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49ers Tweet-Bag: Next Man Up

Tre9er's Twitter page
Tre9er's Twitter page

Welcome to the fourth weekly edition of the 49ers Tweet-Bag - the feature where you submit questions and we get you answers (ok well maybe we impose our opinions on you masked as "answers"). As has been the dynamic (literally) nature of the Tweet-Bag, we have some past participants who weren't able to be here this time, but no matter...Next man up! This week we've pulled together yet another new guest to add to the melting pot.

If this is your first Tweet-Bag, let me give you the history lesson as well as the operator's manual:

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. Hence the 49ers Tweet-Bag was born.

I encourage anyone on Twitter to come up with questions, opinions, bold statements, whatever...and tag them 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:

Is Troy Smith OUR FUTURE? #49ersTweetBag

(The answer being: yes, Troy Smith is OUR FUTURE...thru week 10)

If you're not on Twitter, fear not...Get on Twitter! Just kidding...but seriously, Twitter is the best way to get breaking news before it hits TV, blogs, newspapers, etc.

Ok, now that we're all up to speed on what the Tweet-Bag is and how to submit questions, let's get to know the participants in this week's piece. Join me after the jump for a quick bio on each of them, new guys first.

New this week is Kevin Lynch, who needs Twitter but doesn't have it...yet. Kevin has appeared in the Oakland Tribune, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, San Francisco Examiner and, for the last seven years, the SF Chronicle. Lynch is a very outspoken guy who always calls it like he see's it while adding layers of satire and sarcasm. He might be controversial at times...or maybe us homeristic fans just see it that way. No matter what he's a heckuva writer, so check out his blog HERE.

Samuel Lam, @SLam49ers on Twitter, has been a member of our very own beloved Niners Nation for over two years now. He is the only beat writer who is open about being a true fan of the 49ers (I say "open about" because we all know they have a soft-spot for the 9ers...the others just wont admit it). On top of being a fan and long-time member of NN though, Sam is also the 49ers blogger at Unfortunately he is also one of those heartless Oakland A's fans I mentioned above though, so temper your expectations accordingly. You can find Sam's blog HERE.

Eric Branch, @Eric_Branch on Twitter, is the newest beat-writer on the scene. He replaced Phil Barber as the 49ers reporter for the Press Democrat (blog HERE) not long after Barber took over the reins from Maiocco. Obviously those are big shoes to fill but Eric has done a fine job (especially now that he has a smart-phone and can tweet info earlier than "hours later than the other guys"!). Please don't confuse Eric with a Florida death-row inmate of the same name! In all seriousness Eric is a witty writer and we're glad to have him on board with the Tweet-Bag.

David Fucillo, @NinersNation on Twitter, is obviously our fearless leader, moderator, and creator of Niners Nation. He's also the editor for the parent site SBN Bay Area...which is a pretty big deal. "Fooch", as we like to call him, has been tirelessly blogging on NN since 2006 and between he and James, no one provides us 49ers fans with more content...period. HERE is Fooch's blog page, all of his posts here on NN.

As usual, if you click on the writer's picture you will also be taken to their blog. To the right of their picture you'll notice their Twitter handle. Clicking on this will take you to their Twitter home page where you can then follow them. On to the questions!

@Tre9er: How much do you think Dashon Goldson's injury has affected his play thru the first 1/2 of 2010? [OK, I had originally selected an Al Harris question here but we all know how that turned I had to think fast, yeah, I asked a question myself]

Kevin Lynch: I would not have guessed that Dashon Goldson was slowed by a foot injury by looking at him through the first eight games. The injury doesn't seem to impact his straight ahead speed. He's pretty quick coming up in run support, maybe too quick. However, maybe his lateral movement is affected. I imagine Goldson hasn't been replaced because he's the best they have, even if he is hurt. Reggie Smith looked like the sure replacement when Michael Lewis left, but coaches started Taylor Mays instead. That could say something about their lack of confidence in Smith as either a free or strong safety.
@Eric_Branch: It's probably safe to say injuries have contributed to a 26-year-old coming off a breakout year and playing in a contract year having a disappointing season. Why is he still playing? For starters, he's been quiet but not awful -- that is, he's fifth on the team with 47 tackles and hasn't been repeatedly burned deep. Also, he handles the defensive plays calls and is the only safety with significant experience. Taylor Mays, of course, is a rookie and Reggie Smith hasn't started a game -- and has five career tackles -- in two-plus seasons.
@SLam49ers: I haven't seen anything from him on the field to suggest that injuries have been the reason for lack of big plays. Last year's big finish was a surprise and probably expectations for him might have been too high because of that. Obviously he could have at least played to some extent to that level this year but the season isn't over yet. Goldson still remains as a leader of the defense so I don't think he would lose any playing time because of it. He's still developing as a safety and with him healing from being banged up, we'll get a chance to see what he's made of in the second half.
Tre9er: I'm sure it has affected his play to an extent, especially if there is pain while he's on the field. I will say that the things I've observed from Goldson thus far that have been less-than-stellar didn't appear to have anything to do with being injured. Biting on play action, failing to pick up a receiver in time to run with him down the field, and poor tackling technique are the biggest deficits I see in his game. The first two are mental errors, and the last one is just deciding not to wrap up and rather to launch himself at the ball-carrier.

