#Channel 49 Twitter Q&A, Wk 6: 49ers-Cardinals, Josh Gordon, Secondary & More

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

This week, special guest correspondent Steve Berman, aka Bay Area Sports Guy filled in for late scratch Trevor Woods. Much like Nnamdi after T-Brock's two pick performance, Woods may struggle to see the field in coming weeks. We discussed the upcoming game and more.

We're back with another edition of the #Channel49 Twitter Q&A. If you're on Twitter we have a running discussion at 2 p.m. PT every Friday. Swing by and join the fun!

Secondary

Now that our secondary has gone from biggest concern in the offseason (along with WR) to one of our biggest strengths, we're looking at our cornerbacks and noting that few are expected back next year. We've known this all along, but it was a good thing before. Now, it sucks. Only Carlos Rogers and Chris Culliver are under contract, while Perrish Cox is a restricted free agent and can be brought back at our behest. If I had my way, our corners next year would be Tramaine Brock, Tarell Brown, Culliver, Eric Wright & a highly drafted rookie. I don't think that will happen. Brown is playing well, despite a few penalties, and is likely making himself the more costly option. Brock will be back before Brown, if things continue as they are.

Donte Whitner has been a beast in the secondary. He's made tons of big hits, played well in coverage and may just be playing himself out of our price range when he becomes a free agent next season. Assuming Eric Reid continues his run of stellar rookie play, I'd like to see the 49ers draft a future starter at safety in the mid-rounds while picking up another Whitner-like FA for the meantime. You know the one's that Baalke likes, former first-rounders, haven't quite lived up to potential, Ed Donatell brings it out, we look great....you know...that kind of free agent. Reid was assumed to have the skill set to play either safety position so we could see him make the switch depending on which position is stronger in the FA/rookie crop.

This was a commonly asked question during the session on Friday. Now that Tramaine Brock has wrestled the nickel corner job away from Nnamdi Asomugha, what is Nnamdi's role on the team? It really may come down to Eric Wright. It was widely believed (especially by me) that Nnamdi would have to win one of the top three spots to make the team. Does that still hold true once the season is underway? I don't think so. The only thing that would bump him from the roster were if Mr Wright shows he offers more for this season. We can assume that Wright will be a 49er next season, if the team chooses. If he proves to be an upgrade, I have no doubt the team would make the move midseason. But it's hard to know what, if anything, Wright will bring to the table this season. Until then, Nnamdi is going to be a very experienced insurance policy.

Passing Game

The other major theme of the day was the 49ers passing game. It's been out of whack since the Week 1 victory over Green Bay. Many of the questions dealt with Josh Gordon and other perceived possible trade targets. Firstly, I have no doubt that Baalke would pull the trigger if he found the right guy for the right price. We, once again, have an excess of draft picks going into the upcoming draft. There is no way all of those guys will make the team. Baalke loves to package and flip them, so he values his second-rounders a lot more than you do.

Secondly, it takes two to tango. I'd love to see another weapon in the passing game. We have no idea how Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree will be when they return from their time on the PUP list. A weapon in the passing game is the only thing this team is missing. Gordon is not on the block, according to the Browns. We may just as likely end up with someone completely off the radar. If I had to bet, I say we stay put. Trades just don't happen that often midseason.

Everyone is waiting for Vance McDonald to break out. I am especially waiting for it as I've tabbed him multiple times as a key player / under-the-radar player in an upcoming game (depending on the question). He's yet to put up anything more than a catch per game. He is a giant mismatch for whomever covers him. We need to see Kap take a chance and try to get the ball into another guys hands. When Vance has a half step on someone, throw it were only he can catch it and see if he can make a play. When you're up 34-3 is a good time to try these things out. This next stretch of the schedule is the easiest, and I'd love to see some alternate targets tried out at some point.

I'm giving the nod to Mario Manningham here. I realize Michael Crabtree is a better receiver, but he's returning later in the season. Mario will have every chance in the world to wrestle the WR2 position, and a decent amount of targets, away from whichever warm body is inhabiting that role when he returns. I'd tab Crabtree to have the bigger impact down the stretch once the two of them are both healthy. Manningham, with the head start and complete lack of threats on the roster to his job on the team, should contribute more this season. Tank Carradine, on the NFI, not the PUP (same thing, right?) has never practiced with the team and will have to learn the system while trying to earn playing time behind two stalwarts.

Arizona at San Francisco

Not many people are giving Arizona much of a chance in this game and I can see why. They do have a tough defense, but their offense is punchless. Carson Palmer leaves much to be desired, having thrown 9 interceptions to only 5 touchdowns and having fumbled twice. We should win the turnover battle, with our previously discussed dominant secondary making a play or two. The Cardinals have no run game to speak of, and when teams are rendered one-dimensional, our defense has consistently strangled them.

