Question: Why is no one talking about taking a QB with the #29 pick? The Niners have the worst QBs in the league. The only teams with situations close to the Niners are the Falcons, Dolphins, and Ravens and all are talking about taking QBs in the first. So why is there no discussion about taking a QB, especially if Joe Flacco is there? QB is the most important position on the field, so tell me why QB does not seem to be priority #1. Why are the fans not looking for a QB?
Toby, Santa Clara
Answer: Well, no one's talking about a quarterback because the 49ers have made it clear that Alex Smith and Shaun Hill will be competing for the No. 1 spot. Drafting a quarterback in the first or second round (where Flacco would have to be taken) is tantamount to admitting that Smith is a bust. And while some fans have reached that conclusion, the 49ers have not. Another reason - Nolan has to win now. I think Flacco is going to be great, but I don't think he's going to be great in 2008. Like any rookie, he's going to take his lumps and would take many, many of them on a still-coalescing 49ers' offense. Finally, this is not a good year for quarterbacks. Some evaluators don't think there's a first rounder in the entire batch.
Question: It's good that we question the team's moves. Nolan and McCloughan maybe here for the short term as us fans are in it for the long run. When a coach is in the hot seat, does the way he approaches the draft change? Do they look for players to help win now, as opposed to finding guys with larger growth potential that can be the future of the organization? What's the latest on the stadium issue? Thanks.
Eric, Elk Grove
Answer: I think you can point to several areas - hiring Mike Martz, being heavily involved in free agency - that might be symptomatic of Nolan being on the hot seat. But as far as the draft, I think McCloughan will still go for the best player available. Remember, even if the 49ers cut ties with Nolan at season's end, McCloughan will stick around.
As for the stadium, Santa Clara will have a stadium measure on the November ballot. That certainly fits into the 49ers' timeline (they want to have it ready before the 2012 season) but I wonder if the high voter turnout expected in November will hurt their chances. Having lived in Santa Clara for four years, my sense is that the vast majority of residents are not 49ers fans or sports fans and would vote against using public money for a sports stadium. My guess is that the measure would fare better in a more obscure election when stadium backers could rally enough votes to push the measure through. But I'm no policy wonk. That's just my sense.
Question: I read that McCloughan wants Joe Staley to move to the left side of the line. Does this mean that Jonas Jennings will move to RT or does it just mean that Staley will switch to LG?
Answer: I think Staley and Jennings will battle for left tackle, that Staley will win the competition and that Jennings ultimately will play right tackle. I think Adam Snyder will play left guard.
Question: Just found this blog, most impressed. It seems to me that the Niners have the components of a successful line in place but have previously played them out of position. Jennings is more of a guard or RT, with Staley a more natural LT. Snyder has flip-flopped and needs to be allowed to settle at guard. Baas seemed to have finally settled in to RG by year's end. Would you agree with this summary? Can you think of any versatile (and available) veterans who might be able to compete for a spot?
Nick, Sydney, Australia
Answer: Yes, I think you're spot on in that assessment. As for available offensive linemen, there are many, many to be had at guard and center. A couple who have caught my eye are Alex Stepanovich, Rex Hadnot and Mike Flynn. I expect the 49ers to sign one or two low-profile interior linemen this month.
Question: Do you think that Martz will look to move Michael Robinson to WR?
Ernest, Maryville, Il.
Answer: I'm assuming you're asking because the 49ers picked up DeShaun Foster? I don't see Foster affecting Robinson's position. In fact, I think Robinson is so custom-made for a Mike Martz offense that he could beat out Foster for the No. 2 running-back position.
Question: Hi Matt, I was wondering if there were any Devin Hester type return specialists in this draft that the Niners might have an eye on. I think of Dexter Jackson but with his combine I am not sure he will be around on day two of the draft. I think working with a short field would really help Alex Smith out. Take a look at Grossman. Thanks.
Answer: Well, ECU running back Chris Johnson was a bullet at the scouting combine. He's probably the most Hester-like (see below). But the guy who could intrigue the 49ers is Va. Tech's Eddie Royal. He'll be a good return man right away and he could also help out in the receiving corps. He gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
Question: Matt, Takeo Spikes was just released from Philly. Is that someone who would fit in at the Ted spot?
Answer: Don't think the 49ers are interested. Not enough tread on the tires.
Question: Hi Matt - With Bryant Johnson still out on the market and the 49ers in desperate need of real wideouts, is he being considered at all? Or is he just too expensive? I haven't done much digging on the subject so I don't know what he and his agent are asking. I'd like to see him in scarlet and gold even if it takes a bit of cash. He's a pretty talented dude.
Dan, Harvest, Ala.
Answer: He's a guy I was watching all season because I felt he was the kind of big, physical receiver the 49ers were looking for. (He also had a nice game against SF last year). But if the 49ers ever had interest, they likely lost it when Martz, who has had his success with smaller, shiftier wideouts, arrived.. And they certainly aren't willing to pony up the kind of cash Johnson is seeking.
Question: I have a question hopefully someone can answer. In terms of comp picks, if K. Harris, Douglas, and Hicks sign elsewhere, wouldn't the Niners be in line to receive a comp pick? We are loosing 4 FA's and only gaining 3? Is that correct?
Answer: Yes, there should be some comp picks coming in April 2009. McCloughan seems to think the 49ers could net up to four picks. It seems to me that the maximum is three, but it's such a wacky formula that we won't know for sure until next season.
- Matt Barrows