Question: How can you say that choosing an offensive coordinator is not one of Nolan's strong suits? Although talent prevented outstanding on-field performance, Nolan's first two OCs were so good that they were plucked for HC jobs. So far all evidence points to Nolan being 3 for 4 in choosing OCs, and his one failure came following a February departure by Turner when the coaching market had already been harvested by 31 other teams.
Mike, San Francisco
Answer: You're right, Mike. A bit unfair. But what also has been unfair is how far Nolan has tossed Jim Hostler under the bus. Nolan repeatedly has pointed to the offense as the reason why the 49ers got off track last season. He has repeatedly said that in hindsight Hostler wasn't ready for the job. Remember, when Turner left, Nolan was picking from three candidates - Hostler and two, more experienced coaches, Jerry Sullivan and Pete Hoener. If Nolan picked a guy who wasn't ready, shouldn't he get part of the blame?
Question: Hi Matt, awesome bit about Coach Nolan and Afghanistan. Anyway, it was an interesting point you brought up about the balancing act of keeping the potential QB on edge but not push him over it. I don't necessarily see this as a problem, if one of your QBs cracks under the pressure because he's afraid of the guy nipping at his heals, well than how will that QB fare when an incoming blitzer is rushing in to tear him apart? Darwinism will decide the winner and the most resilient, the other, rightfully will be relegated to the bench.
Answer: Well, you've summed up Mike Nolan's "On the Origin of Competition" perfectly. Ideally, that's how it will work out - one of the quarterbacks will be steeled by this competition and will perform better because of it. My concern is that the starter will inevitably falter at some point and that the team will seesaw between two (or more) QBs throughout the year.
Question: Hi Matt: I've been a Niner fan all my life. The way you talk, it sounds pretty bleak. And indeed, from what I see it looks bleak. It does'nt look like anything is going to change in the foreseeable future, until ownership, or coaches change. What do you think?
Answer: First of all, please pardon me if I've sounded bleak lately. That's not how I feel about the upcoming season. I'm really, really curious and excited to see what Mike Martz does with this offense. Everything about him - from the amount of info he gives his players to the play calling itself - is aggressive, and that has been something the 49ers' offense definitely has lacked in recent years. (See: caution, umbrella of). I certainly can understand why fans might be hesitant to jump on the bandwagon this year, especially considering what happened last season on "The Unwatchables." But I believe there's too much talent for this team to go 5-11 again.
Question: Since the whole future of the 49ers depends on Alex Smith and Mike Nolan, how soon can we expect to see their exits if the team does not make the playoffs this year? Concerning Alex Smith, is he a case of being too smart and analytical and not being spontaneous enough? I never can understand why Alex Smith does not run the ball 8-10 times a game to at least keep the chains moving. And I am coming to the conclusion that he can not read NFL defenses.
Al, West Sacramento
Answer: A few replies. 1. Judging from the Yorks' past decisions, I believe Nolan's and Smith's futures depend on improvement not necessarily playoffs. 2. If the 49ers struggle again, Nolan likely will be gone, but Smith likely will not. One guy who is sure to stay is Scot McCloughan, and McCloughan is a Smith backer. 3. If Smith's problems were summed up quickly, yes, they would be that he's too analytical and not instinctual enough. But let's give him one more injury-free season before we toss him to the wolves. The guy looked pretty good during OTAs.
Question: Matt - Jay Moore was supposedly looking good last year before his injury. How's his recovery and is he still in the mix?
Thanks a bunch, Matt!
Chris, Simi Valley
Answer: Moore's injury is behind him, and he was practicing behind Manny Lawson in the spring. From what I saw, he looked good. But his true progress will be determined in training camp and in preseason games.