Question: Singletary has stated that he wants a team that can run at will. He has re-signed Moran Norris, they have listed Pat White on their website. Alex Smith has done well when healthy. Huard was signed so that they would have a second Quarterback for training camp not as a starter. Do you think that they will have Smith as their starting Quarterback this year with Hill as a backup, Sanchez third QB and Draft White exclusively for the Wildcat formation? Could they draft Sanchez and White both?
Answer: I don't think the 49ers would go into the season with four quarterbacks ... unless one of them is White, who could provide value on special teams and who would be dangerous as a Wildcat QB. But I also don't think White would be added if the 49ers went with a quarterback at No. 10. These are the scenarios I see going into the season:
1. Hill, Smith, Huard (White?)
2. Hill, Garcia, Huard, (White?)
3. Hill, Smith, rookie (White or other rookie)
4. Hill, Garcia, rookie. (White or other rookie)
Question: Hi Matt, is Balmer developing like McCloughan & Singletary envisioned, and what do you think we can realistically expect out of him in 09 and over the next few years? Obviously we'd like to see him contribute in a starting capacity. Is this a realistic expectation?
G.Parker, Auckland, Nzl
Answer: I see Balmer being a backup to Demetric Evans at the start of the season with the hope that he could supplant Evans by season's end. I don't see him moving to nose tackle.
Question: N.O. to T.O. Love it -- nice line. And I agree -- the man is a cancer to team unity. That said, just an observation: Eric Green. Brandon Jones. D. Evans... Just wondering -- is "John Smith" available? Is it just me, or are mediocre role players seemingly the order of the day for SF in FA? And since they're batting about .350 at best the last four years, uh, do they really think they already have enough "impact" players?
Mike, Montclair, N.J.
Answer: Every team overpays to land free agents, and the 49ers basically concluded that the free agents available this year - unlike the Nate Clements and Justin Smith years - were not worth their price tag. At some point, you have to trust that the players you drafted will step forward and become impact players. The 49ers seem to be reaching that crossroads - allowing Dashon Goldson to enter the season as a starter at free safety, sticking with Alex Smith, etc. Which is why the whole Kurt Warner saga was so baffling to me. Why would you place such a high value on a guy who already is talking about retirement and who is one hit away from doing just that?
Question: Barrows, what are your thoughts on the Niners going after Leftwich and giving him a shot to compete for the QB job?
Answer: It's noteworthy that the only place where Leftwich doesn't have a great reputation is Jacksonville. In fact, the majority of fans there insist he stinks. Leftwich has a nice arm, but he has mobility and accuracy issues. ... That being said, if the 49ers don't rework Alex Smith's contract, I can see them considering Leftwich. He and Smith have the same agent ...
Question: Hi Matt, love the blog. What do you think about the Niners picking up the other Cowboy that was just released, safety Roy Williams? Now, I know that he's more of a linebacker type safety rather than a ball hawk safety, but he would be an upgrade, right?
Answer: Well, his skill set would seem to make him a good fit at strong safety behind Michael Lewis. But you have to believe his price tag is too high for a back-up role...
Question: Matt, It's great that the 49ers added some depth on the D-line with Evans but I don't believe that the 49ers are done in FA. That being said it's shocking that the 49ers haven't acquired what they really need in FA & that is an OT, there so many out there. By shoring up that position it allows the 49ers more flexibility in the 1st round possibly moving down in the draft & acquiring more picks. Or honing in on a specific need like pass rusher (Orakpo) or WR (Maclin / Bey) Your thoughts Matt?
Answer: I'm a little surprised about OT, too. Their lack of interest at the position basically tells me they are confident they can land a good one in the draft. And if I can figure that out, Lord knows the other 31 teams can, too ... Also, are you worried that the name "Stoner Lab" might prompt a visit from the ATF?
Question: Torry Holt? I'll take that guy any day! He would be a great fit along with Isaac Bruce and would also work as a mentor for our young WRs J. Hill, Morgan and Zeigler.
If he hits the free agent market, he'll likely have lots of suitors around the league. Do you think the 49ers might look for a trade? Like offering a 4th round pick or maybe Shawntae Spencer (he lost space for Tarrel Brown last season)
Answer: This is always the conundrum when teams are shopping a player. Do you trade for that player and absorb the contract that made it so difficult for his other team to keep him? Or do you wait for his team to inevitably cut him? Doing that would allow you to craft a more palatable deal, but you'd also be competing with myriad other teams for his services. ...
Question: How do I find out who the Niners are playing in future years? For example, you said next time 49ers play the Bengals is in 2011.
Answer: Easy - you can do it in your head. The 49ers play one full division in the AFC every year. Last season, they played the AFC East. Because there are four divisions, it will be four years before the 49ers play the Jets, Pats, Dolphins and Bills again. They played the Bengals, Browns, Steelers and Ravens in 2007. So they won't play them until 2011. ... It's the same thing for the NFC, except that because there are only three other NFC divisions, the 49ers play a full division every three years. This season it will be the NFC North. The last time the 49ers played the North was 2006.