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49ers Tweet-Bag: Mining for Answers

Tre9er's Twitter page - <a href="" target="new">Get at me!</a>
Tre9er's Twitter page - Get at me!

Welcome to what I hope will become a regular feature here on Niners Nation. As any of you who use Twitter know, I'm incredibly active there and not only do I use it to get information about the 49ers, but also to discuss the 49ers as well as other NFL items. Not everyone is on NN, though I do my best to pimp the site on Twitter to get them here, but I don't want to miss an opportunity to talk shop with other fans, media, players, etc.

Twitter is great because people can pose short, blunt questions about all things 49ers. However the 140 character limit can make effectively responding to those questions a challenge. For whatever reason, I get a lot of questions tweeted my way...probably due to the fact that I have an unhealthy obsession with the 49ers. So I thought, "why not have a weekly piece that takes some of the questions circulating around Twitter and answer them on NN?"

Hence the 49ers Tweet-Bag was born. I encourage anyone on Twitter to come up with questions, opinions, bold statements, whatever...and tag then with #49ersTweetBag so I can easily find them. Using "hashtags", that is, preceding something with the pound sign - or hash - catalogs tweets together by that hashtag. For instance you would send your tweet like this:

Would making Tre9er the GM of the 49ers be a smart move? #49ersTweetBag

(Incidentally, the answer to that tweet is a resounding: YES!)

If you're not on Twitter, fear not...Get on Twitter! Just could do that, but I am also considering having an email address and possibly a Fan-Shot here on NN where things can be accumulated as well. At any rate, this week we've got plenty of tweets to the #49ersTweetBag so let's get to them, after the jump.

@yougomango (mangoman on NN): How specifically has [Mike] Johnson's play-calling been an improvement over Jimmy Raye's?

Tre's Response: This is a great question, and probably one that warrants it's own entire post. But I'll do my best here in a short paragraph or two.

I think we all noticed that Johnson came out against Oakland with more passing plays to open the game (particularly on 1st down) than perhaps we've ever seen in the Raye era. As a matter of fact, Johnson opened the Raiders game with a pass play, but a personal foul on Oakland was taken. The next play was ALSO a passing play, followed by a reverse to Ted Ginn. I don't think anyone would expect that type of opening set of plays from Jimmy the offense is definitely showing it can be less predictable already, which is a good thing.

In two games under Johnson, Alex Smith has had his highest passing yardage output of the season (290yds. vs. Philadelphia) and also has thrown for five TD's compared to just three TD's in the first four games. The 49ers 3rd down efficiency is at 50% for the two games Johnson has called too, compared to the final six games under Jimmy Raye where the team converted 22.6% of 3rd downs.

Granted the sample size is really too small...I think there are signs of life. Though the 49ers stuck with the run against the Raiders, there was a real plan there and it paid off late in the game. As far as specifics, we'll get into that in more detail in a full-fledged post on the topic.

@Kieranchristian: Would Reggie Smith at FS & Taylor Mays at SS make a better Defensive Back field for the niners?

Tre's Response: This is a good question because the 49ers may very well end up with these two guys as the starting safeties in 2011. Dashon Goldson was said to have his sights set on a big-money deal befitting a top NFL safety, yet his play thus far in 2010 has not warranted such a deal. In fact, Goldson, a turnover machine in 2009, has been very quiet this season in that department while also contributing to the missed tackles that have plagued the 49ers secondary at times.

The reality of it all is that Goldson had two of his four INT's and two of his three FF's in the final four games of 2009, causing some to wonder if it was a fluke or not. If his play get's worse this season, I don't think it would be out of the question to think Smith would start to see more playing time.

Would this be an upgrade for the 49ers though? Hard to say. Smith was a CB in college and made a lot of plays there. He's had a few injuries since coming to the NFL that prevented him from playing and practicing as much as he could have. He showed a lot of promise and a nose for the ball in the preseason though and many 49ers fans had high hopes. Smith definitely has a good attitude and is a hard worker, so we can only hope that will translate on to the field if/when he get's his chance.

Personally I wouldn't be too worried if Reggie Smith replaced Goldson as the FS. Not knocking Dashon, but he's not an elite safety, so replacing him with a promising young safety who used to cover receivers for a living isn't much of a stretch.

@rossd95355: seems that Parcells is done in Miami. Niners material?

