49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

February 23, 2007
Combine questions

Question: Are there any 6-foot-plus, 335-pound nose tackles available in the second or third round? Somebody like a Terdell Sands. Nose tackles don't need to be very athletic, they just need to be a rock that can't be moved. Since Alan Branch will probably be gone at the 11th pick, I'm asking you if there are any quality rocks available later on? And, who are they?
-- Berger, Reno

Answer: That's a very good question because the 49ers' conversion to a 3-4 defense depends on improved play at nose tackle. One guy whose name has come is Cal's Brandon Mebane. He does't have gaudy size -- 6-1, 305 -- but he is hard to move and is accustomed to double teams. He almost certainly would be available late on day 1. Unfortunately, it's a down year for interior defensive linemen. The good news is that there seem to be plenty of towering defensive ends who would be perfect in the 3-4.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: A few questions: What's the chance of signig Adalius Thomas (Ravens) and Nate Clements (Bills)? I also noticed that the Redskins cut Troy Vincent. I know we wanted him to play safety last year but how bout nickel corner? And on the offense, what about bringing Donte Stallworth back home to California?
-- Goff, Shingle Springs

Answer: The 49ers are in better position than anyone to sign either Thomas or Clements, but signing both might be too ambitious. Clements may be asking for more than the 49ers are willing to spend, although they would rather tap a cornerback in free agency than in the draft. Thomas also might be too expensive given his age -- he turns 30 in August. Tully Banta-Cain could be a more reasonable alternative at the position. As far as Troy Vincent, one of the reasons he signed with the Redskins last season was to be close to his New Jersey home. Stallworth has mentioned San Francisco but would prefer to stay in Philadelphia. His hamstring issues also may be a turnoff to the 49ers.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hey Matthew - my uninformed assumption is the Niners will take a DL with their No. 1 pick. All the top DL have seemed to have been tagged or re-signed before the start of free agency, and the Niners are sorely lacking a presence up front. I think to fit their 3-4, they will take either Alan Branch, Amobi Okoye or Adam Carriker, in that order, based on who's available. What can you tell us is the buzz about those 3 players? Get word out that Dwayne Bowe is a bum so he falls to us in the 2nd round!

Answer: Hey, Lebowski. This is one of the deepest drafts in recent memory for defensive ends, so I agree that one could be coming the 49ers' way. Branch, however, doesn't figure to last until the 11th pick. The team likes Okoye but thinks he's much better suited for a 4-3 defense. Carriker, meanwhile, has been soaring up draft boards since the Senior Bowl. Unless he messes up at the combine, he's a definite possibility.
-- Matt Barrows

February 21, 2007
Replacing Turner

Question: Now that Turner is gone (Goodbye, Good Luck, Good Riddance, etc., etc, ), of the Niner assistants -- Sullivan, Hoener, Harris, et al. -- which in your "up-close" opinion would be the best fit to step up as offensive coordinator, improve the short passing game and throw opposing defenses a curve or two during a game?
-- Sammy Moore Jr., Sacramento

Answer: My guess is that Sullivan will get the job. When Nolan was building his staff in the winter of 2005, it was clear that Nolan was particularly proud of two of his hires: Mike Singletary and Jerry Sullivan. You can tell from watching practices that Sullivan is a stickler for even the most minute detail and that he is a very good teacher. Now whether that translates into a play caller, I have no idea. That's what Nolan must ask himself this week.

The other top candidate, in my opinion, is quarterbacks coach Jim Hostler. No one on the team has worked more closely with Alex Smith, who, after all, is the key to any offensive success.

I'm taking off for the scouting combine Wednesday morning and I hope to keep track of the OC search there. And, of course, I'll also have lots of thoughts about rookie prospects. So keep the draft questions coming all week.
-- Matt Barrows

February 20, 2007
A good wide receiver - not Brandon Lloyd

Question: Who is a good wide receiver going into the draft? I think the 49ers screwed up when they gave up Brandon Lloyd. What do you think?

- Alfonso, Sacramento.

