The 49ers have added a player to their roster .... but it's not Cincinnati receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Instead, they signed a player with nearly as hard a name to spell, LB Eric Bakhtiari, to the practice squad, which had an open space after Larry Birdine was released last week. Bakhtiari (6-3, 285) was originally signed by the San Diego Chargers as a rookie free agent out of San Diego University following the draft. He was on the Chargers' practice squad where he spent the first two weeks of the season.
Of course, Houshmandzadeh's name is the one on everyone's lips after a report in the Dayton Daily News said the 49ers were interested in trading for the prolific Bengals receiver. Each October the days get shorter, the leaves change colors and the 49ers are at the forefront of trade rumors. In 2006 it was Nate Clements. In 2007 it was Lance Briggs. What about Houshmandzadeh? True? False? ... Eh, it's probably somewhere in between.
The 49ers certainly would be interested. Who wouldn't? He perfectly fits their mold for big, physical receivers. But don't expect any trades for the main reason why there are hardly ever any trades - because Houshmandzadeh, an unrestricted free agent, will be available at the end of the season anyway. Trading now would require the 49ers to give up a player or draft picks. And without a long-term deal, there would be no guarantee the player would be around in 2009 and beyond.
The other reason the trade rumor seems a bit fishy is that receiver doesn't appear to be an area where the 49ers need help. The 49ers have three receivers - Arnaz Battle, Isaac Bruce and Bryant Johnson - ranked among the top 54 at their positions in terms of average receiving yards. Only three receivers have caught more touchdowns than Bruce's four. The 49ers also have a young receiver, Josh Morgan, of whom they think very highly. Morgan was coming on like gangbusters until his progress was derailed by a staph infection. Sure, the 49ers could lose Johnson, who also will be an unrestricted free agent at year's end, but an ideal replacement already is on the team.
Every month I'm sent a data report on how many people visit this blog. For September, the report included a state-by-state breakdown that I find really interesting. California, of course, represents a little more than half of all readers. The rest of the top 10 it would seem can be explained by the size of the state or the proximity to NorCal:
2. New York. Big state and there must be a lot of ex-pat Norcalers in NY, NY.
3. Washington. Sando lives outside Seattle.
4. Oregon. Because you can't smoke weed all the time.
5. Pennsylvania. Joe Montana fans?
6. New Jersey. Mike in Montclair, you're a mad man.
7. Virginia. Ma Barrows has been told to click 5,000 times a day or I'll have to move back home. Evidently, she does.
8. Florida. More popular than Jeb Bush.
9. Nevada. 49ers Blog and Q&A can be habit forming ...
10. Arizona. Cardinals fans spying on arch rival.
Now the bottom five:
4. South Dakota
1. North Dakota.
You probably want me to rip those states. I won't because they still outperformed Vermont, West Virginia (state motto: We don't trust them computer gizmos), Delaware, Rhode Island, Wyoming (Damn you, Cheney!!), Mississippi, Maine, New Hampshire and -- unbelievably -- Texas, none of which had a single click in September. Texas? According to the same report, Texas is second only to California in terms of Raiders readers. I get more clicks from New South Wales (522! Thanks, mates!) than I do the Lone Star State? I demand a recount ...
-- Matt Barrows