49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 9, 2007
Aug. 9 observations

Sorry, no observations today because I wasn't at training camp. Instead, I attended the memorial for Bill Walsh, which, I can report was an amazing event. And why not? Walsh planned it himself. I'll be writing about the greatest coach in NFL history -- yeah, I said it -- in tomorrow's paper. Until then, here are few of your questions and a few of my answers:

Question: Hello, Matt. I really wish the media would stop their endless hunt for the next T.O. Miacco yesterday, and you today chose it to be the title of today's blog. The reasons that T.O. became public enemy No. 1 are very different from what Davis is doing. Was Antonio Bryant not enough to feed the media's thirst? Do you not agree that with the media trying to put this very negative, and so far unfounded label on Davis you put yourselves in a adversarial role? I just don't want the media to try selling at a 49ers players expense...RIDICULOUS !!!
Nevek, Fairfield.

Answer: Well, Nevek, maybe you should read more than titles, which in the newspaper industry are known as headlines. In the blog to which you are referring, I responded to a reader by saying I didn't think Vernon Davis was going to be the next T.O. Also, it's Maiocco. M-A-I-O-C-C-O. (Santa Rosa Press Democrat). And as far as addressing the issue - is VD the next T.O.? - it's an absolutely fair question and one that has been asked by many, many readers.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Didn't Bill Walsh use a 3-4 defense, with a shotputter nose tackle (and Big-Hands Johnson for the Superbowl); plus, an 'Elephant' LB/speed-rushing end like Fred Dean?
Johnny, Bellingham, Wa.

Answer: The answer is, yes, the 49ers definitely had a 3-4 during parts of the Walsh regime. Charles Haley also played 'elephant' when he was with the team.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: How would you rate/grade each position in regards to quality starters to key backs ups? Who is a key player that, if injured, would ruin the season?
Scott, Elk Grove

Answer: From best depth to worst depth, I think it would go: OL, S, QB, WR, LB, DL, CB, RB, TE, P, K. One guy 49ers fans do not want to see injured in the regular season is Frank Gore.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Matt - One of the pieces I read this morning about Sopoaga hinted that Nolan will have Sop on a shorter leash because he was drafted in the Donahue era. It doesn't seem Sop's contract will be extended after this season. If that's the case, there will be only three Donahue-drafted Niners under contract going into '08 (Battle, Spencer and Andy Lee). In your opinion, does Nolan give those players who were here when he arrived their due respect? Or were they just that bad?
Kev, San Francisco

Answer: Good question, Kev. I think it's too early to say that Sopoaga won't be back next season. If he plays well in Franklin's absence and continues to be a reliable back-up at nose tackle, I think it's reasonable that the 49ers will want him back. Sopoaga also might want to stay on the West Coast because of his Pacific roots. I think the fact that he is still here - whereas most Donahue-drafted guys have long been jettisoned - is a testament to how valuable he is to the team. Also, there are a few other Donahue guys, such as Eric Heitmann,, who will still be on the team.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hey Matt, are swarms of fans still planning on sporting suits to the Monday Night opener? Combined with the throwback jerseys and the ode to Bill Walsh, won't that make Niner fans look like the class act of the league?
Jeremiah, El Dorado Hills

Answer: I hope so. It's one of the most original ideas I've heard of in years. The question is, if the fans do show up in suits, will ESPN show it? ESPN is buddy-buddy with the NFL, which does big business with Reebok, etc. etc.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Last season Manny Lawson was brought in to be the team's' pass rushing OLB. Now it seems like the staff has changed their strategy with him more of a coverage LB while Banta-Cain plays the rushing LB. Would you say that this is due to Manny not living up to pre-draft expectations?
Robert, Irvine

Answer: Lawson is still going to have lots of opportunities to rush the passer this year. But the primary pass rusher is going to be Banta-Cain. I know this will sound like a weak compliment - sort of like when you're describing a homely looking person and you say he/she has a great personality. But Lawson does a lot of things really well - he covers a lot of ground, chases down plays on the other side of the field, is great in pass coverage. Rushing the passer, however, is not what he does best at this point in his career.
-- 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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