49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 24, 2007
What's wrong with the run defense?

Question: Matt, the defensive line the last two preseason games has not been able to stop the run. I’m concerned. I know BY and Franklin are recovering from injuries but I thought with our free agency pick-ups and the draft our defensive line play would be much improved. I know it's early but how do you see the DL coming together and shutting down the run come September? Can you give me an update on Jay Moore's, LB, progress to date? Will he make the team?
Ron, Lincoln

Answer: I used to think that Alex Smith’s chemistry with his receiving corps was the biggest concern heading into the season. Smith, however, has done an excellent job in assuaging me. Now I think it’s the run defense. What I keep hearing from coaches is that the defense needs to play as one unit. They need to get used to their assignments and, more importantly, get used to each other before we really can see results. The problem is that the first-team defensive line, the unit that sets the tone for the rest of the D, won’t play together at all during the preseason. How long will it take them to jell? I don’t know, but it won’t happen immediately.
The other concern is the outside linebackers, who have not done a very good job of keeping containment on the edge. That’s something I’m really interested in seeing against the Bears.

As far as Moore, he definitely makes the team. He’s going through what Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson experienced last season – a difficult transition from defensive end to linebacker. He’s a guy who ultimately should be very good at setting the edge on running plays. He’s the biggest outside linebacker the 49ers have.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Matt, I wonder if you might be able to elaborate on what the heck happened with the parking situation at the 49er/Raider game. My wife and I left Sacramento at 5:00pm, mistake, and 5 hours later were still in line to get into the parking lot of the stadium. Needless to say we missed the entire game. Was it poor lot attendants or lack of space in the parking lot? This definitely makes me want to never attend a game again and watch them on my 60" tv for good. Any input would be great. Thanks, you’re doing a great job.
Jeremy, Citrus Heights

Answer: You’re not the only one who’s written about this. I didn’t get home until well past 1 a.m. and I live in San Jose. I shudder to imagine when my Sacramento-area readers arrived at their doorsteps. According to parking officials, it was a perfect storm of events that led to Saturday’s debacle. There were some people who arrived solely for the tailgating, thus taking the spots of ticket holders. There was a Rage Against the Machine concert adjacent to AT&T Park and many idiots -- uh, I mean people -- arrived at Candlestick thinking the concert was there. However, that doesn’t explain why traffic was so miserable after the game, too. You would think that after three decades of football games at Candlestick, they wouldn’t have snags like the one that prevented thousands of people from watching the game. I’ll definitely look into this more before the home opener on Sept. 10, which starts at about the same time the Raiders game did but is on a weekday night. Good luck with your drive.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hi, Matt. Believe it or not I'm a huge V-Ice fan. I was wondering If you saw the act put on by the DB's called "Vanilla Ice & the Chocolate Chips"? If so, do you know what it was about or was it just a Ice Ice Baby parody? Thanks for your time and your awesome Niner articles, you and MM are the best! P.S. In a football related question, I heard the Niners are not interested in linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. But, does he even fit into a 3-4? I don't think he's played it. If we like him, would he replace Smith, or add depth?
Nick, Fremont

Answer: I did not have the pleasure of seeing the act, but by all accounts it was pretty good. I can only assume that “Ice, Ice, Baby” was the theme. As far as Trotter, Nolan said he liked him as a player. And he wouldn’t say that if he thought otherwise. I believe he could fit into the 49ers’ 3-4 defense as a “Ted” or strong-side middle linebacker. As it happens, the 49ers already have two pretty good players, Derek Smith and Brandon Moore, at the position.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hi Matt-It sounds silly, but aren't teams potentially wasting two roster spots by employing a punter, kicker, and long snapper? Are those such one-of-a-kind skills that a place kicker with a strong leg can't learn to punt or vice versa? Is long snapping so hard to do that you can't get a 3rd string LB or TE to learn to do it? The Niners are a young team with some pretty stiff competition at the back end of more than one position. I would think they could use a couple extra roster spots....
Matt, Tyson’s Corner, Va.

Answer: I’ve wondered the same thing for years. The punter and kicker stand around so much in practice that it would seem that one guy would have plenty of time to learn how to do both jobs. Of course, this would all be fine and dandy until the day the guy missed a crucial extra point or shanked a punt. Then everyone would be up and arms about why the 49ers didn’t have players who concentrated on one skill. As far as long-snapping, though, I’ve watched tight end Billy Bajema try his hand at it for the last few years. Some of his snaps are good, some sail over the punter’s head. None, however, has the accuracy and zip of Brian Jennings’. The guy is freakishly consistent.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Matt- I agree with you in that there was little push in the pass rush in the Raider game. This is a huge concern. Amongst Bill Walsh's most astute quotes was, "The key to winning in the NFL is a 4th quarter pass rush". Are there any older vets out there with some gas in their tank (Richard Dent/Charles Mann/Tim Harris etc...) that can help? The defensive backfield has improved...but they can't cover folks all day.
Chris, Elk Grove

Answer: As the brilliant Matt Maiocco (M-A-I-O-C-C-O!) reported recently, the team was interested in a few would-be free agents this spring (Justin Smith, for example) but they ended up re-signing with their own teams. Quality D-linemen are so hard to come by that teams rarely let them out of their grasp. I don’t foresee any help following cut-down day, but who knows?
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Matt, what was your favorite sitcom of all time? Did it begin with an "F"?
Peter, Los Angeles

Answer: How did you know I’m a huge fan of “Father Knows Best”? The problem with television today is all the reality crapola. I don’t know about you, Peter, but I’m not particularly interested in seeing a bunch of tubby people humiliated as they try to lose weight or a bunch of no-talent “dancers” try to impress David Hasselhoff? When did the Hoff become an arbiter of talent? The man was upstaged by a talking car for God’s sake. I’m seriously considering reading books at night.
-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW 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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