On the other side of the ball, Arizona has done a good job stopping the run, but have yet to go up against a dominant run team. That will be the strength vs strength battle in this game and we can expect Greg Roman to hard-headedly attempt to pound the ball. If we win that battle, there's no way we lose. Otherwise Colin Kaepernick may have to make some plays through the air. Oh, and our special teams unit, which has been special so far this year, must continue their good work and keep Patrick Peterson in check in the return game.

Michael Crabtree and Colin Kaepernick torched Peterson last year in the season finale. We've had success on him in the past. Assuming he does keep Anquan Boldin in check (no guarantee), who might we see step up? I expect the 49ers to continue their recent string of dominant run performances and I'm guessing we're going to see a lot of two TE sets. I want to see Vance McDonald get the ball in his hands with nothing but defensive backs in front of him. He's massive and would barrel through them. He's just not being targeted much, yet. I don't see the 49ers other receivers, as the corps stands now, Jon Baldwin included, posing much of a threat to anyone. I can't wait for the day I'm pleasantly surprised.

It should be noted that Larry Fitzgerald is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. That's the same injury and designation as Vernon Davis the last two weeks. How serious Fitzgerald's injury is, we'll soon find out. If he's in the game, I expect a safety to cheat a bit toward him over the top, but otherwise, I'm not too concerned about him. Carson Palmer's poor play should not be understated. His passer rating for the year is 39.25 and the team has committed 2 or more turnovers in all but one game. If they play anything like they've played all year long, there's not much hope for them in this game.

Assorted Fun

I think it says a bit about both parties. The 49ers are obviously worried about Colt McCoy going forward. He's done nothing to impress me and the fact that they brought in an experienced veteran in John Skelton makes me think they were evaluating someone to push him. It also says a lot about the way this team operates, Syed. They're always tinkering, trying to get better and improve their depth, from 1-53. It's a good thing. I'm still confused as heck by all this QB3 maneuvering, but I have faith that they're doing what they think is best. I'd eventually like to see a QB3 who's a developmental prospect. I think they thought they had that in B.J. Daniels. They tried to move him to the practice squad and the Seahawks swooped. We may have that problem with any QB we try to do that with in the future. Such is life when your Head Coach is a quarterback whisperer.

These questions always lead to a big, fat "I told you so", but I'll give it a whirl. I think newly-minted QB3 McLeod Bethel-Thompson gets dropped to the practice squad once Mario is ready. Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial will replace Nate Stupar and Tony Jerod-Eddie. Eric Wright doesn't get activated unless someone gets hurt. That's my almost completely arbitrary, random prediction. Injuries will probably have more of an impact on who gets removed from the 53. For example, if Quinton Patton looks like he won't recover in time, he could get shifted to the IR for Manningham. Who knows?

The question that pisses everyone off. We can definitely catch the Seahawks. Assuming we can beat them at the 'Stick, which we can (and will do), we would be even. But they're home field advantage is so strong. I really don't see how we catch them. We've got an easy stretch of schedule coming up, but they face a nearly identical slate. The only opponents we don't share in common moving forward are the Vikings, an extra Rams game and the Giants for Seattle (we have Panthers, Jags, Washington). I'd handicap the Seahawks as a slight favorite, maybe a 60/40 chance of winning the division at this point. Neither teams schedule is turning out to be as brutal as first anticipated, with Washington, Atlanta, Minnesota, New York Giants and Tampa Bay all having disappointing seasons to date.

It was reported that the authorities expect Aldon Smith to turn himself in to face gun charges at the end of the month. That would indicate that he'll be out of rehab then, or at least he's expected to be, or else they wouldn't have mentioned it. There's no telling what could happen with Smith at this point. It may be a lost season for him. The team has been doing fine with the duo of Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier rotating in and out depending on the situation and they have every reason to think that will continue to work. But I'd expect to see Smith back sometime after the bye week.

All Ahmad Brooks jokes aside, you have to take Cowboy, aka Justin Smith. There are a lot of tough 49ers, but his threshold for pain, durability, size and strength would probably go a long way in a bar fight. Besides, his ability to handle double teams will be great while I'm hiding under a table. If it were a UFC fight, I'd have to reconsider. NaVorro Bowman, maybe. But until this fight moves from skid row to the octagon, I'm bringing Cowboy.

Prediction: 49ers 27, Cardinals 10

And don't forget to play along. Answer any or all of the questions in the comments below. Thanks!

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