Is there any realistic shot that Josh Johnson and not Colin Kaepernick will replace Alex Smith?
BARROWS: Sure, you never know what's going to happen. Kaepernick could struggle in the preseason and Johnson could excel. But, as it stands, I think the 49ers are still very much planning/figuring Kaepernick is their QB-in-waiting.
ALAMEDA BILL: Why didn't the 49ers address depth at punt returner?
BARROWS: While they didn't specifically address that position, they do have some options in James, Perrish Cox and perhaps A.J. Jenkins. And, of course, there's always Kyle Williams
VERMONATOR: Do you put sunscreen on the top of your head when you watch practices or do you wear a hat?
BARROWS: Hat. Big, dorky hat. I figure it's cooler than getting skin cancer.