Due to popular demand (one person on Twitter), we present the inaugural Inside the 49ers mailbag. If your question doesn’t appear below, it could appear in Mailbag No. 2:
Q: As an Iowa student, I’ve watched Ricky Stanzi closely, and he is underrated athletically. Why hasn’t he been given more attention? @Zach_Pratt
A: Funny you should ask, Zach. I spoke with former Iowa quarterback Chuck Long this week about Stanzi, who Jim Harbaugh watched at Iowa’s second pro day on Monday. Long, the offensive coordinator at Kansas, has followed Stanzi’s career a bit due to his connection to the school and I asked him about the knock on Stanzi’s athleticism, a quality Harbaugh prizes in quarterbacks. Long didn’t call Stanzi a great athlete, but he said Iowa’s pro-style offense didn’t require him to showcase whatever athleticism he does possess.
“They don’t ask too much as far as athleticism at the quarterback position at Iowa,” Long said. “The best thing about it is it’s an under-center offense. It’s one of the few under-center offenses in college football. There’s no shotgun. They don’t have a quarterback run game et cetera. They’re actually under center like the NFL likes. That’s another reason why people are taking a look at Ricky. He’s been under center for four years.”
You mentioned the lack of attention Stanzi receives, but I think he’s starting to get a fair amount of hype after flying under the radar. In a conference call this week, ESPN’s Mel Kiper said, “I think Stanzi is a fourth-round pick and he could be the best value of any of (the quarterbacks in the draft).” Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki ranked him as the draft’s third-best quarterback in PFW’s draft guide that was published before the Super Bowl and he appears to still be a big fan. Nawrocki recently said Stanzi “bears an eerily similar semblance to a young Tom Brady.” This site spit Stanzi’s name out of a computer as the draft’s top quarterback.
Q: If Von Miller and Patrick Peterson are gone. Who’s the pick? @BickyBhullar
A: If the other usual suspects are off the board and Trent Baalke bequeaths control of the selection to me, I’ll take North Carolina’s Robert Quinn if he’s available, please. Prince Amukamara could merit some consideration, but my parents raised me to believe an elite pass-rusher is more valuable than an elite cornerback. Mama always said a defensive back can be avoided, but a hell-raising linebacker has to be accounted for.
I leapt on the Quinn bandwagon at the combine for a variety of reasons. For starters, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock (I’m a fan) termed him “as good a natural pass-rusher as I have ever seen” and Quinn, whose suspension last year raised “character concerns,” came across as humble, remorseful, likeable and authentic during his meeting with the media.
Most importantly, UNC’s defensive backs illustrated how a monster like Quinn made their jobs much easier. Said cornerback Duenta Williams: “Just playing behind him you understand what he does for a defensive back. At (East Carolina) two years ago, he sacked a guy so fast that I thought it was false start on the offense or something. I thought they were about to start the play over again. Just situations like that, you didn’t have to do too much covering.”
Ah, sounds like music to Shawntae Spencer’s ears.
Q: Do you see the Niners needing to trade UP to assure themselves of Patrick Peterson or Von Miller? And what would it take? @S49erfan
A: The 49ers will get Peterson. Haven’t you seen any of the mock drafts?
OK, really, it would likely require a trade up to guarantee they got Peterson or Miller. And there is a precedent for Trent Baalke making such a first-round move to secure the athlete of his affection. Last year, with his first pick, in his first draft in the big-boy chair, he gave up a fourth-round pick to move up two spots to make sure he snagged Anthony Davis at No. 11.
So let’s say, for fun, the Niners really want Miller after the Bills bypass him (and take Peterson) at No. 3. Cincinnati picks at No. 4 and Arizona, a logical landing spot for Miller, is next at No. 5. Baalke decides to jump ahead of the division rival, calls Cincinnati’s Mike Brown and offers San Francisco’s third-round pick (No. 76), a fourth-round pick (No. 108) and a seventh-round pick (No. 211) to move up three spots. According to this draft-pick value chart, that’s what it would take.
The Niners would have Von Miller, but they would also own just one of the draft’s next 109 picks.
Q: If the lockout injunction is granted and there is no stay, free agency begins. Will the 49ers get a quarterback of the future or seek a bridge QB? @Tre9er
A: Are there any quarterback of the future on the free-agent market? Hmmm … looking … looking … laughing … Vince Young? Matt Leinart? Matt Moore? Dennis Dixon? Caleb Hanie? Maybe some of those guys develop into above-average quarterbacks (I kind of like Moore), but I don’t see Niners making any of them their starter in 2011. The top free-agent quarterbacks – Matt Hasselbeck, Marc Bulger, Kerry Collins – are temporary band-aids, at best. Of course, there’s also Alex Smith – and I’m guessing opinions are mixed here on whether he’s a future star or strictly stopgap material.
Q: Are the 49ers letting Aubrayo Franklin walk because they believe in Ricky Jean-Francois, or because they’re stupid? NT=kinda important. @mjl84
A: I wouldn’t say the 49ers are “letting Aubrayo Franklin walk” (but I agree … NT=kinda important). True, they didn’t place the franchise tag on Franklin, but that’s because it would have been more than $12 million. Franklin is good. And he’s an integral part of the 3-4 defense. But he’s not a $12-million-dollar man.
I think it’s safe to assume the Niners will aggressively attempt to sign Franklin to a long-term extension, particularly given that Jean-Francois, his backup, is a former seventh-round pick who struggled in his only extensive action against Green Bay last year. Franklin, however, sounded extremely eager to test the market last year after he skipped offseason workouts and most of training camp before accepting his $7 million tag two weeks before the season opener.
Since the draft will almost certainly precede free agency, the Niners will likely draft a nose tackle to cover their, um, rears if Franklin signs elsewhere. Matt Maiocco reported that Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor, a potential first-round pick, visited the 49ers on Thursday.