Thanks to everyone who submitted questions to my Twitter account @mattbarrows. Here are some of the ones that appeared to be common themes:
Assuming Sing gets fired, top three realistic candidates for HC? -- @Kurtz49
A: When the 49ers last embarked on a coaching search - the one which ended with Mike Nolan - they could not realistically have landed a whopper of a candidate. Their talent level was just too poor, about the same as an expansion team's. This year, any prospective coach would look at the 49ers' talent pool and see many, many more possibilities. In short, none of the big names would be scared off by a rebuilding project. Geography could erase one big name, Bill Cowher, from the list. He went to school at NC State, he lives in North Carolina now and he has daughters in college on the east coast, including in North Carolina. A betting man might say he'd land the Carolina job.
For the 49ers:
1.) Jon Gruden. He's sharp, he's proven, he's offensive-minded, he's got Super Bowl credentials, he's got a nice reputation in the Bay Area, he runs the West Coast offense, he's coached in San Francisco before. Gruden meets just about every criterion the 49ers should have if they go looking for a head coach. He has to be at the top of the list.
2.) Jim Harbaugh. When you're talking about college coaches, you have to wonder about a rocky transition to the NFL. (Thanks, Bobby Petrino). However, that concern is lessened in Harbaugh considering his NFL ties, considering how well his brother has done in Baltimore, considering how quickly he turned around Stanford's program and considering what Pete Carroll has done with a more dubious situation in Seattle. Hire Harbaugh and the NFC West suddenly becomes interesting again.
3.) Brian Billick. This is an admittedly selfish choice because, gee, it sure would be nice to cover a coach who loves to talk and isn't afraid of the media. Billick also has San Francisco ties, is offensive minded, would mesh well with the current offensive players and drafted the one quarterback, Troy Smith, who is most likely to be on next year's roster.
If the Niners where to fire Mike Singletary, who on the current staff would replace him? -- @jrodriguez
A: There are a number of options. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky would be the most natural and most likely candidate. D-line coach Jim Tomsula was the head coach of the Rhein Fire in 2006 and he certainly has the big, booming personality to take over the team. Pete Hoener, Jerry Sullivan and Mike Solari also command respect at their positions and could handle the job.
Should the 49ers try to keep Trent Baalke around? -- @Terrynce
A: I speak with Baalke every now and then, and each time I do, I'm impressed by what I hear. He realized upon taking over the personnel department that the 49ers had become too one-note on offense. He's the one who brought in Ted Ginn to add some speed. He's the one who added Brian Westbrook to give the running game more versatility. The 49ers have the necessary personnel to field something different on offense. It's the coaching staff that went with the same mule-headed approach. Will Baalke stick around? I don't know the answer to that. A big-name guy like Gruden might want to bring in his own personnel staff. Somebody like Harbaugh might want final say on personnel decisions - like Nolan in 2005 - but would work hand in hand with Baalke and Tom Gamble.
Do you think the 49ers trade up in the upcoming draft for Andrew Luck? -- @MarlonGLopez
A: When the 49ers had No. 1 pick in 2005 they tried - desperately - to trade down. No team would bite because A.) There wasn't a player in that particular draft they deemed worthy of that pick and B.) Even if there were, the cost of signing a No. 1 pick was so exorbitant. This year, there's a very good chance there will be a rookie salary cap, which will make those high-draft-pick contracts far more palatable. So, to answer your question, I don't think teams will be as willing to trade away that top pick as they were in recent years. .... Then again, if the season ended today, the 49ers would have the No. 5 draft pick with Carolina, Detroit, Cincinnati and Buffalo picking ahead of them. Each of those teams either has a young QB prospect or an established one (Cincinnati). That is, either they pass on a QB or they might be willing to make a deal.
Why start G Chilo Rachal if he can't hold his own? -- @FUEGO_305
A: It's become one of life's mysteries along with "Who shot Kennedy?" "Why do bad things happen to good people?" and "What exactly is Jimmy Fallon's appeal?" I asked Singletary almost that exact question yesterday. Here's his answer:
"I think, as the coaching staff, when we look at it, we have to make the final decision from week to week. This is the business where you're trying to win football games. Chilo is not playing just because we like him; just because he's the only guy we can put there. He's playing because we feel he gives us the best chance to win. Does he have breakdowns? Yes. You just have to continue to get better."
The short answer is that Mike Solari must think Rachal is better than Adam Snyder.
Who has a better chance of being around next year, Alex Smith, Troy Smith or Nate Davis? -- @stevegrossie
A: Assuming a coaching change, I'd put them in this order: Troy Smith, David Carr, Nate Davis, Alex Smith. There's a good chance Troy Smith will be a restricted free agent and thus easy to retain. Carr is under contract, is a true professional and probably would be part of any quarterback competition. Davis is a young prospect who, at the very least, would intrigue an incoming coach. Smith will be an unrestricted free agent who would be best served going elsewhere. Many Niners fans have turned the page on him, but my sense is that he'd be a hot free-agent commodity for teams looking for a dependable No. 2.
Does it seem that after this game a number of players made comments that were thinly veiled references to being out-coached? -- @kasparhausers
A: Yes, and the coaches' answers were thinly veiled references that the players messed up. It's like me saying, "My editor put a lousy headline on this story but because it's got my byline on it, it's on me."
-- Matt Barrows