Question: Why does Shaun Hill not get the respect he deserves? His numbers are solid and he puts up wins. The 49ers brass seems to ignore this guy and keep talking about Alex Smith and his "potential."
Dan, Edmonton, AB
Answer: Here's the answer in two words: arm strength. There's a fear in the organization that Hill's arm is so limited that defenses will be able to stack the line of scrimmage and stuff the offense the 49ers plan to run. Deep passes will be part of the 2009 offense and the 49ers will need to hit them to open up the running game (Frank Gore) and short passing game (Vernon Davis). That being said, I truly believe that Alex Smith - assuming he reworks his contract - will have to clearly beat Hill to be the starter. Mike Singletary is not someone who plays politics and makes decisions based on potential.
Question: I just read another report by the AP that the 49ers are still interested in Vick. PLEASE tell me this isn't true. He is (or was) a great athlete but I didn't ever think he was a great QB. Most importantly though, do we really want someone so lacking in character on our team. I would rather lose every game next season than see Vick on the 49ers.
Answer: Like some midnight ghoul that rises from the grave, the Michael Vick story refuses to die. The 49ers have issued a blanket statement that they are not interested in Vick. Singletary, however, continues to give quotes that, while not endorsements of Vick, keep the story alive.
Question: Matt: There is news today that Michael Crabtree has a stress fracture in his foot and won't run for teams before the draft. Does that mean he could fall to the 49ers? Please say yes!
Answer: I know two things: The 49ers would snag Crabtree at pick No. 10; He will not fall to pick No. 10. There's plenty of tape out there that shows Crabtree as a legitimate Top 5 pick. I think it's more likely that another highly rated player, OT Andre Smith, falls to No. 10.
Question: The Raiders just cut Gibril Wilson. I know they said they weren't likely to pick up a safety in free agency, but he's pretty good.
Answer: He's definitely on the 49ers' radar. The fact that he's from San Jose only helps the process.
Question: I just saw that Sean Jones will not be signed by Cleveland--you think that is someone the 49ers would go after?
Ben, Walnut Creek
Answer: Jones played strong safety at Cleveland and the 49ers' biggest need is at free safety. I don't know if that's a deal breaker. Jones certainly has shown good ball skills in the past.
Question: Mike Singletary seems to be taking a bit of a beating in the national media because he was never a coordinator, isn't much of an "X and O" type guy. They see him more of a motivator, a rah-rah guy and that won't cut it in today's NFL. Do you think this criticism is warranted? It seems to me the moves he made strategically at the end of the year paid off (switching to Hill, going to the 3-4, reining in Martz etc). And how did "X and O" coach Mike Nolan pan out anyway?
Mac, Qinhuangdao, China
Answer: Well, you answered the question yourself: Sometimes coaches who excel in scheme can lose the forest for the Xs and Os. And you're right, every "scheme" decision Singletary seemed to make last year was a good one.
Question: Hi Matt, with successful running teams like the Giants and Titans have a more thunder and lightning attack in their backfield. What do you foresee the Niners doing about their personnel in the backfield. Do they go with a bruiser or a real serious home run threat to complement Gore? I was also wondering if there are any potential Chris Johnson type RB's in this years draft. Thanks Matt!
Ron, Walla Walla, Wa.
Answer: The kid from Wyoming, Devin Moore, ran a blistering 40 time in his private workout this week. The 49ers, however, seem to be intent on landing a thumper between 215 and 230 pounds.
Question: If SF acquires Vick, could it also swing deals for Plaxico and Rae Carruth as Vick's new WRs? Perhaps it could also bring in Denny McClain as CFO to watch over the books? And I hear Lawrence Phillips has some tread left on the ol' tires... Since SF reportedly has a PR role open, maybe Larry could fill that role? So what is it, Matt -- is Jed just young, or did he get bad PR advice about sending up a trial balloon about Vick?
Mike, Montclair, NJ
Answer: They could also hire Bernie Madoff to manage the salary cap. ... One problem is they don't currently have a PR director, having fired their top guy in January ...
Question: Matt--Thanks again for all the insight and hard work. When we talk about 49ers strengths, Joe Staley is always included. I don't get to actually see many games here in Utah, so I just see stats. He allowed quite a few sacks last year (8.5 I believe). Are those sacks misleading due to the Martz system and JTO holding onto the ball too long? Just curious if LT is really not a position that might deserve some improvement. Thanks!
Eric, Springville, UT
Answer: I think that Staley, along with the rest of the line, played a lot better once Singletary eliminated those seven-step drops. Remember, he had an excellent game against Joey Porter in Miami. At the combine, Scot McCloughan said that the 49ers have the luxury of moving Staley back to right tackle if they draft someone they feel is better at left. That's looking less and less likely, however. Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe seem to be solidifying themselves as the top two left tackles in the draft. Andre Smith is slipping, but if he fell to the 49ers at pick No. 10, he would appear to be an ideal right tackle.
Question: I know we need a fullback and Leonard Weaver seems a great fit. But I think he won't get any better than he is. Is there any guy in the draft with huge potential to be a lead blocker-short yardage back and can be picked in later rounds?
Rodrigo, Rio de Janeiro
Answer: LSU's Quinn Johnson looked awfully good at the Senior Bowl. Maybe the 49ers sign Tony Richardson as a FA and draft Johnson as the heir apparent.
Question: Hi Matt: All the talk about the need for a free safety. Last year the 49ers drafted Reggie Smith in the third round. They played him at CB but he never got onto the active roster. Many of the draft pundits had him at FS, some as high as the #2 FS in last year's draft. Why haven't the '9ers considered him at FS? Seems like his size and lack of CB speed would make him a logical candidate for FS. Might they consider that move? When they drafted him I liked the pick, but at FS not at CB.
Answer: I don't know the answer to this. McCloughan seemed to say that the 49ers' starting free safety for 2009 is already on the team. Who was he thinking of? He was probably envisioning a host of players battling for the job. Dunno if Smith is one of them, but he certainly didn't make a big impression at cornerback last year.