Answer: Allow me to answer your Brandon Lloyd question first. If you followed Lloyd's progress in Washington this season, you would see that, well, there was no progress. Lloyd was such a bust that the Washington Post wrote a long story at year's end about his lack of production and about how his prickly personality made him universally reviled in the organization. Not only did the 49ers receive two draft picks for Lloyd - third- and fourth-rounders - the Redskins were forced to cut Walt Harris when they signed Lloyd to his huge contract. Harris, of course, was snapped up by the 49ers and he had the best season of his career. I'd say the Lloyd deal couldn't have worked out any better for the 49ers.

As far as rookie receivers, the 49ers really like Dwayne Bowe from LSU. I'll write more about this next week from the scouting combine.

- Matt Barrows

February 15, 2007
How to keep Norv

Question: Here we go again with Norv Turner being talked about as the best candidate for the Chargers. I hope the raise and the extension that the York's offered may keep him here one more year. What do you think?

- Jeremy, Citrus Heights

Answer: Well, as the Dallas Cowboys saga showed, Norv wants a lot of sway if he is to become a head coach again. The San Diego job certainly is attractive in terms of the talent level on that team. However, the front office situation seems like a headache. (See: A.J. Smith vs. Marty Schottenheimer). If Turner, who, by the way, flew to San Diego today, thinks there will be even a whiff of trouble in San Diego, I think he'll be more than happy to fall back on his San Francisco job.

- Matt Barrows

February 15, 2007
Questionable 'question'

Question: I have been a Niners fan since 1988. What they need to do is get two outside linebackers in Adalius Thomas and Shaun Phillips, a cornerback in Nate Clements and two defensive linemen in Corey Redding and Big Sands. Then they trade their first-, second-, two third- and two fourth-round picks to get Calvin Johnson. Give this to Mike Nolan and start listening to the fans, Mike, cause some of us know what we are talking about. Do this!

- Curtis Reed, Brooklyn Park, Minn.

Answer: The Q & A format depends on there being a Q. No Q, no A.

- Matt Barrows

February 13, 2007
Feeling a draft

Question: We'd all like to see the 49ers get better, and the draft is the best way. I have some serious misgivings about the head personnel guy -- 2005 Baas (essentially a first rounder) and the whole bottom of the draft are no help, and in 2006 (the jury is really out on Lawson) Williams, Robinson (can't gain a yard) and the rest down are non-contributors except for Oliver. Seems like more misses than hits. Your thoughts?
-- Tom, Gridley

Answer: I'm going to have to disagree with you, Tom. I think Scot McCloughan has done a very good job in two years. Consider this -- the 49ers had three guys in Saturday's Pro Bowl, none of whom were here when McCloughan took over. You have to give Lawson and Robinson time to develop. After all, both of them were learning brand new positions as rookies. As for Williams, he might have been a reach in round three last year, but it was the coaching staff, not the personnel department, that was clamoring for a return man. Baas definitely needs to step up. And when you consider that Philly receiver Reggie Brown was there for the taking in that draft, it makes the Baas selection all the more regrettable.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Draft puzzle: The latest mock draft I saw has the 49ers choosing a safety at No. 11. Wouldn't they be better served by drafting a linebacker or nose guard than a safety?
-- Jim Maybie, Sacramento

Answer: At this stage of the game mock drafts are about as useful as ouija boards. But I tend to agree with you regarding safeties. Seems to me that defensive line, cornerback and receiver should come before safety on the 49ers' list of needs. However, prepare yourself for the ubiquitous "best player available" line in the coming weeks. Also, don't forget that Mike Nolan's favorite current NFL player is Ravens safety Ed Reed. Nolan knows that a good safety is worth his weight in gold.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Where do you think the Niners are going in free agency?
-- Andrew, San Francisco.

