Mike Singletary/Scot McCloughan Combine press conference open thread

According to the 49ers.com Goal Posts Blog, 49ers head coach Mike Singletary is supposed to be conducting a press conference at the NFL Combine around 11:30am pacific.  The NFL Network is airing press conferences beginning at 11:30, so if you get the channel check it out.  Additionally, nfl.com is supposedly streaming some of this stuff online at nfl.com, possible at their NFL Network page.  I'm going to be away from my computer and tv at 11:30, so if you find a link please post it in the comments for folks who don't get the NFL Network.

For those that missed it earlier (including myself), Coach Singletary and GM Scot McCloughan were on Sirius radio discussing the team.  Matt Barrows put up a brief rundown of the various comments.  Barrows said they "just stepped down from the podium," which could mean the NFL Network will simply be re-airing this later today (as opposed to showing something live).  Either way check that one out too.

While there wasn't a ton of new information to come from these interviews, there were a few nuggets that I thought I'd specifically draw out:

Tony Pashos
The 49ers apparently feel optimistic that he'll return to the team, even with OL coach Chris Foerster moving on to Washington.  I have to say, I'd be quite pleased if the team could retain him.  I still want an offensive tackle early in the draft, but if you can create a competitive situation (beyond just competing against Adam Snyder), you put your team in a position to succeed.  Maybe your rookie offensive tackle can't win the job right away, but that might be in the short and long-term interests of your team.  Pashos will be 30 at the beginning of this upcoming season, so you still want to look towards the future in the draft.  However, when healthy, Tony Pashos is a very solid option.  It might come down to whether Pashos thinks he has a better chance of starting here or in Washington.

Free agency and contract extensions
McCloughan mentioned that even in an uncapped year the 49ers would operate as if there was a cap.  I know right off the bat that some folks will argue this shows that the 49ers remain a cheap team.  However, while it'd be nice to throw money at every free agent out there, a team does have to show some measure of fiscal sanity.

More importantly, and McCloughan addressed this, you have to consider your own bright young stars first.  He stated that while the 49ers would obviously be interested in a guy like Dunta Robinson (if he hit free agency), the team's priority was to re-sign their own players (particularly Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis and Dashon Goldson).  This certainly makes me at least a little more optimistic about the potential for these guys to get new deals this offseason.

General Draft stuff
McCloughan had some comments about CJ Spiller and Earl Thomas.  He mentioned the team could certainly be interested in Spiller, particularly given his special teams ability.  As for Thomas, he seemed to indicate the 49ers would not be all that interested because they like bigger guys in the secondary.  Of course, given the games personnel folks play, that could just be a smokescreen.  Maybe it's the truth, but you can often struggle to separate the facts from the BS.  And conceivably the team could draft Thomas in two months and just say that while he's small, there's something else they liked about him.  So who really knows.

Alex Smith
And because we can't go a day without some reason to discuss the QB position, Coach Singletary seemed to give Alex Smith a bit more of an endorsement today: "I feel very good about saying that Alex Smith is our starter going into next season."  So, take that however you want to.

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