49ers Blog and Q&A

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

September 13, 2006

Question: Any rumors about how and if the 49ers are going to spend their $10 million worth of cap space?
-- Dustin, Sacramento

Answer: Well, they probably won't spend it on anything extravagant, such as Raiders receiver Jerry Porter. Instead, the team plans to start imitating teams like the Eagles in Patriots in signing players to long-term contracts when they have two years remaining on their current contracts.

This year, that means guys like Adam Snyder, Shawntae Spencer, Frank Gore, Mike Adams and Maurice Hicks likely will be offered new deals. In other words, the 49ers are more concerned about winning tomorrow than they are at winning today ...
-- Matt Barrows

Question: I was under the impression Mike Nolan's specialty was defensive. What gives. Granted the Cardinals had some offensive weapons on display last week, but what are we to expect from the defense this year. I'm not too excited given the points our division can put up.
-- Kyle Tran, SF

Answer: Thanks, Kyle. If you had followed the team's offseason moves, you'd know that most of them occurred on offense, not defense.

I think there's a sense in this league that you can disguise defensive deficiencies better than you can offensive ones, and Nolan, as you noted, is known for his defensive schemes.

Still, there's only so much scheming you can do when you can't generate a pass rush. What do you expect when nearly every one of your defensive linemen is a defensive tackle? ... Look for the defense to get its overhaul this offseason, Kyle.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Will the 49ers win a game this year? Are they wishing they had drafted Matt Lienart now?

I'm so sorry, but if Alex Smith doesn't step up in the first half of the season and start winning, move over Ryan Leaf and Jim Drunkenmiller.

I know Smith is politer and more courteous than the two of them.
-- Long Time Fan, Sacramento

Answer: First question, yes. Second question, no. You can blame a lot of the 2005 losses on Smith, but I'm not sure you can do the same with their Week 1 loss to the Cardinals.

Smith's 288 passing yards were the fourth-best of any quarterback this past weekend. In my opinion, Smith will ultimately be successful because he's a smart guy (unlike Drunkenmiller) and is good at coping with adversity (unlike Leaf).
-- Matt Barrows

Question: I was extremely impressed with the offensive performance against the Cardinals. I'm not sure if the Cardinals Defense was a really good test but Alex Smith and the boys seemed to be doing some very good things, despite adveristy on the O-line.

However, what are the 49ers going to do about giving Bryant some help? Gilmore seemed to do some good things but I thought that Battle was going to give us a good 1-2 punch with our receivers. I think that we might have missed a golden opportunity in not picking up Branch. What do you think?
-- Sean Theriault, Reno, Nev.

Answer: The 49ers' motto, especially as they continue to rebuild: "A draft pick is a terrible thing to waste."

That being said, Nolan ****NEVER**** would have parted with a first-rounder to get Branch as the Seahawks did. That doesn't mean Nolan thinks Branch is a bad player. In fact, he admitted Wednesday that he would have strongly preferred that Branch landed somewhere other than the NFC West.

As for Gilmore, as the fastest 49er, his assignment often is to stretch the field and open up the middle for Vernon Davis. That is, his value can't always be measured in catches and receiving yards ...
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Jerry Porter will probably be ushered out of Oakland if the right deal comes along. The 49ers are looking for a receiver to play opposite Bryant.

Why wouldnt' Nolan consider it? If character is a concern, earlier, Dion Branch and Dante Stallworth were available. What are your thoughts?
-- Frank Gutierrez, Emeryville

Answer: It's a good question, Frank. Porter wouldn't have to find a new house, the Raiders would be rid of a locker-room cancer and the 49ers would have two talented wideouts to go along with Vernon Davis. But I don't see it happening. Nolan is very sensitive about the makeup of his locker-room and he already went out on a limb in signing Bryant, who has more than a few dubious incidents on his resume. Putting Bryant and Porter together could be explosive for all the wrong reasons.

As for the other two receivers, the Niners are loathe to give up any draft picks while they are in rebuilding mode. The Saints also apparently were in the market for a linebacker and we know full well the Niners don't have any to spare ...
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Why did the 49ers give up on bruce thorton and derrick johnson? they seemed to have great potential and were both young???
-- Tabrez A., Elk Grove

Answer: I think Derrick Johnson would have made the team if he hadn't gotten hurt in the final preseason game. As it happened, B.J. Tucker was close enough to Johnson in talent to snag that final spot.

As for Thornton, he was the johnny on the spot last season, but didn't do anything to distinguish himself in training camp. The coaching staff thought Marcus Hudson, who is bigger and much, much more physical, has a much better upside.
-- 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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