Question: Can you explain why this tampering crap is such a big deal and why Goodell is punishing the 49ers so much? The way I see it -- if two teams are discussing a trade then the 49ers have to talk to Briggs about a new contract. No one is going to trade for a player with a one year deal. And why doesn't he go after all the other teams doing this like the Dolphins with Justin Smiley? It's not like Briggs could have just played for the 49ers, the Bears still have to trade him.
Answer: Well, that’s the piece of the puzzle that isn’t fitting for me, either. If the reports are correct and the Bears and 49ers were deep into trade negotiations over Briggs, then it would be absurd if the 49ers DIDN’T approach Drew Rosenhaus. Something’s missing. Whoever gets Rosenhaus to talk will get the true scoop on this story. I keep seeing that Rosenhaus had no involvement in the inquiry. If that’s true (and I have a hard time believing it is) I find that ludicrous. He’s the only one who could provide an unbiased account of what really happened! … As for Smiley, I think the 49ers would come off looking awfully petulant if they filed a grievance. The team had resigned itself to losing Smiley pretty early on. It’s not as if the Dolphins snapped up a guy the 49ers truly wanted to keep.
Question: I understand why the Niners were punished but why would the Bears get something (elevated pick) as they weren't harmed at all. Does this promote more snitching?
Answer: Totally agree. Everyone thought Briggs was going to be the marquee name on the free-agent market, that he would be the subject of a bidding war, that he would command a massive contract. Turns out he got very little attention and the Bears retained him with what turned out to be their original offer. A conspiracy theorist might suggest this was the Bears’ plan all along – to cause such a fuss over Briggs that any team that courted him would be marked with a scarlet letter “T” (Tampering). That seems awfully calculating, but then again, that’s how it appears to have worked out.
Question: The Niners should be getting some extra picks for losing free agents, do you know what rounds they would be getting those picks in? How much do you think the loss of a 5th round pick is?
Jeremy, Midenhall, UK
Answer: Remember, those picks will come in 2009 not 2008. And they are determined by some crazy, secret formula that involves playing time in 2008. In other words, it’s to be determined. … I think the loss of a fifth is a big deal for a team that is still very much in rebuilding mode. Yes, Rasheed Marshall was a fifth rounder, but so was Merton Hanks. Keep an eye on whom the Ravens (No. 8 overall) pick in the fifth. That’s the 49ers’ pick. Correction. The Ravens lost their fifth rounder when they picked up tackle Jared Gaither in the supplemental draft. That means the team that will pick in the 49ers' former spot is ... wait for it, wait for it ... the hated Chicago Bears! Oh, the bitter irony!
Question: Matt, the 49ers need an outside linebacker who can rush the passer, an offensive right tackle, another wide receiver, preferably a slot receiver, and a defensive lineman who can play nose tackle as well as base defensive end. How do you see the team’s relative needs and is there an obvious order in which to take them in the draft?
Answer: I think the needs go like this: OLB, OT, DL, WR, ILB. The draft, however, is deepest at OT, CB and WR. The order the 49ers will choose, however, is BPA.
Question: Any information on off-season work by Vernon Davis to learn to read the defense, run a precise route, catch the ball -then use his mega-athleticism to make the great run after catch? 49er success this season on offense could use the reliable "check" to the tight end, No? How is Manny Lawson's rehab going? Love reading your blog!
Answer: No word, but my guess is that Davis is working as hard as anyone on the team. He has a real desire to be great. He’s not motivated by money, which is more than I can say for some players. He’ll be one of the guys I’ll be watching closely this offseason because I’m curious how someone as creative as Mike Martz will use him. … Lawson, meanwhile, is rehabilitating very well from his ACL injury. Should be at full strength for training camp.
Question: I was wondering what your thoughts are regarding Jason Hill. He seems to have the talent and speed to become a number one receiver. How long do you think it will take him to develop into a polished weapon for the 49ers offense? Most of the great receivers started to produce in their first and second years in the league. Do you think if he stays healthy this year he will start? Thanks!
Jason, El Dorado Hills
Answer: Isaac Bruce aside, Hill seems like the most tailor-made receiver for Martz’s offense. He has the right physical tools. However, he must prove to Martz that he can get off the line of scrimmage quickly and cleanly, and that he can run precise routes. Staying healthy also would help his cause. I’m looking forward to seeing more action out of him this season …
Question: With all the talk of "who's going to be the starting quarterback this season" and with Alex Smith on the last year of his contract do you see the 49ers possibly taking one in the 3rd or 4th round. I personally think John David Booty has potential to be a good QB in this league, do you think he could fall that far?
Scott, Rushville, Ill.
Answer: I don’t think they’ll draft a quarterback, but if they did, Booty or perhaps Tennessee’s Eric Ainge would be the guy they go after. I’d say the fourth round is about right for those guys.
Question: Hey Matt, Assuming that Quentin Groves is gone by pick 29, do you see the Niners trading that 1st rounder to try and acquire Jared Allen? I remember the rumors about him wanting to play in SF earlier and he is a legit pass rush threat opposite Justin Smith.
Then maybe go Trevor Laws in the 2nd and the conversion to the 4-3 is complete (pause for evil laugh)
Ben, Mountain View
Answer: Ben, you’re an evil genius! However, the 49ers would rather run a 3-4 than a 4-3 and they would be in the same boat as the Chiefs – struggling to work out a long-term deal with Allen.
Question: Hey Matt, First of all, really enjoy your work. It's nice to be able to get all my Niner info over here on the east coast. Thanks for helping that happen. Second, I was wondering if any 49ers personnel attended UGA's pro day. I'd be really happy to see Marcus Howard get picked up by the Niners in the middle rounds. He seems like a good fit at WLB (speedy, undersized, pass-rushing DE), but I don't hear his name mentioned much. Any thoughts?
R, Athens, Ga.
Answer: I guarantee at least one Niner scout was on hand for the UGA pro day. As for Howard, I haven’t heard anything. However, the 49ers love guys from the SEC and love to convert college DL’s into NFL LBs. Howard doesn’t have great size but his combine numbers were impressive.
Question: Hey Matt, nice work. As a fan of Mike Nolan's transparency, I'd like to see the management exercise some patience in him turning what was a plainly awful team three years ago into a contender. I realize that's not the way the NFL usually works, but it seems we are finally accumulating the kind of talent required to compete. What do you think would be the 'minimum' achievement necessary for Nolan to retain his job?
b) Competitive week in week out.
c) Offense ranked 20th or better and defense ranked 10th or better.
Answer: That’s a very good question, Nick. To their credit, the Yorks seemed to understand that the team overachieved somewhat in 2006. That leads me to believe they are aware of just how poor the 49ers were when Nolan took over. However, you have to think that four years is enough time to begin at least raising the ship off the bottom of the sea floor. I’m sure the Yorks don’t have any precise parameters in mind. But they will need to be convinced that progress is taking place.