Mike Martz has been off limits to us this week, so there were no SpyGate questions lobbed his way. Martz apparently is on an every-other-week rotation as far as media availability, which has allowed him to avoid sensitive questions about his former team, the Lions, and about the 2001 Super Bowl. Funny how that works out. Ah, but Martz wasn't the only 49er who was on the Rams squad when Bill Belichick and the Patriots stifled St. Louis offense in Super Bowl XXXVI. Jamie Martin was a back-up quarterback at the time. Unfortunately (for me) Martin had no juicy theories.
"I don't think so," he said of the potential for cheating in that game. "I can't speak for anybody, but I didn't hear anything about it then. Actually, in year's following you kind of heard murmers, but I didn't think anything at the time. They did other things during the game where they were physical ... you know, they just had a game plan that was different than what we'd seen from them in the past. That's what I thought at the time."
For a couple of months now I've been thinking that Manny Lawson wasn't back to his pre-injury form. I remember Lawson toeing the line of scrimmage during the 2007 training camp and thinking that he looked like a panther pacing his cage. He was explosive and confident and poised for a break-out season. This year he's been more muted, and I guess that's to be expected from someone who suffered an ACL tear. There is both a physical and mental rehabilitation, and sometimes it takes more than a year to get back to form. I wrote a story about both Vernon Davis and Manny Lawson in today's Bee. Mike Nolan didn't exactly confirm my suspicions on Lawson but he didn't deny them, either.
Lawson (hamstring) is listed as doubtful in the injury report. Parys Haralson will take his place in the lineup, and Tully Banta-Cain will suit up for the first time. Banta-Cain said he'll be used on special teams and was available to enter the game at any of the linebacker spots if called upon. Banta-Cain said it's definitely dawned on him that his first opportunity of the season comes against his former team. "I couldn't have written it out any better," he said. Still, he said he's guarding against getting too amped up for the meeting. "Being able to put my pads back on on a Sunday is big, and the fact that it's the Patriots is gonna give it that much more meaning," he said. "I try not to look too far into it and think I've got to be super intense and get all uptight about it. I just have to go out, do my job and do what my team asks me to do."
Barrows is bumming. On the way home last night, me and my beloved pickup of 10 years were rear ended, and there's a good chance the old girl has been totaled. To add insult to injury, the offending vehicle was a crappy Suzuki Aerio. I didn't even know Suzuki made cars ... Anyway, I'm at Hertz today renting my new ride when I notice that the crew there is busy cleaning and polishing several high-end vehicles. Thinking that I might be getting the sparkling silver Audi outside, I'm told that that particular automobile is intended for someone else. Who? One William Belichick. The Patriots, of course, are spending a week in San Jose and several players are renting from the very same Hertz. Randy Moss, for example, will be in a particularly elegant Escalade. Matt Barrows will be in a Toyota Camry.
-- Matt Barrows