Question: It seems that Lewis will finally get a shot at free safety. I wonder what's taken so long. He plays hard and hits hard and can't be any worse than what they have... although special teams will take a drop-off. Also, even tough its obvious the Niners need to draft definsivley, can they honestly pass up the top WR if he's on the board?
-- Alex, Shingle Springs
Answer: That sounds like a rhetorical question, Alex, but I'll answer it anyway: Yes they can. There are several teams that show that an abundance of top-notch receivers -- the Raiders, Jaguars, Lions and Redskins spring to mind -- doesn't necessarily translate to on-field success. But we're getting waaaaaaay ahead of ourselves here. There are six looooooooong months before the draft, and I guarantee these questions will be pondered, debated and talked about ad nauseum until then.
As for Lewis, I agree. Dan Snyder once criticized Mike Nolan's Redskins defense as too vanilla. Well, this one isn't even vanilla. It's Low-fat Vanilla Lite, and it needs a shot of attitude. Lewis is one of the few defenders on the team with plenty to spare. Dude is fearless. You have to go all the way back to September of last season -- Mike Rumph's shot on T.O. -- for the last time a 49ers defender really caught the attention of the opposing receivers. Lewis can do that.
-- Matt Barrows
Question: I saw the question about the 2007 draft. Let me give a couple of names for people to watch this college season. Alan Branch/DT/Michigan/Jr (6-5, 335 lbs) and Marcus McCauley/CB/Fresno State/Sr (6-1 205, 4.3 speed, leaper). Things can change, but these guys look like our guys. I say Branch first and McCauley if he's gone. I have a question for you. Has anybody asked Nolan about one-gap vs two-gap play for D-line and what he thinks are the pros and cons? It seems to me, we play way too much two-gap and never mess up enough blocking schemes. Thanks.
-- Berger, Reno
Answer: After re-evaluating his defense this past week, it seems as if the D will play even more one-gap than they did early on. As far as the draft, Nolan insists that the team will continue to draft the best player available, regardless of position. You might want to take that with a grain of salt, however. I remember a conversation I had last March with personnel director Scot McCloughan during which he said the 49ers would consider every position with the sixth overall pick. "Even quarterback?" I said. "Yes," said McCloughan. "So you guys are considering drafting Vince Young?" "Yes," McCloughan said with a straight face. In other words, draft-time 'tis the season for fibbing.
-- Matt Barrows