49ers Blog and Q&A

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

May 31, 2008
Q&A: Slow and steady wins the QB race

Question: With the starting QB question far from over, why isn't Nolan trying harder to instill in someone that they've got what it takes (and tell that to the team and the rest of the world)? I think it could get ugly, and honestly, if I were Mike Martz, I'd want a say in who's under center rather than the circus that the '9ers QB situation has been. It's not just Nolan's butt that's on the line.
Justin, Manteca

Answer: Nolan's got a delicate situation on his hands when it comes to quarterback. When Shaun Hill came in last year, he won over a lot of the offensive players. If Nolan gives the job outright to Smith, he risks alienating those who think Hill should have a shot. But he can't give the job outright to Hill either. Hill got his chance due to injuries (to Smith and Trent Dilfer.) A starter like Smith shouldn't lose his job because he was injured. In an ideal situation, one of the three quarterbacks will be so head and shoulders above the rest that there is no doubt - and no grumbling - about whom the starter should be. I have no doubt that Martz will have a big (the biggest?) say on who wins the job. His reputation as a quarterback guru ought to give the team even more faith that the right player has been chosen.
- Matt

Question: I just found this blog and it's awesome. You do a great job! We all know what Isaac Bruce can do, but what about Bryant Johnson what will he bring to the Niners offense this year, and what's up with Ashley Lelie? Does he look to play a bigger role on offense this year?
Jason, Roseville.

Answer: Welcome aboard, Jason. I personally think that Johnson will lead the 49ers wide receivers this season. (Gore might have more receptions; VD more TDs). He's finally out of the shadow of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and wants to prove his worth to the league. The fact that he signed a one-year contract only bolsters his motivation. As for Lelie, remember that he started to get into the good graces of position coach Jerry Sullivan last year. The fact that Lelie - and not Darrell Jackson - is still around shows that the staff has faith that he can be productive in Martz's offense.
- Matt

Question: When Nolan refers to guard as log-jammed position, what is he talking about? From last years guards Allen is retired, Smiley's in Miami and Baas is disabled, Snyder was primarily a tackle, Wragge, after a number of years, is undistinguished. Nolan seems to think there is a ton of talented guys fighting for the jobs but I'm at a loss to think of who I'm missing. All the Rachal move tells me is somebody doesn't have faith in Jennings or Duckett.
Tom, Sacramento

Answer: Well, Nolan didn't call it log jammed, I did. And I said there is less of a log jam at tackle than at guard. Yes, Baas is currently injured. But he's the long-term answer at right guard. Adam Snyder is the long-term answer at left guard. Tony Wragge can play either position, as can Eric Heitmann. Cody Wallace can back up at center. At tackle, Joe Staley is the long-term answer at left tackle but is Jonas Jennings the long-term solution on the right? And you have no proven back-ups. Which is to say, the 49ers are far-better covered on the interior of the line than the exterior.
- Matt

Question: Are the 49ers any closer off getting Takeo Spikes or anybody?
Paul, Santa Clara

Answer: The ball is in Takeo's court. He's taking a wait-and-see approach.
- Matt

Question: If you had to handicap Joe Cohen and Melvin Oliver's chances of making the 53-man roster, what would they be?
Jeff, Fletcher, NC

Answer: Not great. I figure they'll keep six defensive linemen and that those six will be LDE: Isaac Sopoaga and Kentwan Balmer; NT: Aubrayo Franklin and Ronald Fields; RDE Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. And don't forget, Atiyyah Ellison could be worked into the mix, too. Cohen is a candidate for the practice squad. Oliver isn't practice-squad eligible because he played in all 16 games as a rookie.
- Matt

Question: Not sure if this has been asked before or not.. So lets say the Niners go 14-2 and have the 4rth ranked Offense.. Alot of people say that with Martz, Nolan saves his job (If we win) but how would the Yorks look at it? I mean Martz is a winning head coach, Nolan even with a winning record this year still wouldnt have a Winning record overall.. Would the Yorks still keep Nolan? Even with a Winning Head Coach at OC? It Happened in STL. Rams got rid of Vermeil, to keep Martz.. So they wouldnt lose their Offense
Levi, Tracy

Answer: Dear Tracy Fire & Rescue: Please be advised that there is a gas leak somewhere in your area. Symptoms include random capitalization and illusions of grandeur. Please respond immediately.
- Matt

Question: Do you think the 49ers will pick any players after the June 1st cuts? Also what current 49er players may fall victim to a possible June 1st cut? Thanks for your time and keep up the good work.
Adam, Dallas

Answer: The first of June has lost its luster in the NFL. It used to be that teams that released a player after June 1 could spread the bonus money owed over two seasons. Nowadays, however, the salary cap is so high that fewer teams are bumping up against it. And besides, the CBA allows teams to designate up to two players as post-June 1 cuts even if they are cut earlier in the year.
- Matt


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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