49ers Blog and Q&A

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

May 9, 2009
Q&A: Brooks, Williams interesting case studies

As you may have noticed, Barrows is taking a little blog break. I've actually been in Hawaii (what recession? What pay decrease?) since Tuesday. You might assume that means I'll be relaxed and energized upon my return. Not so. The childhood friends I'm staying with don't realize Barrows has become half man/ half sloth in his old age. We've been going non-stop - basketball, golf, spearfishing - and my body, amorphously shaped by watching "30 Rock" reruns and NHL playoffs while supine on a sofa, is beginning to revolt. I feel like I've tumbled down a hill inside a metal trash can while Manny Ramirez whacks it from the outside. I need a vacation from my vacation, which is why I'm writing this post ...

During slow periods, I typically lean on the Q&A portion of this blog. Alas, that function isn't working correctly as it has been inundated with thousands upon thousands of spam e-mails offering me everything from cheap prescription meds to girls with thick thighs. (No, but thanks for asking.) That issue should soon be cleared up. In the meantime, here are some Qs I imagine you're asking ...

Question: Matt - love the blog, bro. Which players are you most interested in watching this offseason?
Kyle, Tupelo, Ms

Answer: Two players with similar pasts - Ahmad Brooks and Jimmy Williams. Both have off-the-chart talent, but have been hurt by off-the-field issues and lack of motivation. I'm wondering if the Mike Singletary magic will work on these guys. If it does, and Singletary can get Brooks and Williams to realize their potential, then the 49ers suddenly have excellent depth at OLB, where they are thin, and at strong safety where Michael Lewis isn't getting any younger. It also might embolden Singletary to take chances on other so-called high-risk players ...
- Matt

Question: Matt, you got everyone all jazzed up about a possible trade for Julius Peppers and then nothing happens? What the hell, dude?
- Ronald, Oakland

Answer: Patience, Ronald. Patience. I don't imagine anything would happen too soon. The Panthers and Peppers are currently engaged in a staring contest. Those situations typically don't get resolved until training camp at the earliest. If the Panthers end up blinking and look to trade Peppers, the 49ers have as much ammunition as any team to make a deal. That's all I was saying in the original post ...
- Matt

Question: The 49ers used a third-round pick last year on Reggie Smith so he could be their press cornerback of the future. So why the heck is he playing strong safety?
J.D., Falls Church, Va.

Answer: It's a great question. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky recently said that Smith was playing safety in order to get a good understanding of the defense and that it didn't preclude a return to cornerback. In my mind, however, it's not good when a team moves a player from the position at which they originally drafted him. It's like an offensive lineman who is drafted as a tackle and moved to guard. (Gallery's Law). As far as a move from cornerback to safety, there have been some past successes. Ronnie Lott comes to mind. But there have been even more failures. Mike Rumph comes to mind.
- Matt

Question: Matt, you showed tremendous clairvoyance in your pre-draft predictions. Can you use your special ability to predict which rookie will surprise people this year?
Charlotte, Boston

Answer: Well, if I said I thought Michael Crabtree would be good, that wouldn't be much of a surprise. So I'll go with the team's final draft pick, Ricky Jean-Francois. RJF played right defensive end exclusively in the recent rookie minicamp. With Ray McDonald recovering from ACL surgery, RJF promises to see plenty of repetitions this summer and has a golden opportunity to earn a spot on the team and to perhaps Wally-Pipp McDonald for the role of back-up right defensive end.
- 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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