Question: Has it been standard practice to keep the media away from the OTAs? I don't recall this from previous years and I really don't see the point. The team needs all of the good press it can get. At least you guys don't have to schlep down to Santa Clara on an almost daily basis.
Answer: No, it's definitely not standard practice. In fact, I've been covering the team since 2003 and these are the first practices that have been closed to reporters. Practices were even open in the wake of Thomas Herrion's death in 2005. League rules state that only a portion of OTA practices need to be open to the media. But the 49ers, in the last quarter century at least, never have done the bare minimum when it comes to access (in stark contrast to the Raiders). Their philosophy always has been that media attention is good for the team. They have been one of the best - if not the best - teams as far as providing access. And you're right, this is a team that can use all the good press it can get. You have to wonder how ticket sales are going when the economy is as bad as it is and when the 49ers haven't had a winning season since 2002.
The 49ers will argue that OTAs historically haven't had a lot (or any) coverage anyway. That might be true, but nowadays no bit of minutia is too small for blogs and on-line forums. I covered every OTA last year and I can attest that readers, hungry for their 49ers news in the offseason, ate it up with vigor. I would also argue that the 49ers have replaced minicamps with OTAs and that they are basically the same thing. If you grant access to one, why not grant access to the other?
P.S. The 49ers will undoubtedly suspect that I've planted this question, especially since your name is Matt. As God is my witness, this is a legitimate question ... unless it was planted by Maiocco.
Question: Dashon Goldson has apparently opened some eyes in the OTAs, and what I am wondering is if he has the chance to win the starting Free Safety job? Mark Roman isn't getting any younger...
John, Great Falls, MT.
Answer: Goldson certainly seems to have more play-making ability than Roman. (Heck, he seems to have at least two INTs every practice). But Roman is a trusted veteran and Nolan tends to go with the trusted veteran even if he's not as flashy as the challenger. I see the 49ers working Goldson into the defense in nickel packages, but I don't think he'll overtake Roman for the starting job (unless there's an injury).
Question: Hey Matt, why in heavens haven't the 49ers tried to go after former Patriots linebacker Roosevelt Colvin? He could be the pass rushing end opposite Manny Lawson that we have been dying for for the past million years! That would give Parys more time to develop and keep TBC fresh to attack the QB when called upon.
James, Mobile, Ala.
Answer: Dunno the answer to that. I only know that the 49ers say they are not interested. Maybe they think RC's on the down slope of his career. After all, he had only four sacks last season, which is no better than TBC.
Question: Hi Matt, love the blog and keep up the good work. I was wondering how Deshaun Foster was doing? I haven't heard any news on him, but I've seen some great plays out of him in the past. Any updates would be greatly appreciated.
Answer: Foster's looking good. Running plays will be hard to assess until the 49ers put on their pads, but Foster's been silky smooth catching passes out of the backfield. I think he was a great addition.
Question: What video clips do I want to see? 45 seconds of a player throwing a ball or making plays in the OTA's, with a writeup to follow. Key people like Alex Smith, Justin Smith, Nate Clements, Frank Gore, ect... That would be cool. Or maybe one of the up and coming players like Jason Hill, Chilo Rachal, etc.
Russ, Santa Monica.
Answer: Ask and you shall receive ... as soon as I get into another practice.
Question: Re: The QB Competion... Didn't Hill merely play mop-up vs. Minnesota when it was playing soft with a big lead? Did his other four quarters look better than Smith's against Seattle the year before on the road? Said differently, it was six quarters for Hill against weak D's. My take: this is already a clusterfudge. This team NEEDS to build up Smith NOW and pray he's the guy. Because if Hill is the guy, 6-10 is the best you can hope for. If Smith plays to potential (that dreaded word), 10-6 is possible. Isn't it time to stop fooling around?
Mike, Montclair, NJ
Answer: Slight quibble - Hill played the second half of the Minnesota game and all of the Cincinnati and Tampa Bay games. That's 10 quarters. Still, you have a good point. Which is that Hill's chance of earning the starting quarterback job shouldn't be equal to Smith's, who has played in far more games. I think Nolan's philosophy is that an all-out competition will reveal the best quarterback of the bunch and that there will be no argument and second-guessing when it is over. The question is whether the competition will be resolved so cleanly. My guess is that it will not, hence my clusterfudge concern.
Question: Hey Matt, out of state Niners fan. Why not just tear down Candlestick and build a new one there? Couldn't they find a place to play temporarily? I mean with the way last season went they wouldn't need many seats.
Rick, Las Vegas
Answer: There needs to be some sort of funding mechanism to help build the stadium. The previous plan at Candlestick called for a mixed-use development to be built alongside the stadium. But the 49ers found that the development would eat into the amount of parking on the site. Candlestick also presents all sorts of transportation woes - horrible traffic, poor access to highways, little public transit.