Question: Matt, who do you think the 49ers are leaning on in the draft and what free agent pass rushers will we being looking at? By the way, what ever happened to Matt Hazeltine?
- Latitude 38, San Jose
Answer: I think Don, in the previous e-mail, was on the right track when he mentioned Adalius Thomas, who had 11 sacks this year for the Ravens. If the 49ers stick with a 4-3 defense, Patrick Kerney of the Falcons is just the sort of effort player Mike Nolan likes. Justin Smith of the Bengals also might be attractive. It should be noted, however, that there is still two months before the start of free agency and that all the players discussed could be re-signed by their teams or slapped with the franchise tag. In other words, don't get your hopes up yet.
As for Hazeltine, he played 13 years for the 49ers, the longest tenure of any 49ers linebacker. He died in 1987 of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and shortly afterward Bill Walsh named the team's Iron Man Award in his honor.
- Matt Barrows