49ers Blog and Q&A

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

April 24, 2007
What about Williams?

Question: Wide receiver keeps coming up as a position of need for the 49ers. But what are the team's plans for Brandon Williams, last year's third-round pick? Is he destined to be a backup and return specialist, or is he just in need of time and reps to break out and contribute?
-- Kevin, Pleasant Hill

Answer: The Brandon Williams story is an interesting one because it seems to run counter to what the 49ers keep telling us - they’ll draft the best player available regardless of position. They took Williams in the third round because Mike Nolan wasn’t confident in the punt returners on the team and Williams was the best one available at that point in the draft. In other words, it was a “need” pick. Williams is very secure with the ball and makes some good initial moves. However, he is not a burner like Devin Hester, and because of that he might find it difficult to break into the receiver rotation.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: I know it’s early, but right now who do you anticipate starting on offense and defense? There are several key positions open: FS, RCB, SLB, NT, RDE and RT. Who do they have that can compete and which draft prospects will they look at to fill in areas of need?
-- Scott, Elk Grove

Answer: This is a total guess, but I would put Mark Roman at free safety, Marques Douglas at right defensive end (although Ronnie Fields might end up playing more snaps), Walt Harris at right cornerback, Aubrayo Franklin at nose tackle and Adam Snyder at right tackle. That, of course, might change after the draft.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: I've noticed you listed RB as one of the 49ers’ top needs. Was that before Gore was re-signed, or do you think we still need another? It is possible Gore could get hurt and drop the load on Maurice Hicks, who is a very solid backup. What's your reasoning?
-- Austin, Yreka

Answer: My reasoning is that I’m not sure Hicks could handle the load if Gore got hurt. He’s a good complimentary back, but his body historically hasn’t held up when he’s had a lot of carries.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Matt, I think the 49ers re-signed Hannibal Navies, so that would give them 8 LBs going in. Great articles on the draft.
-- Mike, Rocklin

Answer: Absolutely correct. But because Navies is on the downslope of his career, and because the team signed him late last season, I’d suspect he’d be one of the first lbs cut if there were a numbers crunch at the position.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: I believe the 49ers greatest needs are a defensive end and wide receiver. Last year the pass defense was terrible. A DB can only stay with a receiver so long. Therefore, I believe the greatest need this draft is a pass-rushing end. What do you think?
-- Walter, Woodland

Answer: I agree with that assessment, Walter, but remember that an end in a 3-4 defense really isn’t expected to get a lot of sacks. Instead they’re supposed to occupy blockers so that the outside linebackers - Manny Lawson, Tully Banta-Cain and Roderick Green -- get the sacks. Think Shawne Merriman of the Chargers or Terrell Suggs of the Ravens. Still, the 49ers don’t have a lot of ends on the team that can do that, and that’s why I think they’ll tap an end, Adam Carriker or Alan Branch, with the 11th pick in the draft.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: According to all these draft value sheets you have to give up the farm as well as your sister to move up into the top 5. What about the mid to high 20's? I believe the Ravens who pick 29 but do not have another first day selection as well as the Patriots who have 2 late first rounders would be perfect candidates for a trade. Keeping the 11th pick, what would it take to grab one of these 20 something picks if a)we include our second rounder and b)we do NOT include our second rounder?
-- Jason, Sacramento

Answer: Let’s use the Ravens' No. 29 pick (which, you’re right, is very plausible) as an example. If they used their second-round pick, they would only have to throw in their first third-rounder to make the deal even, according to the chart. Without the second rounder, they would have to include both third and all three fourths to satisy the chart.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hey, with the 49ers needing another receiver, why don’t they go after Mike Williams from Detroit or Charles Rogers? I don’t believe both, specifically Mike Williams, got a fair shake and can be really good given the opportunity.
-- Tabrez, Elk Grove

Answer: Because neither of them can create separation with defensive backs. Asked about Rogers last season, Mike Nolan said the 49ers weren’t interested.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hi Matt, Saw your comments on WRs in the Sunday SacBee and the ones on WR Dwayne Jarrett struck a nerve with me. It's true his 40 speed is sub par compared to the other receivers in your article but Jerry Rice's 40 speed (4.6) was only marginally better than Dwyane's (4.67). Jerry was one of the most prolific college scorers in his day but so was Dwayne Jarrett. The reason 'separation' didn't apply to Jerry is because he was matched against linebackers. If Lelie is the deep threat Dwayne will be OK against linebackers. He is a playmaker!
-- Jim, Vacaville

Answer: Hi Jim. I’m not saying the 49ers don’t like Jarrett at all. All I’m saying is I don’t think they like him enough to be taken with the No. 11 pick. No 42 - now that’s an entirely different situation.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Personally, I feel that Calvin Johnson will be the biggest name to come out of this draft in the years to come. Having said that, how far down do you think he will slide, and is there any potential or interest in the 49ers organization to move up to get him?
-- Mike B., Citrus Heights

Answer: I agree entirely about Calvin Johnson. He won’t slip any lower than No. 4 to the Buccaneers. I think that’s too far for the 49ers to reach. They’d have to give up practically their entire draft class - 10 picks - just to get the Bucs to listen.
-- 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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