Niners Nation #Channel49 Twitter Q&A Mailbag, Vol. 10: Eric Mangini, toughest opponents, and more

Ronald Martinez

Is Mangini a good fit? Who are the 49ers toughest opponents? We've got all the answers for you in the mailbag

The offseason is almost to the dog days of summer, but have no fear, #Channel49 mailbag is still here. Aaron Malone and I give you Volume No. 10.

Trevor's Answers:

The 49ers' offense likes to win the time-of-possession battle, and winding the clock down close to zero helps accomplish that. With that said, there have been times (especially with Alex Smith) when the 49ers have taken way too long in getting to the line of scrimmage. I expect Colin Kaepernick to get plays off more quickly this year while having firm control in the huddle. With more experience, he’s only going to get better in this facet.

Eric Mangini could possibly become a consultant for the 49ers, and he would be a good fit in that capacity. It’s a position in which he really cannot hurt the continuity of the coaching staff or team morale; he’ll just be there to share some of his expertise. While Mangini was not a good head coach in the NFL, he was a good defensive backs coach/defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. This is a move that can’t hurt the 49ers, and could potentially help them in a small way. He’s certainly qualified for the position.

I think that we will see more of this trend in 2013 The Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons spied Kaepernick a lot, and it wasn’t all that effective. While Colin is arguably the best scrambling quarterback in the NFL, he’s still a "pass first" quarterback. Kaepernick isn’t just a gimmick quarterback who needs to use his legs to be successful; he also has a powerful arm, great accuracy, and sound decision-making. He’s a dual-threat quarterback. A lot of the time using the spy could backfire when Colin is fully intending to pass, other times Kaep will run right past the spy. It will be interesting to see the defensive gameplan against the 49ers this season. Kaepernick can attack a defense in different ways, so the defense will have to do the same, they can't run spy the whole game, it won't work fully.

The three non-divisional games that will be most challenging will be against the Packers, Falcons and Texans. The 49ers are more than capable of beating these teams, but they’re all playoff teams that have stacked rosters. An honorable mention would be the Saints. With Sean Payton back and Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator, I expect the Saints to be a lot better this season.

Aaron's Answers:

After everything that Alex Smith has been through with the 49ers, it would take a cold-hearted fan to not be pulling for him with all their might. The Chiefs have done nothing to us, and it's not as though he's been traded to a hated rival. Sure, the higher the pick is the better, but I don't really see the Chiefs going too far. They were really bad last year. It should be noted, however, that they sent six players to the Pro Bowl, amazing for a 2-14 team. I read somewhere that it was the most players ever for a team with four or fewer wins. There is some talent on the roster.

I'm interested to see what Alex does without having a top-five defense and a top-five running game. I really feel like the Alex Smith debate that heated up the site for so long was never fully settled. Had he finished out 2012, I think we would have had a definitive answer, but alas, like so much of his career in Red & Gold, work was left unfinished. Good luck, Alex.

Nick Moody's name is getting mentioned frequently. Our special teams regressed from it's high level of play in 2011 and the kickoff return to open the second half of the Super Bowl is still seared in all of our minds. Special teams must be fixed. Scouting on Moody out of college notes that he is a special teams stud. I've read that he realized early that his path to a roster spot at the next level was through ST play, and so he took it upon him self to excel at it in college.

So few roster spots are allocated to strictly special teams players. But with the emphasis on the unit's turnaround, anyone standing out will get a long, hard look. He's projected as a middle linebacker and with neither Larry Grant or Tavares Gooden returning, he'll have every chance to make the team. I didn't necessarily have him on my radar at first glance, thinking his draft position and the team's depth would see him to the practice squad. He's got my full attention now.

Joe Looney, Daniel Kilgore and recent returnee Adam Snyder are the three players with experience out of the backup linemen on the roster. Looney and Kilgore have rarely seen the playing field while Snyder, of course, used to start for us at right guard. It really seems unlikely that one of the other guys breaks into this group. They appear to be the most talented, most experienced and none are practice squad eligible. Understanding practice squad eligibility rules is about as confusing as conditional draft picks and salary caps ... doable, but beyond my area of expertise.

Luke Marquardt is getting a lot of attention as a UDFA, but let us not forget about Carter Bykowski. Analyst Gil Brandt hasn't. This article came to my attention while doing the Nuggets last week. Beating out one of those three is a big ask for the young man being touted as our swing tackle of the future. But, there are surprises each and every year.

Before the draft, Coach Harbaugh had praised Ricardo Lockette, instantly putting him on the someone-to-watch list. His career stats include two catches for 105 yards and a touchdown, all with the Seahawks in 2011. He is blazingly fast, clocking 4.34 40-yard dash time at the combine. I honestly think there was every intention of having him play a role with the team this coming year. Then Quinton Patton landed in our laps in the fourth round of the draft and Lockette was bumped that much farther down the depth chart.

Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin are locks. A.J. Jenkins should be a lock based on the length of his contract and former first round draft status. That leaves us with Mario Manningham, Kyle Williams and Patton. We kept six receivers last year, but one was Ted Ginn Jr., a kick return specialist. Manningham is still behind schedule and could be placed on the PUP for the first six games of the year. This is probably Lockette's best chance at a roster spot. If he can impress during that spell, he may stick around, though the 49ers sixth receiver is not the most likely roster spot in the league to see playing time.

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