Answer: My best guess -- cornerback. Why? Because rookie cornerbacks take a long time to develop.
-- Matt Barrows

February 5, 2007

Question: Hopefully the Niners do not lose offensive coordinator Norv Turner, but if the Niners end up losing Turner to the Cowgirls, what are your thoughts on Boise State coach Chris Petersen, who recently received the Paul "Bear" Bryant College Coach of the Year award, taking his place? What are the chances of him being offered the position, and the chances of him accepting the position?
-- Mark, Rosemont

Answer: After watching that amazing bowl game last month, there isnít anyone who wouldnít be intrigued by a Boise State coach. However, Nolanís biggest concern is continuity, meaning that if he lost Norv Turner he likely will promote someone from within. He also said he would compile a short list of outside candidates (he declined to divulge any of those names), but I think Jerry Sullivan, Pete Hoener or George Warhop will get the job.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hey Matt. Why do you think Mike Nolan chose Greg Manusky over Donnie Henderson as his defensive coordinator? It seems that Henderson met all the criteria for Nolan's defensive coordinator: experience as a defensive coordinator in the 3-4 defense and the two had crossed coaching paths before. What was coach Nolan's problem with Henderson and does Manusky's hiring mean Nolan will continue to be heavily involved with the defensive calls on game day?
-- Brad, Davis.

Answer: I think the answer is personality. Nolan obviously doesnít despise Henderson, or else he wouldnít have interviewed him in the first place. But there must have been some issues when the two coached together at Baltimore because youíre right -- on paper Henderson meets all of Nolanís criteria. Nolan is very picky when it comes to the personality of his coaches. For example, he fired defensive line coach Gary Emanuel because he didnít think he had the right energy level to coach what will be a young defensive line in coming years. The bottom line is that Nolan liked Manuskyís personality more than Hendersonís.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: The hiring of Manusky as defensive coordinator seems a bit odd to me. If you decide not to hire someone with coordinator experience, then why didn't they consider Singletary? While Dallas is considering him for their head coach, it didn't seem as if the 49ers ever even considered him for their D-coord spot. If Singletary returns, will this cause issues in the coaching staff? Finally what can you tell us about Manusky?
-- Mike, Sacramento

Answer: These are very interesting questions, ones that Nolan has sort of danced around when heís been asked them. According to Nolan, Singletary is irreplaceable in his current role, which is as the team motivator, the inspirational leader and a second set of eyes for Nolan. He also feels that Singletary will be a head coach sooner rather and later and doesnít want to make him a d-coordinator this year only to see him leave the next. Still, Singletary is on record as saying heíd like the chance to coordinate the defense. If you read between the lines, he might feel that he hasnít yet become a head coach because teams feel he is weak -- or at least unseasoned -- at calling plays. As far as Manusky, as a player he was a total overachiever -- a workaholic who squeezed out an awful lot of production despite very little talent. Heís smart and extremely well-prepared. In fact, you might call him a younger version of Mike Nolan ó hence the hire.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hey Matt. Is there any chance the Niners will trade for Randy Moss, and who are they really interested in free agency and draft?
-- Andrew, San Francisco

Answer: An indifferent receiver who bucks authority and doesnít block down field? Moss doesnít sound like the kind of player Nolan wants in the locker room. A receiver the 49ers might go after in the draft is LSUís Dwayne Bowe, who had an impressive week of practices at the Senior Bowl. Heís a high-energy guy who attacks the football -- a trait the 49ers love. They wouldnít draft Bowe at No. 11 but could trade up later in the first round to nab him.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: If Norv Turner leaves the Niners, how much of a blow do you think that is and who are possible replacements? Personally, I think it's crucial for Alex Smith not to have to start from scratch again and have a new coordinator. What are the possibilites of Norv staying in San Francisco?
-- Usman, Owings Mills, MD.

Answer: Hi Usman. I'm sure the entire 49ers orgnization agrees with you about keeping Turner, who was cited over and over by Alex Smith this past season for improving his play. Mike Nolan has said that he doesn't want to start the offense from scratch for a third straight season, which likely means that receivers coach Jerry Sullivan will get the job if Norv leaves. Sullivan is a very sharp guy, so sharp in fact that Packers coach Mike McCarthy wanted to make him the Green Bay offensive coordinator when McCarthy left the 49ers last year. The chances of Norv staying? I think it's up to the Cowboys. The best bet is that they become so impressed with Jason Garrett-- who ostensibly will run the offense -- that they feel secure enough to hire a defensive minded coach like Wade Phillips or Ron Rivera.
-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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