49ers Blog and Q&A

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

September 14, 2007
Belichick has some 'splaining to do

Question: I'm wondering if Mike Nolan, any of assistants or even Tully Banta-Cain have commented on or off the record on the Bill Belichick controversy?
Ben, Boston

Answer: What's up, Ben? Yes, Nolan touched on it Friday in fact. He wouldn't comment on whether the Patriots' punishment fit the crime, but he did say that knowing the opposition's signals would be a huge advantage. "There's a point where you cross the line, and I think that was crossing the line," he said. "Because if it was OK, there would have been 32 teams doing it. ... I know as a coordinator, if someone knows when I'm going to blitz, that can hurt me real bad." Nolan did note that teams - especially back-up quarterbacks - will sometimes watch the opposing sidelines hoping to decipher the signals. "But I can't remember ever going into a game saying, 'Boy, this is going to be part of our plan,'" he said. "And I think when you go to the extreme that was taken, that's exactly what was going on."
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hey Matt, just a question. After the Patriots were punished for the videotaping incident against the Jets, the NFL will take away their first round draft pick for 2008 if they make the playoffs for this year. The 49ers also gave them a first round pick as well, so what happens with that one? They're not going to be allowed to keep a pick in the first at all will they? Thanks.
Jeff, Sacramento

Answer: Unfortunately for the 49ers, the Pats will get to keep the first rounder they got from the 49ers in April. The 49ers do have a first rounder from the Colts, but if Week One is any indication they could be picking 32nd.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: The strength of the 49ers team is supposed to be the offensive line. What happened on Monday night with not only the running game, but pass protection?
Gary, Sacramento

Answer: It's a good question. The 49ers had all sorts of pass protection issues, especially in the middle. The running backs seemed to have a hard time picking up blitzes, too. A lot of times the Cardinals had six players rushing the quarterback. That, to me, seems like a perfect time to fire a quick dart to Vernon Davis. The running game bears watching. If the 49ers can't run right like they used to, the Kwame haters might start clamoring for his return.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Did Antonio Bryant ever catch on with another club? Is he out of football?
Thomas, Roseville

Answer: It surprises me that he hasn't been picked up. Yes, he still must serve a two-game suspension. And yes, he's one of the most volatile guys I've ever seen. But he's big, fast and as tough as they come, and it seems to me he could help a team. You can't tell me that some free agents who have recently been picked up (Reche Caldwell???) are better than Bryant.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hello Matt! I was at Monday night's game and the wind was blowing very hard. It was hard to throw the football in the parking lot before the game and I noticed many of the kick-offs needed to be held. The pre-game fireworks smoke left the stadium in a huge hurry. A paper on the field made it across in seconds. I haven't heard anybody talk about this but I have to figure it played at least a little factor in the bad passing for the game against the Cardinals. Have you heard anybody talk about it?
Berger, Reno

Answer: Hey, Berger. Yes, I believe someone asked Alex Smith about the wind and he downplayed it. Could be that he didn't want to make excuses for his poor performance. I also think that the wind died down after sunset.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hey Matt, a lot of people obviously would have been calling for Alex Smith's head if he had not pulled off that winning drive (and some are calling for it anyway), but many know that the blocking, the dropped passes, and the play calling is at fault as well. Do the coaches plan to be a bit more aggressive after seeing what Smith can do when he is allowed a bit more freedom?
Corey, El Dorado Hills

Answer: Well, if they were planning to be more aggressive, they wouldn't tell us. Smith, however, did say he needed to take more shots downfield in order to foil the blitz. It seemed like every time he intended to against Arizona, Karlos Dansby was in his face. But he did appear a bit cautious out there. Sometimes in a defensive game, quarterbacks are hesitant to make a mistake and lose the game. The flip side, of course, is that the 49ers offense only began to roll when Smith threw caution to the wind.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: I saw the 49ers play Sept. 10th and found in my opinion that Thomas Clayton was outstanding. Was he the one that had 52 on his jersey?
Mary, Mesquite, Texas

Answer: No, Mary, No. 52 is Patrick Willis, a linebacker. (Clayton is a running back). Willis was very good indeed and is an early frontrunner for defensive rookie of the year. Good eye.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Matt -- are you getting flack from your married friends today? I can tell you where the wife and I were (Sunday). Right next to the kegerator in the garage bar, watching every NFL game imaginable. You forget, some women like the game just as much as men. I'm lucky enough to be married to one of them.
Bill, Sacramento

Answer: Kegerator? Bar? Football? Hold onto that woman like grim death, Bill.
-- 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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