49ers Blog and Q&A

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

October 13, 2007
Readers: Nolan on notice

Question: 'Mooch' also stuck to his ways - where is he now? The Niners' latest game strategy copied Cleveland-they are not the Browns. Your best guess, Matt - do you think Nolan would actually sacrifice this whole season trying to prove his ultra conservative ways (offense & defense) will work eventually? Is he that obstinate? Please ask them why ours is the only 3/4 that never gamble's with the blitz? Honestly Matt, does Nolan seem to you to really even care what we fans are thinking?

Sammy, Sacramento

Answer: I think he understands the fans' increased expectations. Does he listen to everything the fans say? No, and that's usually a good thing considering how fickle and reactionary most fans are. But this Ashley Lelie saga is a real puzzler. Everyone - fans, media, etc. - has been wondering since the preseason why Lelie has not been playing more. And yet it took the comments of an opposing coach - Baltimore's Rex Ryan - to nudge Nolan into giving Lelie a chance. It's very hard to figure out why it's taken this long.

-- Matt Barrows

Question: I don't see why Nolan doesn't get off his high-horse and start Lelie in Jackson's spot and move Jackson to Battle's spot. It is obvious that Jackson can't beat anyone deep but I think he would be more effective against a number 2 corner in the slot?

Larry, Lincoln

Answer: As of now, Nolan only has said that Lelie will see more playing time. It remains to be seen if he'll start. If he does, it will be very interesting to see if Battle or Jackson starts opposite him at flanker.

-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hi Matt. It is obvious Nolan plays "Not To Lose" instead of playing "To Win". Your comparison of our game against the Ravens and the Bears/Packers game was a perfect example. Do you plan on asking Nolan if he saw the Bears game and noticed that they won and we didn't? I believe he is too worried about mistakes, but isn't it better to make a couple of mistakes and score 20 points instead of making no mistakes and scoring seven? Don't you think our defense looks good enough for our offense to be able to play looser?

Berger, Reno

Answer: That's the irony of the 49ers this season. With the defense playing so well, you'd think the 49ers could afford to take more chances on offense. Instead, the solid play of the defense has had the reverse effect.

-- Matt Barrows

Question: Don't you think Nolan should learn something from Bills? I know they lost and threw an interception, but it was pretty sweet to see their offensive flow in final minutes. They kept passing even on obvious running plays. I was pretty amazed how the Bills were running their offense. Can't Nolan learn something from them?

Harsh, Berkeley

Answer: The Bills have something the 49ers don't have (or haven't used) - speed at receiver.

-- Matt Barrows

Question: "Our mistakes, our errors thus far, I believe are correctible. But do I have them exactly identified yet? No." That's a quote from Nolan. My question is simply how can you know a problem is correctible if you don't know what the problem is? There's a big gap in logic there!!

Jerry, Sonora

Answer: Ha! You've got a glimpse of what it's like to cover a 49ers' press conference.

-- Matt Barrows

Question: FIRST OFF I WANT TELL YOU THAT YOUR COVERAGE OF THE NINERS IS AWESOME. YOU'RE THE BEST, MATT. DO YOU THINK THE 49ERS OFFENSE IS STALLING DUE TO CONFIDENCE IN THE OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR? ARE THE PLAYERS NOT RESPONDING TOO WELL UNDER HOSTLER? WHATS YOUR TAKE, MATT? DO YOU THINK WE NEED AN OFFENSIVE GURU TO RUN THE SHIP? LOOKS LIKE MIKE DOESNT QUITE UNDERSTAND OFFENSE.

Joey, Modesto

Answer: This will sound wishy-washy, but I think the offense has stalled for several reasons. The over-arching one, however, is that the 49ers have been content with a safe, ball-control strategy. Until they start taking shots farther downfield, opposing defenses will continue to be the aggressors.

-- Matt Barrows

Question: I fear Nolan will not give Jason Hill a chance this year due to his need to justify the moves he's made to add receivers. He can't keep them all IMHO. I assume he won't place Hill on the practice squad; but getting him playing time looks doubtful. If he's not given a chance this season, we may well put doubt in his mind and questions over what the team sees in his future. Not getting practice time with Smith also limits chance of game success. Do you think Nolan will get Hill some playing time this year?

Robert, Sacramento

Answer: I think Hill will see playing time - after all, he was ready to get some two weeks ago when he suffered his hamstring injury. But it's interesting to see other teams playing and having success with rookie receivers - James Jones, Dwayne Bowe - while the 49ers keep their third-rounder on the bench.

-- Matt Barrows

Question: Why didn't the team keep Marcus Maxwell or bring him back to the team after cutting Brandon Williams? I thought he would've given the team a more physical presence blocking (if I remember correctly he ran a 4.4 in the 40) to compliment Arnaz Battle and stretch the field. The hamstring injury he sustained in TC didn't help his cause. I know this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league. But he deserved a better shot especially after refusing an offer from another team and possibly starting. Have a nice weekend.

Mike, Washington, D.C.

Answer: It's an interesting question. At the time Maxwell was released, the 49ers seemingly had a very deep group of receivers and it was easy to see why Maxwell might not fit into the mix. Those other receivers, however, don't strike any fear into opposing defenses. Suddenly, the 49ers need a big, fast wideout who can make plays downfield - which is exactly what Maxwell did in NFL Europe. I'm not saying Maxwell is the missing piece in the 49ers' offense. But you do wonder whether, if he was still on the team, he'd be getting his chance right now. Maxwell, by the way, is now a member of the Bengals' practice squad.

-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hey Matt, I was just wondering if you noticed that, on the 3rd & 9 play leading to the FG attempt for the lead (against the Ravens), the offense was set up on the right hash mark and the play call was a draw with Gore set up on Dilfer's right. With a left-footed kicker wouldn't it be smarter to line Gore on the left of the QB on that play to get the ball to the center of the field? That particular call puzzled me, and would love to know what our coordinator was thinking.

Derek, Phoenix

Answer: I, too, thought Nedney would want to kick from the center or even the left. But Nolan said after the game that Nedney preferred to kick it from the right hashmark. Nedney, of course, heaped all the blame on himself and said he pulled it. It seemed to me, however, as if there was a problem with the snap-hold exchange.

-- 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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