Niners Nation #Channel49 Twitter Q&A Mailbag Two

Thearon W. Henderson

On Friday, Aaron Malone and I hosted our second Twitter Q&A Session. We take a look at the best questions and expand our answers in the mailbag.

An hour of fun ensued on Friday at 2 P.M. Pacific Time on Twitter. The response has been great from the Niners Nation community on Twitter. A lot of people have been sending in questions to the hashtag we use for the Q&A #Channel49. This will be happening every Friday at 2 p.m. PT, so be sure to participate! We select the best questions tweeted each week for the mailbag, so tweet away and you could be included in the next edition.

I answered the first five questions and Aaron Malone handled the second five:

My Answers:

I do expect another free agent signing, and a trade could also happen. I wouldn't mind the 49ers signing Israel Idonije or Nnamdi Asomugha.

Charles Woodson has been linked to the 49ers, but it remains to be seen whether the Niners want him. The 49ers may be waiting for him to lower his price, or they are simply not interested.

Woodson has the strongest ties to the 49ers out of the free agents mentioned, because of his relationship with Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh and Woodson are both "Michigan Men", having played in Ann Arbor for the Wolverines. They actually twice co-hosted a celebrity golf tournament together over ten years ago. Harbaugh also was the quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders for two years at the same time Woodson played for Oakland. It is safe to say they know each other well.

If Charles Woodson or Nnamdi Asomugha are not signed by the 49ers, it appears the team will take care of the secondary in the draft. Whether or not Woodson or Nnamdi sign, secondary prospects will be drafted by the 49ers in the early rounds. I do find defensive line to be an area of concern, but I am more concerned with the secondary at the moment. The 49ers need to find a suitable replacement for Dashon Goldson, and could use some cornerback depth as well. Carlos Rogers isn't a young buck, and it is hard telling whether Tarell Brown will be retained when he becomes a free agent in 2014. The 49ers need to find one or two defensive backs that will be able to become starters as early as this year, and definitely by 2014. The good news is this is a deep safety draft class, and it has quality corners as well.

I know some believe defensive line is the biggest concern also, and I understand the reasoning behind that thinking. Justin Smith is still an amazing player but he is on the wrong side of thirty. Finding his eventual successor should be assessed in the early rounds.

It is possible. The 49ers aren't afraid to take calculated risks. If they feel a player will not continue the behavior that has led to the concerns, they won't hesitate. The same goes with injuries. If they feel the injury won't prevent the player from helping the team win they won't hesitate to draft the player if they like him.

The character concerns in this year's draft include Tyrann Mathieu, Alec Ogletree, Tharold Simon. There are injury concerns for players such as Marcus Lattimore, Robert Woods, Star Lotulelei and Jarvis Jones. I don't know if the Niners will end up taking a player who has had an injury or trouble of some kind, but could it happen? Yes.

Really good question. Two players I feel are underrated are Kansas State wide receiver Chris Harper, and UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin. Franklin rushed had a strong 2012 season, rushing for 1,734 yards, 13 touchdowns, and grabbing 33 receptions. Franklin could be a dual threat running back in the NFL who has solid vision and makes good cuts. The stats he put up this year at UCLA deserve a little more attention. After all, it isn't as if he was in a mediocre conference.

Chris Harper reminds me a bit of Michael Crabtree because of his 6'1" 229 lb frame, and some of his on field play. Harper is a physical blocker, and dangerous after the catch. His acceleration after the catch is impressive and he has good hands. He is projected as a fourth-to-sixth round selection, and when all is said and done, Harper could be a draft day bargain.

A lot of Tight Ends could replace Delanie, but there is one in particular who looks like a clone of Delanie. Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg might become a better and cheaper version of Walker. Gragg is 6'3" 240 lbs and quite fast, having run a 4.5 forty at the combine. He could be a matchup nightmare in the NFL. Check out my scouting report on Gragg here. Gragg is projected as a fourth or fifth round selection, and I would love for the 49ers to draft him.

Malone's Answers

There was a good article on the topic written by Bay Area Stats Guy over at BASG. It dealt more with missing field goals, which at the time was a big concern, but the data applies to both. There are plenty of times when all the stats point to going for it and our staff punts it. With Andy Lee being the arguably the best punter in the league, it is hard to fault such decisions. The logic is that giving up a short field may swing the momentum of the game. But when our defense is on, nobody moves the ball on us. Opponents aren’t moving the ball 80 yards nor 30 yards. That’s when I wouldn’t mind them taking the risk. When the team comes out flat, and a toothless team like the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17 can move the ball at will (see 1st quarter), then I guess I’d prefer to play it safe. But then would you want to argue with Harbaugh?

So much has been written about the Seahawks offseason, and with good reason. They’ve added 3 key elements to a team that’s already worthy of top-5 consideration. Long-term ramifications of the Percy Harvin deal aside, looking at the rosters of the two teams, I still feel the 49ers have the better roster. I think we’re comparable on defense and at the skill positions on offense.

The 49ers, however, have the best offensive line in football. And, if Phil Dawson performs like he did in 2012, we’re better on special teams. I also think the 49ers have a better coaching staff, and we’ll see if Seattle’s defense performs at the same level now that defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has moved on to Jacksonville, but that’s got nothing to do with their roster. Seattle will play a harder schedule, with a bullseye on their back. They should be up for it.

There’s been a lot of talk about what the 49ers offense will look like with a full year of preparation under Colin Kaepernick. Signs point to it being opened up at some point. Offensive draft picks have been about speed and quickness. Even Jim Harbaugh’s recent comments about Ricardo Lockette, who ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at the combine, point to an infatuation with speed. That’s the future.

Now is Frank Gore and the best run blocking line in football. Harbaugh and OC Greg Roman inherited those pieces to the offensive puzzle and would be a fool not to maximize them. As long as Gore stays healthy, I can’t see the 49ers straying from power running. When his inevitable decline kicks in (could be in 2013, who knows?) I think the offense begins to switch philosophy.

Luckily, an article explaining all of this was written on the site Friday. Israel Idonije is a new addition to the list of possible veteran free agency targets. He is listed at 275 lbs, a fair bit smaller than our other defensive ends. Luckily he has played DT before, having dropped weight to move to end. What this points to is versatility, which is an attribute that we know the staff values highly. He would then seem to overlap a bit with recent signee Glenn Dorsey. Depending on how much money he wants, getting someone who can get pressure from the end would be great. He played for $2.5 million in 2012, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. But at 32, and with our two starting ends getting long in the tooth, I think drafting eventual replacements might be the best use of the roster spot.

Now that all of the obvious cuts have gone through, we start in on the speculation about the not-so-obvious cap casualties. Yes, Carlos Rogers is a candidate due to his high salary. He is scheduled to make $7.3 million in ’13, $8.1 million in ’14 and $9.1 million in ’15. It’s arguable whether he played up to his $5.5 million salary last season and I don’t see a way this contract is seen out to its conclusion. Will he get cut? If the 49ers sign Nnamdi Asomugha then his cut becomes infinitely more likely. Until another veteran is signed, he’s more likely to have his contract re-evaluated after the season. Given the contracts handed out to Sean Smith and Keenan Lewis, Rogers deal does seem excessive.

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