With no Warner available, 49ers don’t figure to pursue vet QB as starter

Let’s put a one-week moratorium on all draft-related questions. After all, the draft itself is more than 13 weeks away. Senior Bowl practices are next week, and we’re likely to have more information about some of the top seniors in the country after they’re seen on the practice field of Mobile, Ala.


Yes, the 49ers are scheduled to pick at Nos. 13 and 16 or 17 in the first round. “Is there a chance the 49ers select (fill in the blank)?” The answer to the question is: “Yes, there’s a chance.” (How big or small will be determined later).


There are also chances the 49ers move up or move back in the draft. That generally happens on draft day when teams are able to see who is available when it’s their time to pick.


There were a lot of great questions from readers. Thanks for allowing me to empty the mailbag, so I can spend the balance of the day observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day with the fam.


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Q: Any chance of Alex Smith not having the starting job come the season opener? Also, are you as optimistic about Chilo as Vernon? @smwhite1

MM: Nice work, getting two questions for the price of one – at 140 characters or less.


There’s always a chance Smith is not the starter when the season rolls around. But I think it’s highly unlikely. Sure, the 49ers went after Kurt Warner last offseason, but I don’t think there will be anyone of his ilk available this offseason. (Team president Jed York told me if a Hall-of-Fame quarterback becomes available, the 49ers would look into it.)


In Warner, the 49ers saw an opportunity to:

1) Acquire that Hall-of-Fame caliber quarterback;

2) Keep a proven quarterback in the same system he’d played his entire career;

3) Weaken their top rival in the division.


Folks asked about Eagles quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. McNabb, whom Eagles coach Andy Reid has already said would return to Philly in 2010, would help fit the bill on one of those three goals. Vick would not qualify as an answer for any of them. In fact, I believe the 49ers would consider Vick as a step back at quarterback over Smith for the 2010 season.


Also, the 49ers feel better about their quarterback situation heading into this offseason than a year ago. The team did not view Shaun Hill as a potential long-term solution. But they expect continuity to lead to continued improve play from Smith, who turns 26 in May.


Then, there’s the draft . . . anything can happen. Heck, for all anybody knows, the 49ers might spend a high pick on a quarterback. But, whomever they choose, that player is not going to provide an improvement over Smith at quarterback in 2010.


So, while my final answer (as of today) is that “there’s always a chance,” I don’t think it’s realistic that anybody other than Alex Smith will be the 49ers’ starting quarterback in 2010.


As for right guard Chilo Rachal . . . it should be mentioned that when Vernon Davis went on and on about Rachal being an exceptional player after the 49ers’ season-ending victory over the Rams, Rachal was the only player in the back of the room. Rachal has a lot of potential, to be sure. He was billed as a poor man’s Larry Allen when the 49ers drafted him in second round of 2008. Rachal is still young, having skipped his senior season at USC. I think he must play with more of a mean streak.


Q: Do you see the 49ers making any big offseason moves or just minor upgrades? @bmac650

MM: There’s usually one surprise move of an offseason. Certainly, the 49ers’ pursuit last year of Warner would apply – though in retrospect it seems like a no-brainer the 49ers would go hard after him.


But, no, I don’t see the 49ers making a huge splash for a big-name player. They certain will not go after a mercurial wide receiver who does not help in the return game (such as Brandon Marshall or Terrell Owens). I don’t think the 49ers believe they need to spend big – just for the sake of spending money. They’ll sign a few free agents, but I’d expect them to get niche players instead of sexy names.


Q: How bad to the 49ers need a cover corner like Darrelle Revis? @josh_831

MM: Every team in the league wants a cover corner like Revis. But they’re few and far between. I think Shawntae Spencer played last season at a championship level. (In fact, Spencer studies a lot of film of other cornerbacks, and Revis is among his favorites.) The other side of the formation was not as consistent for the 49ers. I expect the club to add a corner who can see a lot of playing time — either as a starter or on nickel downs.


Q: If Ahmad Brooks beats out Manny Lawson or Parys Haralson for a starting job, which one will it be? @Kurtz49

MM: Neither. I suppose the 49ers will want Brooks to spend time in the offseason working on diagnosing run/pass and dropping into coverage. This way, if there’s an injury, Brooks can step into the starting lineup.


But the 49ers found something that works late in the season. Lawson is very good on base downs, with his ability to play the run and the pass. In fact, he ended up leading the team in sacks. He had success as a pass rusher on first and second downs.


Brooks came into the game in nickel situations when the 49ers went with a four-man front. He found a role that really worked for him. Certainly, they can get Brooks prepared to play more on first and second downs, but I don’t think their roles need to be fixed.


Q: Did Singletary have plan when he fired his ST coach or was it like last year when he fired Martz, without a replacement in mind? @jamiemiller74

MM: Singletary’s plan was to dismiss Al Everest, with whom he “miscommunicated” on one memorable game-changing play in Seattle. Singletary’s plan was to remove Everest from his staff and get somebody else. That’s as far as the plan went.


Singletary has struggled at hiring top-notch assistant coaches in the early goings of his coaching career. Scott Linehan, who is considered a strong offensive coordinator, turned down the 49ers last year to sign on with the Lions, for crying out loud.


Bobby April has the reputation as the best special-teams coaching in the league. Singletary interviewed April on Tuesday. They had arranged to speak at greater length later. But the Eagles’ Reid made a run at April and hired him on the spot a couple days later.


Thus far, Singletary has interviewed former 49ers special-teams coordinator Larry Mac Duff and Kurt Schottenheimer, who hasn’t coached special teams in a decade. Singletary is a man who knows what he wants when he sees it. He hasn’t found it, yet.


**UPDATE: Singletary has found his man. He hired Schottenheimer this morning, three hours after this blog entry was posted.**


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The comments section is turned back on today. It will be monitored closely. More than two comments from the same username will be examined, and anyone who uses this forum for name-calling is subject to being permanently banned.

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