Q&A: Niners can do worse than Foster at backup RB

The 49ers were the second-best team in the NFC West this season. The best team in the division is getting ready to show the world what the NFC West is all about.


So while we all get prepared to watch the Cardinals put an NFC West-style whipping on those poor, unsuspecting Falcons, I figured I’d tackle a few questions from the studio audience.


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Q: dont you think we need a better guy as second RB than foster if we want to focus on running the bal? (ju)

A: If there’s one thing that seems to be true every year, it’s that good running backs can be found in all rounds of the draft. I’d expect the 49ers to select a runner at some point. But I don’t think there’s much wrong with Foster as a backup — at the right price. Foster had three straight seasons of more than 800 yards rushing with the Panthers, so there aren’t too many backups in the league who have shown that much consistency. Can they do better? Sure. But it’s been a while since the 49ers had two proven running backs like they had this season.


Q: Although everyone here seems to be assuming that Singletary wants to pick up a safety to  replace Roman, I’m not convinced.  1st, we already have Goldson, who has looked promising thus far.  2nd, he mentioned range, which is more of an issue with the Lewis boys, both starter Michael and backup Keith. Could you please clarify this for us? (petaluman)

A: I’m not sure I can clarify it. Goldson has not earned a starting job, and nobody talks about him as an heir apparent like they talk about Josh Morgan at wide receiver. He needs to show a lot more consistency. Michael Lewis does a good job of what they ask him to do. When I heard Singletary talk about range, I was thinking he meant the ability to make a play on the ball from center field.


Q: I know Singletary pretty much said the defensive staff was set, but what do you think the chances of this happening would be? (Randy in Santa Rosa)

A: Singletary is lauded for his honesty. If he fires his defensive staff at this point, he loses a lot of credibility. There might be some turnover (with an assistant or two getting other jobs), but I expect d-coordinator Greg Manusky and the bulk of the staff to remain intact.


Q: I know this is probably a moot point since there is a good chance the Cardinals will resign him but if Boldin is available as a FA, how agressive will the niners be to pick him up? (gediojam)

A: That would take a lot of spinach. I know WRs coach Jerry Sullivan has a huge deal of respect for Boldin’s all-around game, but I don’t see the 49ers forking over big cash this offseason.


Q: I seem to have missed Tony Wragge being signed to a deal (thought he was FA after this year also). Given your comment on Baas earlier and the possibility he will pull a Smiley, what is the contractual situation with Wragge? (ModestoMatt)

A: Wragge signed a one-year extension just before training camp. I reported it a couple weeks later in training camp. He is signed through the 2009 season.


Q: Do you think the 49ers are considering moving Chilo Rachal to left OG? (RonFischer)

A: I think they’ll keep him on the right side. Most teams run more to the right side. The 49ers ran 138 plays to the right side, while they ran 106 plays to the left. Rachal is comfortable on the right side. Plus, the clubs reserves the right at some point to move him to right tackle.


Q: Has the team made any effort to sign Baas to an extension? (Kevin)

A: They’ve touched base, but I’m not sure if any progress has been made.


Q: Re Bass and McCloughan’s comments that he doesn’t value guard’s highly. My question is: if McClough doesn’t value guard’s highly, then why did they draft Baas and Rachal with the 2nd rd pick? (dan in seattle)

A: Fantastic question, and I don’t have an answer to that. I completely agree with you. I can see the selection of Rachal, because he has the potential to eventually play right tackle. The Baas selection with the first pick of the second round was questionable because of the reason you outlined. A second-round pick is quite an investment, so you’d think they’d be prepared to back that up with a second contract.


Q: Which of those unrestricted free agents will probably count as losses regarding compensatory picks in 2010? (Dirk)

A: Takeo Spikes and Bryant Johnson were starters for the 49ers this season, so they’d be the most logical candidates to receive decent contracts and earn playing time elsewhere to warrant compensatory picks. Ronald Fields, because of his position, might also quality.


Q: when you talk about ‘cap hits’ for Smith and Jennings I’m assuming you mean that is the total net acceleration of future bonus money, correct? So that means when the team moves Smith, we’d save 9.625M in salary, take on 5.333M in new cap charges for a net cap savings of around 4.3M, right? So the ‘hit’ is the amount of acceleration, not the net cap effect. (CT49er)

A: That is correct. The cap hit for both Smith and Jennings would actually be a cap savings when compared to what their cap figures would be if they were kept on the team.


Q: If the Niners rework the contract of A. Smith will they still take the $5mm cap hit? (NW Niner)

A: I believe they would be able to control that by the way they handle the details of the deal. As far as I know, the 49ers would want the unamortized bonus money to count immediately. In essence, they’ve already accounted for this with the $7 million cap credit due to them with the Donald Strickland “incentive” that wasn’t reached.


Q: since the owners decided to cancel the current CBA and there is no salary cap scheduled for the 2010-2011 season, will this affect his years draft class? (CT49er)

A: The “uncapped year” has not been finalized. If the owners and NFLPA don’t come up with a new CBA, then there will be an uncapped year. But right now that is not official.


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