49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 31, 2008
Q&A: McCloughan drafts praised, panned

Question: How is that, yet again, we have no starters from any of our 1-3 draft picks this year? Take a cold, hard analytical look at the drafts of McNolan and I think maybe Scot M is also over-rated. Why do we draft players only to move them to a position they have not played since high school (Robinson, Staley, Walker and others that are no longer with the team)? For such a poor team the lack of immediate help with their 1-3 round picks for the last three years is a disaster and thus leading to a dependence on free agency.
Chris, San Jose

Answer: It's hard to torch McCloughan's picks when you consider that Patrick Willis and Joe Staley were two of only three rookies league wide to play every snap this past season. I do agree that the 49ers have relied more on free agency than they claim to. On defense, Willis, Ray McDonald and Manny Lawson are the only starters drafted by the current regime. And your point about switching positions (Staley?) is well-taken, too. The only player who has made a successful switch is Delanie Walker, and even his successes have been modest.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hi Matt. Is it fair to say one big winner in this training camp is Scot McCloughan? I know he would have preferred Alex to win the QB race, but for the first time his late-round draft choices (Morgan, McDonald, Goldson, Keasey) are looking good. I've always felt they previously looked good only in comparison to other Niners, but now they are looking like they can outplay good teams. It looks like McCloughan has built a team with good depth. Take care.
Peter, Halifax, N.S.

Answer: I think it's hard to look too good when the player you drafted No. 1 overall is barely hanging on to a second-string position. I do agree, though, that Morgan, McDonald and Goldson are looking good, though I wish the coaching staff would allow Goldson to show off his play-making skills. Keasey was a FA pickup, not a draft pick but still can be credited to McCloughan.
- Matt

Question: Greetings, Matt. I'm a little concerned (okay, very concerned) about our O line. We all knew sooner than later Jennings was going to stub a toe and finish the season on IR. Sims might be able to fill the void when need be, but now Snyder is out due to a high ankle sprain, who knows how effective he'll be when he comes back, he sure wasn't too impressive when 100% healthy. Can Brain De-La-Puente be the future there (he looked good in the 3rd preseason game) or will they have to move Wragge and Bass around a little?
Marc, Tempe, Ariz.

Answer: I think the opening-day line will look like this: RT Jennings, RG Wragge, C Heitmann, LG Baas, LT Staley. Maybe I'm wrong and Snyder plays LG. Or maybe Wragge moves to LG and Baas goes to RG. Whichever way, I think Wragge is a starter ...
- Matt

Question: Hey Matt- Why is it so controversial among you media types when Nolan said O'Sullivan's play was better than any QB play the last 3 years (Nolan's infantile backtracking on that statement is another story)? I guess as journalists you probably never caught on to the transitive property in elementary school. Let's review - Smith has been the starter the last 3 years - he lost his job because O'Sullivan played better. Thus, O'Sullivan's play is better than the QB play the last 3 years. Nolan was stating the obvious, not taking a jab at Smith. Why is that controversial?
Erik, San Francisco

Answer: It's controversial because it's entirely different than what Nolan's been saying for the past 25 days or so. We media types tend to pick up on contradictions like that.
- Matt

Question: Hey Matt this is a two parter. It seems that Nolan has taken another shot/swipe at Alex Smith again do you think he'll be back for his final season next year even if the team improves? And since all indications are that A.Smith might be gone next year will we address the QB situation via the draft and who do you think we may target?
Adrian, Oviedo, FL

Answer: If the 49ers do poorly, Nolan's gone. And if they do well, I believe the Yorks will be in a real pickle. Their improvement certainly will be due to the offense, and if Mike Martz can work a miracle in San Francisco he'll be considered for a head coaching job. The Yorks will have to ask themselves, do we promote Martz over Nolan (which, you have to admit, would be a tough call) or do we risk having a SEVENTH offensive coordinator in SEVEN years? ... If Martz sticks around, I don't see the team using a high pick on a QB. That's not Martz's m.o. ...
- Matt

Question: Matt -- A question about the O'Sullivan / Smith decision: During your time covering the 49ers, can you ever remember this amount of venom being spewed by fans -- even at one another? The feelings towards Nolan right now appear to be bordering on pathological... (It's almost to the point where you're safer at a Raiders' game than on a Niner blog or board these days.) A lot of heat around this, to be sure.
Mike, Montclair

Answer: I hear you, and it sort of makes me throw up in my mouth. Why should NinerLover411 care what Willis4Prez! thinks about his opinion? Why would you attack someone who doesn't exist! These aliases also allow people to be more vicious than they'd be if they put their real names behind their comments.
- Mudslinger49

Question: Tucson John again! Matt, I read anything and everything I can about our boys during the off-season, and am glued to my computer during the pre-season looking for every bit of info I can get. Thus, I'm super happy I found your blog! Now, from everything I've read, I sense a totally different vibe surrounding the team this year than from the previous 5 or 6. A certain swagger that's been missing. Is it visible in the players actions, both on and off the field, and by the tone of their voices when they talk? How so? Give us hope!
John, Tucson

Answer: John, it's the mirror opposite of last season when the swagger from May, June, July and August started to disappear when the 49ers struggled mightily in the preseason. This year, the team was unsure of itself until it started to see what the offense was capable of in that Green Bay game. A good sign, in my opinion.
- Matt

Question: Matt -- I was reading back on the last week's blogs, and I ran across this from you: "I made this analogy yesterday: Alex Smith is like the Democratic party. You think they're right, you root for them, but they frustrate the hell out of you by being too mild mannered ... " I enjoy your stuff, but it's best to keep politics out of sports. First, half the country doesn't share your views, and yeah, that mild-mannered Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton are real peaches. Please spare us!
Mike, Vacaville

Answer: Sorry to bring up politics, but it wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement of the Democratic party. My political stance is so straight down the center that you could balance on egg on it and it wouldn't fall either way. If there was a "Center Party," I would be president of the San Jose chapter. My favorite non-49er? Larry Centers. But the way things stand now I think there needs to be a couple of hard tugs to the left to get back to the center ...
- Matt

Question: Are there sports bars or lounges in Sacramento that cater especially to 49er fans for watching 49er games on TV?
Charles, Sacramento

Answer: I used to watch games at a bar on Arden, but dunno if it still exists. (I've lived in the San Jose area since 2003). Anyone have a suggestion for Charles?
- Matt

Question: Can someone please tell me what the J T stands for in O'Sullivan's name...?
Joe, Sacramento

Answer: John Thomas.
- 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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