Question: As a Nolan-Hater I want to be the first to admit that a win in Cleveland might be enough for me to renew my season tickets for next year. The guy has done some positive things. Our defense has made tremendous strides and is actually one or two guys away from being dominant (a healthy Lawson plus Briggs and/or Suggs) teams will no longer run on us PERIOD! And the putrid offense has SOME TALENT, unpolished of course. If Hill was the back up in wk 4 this season could be dramatically different. What is your gut feeling regarding Nolan's future, Matt?
Answer: My gut feeling is that he's back. If Maiocco's recent report -- that the 49ers will offer Scot McCloughan the GM job -- comes to fruition, I don't see him parting ways with Nolan. McCloughan, by the way, has strenuously denied that this is going to happen. However, it just seems to make too much sense. To wit: 1.) The 49ers' owner has said she is considering bringing in a strong GM. 2.) McCloughan has said he wants to one day be a GM. 3.) McCloughan says he is not interested in the Dolphins GM job, that he wants to finish the job he and Nolan started in SF. QED.
Question: It is clear that the offensive players have really rallied around Shaun Hill. Based on recent comments by Vernon Davis and Eric Heitmann, it sounds as though they would prefer Hill over A. Smith. Do you think this is the case? Do you feel that the offensive players had faith in Alex Smith before the shoulder/Nolan/inaccuracy fiasco? Did he have the respect of his teammates then? Who do scouts think is a better QB? Who do you think is better and why? Also, are the players really rallying around Nolan? If so, why? Thanks Matt-love your work.
Stephen, Portland, Ore
Answer: Vernon Davis has been effusive in his praise of Hill because Davis actually got the ball when Hill was in the lineup. True, Hill does have a quick release and seems to be able to get the offense into a rhythm better than Smith did. But the fact that Davis was used extensively as a blocker early in the season wasn't Smith's fault. And neither was the overall conservative nature of the 49ers' offense early on. What I'm saying is that Hill also benefited from better game plans and better play calling at the end of the season.
Question: I read on your blog Trent Dilfer's "intent" to return, which my response to is "why"? So my questions are - is there any benefit to the Niners retaining him and is there any salary cap issue here? Can I make a plug for cutting him loose........it's one of the things I asked Santa for was a Dilferless 2008.
Chris, San Jose
Answer: Santa doesn't always bring everything we want. (Case in point: I'm still driving a '98 pick-up). It's obvious that Nolan LOVES Dilfer, so I would imagine that Dilfer's presence next year has a lot to with whether Nolan is still around. Yes, he does count quite a bit toward the cap, but the cap is so high next year that I'm not sure that would be a major consideration.
Question: If all the LBs are heathly next year, who starts?
Answer: Terrell Suggs, Lance Briggs, "Bam-Bam" Willis and Manny Lawson.
Question: Hi Matt- How come Nate Clements wasn't penalized for his drum beating celebration after his 62-yard interception return against the Bucs?
Answer: Dunno why the "bang the drum slowly" routine didn't draw a flag. You're not supposed to use props. Maybe it's because he didn't score and therefore it wasn't truly an end-zone celebration.
Question: Matt first of all Merry Christmas. Second how about a nickname for Patrick Willis "Radar"? Or maybe "The Terminator". I like the first one though. I will send you my address next e-mail so that you can send me my Sacbee shirt signed by you. Thanks.
Rodrigo, Morgan Hill
Answer: Radar? It's obvious you weren't around in the late 70s/early 80s or you would associate that nickname with Gary Berghoff, who is decidedly un-Willis-like.
Question: What is the rumor if the 49ers get the 6th pick or below that they are able to keep it for the NFL 2008 Draft instead of giving it to the Pats. Is this true?
David, Granite Bay
Answer: Who's spreading this rumor? McCloughan? It's a damn persistent one but IT'S NOT TRUE!! If that were the case, then every crappy team would give up their next-year's first rounder.
Question: Matt - I'm exhausted from the frustration of Nolan as our head-coach. I assume we will pursue (if Nolan/McCloughan stay put) Briggs in free agency in March - any other guys you've heard rumblings of? By the way, I caught a bit of the Browns/Bengals game, and Justin Smith was man-handling Joe Thomas (thank you tivo) - and I mean that in a football way. I would hope he would get some attention from the Niners this March as well. Thanks for the excellent blog and Q & A my friend...have a safe and happy holiday with your family!!!
Answer: Well, I know that McCloughan likes my guy, Chris Long of Virginia, and that Long compares favorably to Smith. Smith likely figures as a right defensive end in the team's 3-4 scheme. The 49ers might lose Marques Douglas this offseason but they're also very fond of Ray McDonald.
Question: I think you left out one name of the many you wrote is Marty Schottenheimer. Irregardless of his "playoff" record, this guy has been very successful everywhere he's gone, save one year with Washington. Marty ball for Niner ball 2008.
Answer: So we'd go from "Rollin' with Nolan" to "Party with Marty"?