49ers Blog and Q&A

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

March 16, 2008
Q&A: Doing the wide receiver shuffle

Question: Matt -- Not so much a question as an observation and would like your input on it. McCloughan said we wouldn't be hiring Martz, and then we did. McCloughan said that Jackson and Johnson would pair well together, and then we got rid of Jackson. Is Scot out of touch with the rest of the team or is it a power issue between Nolan and McCloughan, or is it all some covert plot in the hiring and firing of NFL players and coaches?
Bud, Auburn

Answer: I gotta tell you, Bud, the same thought crossed my mind when Jackson's release was announced. However, the answer could be that McCloughan and his staff merely are doing their jobs. That is, it's their responsibility to go to the coaching staff, i.e. Martz, and discuss personnel matters. If the coaching staff is decidedly against a player, there's no sense keeping him around. I don't know who concluded that Jackson shouldn't be part of the 49ers anymore, but Martz is very familiar with both him and Bryant Johnson from coaching against them in the NFC West.

One thing's for sure. Some of the deals that McCloughan was praised for in the past haven't panned out. They got two draft picks for Brandon Lloyd, but one of the players picked up from that deal, Brandon Williams, was a bust. (The other is Jay Moore). The 49ers also look silly for the Jackson deal, which looked like a steal last year. As April approaches, the Joe Staley deal also will get more scrutiny.
- Matt

Question: Did Jackson's release come early? I would have waited to training camp before cutting any wrs to see how they perform in Martz's offense. You can't judge the wrs by last year's performance because the whole offense was bad.
Teddy, Kenner, La.

Answer: The 49ers made the noble gesture of releasing Jackson early so that he has a chance to get up to speed with a new team. That kind of move earns them respect among the players. But I agree with your second point. If the 49ers are releasing Jackson because of a subpar season, they might as well fire the entire offense.
- Matt

Question: Who is the odd man out at WR? The intuitive response would be Ashley Lelie, but logically, out of all the receivers on the roster, Arnaz Battle's skills seem the most ill suited for Martz's offense. Although Lelie will probably never be a #1 receiver, if used correctly he has more value than Battle. For example, Battle's top attribute is his blocking, but this proficiency is negated when his lack of deep speed allows a safety to play in the box. Lelie's speed forces that safety to play out of the box, effectively occupying two men to Battle's one.
Terry, Davis

Answer: (Terry wrote this before the Darrell Jackson news but it's still an interesting question). One thing I've learned over the past five seasons: Never bet against Arnaz Battle. The guy is like a tick. You can't kill him. He's out-survived plenty of bigger-named receivers and I expect he'll do the same in 2008. As for Lelie ... If the 49ers are already cleaning house (see: jackson, Darrell) and haven't gotten rid of Lelie, who had a hard time satisfying the Gatekeeper last year, you only can conclude that Martz and co. think Lelie has potential in the offense.
- Matt

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Question: Hi Matt, first off, excellent blog - keep up the good work. Call this wishful thinking, but I haven't heard anything about B.Y. filing his retirement papers. Is there any chance that he could come back if the organization makes enough acquisitions for B.Y's liking? If he is done, I'm disappointed in the organization for not holding him a press conference. If Brett Favre had one, B.Y. needs one as well.
Ryan, Sacramento

Answer: Sorry, Ryan, the B.Y. retirement was official back in January. (I recall writing many, many, stories). Remember, B.Y. is as unassuming as they come. That was part of his allure - the lunch pail guy who showed up every day and who didn't need a lot of fanfare. You could say he was the anti-Favre in that regard. Therefore, B.Y.'s departure was subdued, especially when compared to Favre's befitting-a-fallen-head-of-state extravaganza. Holy smokes! The only thing that was missing was a funeral pyre.
- Matt

Question: With Mario Manningham's disappointing 40 yard time, do you think the 49ers will consider taking him with their 2nd round pick?
Dan, Edmonton

Answer: Yes, but they may also conclude that there are so many receivers of the same caliber in the draft that they can afford to wait until the third or fourth round. Also, Manningham ran much faster at his pro day - reportedly a 4.38 - and could be gone before the 49ers' second-round pick.
- Matt