I brought up yesterday how well LaRon Landry of the Redskins has been playing thus far in 2010. Landry leads the NFL in tackles amongst safeties yet has been injured to the point of being listed as questionable on several injury reports this season. He is dealing with a wrist and achilles, like Goldson, he has a bad hand and a bad foot.
@NinersNation: I believe the injuries have had a significant impact, most notably the slight tear to the plantar fascia on his left foot. Even with my lack of medical knowledge I've heard enough to know any injuries to the plantar fascia can be be quite painful. Given that pain I'd have to imagine it's affecting any driving ability from his feet. Of course, a lot of his impact last year came on various turnovers and it's possible he was in the right place at the right time last season and that timing is not quite there this year, injuries or not. Last year he had four interceptions and three forced fumbles, and this year he has none in either category. Those are plays that get your face in the press and it's just not happening.

If the injuries are affecting his play, I'd imagine he's continuing to play in part because he's a "tough guy" if you will. I have yet to figure out how Mike Singletary really feels about Reggie Smith, so it's hard to tell what's up with that. This is one of those issues that any answer would be pure speculation.

@uprise49: Any reason to why the 49ers signed a RB and WR to the practice squad? [RB DeShawn Wynn and WR Lance Long signed this week]

Kevin Lynch: The move to replace Jehuu Caulcrick on the practice squad with DeShawn Wynn might be thought of as a simple upgrade. Caulcrick was a fullback and Winn has fullback size but was also a productive running back at Florida. Winn spent a few years with the Packers and you might think the 49ers might want him to reveal secrets about the Pack, a team the 49ers play in a few weeks. But Winn hasn't been in Green Bay for over a year. The signing of another receiver might be to get the 49ers ready to face the Rams and Cardinals three- and four-receiver offenses. They already have former San Jose State Spartan Kevin Jurovich on the practice squad, but maybe they feel they are wearing out their own receivers by making them run with the scout team. Signing another receiver doesn't bode well for Kyle Williams return from a finger injury.
@SLam49ers: It could be a preparation for the Rams but I also believe that they are just seeing what potential they can get out of the two. The team let go of LB Eric Bahktiari and RB Jehuu Caulcrick because they just added LB Thaddeus Gibson and Caulcrick was expendable knowing that the team is pretty OK with their current backfield, especially with Byham playing a solid role as the number two fullback.

The moves of acquiring WR Lance Long and RB DeShawn Wynn probably is a move to just see what potential they could bring to the team next season.
@Tre9er: My first thought was that this was a scout-team move. The 49ers must be placing more emphasis on preparing for the opposition's offense and as such they need more receivers and backs to adequately do so. They also don't want to wear out their players who will see action in the game itself by having them run numerous scout-team reps. I say all of this because otherwise why would the 49ers sign their fourth tailback and eighth wide receiver when the team has hardly used even the second and third string players it already has at each position?
@NinersNation: I'll be perfectly honest: I usually don't understand most of the practice squad moves. I get placing Nate Davis there, and I can see the need for certain positions in case of injury. But for a team with six wide receivers on the active roster, one of whom (Jason Hill) is almost always inactive, I don't get why they have two wide receivers on the practice squad. I suppose for potential special teams use? When it comes to the practice squad, I think there are rarely "significant" reasons certain players are signed to the practice squad. When you're not making the 53-man roster it's rarely significant. I do think the addition of a running back to the squad is probably not the worst thing in the world. And Wynn has actually had some fairly significant playing time for a guy with PS eligibility. If the team hangs onto him heading into next season I suspect he'd have a decent shot of latching on as the #3 running back.

Two-fer: @Valeforious: No matter how the season ends is Alex Smith done as a 49er? + @lok2685: 11's body language says alot bout his leadership he needs not only 2 B more emotional but more positive in hyping every1 up?

