49ers Blog and Q&A

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

October 6, 2007
Keeping a seat warm for Norv

Question: If Norv Turner gets fired after the season what would the chances be that the 49ers would hire him again? Jim Hostler has to go and I think that will be the case.
Cesar, Sacramento

Answer: Well, it certainly would be an easy transition considering that the 49ers' are running Norv Turner's offense. And Alex Smith would welcome Norv back with open arms. (Or open arm as it were). But what would they do with Hostler and Frank Cignetti? You can't have two quarterback coaches, after all. The real question is whether Norv would do any better than Hostler. The 49ers have a huge problem right now in that their receivers can't get open, which has a trickle down effect on the rest of the offense. In my opinion, finding a big, fast, dangerous receiver in the offseason has to be priority No. 1.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Can you please explain to me why Bryan Gilmore is the num 3 wr again. Cleary he is not qualified for that role as evidenced by him failing in the role last year! Gilmore is easily the least imposing third wr in all the NFL right now! Mike Nolan's fondness for people like this is frustrating. Because he likes his work ethic he plays some guys who are big liabilities! Could this lead to his own demise here?
Frank, San Antonio

Answer: The way I see it, the Gilmore-for-Jacobs maneuver was more of a message to the rest of the team than a solution. No, Gilmore won't turn the 49ers into the Colts, but at the very least he should be able to make the catches that Jacobs dropped in recent games. Still, your point is well-taken. Gilmore doesn't scare defenses. If Nolan really wanted to shake up the team, why did he go with someone as safe and familiar as Gilmore? This was stirred, not shaken. In fact, I was wondering if the 49ers were considering bringing back Antonio Bryant, whose suspension has already been served. Yes, the guy is as crazy as Kathy Bates in Misery, but he'd certainly make defenses sit up and take notice.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: What do you think of running more out of 3 WR sets? Logically it makes sense for us because of defenses emphasis on stopping the run, Gore has seemed more comfortable with no fullback, Moran was great for him last year but I think Frank's touches gotta increase now. Do you have any stats/info on Gore's results in a base pro versus a spread formation? Maiocco recently said that ".500 would be an accomplishment", what do you think? Thanks for your work, being an east coast fan I really appreciate your work.
Sam, Detroit

Answer: Anything that would make the 49ers the aggressors on offense, I think, would be a change in the right direction. As it stands now, the 49ers offense is so blah that it gives the defense confidence and allows them to be creative. As far as how the 49ers will fare this season, all I can do is look at the team at this point last year when they were much worse. At least the current team has a defense. I think the 49ers will rally like they did last year, and it should be noted that their schedule in the second half of the season is very favorable.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: The 49ers recently brought back Bryan Gilmore, does that mean he will immediately start? I want to see what Ashley Lelie can do for our offense. I don't understand why he isn't in there to stretch the field out. In my opinion, the top 3 receivers on the team are D-Jax, Battle, & Lelie. Can Ashley play in the 3 receiver set? What do you hear is the reason he isn't getting some action? Thanks.
-- Eric, Elk Grove

Answer: Lelie is not what you would call a practice superstar. Or even a practice standout. And unfortunately, that's largely how Nolan and co. decides who plays on Sundays. For instance, I asked Nolan the other day why Ray McDonald has yet to be activated. He said that the team likes McDonald but that the rookie hasn't quite shown in practice that he is ready for game action. I don't know whether it's because Lelie is used to merely sprinting downfield or what, but the coaching staff is not yet content with his route running.
-- Matt Barrows

Martin, Fort Worth

Answer: It's a good thought, but I wonder how much it would take to pry a quarterback off another team's roster. I think the 49ers are encouraged by Smith's prognosis and will not be bringing in another quarterback. That is, unless Dilfer gets hurt, which certainly is not out of the question.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Great blog Matt, thanks. I'm had the misfortune to suffer a grade 2 shoulder separation, and it took months to be close to normal. Do you have any indications of Alex Smith's recuperative powers? And also, once separated, is Alex more at risk to re-injury. Thank you, Dr. Matt!
Tom, Elk Grove

Answer: I'm not a doctor, but I play one on this blog. The fact that Smith is only 23 probably helps in this regard. On Friday, he had taken off his sling and was tossing (gingerly) a football to himself with his injured arm. As far as the risk of another separation - I've had a hard time wrapping my head around this. But the way it's been explained to me is that Smith's shoulder will always be separated. Because the muscles and tendons around the injury are in tact, it shouldn't inhibit the strength in the arm or his ability to throw. But who knows. Smith should prepare for a lot of "Is your shoulder still bothering you?" questions whenever he as an off game.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: An observation: On the play where Marcus Pollard scored the TD to make the score 20-0, It was an empty backfield, we were in the 4-3 and every lineman two gapped. We got no pressure and didn't get close. That is pathetic that the coaches don't have them one gapping for an empty backfield. Rocky Bernard burned us with the one gap technique all day. Which brings me to my question. When Pollard scored he spiked the ball over the cross bar. Isn't that using a prop? Shouldn't that have been a 15-yard penalty?
Berger, Reno

Answer: In my most humble of opinions, the reason the 49ers put scant pressure on the quarterback in the second half was that they essentially had four defensive tackles on the field. Sure, Marques Douglas is technically a d-end, but he'd be a defensive tackle on many other teams. The only pure defensive end they have on the team is Ray McDonald, and he was inactive. Again. As far as spiking the ball over the goalpost, that's still ok in the No Fun League.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Matt, you've done a good job being positive all season. We really need some of that magic now. Smith got a lot of crap all season, and then when he got knocked out of the game, it was obvious that he is a spectacular QB to have been able to avoid making many mistakes at all behind that offensive line. Should the Patriots begin celebrating a top 5 pick after winning the Super Bowl or do the niners have any hope left?
Corey, El Dorado Hills

Answer: Here's your hope, Corey: New York, New Orleans, Atlanta, Seattle, St. Louis, Arizona, Carolina, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, Cleveland. Only two of those teams - Seattle and Tampa Bay - have winning records at the moment.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Did Hostler used to run a bed and breakfast?
Bob, Pacifica

Answer: All the 49ers need to do is sign Andrew Walter and/or Aaron Brooks and the transformation is complete.
-- 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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