Question: Hi Matt, I agree with your assessment that our OLB situation needs attending to. I think we'll be fine inside with Willis, Ulbrich and Thomas. But the outsiders are a mix of inexperience, injury concerns and disappointments. Is there anyone in this group you have confidence in? How high do you think we might draft an OLB? You mentioned Quentin Groves. Where do you think OLB stacks up against other needs?
Nick, Sydney

Answer: I think that now that free agency is petering out, pass rush has to be the 49ers' biggest concern. Sure they could use some o-line depth and another quality d-lineman. But their pass rush promises to be only marginally better than it was a year ago. The one guy I do like is Parys Haralson, who showed flashes last season and is a very powerful and hard-working guy. (He has arms like fence posts). However, he lacks the athleticism of an elite edge rusher.
- Matt

Question: At only 249 pounds Groves seems to be a bit light in the rear end. I realize the flu may have something to due with his weight, but then again it may be close to his natural weight. Seems to me that you would have to be at least 260 to be considered a legit 1st round pick at D.E. Your thoughts?
Ladae, Memphis

Answer: I think Groves' natural weight probably is around 255, which would be about right for a 3-4 OLB. Two of the better edge rushers over the years, Jason Taylor and Joey Porter, are in that range.
- Matt

Question: Aloha Matt! Do you see the Niners signing Spikes and if so, do you see him beating out the likes of Ulbrich, Moore, and Thomas for the starting job?
Robert, Anahola, Hi

Answer: I think it all rests on Spikes' physical. He tore his rotator cuff late last season. A guy with shoulder issues would have a hard time playing a position that requires him to crash into fullbacks and guards 20 times a game.
- Matt

Question: Did you notice how Brandon Moore was not mentioned in the players regarded as the team's best pass rushers by the GM? Again, Brandon has been very good in role for a couple of years. Was his lack of mention just an oversight?
Paul, Alameda

Answer: It may because the 49ers have Moore penciled in at Ted. If the 2006 Moore shows up, the inside LB position is set. If it's the 2007 Moore, he could be in trouble.
- Matt

Question: First of all, love the blog! Keep up the good work. As a UC Davis grad, it would be awesome to see JT get a shot to play for the 49ers. He used to light up defenses in college, but that was at the D2 level, back when his top receiver was 5'6". Does he really have the physical ability to compete at the NFL level?
Luke, Vacaville

Answer: I yield to Martz on this one. Martz insists O'Sullivan has the same hunger that Warner and Bulger had. He may purely be trying to ratchet up the competition level among the Niner QBs - and why not - but Martz also has a track record of choosing the underdog. I think J.T.'s chances are legit.
- Matt

Question: How far (2nd, 3rd, 4th round?) do you think Carl Nicks' stock will drop after his recent troubles? With him looking to drop, do you think the Niners are still keeping an eye on him to pick him up in a later round like Tarell Brown last year? Or is this a big enough issue that will cause McCloughan to stay away from?
Ryan, La Miranda

Answer: So bummed about Carl. It very well could be that the new Nebraska coach was trying to send a message to the Cornhuskers by making an example out of Nicks. Whatever the case, the 49ers will do their due diligence on him and if they conclude that it wasn't a big deal, I don't think Nicks will drop far. Maybe I'll just transpose my predictions: Trevor Laws in the first round, Carl Nicks in the second.
- Matt

Question: Matt, all of us diehard 49er fans appreciate your hard work and informative reporting. Keep up the good work! OK, a peek at the 2008 49er schedule doesn't give us much hope even with an improved offense. So, looks like Mike Nolan will be gone after the 2008 season. Which Mike will be our next coach? Will it be Holmgren, Singletary, or Martz?
Dennis, Elk Grove

Answer: The crystal ball is murky. Wait ... I'm starting to see something ... can't make out the 2009 coach's face, but I can tell you he answers to "Mike." (By the way, you might have to add Shanahan to that list by season's end).
- Matt

Question: "Dilfer already has dappled in broadcasting games." Dappled?? You mean 'dabbled.'
Gio, Oakland

Answer: I meant that the lights from the television cameras dappled Dilfer's face with shadows. Also, I did not have sex with that woman, there are lots of WMDs in Iraq and Roger Clemens, Marion Jones and Barry Bonds never took performance-enhancing drugs. Mission accomplished!
- Matt

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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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