Question: Do you think it is less likely that the 49ers draft a WR in the first round because of the depth at the position in the draft and because there aren't that many picks between the 49ers first and second round choice? Do you see the 49ers drafting a NT in the draft? Thank you.
Brett, Moscow, ID
Answer: It's going to depend on two things - what some of these junior receivers, such as James Hardy or Mario Manningham, do at the combine and, of course, whether the 49ers pluck a receiver in free agency. If they land Bernard Berrian, for example, they might feel content drafting Virginia Tech receiver Josh Morgan (or someone of that caliber) in the fifth round. Nose tackles are always hard to find. After the Senior Bowl, I'm wondering whether Notre Dame's Trevor Laws could play the position. He doesn't have the size (6-1, 297) of the typical NT but he was a handful all week. It should be noted that the NT Mike Nolan raves about all the time, Baltimore's Kelly Gregg, is similarly proportioned.
Question: Hey Matt, first off, thanks for all the work you do. Do you know if the Niners are even looking at Jordy Nelson? He seems perfect -- speedy, smart receiver with great hands and concentration (Martz), big, strong, total football player who used to play safety, grew up on a farm (Nolan), and he's a successful returner with amazing field vision (see also: YAC). No one seems to be buzzing about him at all, so he could be a great mid round pick up.
Answer: I can't say either way whether the 49ers are looking hard at Nelson. What I can say is that he did create some buzz at the Senior Bowl. He seemed to catch everything that was thrown in his direction. If there was one receiver who, to me at least, really seemed like a Mike Martz kind of receiver it was Louisville's Harry Douglas. He's cat-quick and creative after the catch. He reminds me of some of the other receivers Martz has drafted in years past, such as Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald.
Question: First of all thank you for your coverage -- it's not easy for me getting good info up here in seahawk land. I've been reading different articles here and they're basically saying we do not have a Martz type receiver. My question is couldn't a healthy Jason Hill be capable?
Answer: Absolutely. I think of all the receivers on the roster, Hill might have Martz salivating the most. He's quick and willing to go over the middle. Now if he can only stay healthy ...
Question: I can't watch the Senior Bowl and, as a Niner fan, I am interested in the performance of two players. How did Dexter Jackson and Kendall Langford do?
Answer: Langford, a 6-5, 275 pound DE from Hampton, made perhaps the defensive play of the game when, on fourth down late in the game, he reached out with one arm and yanked back Cal running back Justin Forsett just as he was about to get a game-clinching first down. The play set up the South's game-winning drive. If Langford were to be drafted by the 49ers he projects as a right defensive end. Jackson, meanwhile, arrived late in the week after Early Doucet and Limas Sweed went down with injuries. The Appalachian State WR looked good in practices but didn't have a lot of opportunities in the game.
Question: As a 49ers and Cal Bears fan, how interested are the 9ers in WR's Hawkins, Jackson, and even Jordan? These past few years, it has been all about Jackson and his blazing speed and moves, but I just see him as the next Dante Hall. Am I right? (I still wouldn't mind having him though.) But this season, I've watched Hawkins come out of nowhere and make big play after big play. I think he has all the tools the 9ers need in a WR. Overall, where do you think this trio is projected to go in the draft?
Chris, El Cerrito
Answer: Well, if Hawkins wasn't on teams' radar screens before the Senior Bowl, he certainly is now. He had a great week and probably made himself a ton of money. He's not as blazing fast as Jackson but showed very good hands and excellent body control. Who gets drafted first among the two? I think if Jackson puts up the type of 40 time people expect him to, he'll go ahead of Hawkins even though Hawkins is the better all-around receiver at this point. The thinking is that Hawkins will be a very solid receiver but that Jackson, because of his rare speed, has a chance to be a star. I have to admit, I don't know much about Jordan.
Question: Before the last televised USC game you listed a Samoan linebacker from USC to watch out for. I thought he looked great in the game but I do not see him listed on anybodies LB ratings. Is he coming out this year? What is his name?
Michael, San Jose
Answer: Ray Maualuga. He pulled a Leinart and decided to return for his senior year at USC. It's puzzling because he might have been the top-rated ILB if he had come out. It's a weak year at the position.
Question: Hypothetically, if Nolan rounds out the offensive staff as you describe, out of that group of coaches, does Nolan see a potential successor to Martz? Considering Nolan is on his fourth offensive coordinator in as many years, having a successor in place has to be in the back of his mind. Tollner has the experience, but does not want the workload. Gase's diverse football background is intriguing, although a coordinator position at this stage of his career is premature.
Answer: That's something I asked Nolan when he was still doing the interviews. I figure there's a good chance Martz will be gone next January no matter whether he does well (offered a head-coach job) or does poorly (gets canned). Nolan said he was thinking about that possibility but said that the chemistry of the coaching staff was paramount. As you know, Martz is familiar with Tollner, Sullivan and Warhop and has worked with Gase and Montgomery in the past.
Question: Hi Matt, You didn't mention offensive tackle in your 49er needs for the draft. Personally I think either K. Harris or Jonas Jennings is talented enough to be adequate at right tackle but they both bring too much baggage to succeed here. So is it your thinking that the 49ers believe Duckett is the guy?
Answer: I think Duckett will be the guy who pushes the starter. I think that starter ultimately will be Jonas Jennings. Remember, Mike Nolan (who isn't exactly Jennings' biggest supporter) doesn't have final say on personnel matters anymore, Scot McCloughan does. McCloughan likely will look at the depth at the position and conclude they need Jennings around this year.
Question: Hey Matt, love the Star Wars analogies. Berrian's name keeps coming up at WR. I'm in love with the idea that we will go after Briggs AND Suggs. What about Alan Faneca? Putting him next to Staley sounds like the obvious choice as far as solidifying an offensive line that gave up 55 sacks on a team that desperately needs improvement out of it's young Qb's to have any shot next year? He is the only ALL PRO out there, which makes him the BEST guy on the free agent market.
Answer: Faneca would be a nice addition, and I agree that he'd make an excellent pairing with Staley. The problem is that Faneca's trying to shoot the moon with his next contract and the 49ers simply don't want to pay a bundle for a guard.
Question: I read (with hope, joy and optimism) your blurb that it appears". . . the Niners don't want Dilfer back..." Let us all pray that is the 'gospel.' Other than the fact that he is absolutely the worst starting QB I've seen, he's seems to be an OK spokesperson. Would love to get your take on the demeanor and technique's exhibited thus far by Martz as a teacher/communicator at the Senior Bowl.
Answer: I think it's safe to say that Dilfer won't be back with the 49ers. The question is whether he retires altogether. Dilfer is an ultra competitive guy (He got into a practice-field fight with a rookie cornerback this year for Pete's sake) but his recent concussion should be a clear-as-a-bell sign from above that he should quit. As for Martz, I would characterize him as very demanding and very detailed. I think Alex Smith will be reminded very much of Urban Meyer. Martz doesn't want to be your friend; he wants to push you to be your best.
Question: One of the few good things to come out of the St. Louis area is Panera Bread (called St. Louis Bread Company in the STL Metro area.) They just opened one up the street from me. I could live off their Sierra turkey dipped in Broccoli Cheddar soup. I think you just helped me make up my mind concerning lunch.
Joel, St. Louis
Answer: Panera should pay me for all the free advertising I've given them this week. A month's supply of broccoli-cheddar soup ought to do it ...