Q&A: Lawson must earn third-down role

Q&A: Lawson must earn third-down role


The 49ers are taking it easy today, as they have just an afternoon special-teams practice scheduled in Santa Clara.


I'm going to take it easy, too. But I've set aside a few minutes to respond to some questions submitted this morning.



Question: How did P.Haralson and A.Brooks play?  And, more generally, do you see Haralson putting up at least as many sacks as last year? (Better than Paraag)

Answer: Haralson sustained a foot sprain, and did not take part in the Wednesday practice in Napa. Brooks took over with the No. 1 defense, and looked as if he was doing pretty well. He benefited greatly from Haralson's absence the first week of camp. He'd really have to fall on his face to fail to win a roster spot. If Haralson can remain healthy, I think he could easily reach double-digit sacks.


Question: Is there a chance A.Brooks could unseat Manny Lawson for the starting job at OLB? Or is Brooks slotted as the backup to both Lawson and Parys? (Mike in SF #2)

Answer: No, they're playing different positions. Brooks is behind Haralson, and Marques Harris is lining up behind Haralson. Harris has not won a roster spot, yet. Haralson is definitely a starter. There is no question whatsoever about that. The bigger question with Lawson is whether he'll earn the right to remain on the field as a third-down pass-rusher.


Question: What do you expect from the passrush this season based on your observation on training and preseason game?  Will the team blitz more? (littleken)

Answer: It's difficult to tell because a lot of a team's ability to get to the quarterback is predicated on matchups and scheming. In the first exhibition game against the Broncos, the 49ers did not blitz much and they did very little scheming for the opponent. Based on how much they show blitz against their own offense in training camp, I'd fully expect defensive coordinator Greg Manusky to blitz a larger percentage of the time this season. Lawson holds the key to the pass rush, and at this point, I just don't know.


Question: just wondering what type of future you see for Nate Davis in a 49ers uniform? (meeksmen)

Answer: It's way too early to tell. He certainly has the physical tools. It's going to be a long road. He's certainly not going to be ready to step onto the field for a regular-season game this season. If the 49ers can keep him around in the same system for a while, he definitely has a chance to have a good NFL career.


Question: What's going on with Crabtree? (Finalyst)

Answer: There is nothing new. The sides have completely different ideas of where Crabtree's contract should be slotted.


Question: I saw a comment on one of your Facebook statuses referencing Michael Crabtree house shopping in Los Gatos.  Is there any info on that... and does it mean he might be a little closer to signing? (Crovino11)

Answer: Somebody wrote to tell me Crabtree was looking for a house in Los Gatos. What I heard during the first week of camp is that he's living in Saratoga but he's looking for a permanent residence in Los Gatos or around Santana Row. So that rumor has been out there for a while. Originally, it was seen as a positive that he was in the area. But that does not change the fact that there is little or no movement in contract talks.


Question: Why another DB? Camp hand? A little late for that. Or do you see Green as having a chance at making the 53 man roster? Did they sign him for the minimum? (mwbudd)

Answer: Do you remember 2005 when the 49ers were so short on defensive backs that they'd sign an unemployed guy off the street on a Tuesday and place him in the starting lineup on Sunday? The 49ers were interested in Eric Green when he was a free agent this offseason. If they signed Dre' Bly for the veteran minimum, you can be sure they did not give Green a penny more. The 49ers were looking for a veteran after Donald Strickland left. Bly replaces Walt Harris, who is out for the season. Green is in a battle for a roster spot. These next few weeks are important for him, because even if he does not make the 53-man roster, he could be the first person they call if they need a cornerback once the season begins.


Question: With Keasey gone, at least for now, do you think the Niners have any interest in the recently unemployed Lorenzo Neal given he wouldn't need to relocate and assuming he has something left in the tank. (Louisville Niner Fan)

Answer: I can't say for sure, but I doubt it. Moran Norris is the team's starting fullback. The only way Neal can help the 49ers would be if contributes on special teams. Generally, teams want fresher legs on special teams.


Question: With Hill pulling ahead in the QB competition how long do you think before Singletary names a starter? (49ertime)

Answer: Whenever Singletary deems it's appropriate. All indications I've gotten is that Hill has pretty clearly moved ahead. Smith remains in the race, but he'll have to perform very well in the next two exhibition games if he has any chance to open the season as the starter. That said, the 49ers have been encouraged by Smith's play this summer. There is a feeling that even if he does not open the season as the starter, he has put himself into position to take over - if needed - and hold onto the job for a long time.


Question: Do you think that Mark Roman has shown enough to keep on the roster which would probably mean exposing Taylor on the practice squad. (mbniner)

Answer: It’s been a quiet training camp for Roman. I don’t believe he’s guaranteed a spot on the 53-man roster, but I think he definitely has an inside track to making it. His knowledge of the defense allows him to fill in at either safety position. The 49ers have always kept extra defensive backs, so they can work the numbers a little to ensure they keep a mix of veterans and promising youngsters, such as Reggie Smith (he’s going nowhere) and Curtis Taylor.



Question: Would you say that the Niners are still looking better than they did this time last year, particularly the offense? Do you have any impressions on the potential effectiveness of Raye’s offense v. prior systems (e.g. Martz, Hostler)?  (Stampede)

Answer: Yes, the 49ers are looking far better than they did a year ago. But that’s almost to be expected because they were learning a new and unique system last year under Martz. There was more carryover with Hostler at coordinator, but the talent level was not as good in 2007 as it is this season. I firmly believe Jimmy Raye has hit all the right chords as offensive coordinator. His system is a much better fit for the personnel on this team. The only question with him is whether he can dial up the right plays at the right time from his perch in the press box.


Question: I’ll like to see what MM’s proposed 9er practice-squad looks like. (Let’s say they contain all the current camp attendees.) (blitzonic)

Answer: The practice squad will consist of eight players. Let’s go with OL Alex Boone and Matt Spanos; OLB Diyral Briggs; TE J.J. Finley; QB Nate Davis; FB Brit Miller; CB Terrail Lambert and DT Khalif Mitchell. Others who might be near the top of the list are: CB Carlos Thomas, DE Pannel Egboh, WR Dominique Zeigler (torn between PS and active roster) and OLB Jay Moore.


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