49ers Blog and Q&A

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

February 14, 2009
Q&A: The axe man cometh

Question: Hey, Matt -- it seems like we are beginning to trim the fat off the team. Who else do you foresee getting the axe? And any news, on who we are going after first in FA?
Adrian, Oviedo, Fla.

Answer: Well, Jonas Jennings promises to be released due to his grandiose salary and his penchant for shoulder injuries. But considering that most of the other expendable players are all destined for free agency, the 49ers probably don't have to axe anyone else. As for possible targets in free agency, remember this is a team that lost a draft pick for tampering last year, so the 49ers are being extra careful not to talk about players currently under contract with other teams. Still, one can piece together the clues ... They're looking at a free safety. They're looking at right tackles. They're looking at fullbacks. And they're looking at QBs.
- Matt


Question: Love the blog, and this might be a little crazy, but since Manny Lawson isn't turning out to be a pass rusher at all, could you see him moving to safety? He could be a very good strong safety that can cover and come up and give help in the box. Thanks.
Steve, Merced

Answer: I would not have entertained this notion, but three - THREE! - different readers asked about it this week. Lawson might be the tallest free safety in history of the game. Yes, he's got great speed and flexibility. And yes, he's adept at keeping pace with tight ends and dropping into zone coverage. But I think he'd struggle with the Larry Fitzgeralds, Steve Smiths and other quality receivers of the world. ... Don't give up on Lawson. He definitely was not 100 percent this past season. I remember him in the summer of 2007 being an entirely different player. He looked like he was sprung from a slingshot on every snap. If he returns to that form - and the 49ers are expecting he will - no one will be talking about him moving to another spot. The best 3-4 defenses always are deep in outside linebackers. If the 49ers have: Parys Harlason, a healthy Lawson, an Ahmad Brooks whom Mike Singletary snaps into focus and a rookie, well, that seems to be a pretty good group.
- Matt

Question: Hey matt, love the blog I read it all the time. Just wanted to ask if you think the niners will go after JT Houshmandzadeh in free agency?
Eric, Whittier, Ca

Answer: Wow, you nailed the spelling of his last name but blew his first. That's like sinking a half-court shot but missing the lay-up. ...Like I wrote earlier this week, T.J. Houshmandzadeh seems to perfectly fit what GM Scot McCloughan wants in a receiver - big, physical, sure hands, can block downfield. The questions are how much Houshmandzadeh benefited from Chad Johnson and Carson Palmer in Cincinnati, and whether he can be a No. 1-type player on another team. I don't think the 49ers would be willing to pay No. 1-type money if they think he's just a very, very good No. 2.
- Matt

Question: Matt, what are your thoughts on Karlos Dansby staying in the NFC West, but wearing a diff. color red....along with some Gold on it? I thought of the possibility after reading AB83's thread on 49erswebzone about the team possibly being 30m under the cap next year.
Rod, San Jose

Answer: The 49ers always have held two Cardinals defenders, Dansby and safety Adrian Wilson, in high esteem. The problem is that every other team holds Dansby in high esteem, too, meaning there would be plenty of competition. You would also have to wonder whether Dansby would want to play second fiddle to Patrick Willis. All that being said, a Willis-Dansby inside linebacking corps would be pretty special.
- Matt

Question: What do you think of the WR from Cal Poly? He's big seem very athletic, I saw him make a nice one-handed grab in the NCAA challenge this past week. What round does he project? What is the chance the 49er's can get him? Would they want him?
Scott, Elk Grove

Answer: As with any tall, long-striding wideouts, the question with Ramses Barden is, can he get separation from defensive backs?. Keep an eye on his 40 time in Indy. Anything in the low 4.5 range will be good for him. That being said, Barden has excellent hands and he's a good leaper. If nothing else, he would be an excellent red-zone target early on in his career. I spent some time with him in Mobile last month. He's smart and charismatic. He reminds me of Keyshawn Johnson without the suffocating me-first attitude. NFL Draft Scout has him as the 15th-best receiver and projects him going in the fourth round.
- Matt

Question: How do you feel Shawntae Spencer's return will boost the secondary?
Nick, Boston

Answer: The old adage is, you can never be too rich, too good-looking or have too many cornerbacks. Still, I wonder if Tarell Brown hasn't surpassed Spencer as the No. 3 CB on the team.
- Matt

Question: Hi Matt. Is Balmer looking like a bust?
Peter, Halifax

Answer: I never use the 'b' word after one season. Ask me again in December. ... What's Halifax like in February?

Question: Hi Matt. When do you think we'll see the 49ers in London?
Simon, London

Answer: Great question. I would love to go to London for a game. However, it seems that the league is more apt to allow eastern teams - shorter flight - that opportunity. Also, the 49ers recently played an international game in Mexico City and probably aren't atop the international list.
- Matt

Question: What exactly is " Ashley Lelie-ishness? " He's a sissy?
Fred, Harter

Answer: Ashley Lelie-ishness. Noun. Having substantial straight-ahead speed and nothing else. Being limited to a deep-threat only. Though the boy displayed great Ashlie Lelie-ishness at the onset, the wolves eventually ran him down and devoured him.
- Matt

Question: Matt -- I assume you've seen the commercial where LeBron signs with the Cleveland Browns? Just for fun...(hey, it's the off-season): you're McSing and you're told you have to sign and use one player from the Warriors. Who is he, and where do you play him?
Mike, Montclair, NJ

Answer: I sign Corey Maggette, feed him nothing but chunky peanut butter sandwiches for four months and make him watch highlight films of DeMarcus Ware a la Malcolm McDowell in Clockwork Orange. Then I show him this video and tell him that this never happens in football ...

- 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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