49ers Blog and Q&A

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

May 19, 2014
Q&A: Who might the 49ers dangle as offseason trade bait?

Answ: To me, these questions are related. The 49ers have two starting-caliber nose tackles in Glenn Dorsey and Ian Williams but only use a nose tackle on about 40 percent of their defensive plays. Furthermore, Quinton Dial has played the position in the past and may get some repetitions there this offseason. If Trent Baalke wants more draft picks for next season - and Baalke always wants more picks - it would seem like this position could fetch a nice price and that Williams would be the likeliest to be dangled. In fact, the entire defensive line is deep, especially on a team that uses only two at a time on obvious passing downs.

Answ: Do you mean, "Are the 49ers at risk of losing Hunter to free agency in March?" That's possible. But as is the case in all questions about the future of the running back spot, the 49ers still don't know exactly what they have in Marcus Lattimore. If Lattimore looks like the second coming of Roger Craig this year, it may make the team less apt to strike a long-term deal with Hunter. Still, I think the running back pecking order, at least for the first half of the season, will begin with Frank Gore and Hunter.

Answ: My guess is that he spells Justin Smith and possibly platoons with Smith on passing downs.

Answ: The 49ers have been saying all offseason that they are comfortable with Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver being the starting cornerbacks. The wildcard in my mind is Eric Wright, who has been a good-to-very good starter in the past, who appears to be putting his off-the-field-issues behind him and who will have a full offseason in the 49ers organization this year. Also something to keep in mind: If Jim Harbaugh is the quarterback whisperer, Ed Donatell is the cornerback whisperer. Neither Tarell Brown nor Brock had been full-time starters prior to Donatell's arrival, and Carlos Rogers had his finest seasons here, too. Yes, a lot of that has to do with the team's fine front seven defenders, but the coaching also is top notch. That is, any one of the cornerbacks is capable of making a leap this year.

Answ: Remember, Johnson already has been beaten out by Scott Tolzien, who is no longer on the team. Of course, McLeod Bethel-Thompson also was bumped for Tolzien and McBLT is back on the roster. So you never know what' going on in Jim's medulla.

Answ: If the Cowboys send three receivers into the huddle to begin the Week 1 game, then Jimmie Ward could begin the season as a starter.

Answ: Hello, security? I'd like someone removed from this Q&A, pronto. Bring pepper spray.

Answ: Maiocco once brought cupcakes for his classmates on his sixth birthday. Apparently, it was a traumatic experience because that type of largesse hasn't occurred since.

-- Matt Barrows

* While these were all good questions, there wasn't a "top" question. Thus, the 2014 gold Hyundai Excel will carry over to the next Q&A session.


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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