Question: On the defense, what do you think the chances of picking up Adalius Thomas next year would be, and who do you suppose he would replace? I like Ulbrich and Smith but don't they seem to be slowing down somewhat? On the defensive line, they need a new "beast" (maybe two) as BY is the only one who seems to have the horsepower to disrupt things. Who's available, or do you think R. Fields will develop into a solid nose tackle next season? Do I hear a call in for Dwight Freeney or similar clone?
- Don, Citrus Heights
Answer: Hi Don. If Thomas indeed becomes a free agent, my guess is that he would be at the tippity top of the 49ers' wish list. He's big, productive and, best of all, familiar to Mike Nolan because he's a Raven. He seems like an ideal fit as the designated pass rusher in a 3-4 defense. If Thomas were signed, I'm not sure whether he or Manny Lawson would play on the weak side. Brandon Moore certainly would be one of the inside backers and Derek Smith likely would be the other. Don't forget - Smith's vision was askew this season, which tends to cut down on one's aggressiveness. Look for him to play better next season. As for Freeney, I don't think he's the type of big-bodied lineman the 49ers are after this offseason, and they won't get in a bidding war to acquire him.