49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 16, 2008
Q&A: Nolan's fate pondered

Nothing like a quarterback clusterfudge competition to fill up the question box. I literally had hundreds from which to choose and couldn't get to all of them. From the look of things, Texas is giving New Jersey a run for its money as far as out-of-state Qs. And this week, I got my first question from Finland. Take that, Maiocco! Remember, passable grammar and a little device called "spell check" increase your chances of being posted.

Question: So what do you think the chances are that if the 49ers start off the season losing their first few and looking exceptionally bad, Nolan gets axed and Martz promoted? Or put another way, what kind of losing record do you think it would take for the Yorks to pull the trigger during the season?
Todd, Houston

Answer: John York is a very methodical man, and I doubt he would make a decision midseason unless things are really bad. And yet ... more and more Jed York is taking over day-to-day operations of the team. Jed York has a younger man's patience and he has a stadium to build. That will be harder to accomplish if there's a perception that the team is going nowhere and the ownership is resistant to change. As for Martz, if things fall apart, it almost certainly will be because of the offense. (defense and special teams should be good). I'm not sure you can promote the OC in that scenario. Mike Singletary or Greg Manusky might be better choices. Of course, should J.T. O'Sullivan flourish, everyone in the 49ers' offices - from Nolan to the Yorks - will look like geniuses.
- Matt

Question: Your tri-state fan club continues to roll on here... Two quick questions -- and they're sincere, not sarcastic: First, JTO has been cast aside by eight (8) teams in six (6) seasons. What is your best guess as to what all eight of those teams (1/4th the NFL) missed about O'Sullivan that the 49ers think they've found in this presumed starter? Second, observing Martz for years as HC of the Rams indicates he has a fair ego... He's credited with taking Warner from stock boy to Pro Bowler. Is it possible there's just a "hint" of Martz's ego involved with JTO?
Mike, Montclair, N.J.

Answer: Re: Martz's ego ... I'd be lying if that thought hadn't been bandied about in the press trailer. The Mike Martz myth only grows more powerful (Martzism?) if O'Sullivan, heretofore an NFL unknown, is turned into a star. As for O'Sullivan, he's been a victim of circumstances in some spots (Green Bay, Minnesota.) And, as is written in today's Bee about O'Sullivan, it's hard to shake that journeyman label once it's placed on you. The fact that he's stuck around the league for six years is telling, too.
- Matt


Question: Hey Matt; If Aaron Rodgers takes the Packers to the playoffs this year, do you think Nolan & crew's decision to draft A. Smith instead of A. Rodgers will influence his future with the 49ers?
Jason, Las Vegas

Answer: I think Nolan's fate will be determined by how his own team fares this season. Under the same circumstances, it's very hard to imagine Rodgers (or any QB) ending up any better than Smith in San Francisco.
- Matt

flip flops.jpg

Question: Hi Matt, What do you think? What is Nolan's goal to say one thing (Qb rotation / competition) and act completely otherwise? It's happened several times during the camp.
Mike, Pori, Finland

Answer: Nolan's flip flopping is apparent as far away as Scandinavia ... It's a question I've asked myself many times. I think the answer is that Martz is handling the quarterback competition by feel and that he is making decisions on a day-to-day basis. That runs counter to the long-term plan Nolan set forth in July (Hill and Smith starting one preseason game apiece) and later the plan to give all three quarterbacks five first-string rotations in the final 15 practices. In hindsight, Nolan would have been better off saying that there was no concrete plan for repetitions, the competition might change from day to day and that it was Martz, not him, pulling the strings.
- Matt

Question: Hello, Matt. Love the Blog. How has Shaun Hill really looked out there? I was anticipating him having a real shot at the starting job and have been let down thus far (as Hill seems to be as well). He has shown the most poise and ability in the past few preseasons. What gives?
Mark, Oakland

Answer: I believe the thing that sunk Hill was his arm strength. He's excellent at short, touch passes and getting the offense into a nice flow. However, his downfield passes don't get downfield very quickly. And in a Martz offense, it's essential that they do.
- Matt

Question: Matt, how does THIS rookie class compare to last year's? What's your impression so far of each of the 49ers' top 3 draft picks: DL Kentwan Balmer, OG Chilo Rachal, & DB Reggie Smith?
Cody, Lafayette

Answer: Reggie Smith pretty much blended in during minicamps and OTAs. But he's recently been catching my eye in practice and he'll be an interesting guy to watch tonight. Balmer and Rachal have plenty of potential. But they may not start showing it until midseason or so.
- Matt

Question: Matt, love the blog, you're awesome! Considering JTO is now our starting QB, how long to you think he'll stay alive out there w/ the 49ers weak O Line? He didn't look too good against Oakland, and he also appears to be too slow in the pocket to avoid those hard hits that will be awaiting him.
Marc, Tempe, Ariz.

Answer: Good question. If JTO wins the starting job, Lord knows defensive coordinators will test him early with a wicked pass rush. The left side of the line wasn't too good against the Raiders and will need to shore itself up. One positive is that O'Sullivan makes decisions quickly and gets rid of the ball quickly.
- Matt

Question: Matt, Do you think that SF can play Zak Keasey at fullback this year? He seems too small, and not strong enough as a blocker or runner.
Clayton, Rancho Cordova

Answer: Nice observation. I bet Frank Gore, who is close to Moran Norris, is wondering the same thing. The bottom line is that it's too early to say yea or nay. But it's something to keep an eye on.
- Matt

Question: Hey Matt, love the blog. I watched the game Friday and Josh Morgan reminded me a lot of T.O. (otherwise known as team obliterator). The guy is big and can catch the ball in traffic. I was wondering if you saw the same thing on the practice field or if I was really that drunk Friday?
Larry, Lincoln

Answer: You weren't beer goggling, Larry. Morgan has been very, very impressive from a mental, physical and stamina standpoint since he got here. Owens is unique physically - I don't think Morgan, or anyone for that matter, is in his league. Two guys he reminds me of are Marques Colston and Reggie Wayne.
- Matt

Question: Do you believe Cam Colvin will make the final roster, and who do you think will be in our receiving corps?
Steve, San Antonio

Answer: I believe Colvin has a shot at the practice squad, not the final roster. The 49ers will have to choose between him and Dominique Zeigler for a spot on the practice squad. I think Zeigler is the better receiver right now. The question is whether the 49ers think Colvin has more potential. As far as the final group of receivers, I think it will look like this: Battle, Bruce, Hill, Johnson and Morgan. Who's missing?
- 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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