Tre's Response: I do think the 49ers need a real-live football guy in upper management...and that guy isn't on staff right now. Trent Baalke is a great talent evaluator and did a better-than-expected job on draft day. Paraag Marathe has done his part to get some key 49ers signed to long-term extensions the past few years too. Still, neither of them are GM material. Baalke could possibly grow into that role but he's not there yet, in my opinion.

Parcells would be the kind of guy who'd come in and probably wipe the coaching staff out and start fresh. Some are probably in favor of that approach, especially if the 49ers continue to lose more games than they win. Still I don't know for sure if that's the right answer. We have some pretty good coaches that I'd like to retain and mostly, I'd like to keep the same systems around until we've exhausted our chances to run deep into the playoffs (meaning we become the new Buffalo).

My knowledge of Parcells himself, as a GM, is limited. I know he's come in and seriously turned teams around in the early-going, which is awesome. Still, he seems to leave the team in a middle-of-the-road state and his recent teams haven't always gotten better after his departure. His forte seems to be taking teams that are in complete disarray (with records to prove it) and turning them upside down.

I'm not sure that's the approach the 49ers need right now, personally. So I'd say that he wouldn't be my first choice for GM. If it were some sort of consultant without the power to hire and fire...I might be more in favor though.

@Astand49: Should we resign David Baas, Manny Lawson to extensions?

Tre's Response: Excellent question. My short answer is: yes to both. The long answer is more complicated.

Baas is a great guy to have for depth and versatility. He's shown he can play at a pretty high level at center despite really only playing the position in the NFL this training camp. He also rounded into form nicely at LG last season, particularly in the run-game on plays where he was asked to pull around to the right side. He was largely responsible for several of Frank Gore's successful runs on those very plays.

The hope is that Baas can play RG as well and challenge Chilo Rachal for that spot if Eric Heitmann can return to the center position. At this point it's not even a guarantee that Heitmann will take his old job back because Baas has played good and is likely gelling with his line-mates pretty well at this point. With two guys who can play center, the team can keep both to have depth, or possibly trade one player if there is value in doing so.

Manny Lawson has been a constant for the 49ers the past few years. He made a great play in coverage of Zach Miller in the game against the Raiders and has generally done an outstanding job covering tight ends all year. He's also good in the run game and has more lateral speed than fellow OLB Parys Haralson.

The other factor with Lawson is there is really nobody challenging him at this point to be a 3-down OLB. Ahmad Brooks and Travis LaBoy have seen hardly any snaps on first and second down and are seen mostly as pass rushers at this point.

The key to keeping both players comes down to the money and their desire to play for the 49ers. Neither would cripple the team if they left, so if a trade offer came in or the players want too much money, the team could move on without them and be fine.

@yougomango: With a roster spot open, is it really in our best interest to sign Shawne Merriman? How about re signing [Diyral] Briggs?

Tre's Response: Part of me has a sneaking hunch that maybe Merriman signs with a new team and resurrects his career. He's only 26 and maybe a change of scenery is all he needs at this point. Still, I wonder what the 49ers would do in order to make room for Merriman if he were signed? I certainly wouldn't want to see Travis LaBoy or Ahmad Brooks be cut for a player who used to be good and might be good again one day. LaBoy has two sacks this season in limited playing time and we all saw Brooks explode near the end of 2009 with sacks and forced fumbles. Sometimes I wonder if Brooks is still not quite up to game-shape yet.

As far as Diyral Briggs the team should have never let him go. I'd honestly rather have Briggs on the roster, cut a guy like CJ Spillman, and roster five OLB's than sign Merriman. Manny Lawson might be walking away this off-season and the team will likely call on one of the guys currently rushing the passer to step up as a 3-down OLB. That leaves a void that Briggs could fill as a situational pass rusher, the seemingly preferred path for OLB's to take for the 49ers.

Wow! Great first week of questions for the 49ers Tweet-Bag guys! Hope I answered them all in enough detail but please comment below if you need further clarification! You know I'm always down to talk some Niners!

Footnote: The 49ers Tweet-Bag is about to go to the next level: I've been in contact with four of our favorite 49ers beat-writers and...ALL have agreed to participate in this feature when their schedule allows. Be sure to submit your questions to #49ersTweetBag each week to see which writers weigh in on Twitter's biggest 49ers-related issues!