Kevin Lynch: It seems that Alex Smith has to do three things to stay with the team. He first has to get healthy, then he has to get on the field, and then he has to lead the teams to significant wins. The odds are against that happening. First, if he gets on the field that means that Troy Smith got hurt or didn't lead the team the way Mike Singletary anticipated. If the latter is true, the 49ers would have probably slogged through a few more losses, which would kill their playoff chances. If Alex Smith comes in to lead the team to meaningless wins at the end of the season, is anyone going to care? Smith has to get in right away and turn everything around to stay. As for Singletary, he has completely tied himself to Troy Smith with his actions and his comments. If he doesn't win with Troy Smith at quarterback, Singletary gets fired.
@Eric_Branch: If Alex Smith returns from injury, resembles Peyton Manning and leads the Niners to the playoffs then, yes, he’ll be back. And that’s about the only scenario in which he would return to San Francisco, I’m guessing. If Troy Smith leads the 49ers to a win against the Rams, it’s hard to imagine Singletary would return to Alex Smith. Singletary likes Troy Smith’s intangibles and prefers his more aggressive leadership style. But winning trumps everything. If the Niners are 2-0 under Troy Smith and 1-6 under Alex Smith, it would be hard to argue that Troy, as Singletary likes to say, doesn’t give the 49ers the best chance to win.
@SLam49ers: Unless Smith comes back healthy and leads the 49ers to places they haven't seen since 2002, it's hard to see Smith returning next year as a starter. What the 49ers have right now is a situation where if Troy Smith plays well enough to secure the starting job, Alex Smith's future as a starter with the team could be over.

The 49ers are looking for a quarterback that can take hold of an offense and carry it. Mike Singletary has demanded a "leader" out of his quarterback and even though Smith has shown some characteristics of it, ultimately the team just needs to win. Alex Smith needs to find a way to win or it's very likely he will not return.
A lot of factors have to go into what the future can hold for the former #1 overall pick. In the end, it's all about wins and losses. If Smith can't get those wins, then he probably doesn't return.
@Tre9er: As a fan who has been tortured by the ups and downs of watching Alex Smith play the QB position over the past few years...I'd be lying if I said I wasn't relieved he isn't starting right now. Of course, Troy Smith playing well enough to win in London doesn't hurt either. I see this playing out a few different ways:

First, Troy Smith could play well enough to either just eek out wins, or convincingly long as he's winning most of the time. If this happens I think Alex is not re-signed this off-season unless he basically pleads with the team to stay, even as a backup. Still the scarring memories might be too much to bear by then.

Second possibility is that Troy Smith plays pretty awful and Alex is called upon to return to the lineup where he proceeds to NOT play horribly, at least...and under this scenario he is probably re-signed at a very affordable rate with the idea that he would be the guy while a rookie QB is groomed...or a player brought in via free agency or trade get's up to speed.

Lastly, if the coaching staff is mostly wiped clean and a new regime enters, I can see them wanting their own QB of the future, probably a draft pick, and again it would depend on if Alex got a chance to get back on the field prior to that and didn't to whether or not they'd retain him as a temporary placeholder.

So basically for Alex to stay depends on Troy Smith's performance, then, if given the chance, Alex's own performance, and finally...a potential coaching change. My gut says he's done in San Francisco though.
@NinersNation: I think Alex Smith is probably done as a 49er, but I won't say it happens no matter what. That's too much of an absolute given how crazy this season has been. "No matter what how the season ends" precludes Smith from absolutely blowing up, not that I think that will happen. I think Smith has accepted his lot in life, or at least his lot as a 49er. People dog him for a lot of things, but I think he is a case study in how not to handle an NFL QB and arguably a worst case scenario for a high draft pick. At least Ryan Leaf had the common decency to go crazy fairly early on and absolutely implode. Smith struggled his first year, then showed significant signs his second year. Then Norv Turner left for San Diego, the shoulder injuries began, and Mike Nolan threw him under the bus. He seemed to start bouncing back this year and we all figured the excuses were finished this season, only to see him struggle with consistency. As for the whole Singletary/Smith leadership comments, I think it was an exchange in the media that could have been best handled in private. I don't think there's some feud, and if there is, I don't think Alex Smith really gives a crap at this point. I don't think it's all that big a deal and distinguish it from Nolan's comments when Smith was hurt. I have no problem with the coach questioning the player's performance when healthy. I had a problem with Nolan questioning his toughness while hurt.

At this point, I can honestly say I have no idea what the rest of the season holds for Alex Smith. Troy Smith looks like he'll get a second start and if he has another solid start and the 49ers win, does anybody think Singletary goes back to Alex? Singletary's job is on the line and he'll go with the guy he thinks will win ball games. If Troy wins a second straight game and looks solid in the process, Singletary seems ready to ride that pony. Of course, at this point one game is not enough to get any real idea of whether Smith is the ever elusive "the guy." He showed excellent potential with a powerful arm and excellent scrambling skills both in and out of the pocket. Of course, the Broncos are a bad football team so let's hold off on the ticker-tape parade. The Rams are certainly a stronger opponent defensively, so we'll see if Troy puts together another solid performance. That and gets some help from his offensive line...

Thanks so much to Kevin Lynch, Eric Branch, and Samuel Lam for participating in the Tweet-Bag alongside Fooch and I this week. Please be sure to check out each of their blogs as well as follow them on Twitter. Again, clicking on their picture in the upper left-hand corner of any one of their responses will take you to their blog. Clicking their Twitter handle in a response will take you to their twitter page where you can follow them.