49ers Blog and Q&A

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

October 4, 2008
Q&A: It's raining, so get out your umbrellas of caution

First a little housekeeping. The 49ers waived DE/LB Larry Birdine from the practice squad. Birdine had taken the place of DE/LB Louis Holmes. The 49ers appear to be seeking a diamond in the rough at the position, and so far have just found the rough. Also, it seems I have offended Toyota Camry owners. It's a fine autombile, very practical. But how can I be content with a Camry knowing Belichick is driving the car of my dreams? Belichick!!! (to be said, fists waving, like, "Khan!!!!")

Question: "The Umbrella of Caution," something we've grown to know... and hate. I was making dinner and started thinking about Singletary, and his comment regarding the '85 Bears on America's Game. Paraphrased, "This was a group destined to bring pressure." I began thinking of the "great" defenses throughout history, and they all did one thing well: pressure the QB. Seems Nolan would rather protect against the big play, rather than bring heat and go for the bigger reward. Ironically, it seems to be blowing up in his face. Regardless of the offense, could the so far sub-par defense seal Nolan's fate? Joel, St. Louis

Answer: Well, I think you've hit the nail on the head. Nolan would rather have all his defenders in coverage preventing the big play than having them get after the quarterback and make a big play. And that certainly fits his UOC philosophy of the past four years. So far the defensive statistics suggest the 49ers are as good or even slightly worse than last year's unit, which is counterintuitive considering the leap the offense has made. But it's only been four games, and one of those games - New Orleans - is skewing the stats. We'll take another long, hard look after eight. ... Why did making dinner make you think about the '85 Bears? Ah, you were using the 'Fridge ...
- Matt

Question: Hey Matt, do you see or hear anything about Nolan possibly actually adapting mid game or mid season to some changes that we desperately need to see in order to win? We obviously need to generate more pressure on defense, which would be helped by an actual creative 3-4, we need a change at FS (Reggie Smith, anyone?) and need some serious help on the o line (Baas, Rachal waiting in the wings. What do you suggest and what do you see being changed?
Bobby, Westwood, Ca.

Answer: The "change" I would suggest is merely returning to the 3-4 defense. That scheme would allow the 49ers to be more aggressive and more creative. Outside linebackers Parys Haralson and Rod Green have five sacks between them, and yet they haven't played all that much. Your best sack masters ought to be on the field.
- Matt

Question: Hey Matt, Love your work. I was wondering what has happened to V. Davis? He is supposed to be their best offensive athlete and he is nonexistent. Your tight end, like your running back, is supposed to be a safe outlet when the pressure is coming. Does Martz know how to utilize this weapon? Why after Davis caught his one pass Sunday did he get put on the bench? What do you think?
Andy, Sacramento

Answer: The reason why Vernon Davis wasn't utilized more in the passing game in New Orleans is because the Saints defensive line was whupping up on the 49ers' o-line and they needed Davis' help in pass protection. Which means that not much has changed for Davis who complained - rightly so - last year that he had become more of an o-lineman than a receiver. But Davis deserves blame, too. He's let some potential big plays clang off his fingers. Martz's offense calls for precision, and Davis hasn't mastered that yet.
- Matt

Question: Mr. Barrows, Is there any injury update on Jennings's shoulder injury? Any hope to see him back anytime soon? I'm surprise that we're 17 days from the injury now and there hasn't been any injury update. After seeing Sims been destroyed by Grant I wouldn't mind to see Jennings coming back. He's injury prone, he's not perfect, but i think his probably the best OL we have when healthy.
Lionel, Saint Paul des Landes, France

Answer: Bonjour! The reason there hasn't been an update is because Nolan's new stance on injuries is to say as little as possible. However, I did have a brief chat with Jennings (I followed him from one end of the locker room to the other while he made his escape) and he seemed to indicate in so many words that he'll avoid surgery and is day-to-day. I'd look for him to return in the next two weeks.
- Matt

Question: Hi Matt, Always curious about this one... "Too Tall" Jones at 6'9" used to be the game's best kick blocker. Now one of the best is Langston Walker at 6'8". If someone can consistently block kicks, that would be one of the most valuable players on a team. So why not sign a 7+ footer to be a specialist? Nothing would get by Manute Bol, Shawn Bradley, Check Nevitt or Mark Eaton. Seriously. Wouldn't this work? If the 49ers can afford to keep 10 DBs, there must be room for a specialist like this. Dave, Budva, Montenegro

Answer: There's an ongoing debate in the 49ers' press trailer about why the Sharks just don't sign a 1,000-pound man, dress him in pads and a mask and have him fill up the goal mouth. .. . but I digress. ... 1. Too Tall Jones and Walker were and are valuable players whose primary role was/is not blocking kicks. Kick blocking was merely a bonus. 2. A kick blocker would need to be on to the line of scrimmage to be effective and most of the guys you mentioned would be absolutely crushed in the pits. But if they stood back I'm not sure they would be tall enough to reach the ball. 3. Some of the DBs and WRs in the league can leap 40 inches. That would give a six-foot player at least as good a reach as a 7-plus footer, who has no other value. 4.. You mentioned the 49ers' abundance of DBs. True, many of them are inactive for the game. But they serve a purpose in practice during the week running the scout team and allowing starters (Walt Harris) to rest. What would Manute Bol do aside from the five minutes or so that the 49ers practice field goals?
- Matt

Question: Matt- You have a great blog here and I like the way you correct other people's grammar and facts. I just want to hold you to the same standard (or maybe just be a pain). "House of the Rising Sun" was actually covered by the Animals. It was originally recorded by Bob Dylan, but the origins of the song are uncertain.
Sam, New York, NY

Answer: I'm Tangled up in Blue over this. Thanks for setting me straight!
- Matt



MATTHEW BARROWS

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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