Question: There is all this screaming about how we have to get a receiver through free agency. I see the advantages of Bruce but I am only lukewarm about getting a 35 year old receiver. Now everyone is crying for us to draft one. Since receivers typically take time to develop that may not help immediately but I can see we need another down the line. My questions are how does Hill figure into the mix and what can we expect from him this year? Is anyone out there in free agency or the draft that would help this season?
Answer: I think Hill is the real wildcard this year. If the 49ers don’t add any more receivers, I would guess the opening-day starters would be Bruce, Arnaz Battle and Darrell Jackson. A lot of people think Hill is in the mold of the receivers Martz has had success with in the past – Bruce, Holt, Curtis, McDonald, etc. In fact, at 205 pounds, he’s considerably larger. That size is a big reason why the 49ers drafted him last year – Nolan and McCloughan like big, physical receivers who can help out in the running game. It remains to be seen whether Martz can take that type of receiver and mold him to fit his offense. … As for receivers in the draft who can help this season, I personally think that Harry Douglas is a perfect Martz-type receiver who could be had in the third or fourth rounds.
Question: Hey Matt. Love your blog! Read it everyday. I was just wondering if we were done in the free agency market? And I am really curious why we haven't tried signing an offensive lineman? There are some good ones out there still (ex. Scott from Indy). Thank you for all your hard work!
Zac, Citrus Heights
Answer: Hey, Zac. Don’t expect any more big-named free agents. But I agree that they could still sign an o-lineman, especially an interior o-lineman who could offer depth but who doesn’t break the bank.
Question: As always, Matt, thanks for all your hard work in keeping us Niner fans updated on all news and transactions. I just had a question regarding the offense. I was wondering if Martz would have total control on who played and who would sit. I know in the past if a player fell out of favor with Nolan there was really no chance of even getting a hint of playing time for that player. The person I always think of is Lelie. I was also wondering if you had any word on Manny Lawson's rehab. Thanks.
Answer: Well, I think Lelie’s biggest roadblock was his position coach, Jerry Sullivan, whom Nolan holds in very high esteem. Martz, too, thinks the world of Sullivan but I don’t see him yielding to Sullivan if there’s a disagreement over which receivers will play. When it comes to 49ers offensive players, Martz is God. … As for Lawson, he is reportedly doing very well indeed. There is no doubt right now that he’ll be an opening-game starter.
- Matt Barrows
Question: Always good and detailed information in your articles and the blog, thank you. At this point in free agency, and with the draft next month, how do you see the O line shaping up? After last season, it just seemed our QBs were getting smashed up frequently, and our running game was off (for lot's of reasons) and that the lack of depth in O line had a lot to do with that. Just a little nervous as to where 49ers are at with O line at this point.
Tom, Elk Grove
Answer: Well, it’s a great question considering how important a stout o-line is to the Mike Martz’s passing game. With three and four receivers on the field, they won’t get a lot of help. Given the players on the roster at the moment, here’s how I expect the line to look in September (from left to right): Staley, Snyder, Heitmann, Baas, Jennings. As far as depth, you have Tony Wragge at guard and center and Damane Duckett at tackle. Tavares Washington also could potentially add some depth inside. By the start of the season, I expect the team to add one more guard and one more tackle (Nicks??).
Question: JSmith mentioned some new hybrid defense that presumably is neither a conventional 4-3 nor a conventional 3-4 . . . It can't be an "elephant" cuz 49ers have no Fred Dean or Charles Haley to play the "elephant". . . . There's been speculation 49ers will switch from Patriots' type, 2-gap 3-4 to a Manusky/Chargers' type, one gap 3-4, with one OLB sometimes moving to DE, making it 4-3 with JSmith as a small DT. . . . Can you explain what is going on, or perhaps ask the defensive coaches what is going on?
Answer: I think it will simply be a defense that frequently jumps from a 3-4 to a 4-3 – just like last season. I think the 49ers also were very happy with their two-linebacker, five-db alignment and will use that even more in 2008. They have a number of DBs (MLewis, Hudson, Strickland, Clements) who are excellent tacklers. Nolan wants his defense to be as chameleon-like as possible.
Question: It seems like Ray McDonald, Jay Moore, & Joe Cohen, whom we drafted last year, don't fit in the mix on defense. Do you agree? These players that we drafted don't seem to be thought of much as useful players on defense from an organization stand point. Do you hear much about them in the future plans or do you know much about them? To an outsider it seems like wasted picks. If they are thought of as being too light, then I don't see why they drafted them. Thanks.
Eric, Elk Grove
Answer: Well, Moore and Cohen had season-ending injuries right off the bat. McDonald got quite a bit of playing time as a third-down rusher. No, I think they figure into the team’s plans, although I believe Cohen will have a hard time making the 53-man roster this year. I do agree, however, that the 49ers need to be more willing to play their rookies than they’ve been in the past (See: Giants, New York).
Question: It is being reported that Favre will retire. Maybe we will finally get to see if Alex was the right choice over Rodgers?
Answer: Barring a playoff match-up, the next time the two teams play is 2009 in Green Bay. I will forever have a fondness for Brett Favre considering he (and Kurt Warner) led me to my first-ever Fantasy League title this past season. And, no, I don't plan on sharing my winnings with him ...
Question: I've been seeing a lot of mock drafts with the 49ers picking James Hardy WR out of Indiana U. The last highly touted WR we picked up at the end of the first round was a huge bust (Rashaun Woods). What is the likelihood that the 49ers will stay put and actually take a WR in the first round? If you don't see the 49ers picking Hardy who do you suppose they would take with that pick? Also any luck we might trade up?
Answer: Eh, Hardy is a junior receiver and the 49ers usually are wary of juniors. I think they can get a receiver who’s a very nice fit for Mike Martz’s offense in rounds three and four. I see them taking an O-lineman or a D-lineman in the first round. They also don’t have any extra selections this year, so I don’t see them trading up.
Question: Matt! Why the $%*# are we not jumping at the chance to sign Javon Walker? He is a far superior player, even with one leg, than both of our geriatric pickups at WR (namely Bruce and Stone Hands). Walker, if even at 80% gives us a legitimate chance at having a true #1 WR. Plus, we can sign him to an incentive laden contract that is reasonable under the cap. Any news?
Answer: What’s worse – a receiver with bad hands or one with bad knees? The 49ers certainly aren’t going to get into a bidding war over a wideout who’s played 1 ½ seasons in the last three years.
Question: Do you think there's a possibility that the 9ers will draft two WRs on Day 1 of the draft?
Chris, El Cerrito
Answer: No. Especially because the first day of the draft now means Rounds one and two. But I’d still say, no, if it were Rounds one through three …